June 7, 2014
When it comes to new frontiers in business and technology, one area that has business leaders practically salivating is the Internet of Things (IoT). Put simply, the Internet of Things connects everyday objects with each other and the Internet. There are plenty of helpful and promising applications of this idea, and large companies are certainly experimenting with ways to turn it into a profitable venture. Much of the innovation for the IoT, however, may in fact come from smaller companies. Startups usually have more freedom to generate new ideas, but the key remains coming up with the right ideas that can receive financial backing from investors. Many startups are already seeing success doing so; here are just a few examples.
1. Ducere Technologies
One of the main selling points of the Internet of Things comes from its use of wearable technology. A startup company called Ducere Technologies is looking to use wearable tech along with the Internet of Things to make the lives of the visually impaired much easier. The company claims to have developed the world’s first touch-based interactive footwear called Lechal. The device works as an insole that rests inside a shoe or other footwear and generates vibrations, directing the wearer where he or she should go. Ducere Technologies says they are committed to making sure the wearable tech is fashionable. Already they’ve raised $2 million and are looking to sell their technology to an international shoe brand.
The main focus of startup company Iotera is on tracking technology. The company has developed a system that uses GPS sensors embedded within objects to track them over your smartphone. Tracking them doesn’t require a commercial wireless network, only a wireless base station that can be installed in many major cities. Iotera has listed a number of potential uses for the product, including tracking workers in dangerous conditions, helping owners track their pets, and even allowing parents to keep on eye on where their children go. Other companies may even choose to track devices that have company data on them, allowing them to find lost smartphones and tablets and get the most out of BYOD benefits.
With a company name like SmartThings, it’s not a surprise that they’re looking to specialize in smart objects. The centerpiece for SmartThings would be the home, where users would be able to remotely unlock doors, turn lights on, and even know when members of the family would show up. SmartThings hopes to take all this home automation and run it from a single app, essentially allowing others to develop technology for smart objects and connect them to the SmartThings app. The app could then act like a hub for all smart technology in the home. The idea is definitely attracting some interested parties; SmartThings has recently raised more than $12 million from investors.
4. Ninja Blocks
Ninja Blocks is a startup company out of Australia that has already had some success with its IoT device, appropriately named the Ninja Block. The device has built-in sensors, giving users the freedom to program it for a number of functions meant to make their lives easier. In other words, it links the Internet to actions within the real world. For example, you can program the Ninja Block to send an alert to your phone as soon as your mail arrives. The company hopes to use its Ninja Block devices as a platform for other sensor-embedded devices, enabling other companies to take advantage of the technology. Ninja Blocks has already raised a million dollars and looks to make an even bigger impact in the years to come.
The Knut device is another way to stay connected to areas and objects within your home. The small device uses WiFi to alert users when something is amiss in the house. Knut comes with temperature and humidity sensors that can be pivotal in protecting a person’s valuables. Knut can be placed next to jewelry or a wine collection, monitoring the area for changes in temperature or detecting the presence of water, which might damage valuable objects. Knut can also tell when someone has entered a room or gained access to an area, while also measuring vibrations during shipping.
The above companies are only a sample of all the startups looking to take advantage of the Internet of Things. They see the opportunities available and are hoping to get the proverbial foot in the door for what will likely be the next big trend in business and technology. Time will tell how many will be successful.
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