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Like AirTags, but for cargo: Qualcomm teases SaaSy tracking service

There's no way this could be abused, right?

Tiny, inexpensive wireless tracking devices like Apple's AirTags or Tiles have changed the way we keep track of our belongings, and now Qualcomm wants to put this tech to work in the enterprise sector.

On Tuesday the chip giant unveiled a cloud service called Qualcomm Aware that uses its expansive portfolio of wireless chips to locate and track high-value materials as they make their way across global supply chains.

Qualcomm pitches the service as a way for companies to avoid potential delays, spoiled goods, and lost revenues, while also identifying opportunities for supply chain optimization. It's also clearly designed as a chance to offer value-added services for Qualcomm alongside the business of selling hardware.

At launch, Qualcomm says Aware will focus on a variety of applications, including cold chain distribution, utility asset management, cargo shipment tracking, and warehouse and inventory management.

Consumer-grade trackers mostly use low-power Bluetooth radios, which largely rely on proximity to smartphone users to function. Qualcomm plans to employ a variety of technologies, including 4G modems, such as its recently announced 216 IoT LTE modem, which is designed to provide connectivity up to 10Mbps while sipping battery power.

In addition to its existing wireless hardware, Qualcomm Aware will also take advantage of assets sourced from wireless tech outfits Skyhook Wireless and PoLTE. Both companies developed technologies for location tracking using a combination of Wi-Fi, cellular, and GPS networks.

While Qualcomm will provide the software framework and hardware, the company isn't trying to replace a customer's existing enterprise resource management (ERP) platforms. Instead, Qualcomm says it will provide API integrations with existing tools. Among the first to sign up is Microsoft's Dynamics 365 SaaSy ERP, but the chip vendor says it's engaged with a variety of independent software vendors to add support for the platform.

Qualcomm will also work with third-party hardware manufacturers to help them develop new devices - some tuned to specific applications - that work with the Aware service.

Qualcomm Aware is slated for release later this year and the company has yet to share pricing or hardware availability. ®

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