Conditions ripe in Ireland for growth of internet of things
Technology giants are not the only companies moving into the internet of things era of smart devices
With broadband speeds getting faster, technology costs going down and the cost of connecting decreasing, the internet of things is on the growth curve
Earlier this year, credit card company Visa and management consultancy firm Accenture teamed up to develop an in-car connected system. The link-up showed tech giants are not the only ones moving into the internet of things era of smart devices.
The term “internet of things” was coined by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton in 1999. He used the term to describe a system where the internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors.
Simply put, the internet of things is about connecting any device with an on and off switch, such as a washing machine, a lamp, a coffee maker or a mobile phone, to the internet.
In the future, it is envisaged the internet of things will allow you to wake up at the exact time necessary. For example, your alarm clock would be synced to your calendar and will know what time you’re due in work at, or the time for which your first meeting is scheduled. It will also know how bad the traffic is so would wake you up to get you to work on time.
With broadband speeds getting faster, technology costs going down and the cost of connecting decreasing, a perfect storm for the internet of things is being created in Ireland.
Irish IoT pioneers One of the Irish companies leading the way in this field is Dublin-based start-up Cesanta, which has created a platform to make it easier for everyday objects to connect to each other.
Cesanta’s founders Anatoly Lebedev and Sergey Lyubka met while working at Google’s European headquarters in Dublin, but left to form Cesanta.
Web server“If a company wants to develop a connected product, they need to get into hardware and embedded software. They need to hire an engineering team. It can be very expensive and technical. Our platform helps, as anyone, even those with basic web development knowledge, can use it,” Lyubka says.
Cesanta’s first product, Mongoose, can turn any device into a web server in five minutes.
It has been widely deployed with over one million downloads. It can turn inanimate objects into online data providers, making them part of the internet of things.
Mongoose is used by several of the Fortune 500 technology companies, including leading device, equipment and semiconductor players, software application vendors and integrators in countries such as the US, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, the UK and France.
These companies use Mongoose to add high-performance internet connectivity to their products with minimum engineering effort, and to make these products easy to use.
“Programming for IoT should be as simple as programming for web but it’s not. We want to help that. You don’t need years of development, R&D and an engineering team to connect devices with our platform,” Lebedev says.
Dublin-based SmartBin is another Irish company at the forefront of the internet of things.
The company provides remote container monitoring systems for the waste and recycling industries.
Traditionally, waste management service providers scheduled collections based on a regularly recurring day of the week. However, this wasn’t the best use of time or resources as bins were often being collected when they weren’t full.
“The business was devised to provide cities with waste solutions to make them more efficient. Government’s were looking to bring down C02 emissions so less trucks on the road would help with that,” SmartBin chief executive Brendan Walsh says.
ClientsThe company targets private collectors of waste as well as the public sector such as councils.
“We have clients in over 25 countries. We have deployed over 10,000 sensors that report back fill metrics on tanks and bins. Customers use that data to reduce cost, make decisions and become more efficient,” he says.
He says fill metrics are especially important when it comes to oil tanks, as councils and public authorities don’t want oil overflowing and becoming an environmental issue.
“Bins were once inanimate objects. Now they can feed information back to the owners. An owner can be told how full the bin is, where it is located. The system can generate the most optimised route based on where bins are full.”
There have been some well-documented cases of IoT freakouts such as the fridge that sent 750,000 spam emails and the hackers who demonstrated the ability to disable a Jeep Cherokee remotely.
Against this backdrop, one Cork-based start-up is leading the way with web and internet of things security.
It took David Coallier less than two months earlier this year to raise €1.2 million in funding to set up Barricade.io.
InspirationHe came up with the idea for the business while sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco.
“I could see lights in everyone’s houses. I thought about everyone having an alarm system, as they want to know if someone breaks into their home. I thought there should be an alarm system for internet of things to alert people if their devices are broken into.”
He says security should be the norm, adding that more and more devices are being connected all the time, but the number of security experts is growing at a much slower pace than the number of hackers.
“We alert companies of potential malicious activity on servers and the cloud. We are trying to make sure our customers are prepared rather than scared.”
“They are mostly small and medium-sized clients. They don’t have the resources to hire security experts.”
Barricade’s chief security officer, Jeff Reich, says as little as seven years ago, most people feared cloud computing, adding that primarily, people did not know what cloud computing was.
He says cars can be programmed to call for help in the case of an accident.
“Information about the usage and location of your phone is in the hands of someone else. Your refrigerator will soon be able to order more milk for you before you run out. These are all examples of how the internet of things is ever-present in our lives.”