Smart Business

Smart Companies: IoT Marketplace 2018

Internet of Things is a vital market – Smart Industry had a look at new Smart Companies, products and solutions in the IoT marketplace.

London: Starship Technologies

The pizza robot is on its way

Your next home-delivery pizza may very well come to your doorstep by robot. Starship Technologies aims to make on-demand delivery more efficient by having robots complete deliveries in congested urban areas, where driving can be challenging. The company claims its autonomous couriers can finish deliveries in as little as 15 to 30 minutes, traversing the streets of Silicon Valley with ease.

Autonomous deliveries will take on sooner than many expect

Ahti Heinla

Smart Companies IoT 2018: Ahti Heinla

Founded in 2014 by Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, two of the original investors in Skype, the London- and Tallinn-based startup has built the delivery robot to navigate busy sidewalks. Sounds crazy? While drones need to fight new regulations (and gravity), Starship has been running tests in 16 countries, partnering with the likes of Just Eat and Domino’s Pizza, and raised £13.4m (€15.1m) in funding. Tests in Hamburg, Germany, started last summer using what Starship calls its “personal delivery devices,” the six wheeled autonomous vehicles that speed along at 6 kph and can carry loads of up to 18 kg.

Robot delivery in congested urban areas can be tricky

Janus Friis

Smart Companies IoT 2018: Janus Friis

Retailers and restaurants in many countries are still unsure how robot delivery technology will pan out. In the US, legal requirements are still under discussion in many states but Virginia and Idaho have leaped ahead with their own set of rules. Some countries only allow self-driving delivery on an exemption basis. While Starship’s microvan deliveries may currently be seen as a marketing gimmick for the likes of Domino’s, autonomous deliveries could start to motor a lot sooner than many industry pundits expect.


Chicago: Uptake

Assisting the elderly

Most of America’s old industrial base is decrepit and decaying, or so many believe. What it needs is a shot in the arm, preferably youth serum – which is exactly what Uptake intends to provide, namely a way to improve some of the nation’s oldest industries. Based in Chicago, Illinois, Uptake uses analytics and predictive software to increase safety and enhance performance for companies in industries like construction, rail, aviation, and mining, according to Forbes.

Creating real business value with the help of sensors and data

Brad Keywell

Smart Companies Iot 2018: Brad Keywell - Uptake

Uptake was started by Brad Keywell, one of the original founders of the collective buying platform Groupon. He believes that the rise of connected technology, commoditized sensors, massive storage capacity, and growing processing power means every asset in every industry can generate extremely valuable data at incredible scale. This key information can answer the most critical questions across an operation and open the door to unprecedented business advantages, but he says he feels that companies are not making effective use of this wealth of data. “Do you know that, according to [the consultancy] McKinsey, less than one percent of industrial data is being used today?” he asks.

Keywell set himself the goal of creating purpose-built products to ingest and analyze sensor and enterprise data, transforming it into actionable insights and immediate outcomes. This, he believes, can generate real business value and set new standards for productive, secure, safe, and reliable operations. “Machines don’t have to break,” Keywell maintains.
With its focus initially on safety and allowing construction, transportation, and manufacturing to use data to enhance performance, the company is well on its way to achieving its goal. The construction industry machinery behemoth Caterpillar has become a backer and Uptake is growing quickly. Formal recognition by some august institutions followed quickly. The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers community hailed Uptake as a leader in its field in 2016, inviting it to participate in the Forum’s events, activities, and initiatives alongside larger companies like Airbnb, Google, Kaggle, Kickstarter, Scribd, Spotify, Twitter, and Wikimedia. Operating hospitals is one area where Uptake has been making headway by increasing efficiency with better data usage. Keywell explains that hospital fluid delivery infusion pumps often sit idle in hospital back rooms waiting to be used, and MRI machines are often sidelined for days awaiting replacement parts. These are just two common examples of the inefficient use of medical equipment. According to Becker’s Hospital CFO Report 2016, hospitals spend $93bn on life-cycle costs for medical equipment, yet they have almost no insight into how medical equipment is being used and how much value it drives. With limited visibility into existing assets, hospitals are losing money, wasting resources, and putting security at risk, he believes. Some of the symptoms of today’s broken processes in many areas of industry and business include the problem of only being able to report issues after they have occurred. By understanding how individual assets are used, engineers and administrators can gain insights into asset equipment availability and performance, and dive much deeper into providing the value opportunities that surface.
The best way to avoid downtime is to create clear visibility into equipment. Enterprises must be able to collect data directly from existing hardware and incorporate it into a centralized asset management system, he says. Over time, progressive, data-driven organizations with robust equipment visibility will be rewarded handsomely with massive cost savings from reduced downtime and optimized operations, he concludes.


Berlin: KIWI

Opening doors for IoT

The story starts in 2007 when Claudia Nagel, a doctor in industrial engineering, was standing outside the door to her apartment building in pouring rain. Her baby was screaming. She was carrying heavy shopping bags in one hand and with the other she was frantically searching in her pockets and handbag for her keys.

Smart Companies IoT 2018 Image:  KIWI Smart Doorlock

A few weeks later, she told the story to her friend Christian Bogatu, an engineer with a background in hardware startups and IT security who she knew from her time with the consultancy firm McKinsey. Together, they dreamt up KIWI – a way of retrofitting doors to buildings for IoT by putting RFID sensors in buzzer systems to unlock doors.
Their system has two components: the “Ki” a key fob users carry around to pick up the signal locally from a transponder in the door; and the “Wi” (wireless) smartphone app to enable users to release the lock remotely. The two young entrepreneurs want to open doors all across Europe, no less. Based in Berlin, the tiny company that aims at replacing our keyrings with nifty wireless technology has already garnered funding and partnerships – and customers, too.

Smart Companies IoT 2018: Claudia Nagel KIWI Smart Doorlock

Claudia Nagel: Domestic trauma unlocked a business opportunity

In order to make sure no one is left standing in the rain, so to speak, KIWI is focusing primarily on the home market by forging relationships with service companies. At last count, the KIWI technology had been installed in 1,500 buildings, which amounts to about 15,000 apartments.
Conrad Electronics, the biggest mailorder seller of electronic consumer goods in Germany, is one of KIWI’s prime partners. Another is Deutsche Post, which is interested in providing its postal workers with easy access to apartment blocks. Today, mail carriers often tote massive bunches of keys, one for every building.
“You have service providers like the post and the trash removal people, gardeners, and cleaning personnel,” says Bogatu. All of these need to open doors to do their job. All of this is a big efficiency and management problem, not to mention security. KIWI also works with local emergency services, like fire departments and ambulance operators. “Once KIWI is installed, the firemen or medical team can get inside fast, says Bogatu. This means the technology provided by KIWI could potentially save lives one day. What would happen if a user lost their electronic key fob or had their smartphone stolen? For these eventualities KIWI provides an app and a website where users can log in and cancel their Ki code immediately. The company claims the KIWI system is secure and hack-proof, so nobody – neither hackers nor, for that matter, nosy landlords – can track or record information about who might walk through the door.

Smart Companies IoT 2018: Christian Bogatu KIWI Smart Doorlock

Christian Bogatu: We’re now in a good position to get our foot in the door

Bogatu and his development team are looking at other technologies that could be integrated into the keyless systems. Bluetooth would obviously be an attractive option but limited battery lifetimes have proven an obstacle until now – although some competitors, like UniKey in the United States, claim to have overcome these problems and Bluetooth Low Energy may one day prove to be an alternative solution.
For now, KIWI’s focus is on conquering additional European markets, and Bogatu has secured more than €4m in funding for this purpose. “We’re now in a very good position to get our foot in the door, Bogatu says confidently.


Bucharest: DeviceHub

Bucharest: DeviceHub

Ionut Cotoi is a man on a mission: “Digital transformation is a stunning opportunity into increased productivity and lower costs for any business, regardless of the industry, size, and location,” he proclaims. As CEO, Cotoi founded the company with two friends in 2013 to offer an integrated platform as a service (PaaS) for IoT solutions. With an €80,000 investment boost from Deutsche Telekom, DeviceHub is targeting smart metering, fleet management, home automation, IoT makers, and the wearables market. The company has a community of over 2,000 active developers contributing to the platform.
Customers can build mission-critical, secure, and customizable IoT applications running in a centralized, decentralized, or hybrid manner. Blockchain encryption protects communications over a highly fault-tolerant backbone. DeviceHub continually collects data to help customers to analyze, optimize, and innovate their services.


Hannover: PEAT

A growing concern

From Hannover to South America, to India via Berlin, and back again, agricultural tech startup Progressive Environmental and Agricultural Technologies (PEAT) has come a long way in its quest to tackle crop damage, a problem faced by farmers across the globe. The idea is to let the farmer take a picture of a damaged plant using a phone and send it to PEAT’s experts to determine the cause and advise on treatment and prevention remotely.

Smart Companies IoT 2018: Peat

PEAT was formed in 2015 and built an app called Plantix which now has over 100,000 users. One of the seven co-founders Pierre Münzel says the company receives between 2,000 and 5,000 images every day – many of them from India, where PEAT is working with 30,000 farmers for whom life is especially hard. With pests, monsoons, and chemical use that can render a farm useless, there are just so many negative elements at play a bit of expert help can be a livelihood-saver.
The success story has attracted the attention of investors, and PEAT recently closed on a seven-figure seed-funding round allowing the company to look into other markets. After all, growth is what PEAT is about.


Tel Aviv: Airobotics

Up, up and away!

Drones are taking off everywhere but especially in industry. Israeli startup Airobotics, a specialist in enterprise sector drones that don’t require human involvement in any aspect of their operation, has picked up $32.5m in funding from Microsoft Ventures to expand its business into defense and homeland security, and to further increase its business globally.

Smart Companies Iot 2018: Airobotics

Founded in 2014 by Meir Kliner and Ran Krauss, Airobotics has built an early lead in building autonomous quadcopters for industrial inspection, mapping, and security. Its drones operate from a toolshed-sized box for charging and maintenance, and clients pay a monthly fee for their use. Krauss argues the benefits of autonomous drones as being cost and precision. Drone operators are expensive to hire, when you can find one, and, on a daily basis, a human cannot fly a mission accurately ten times but a computer can. Drones also don’t mind working in remote, rural areas.


Wellington: Ubicquia

A moment of inspiration

Ubicquia is making cities smarter with Kairo, a customizable router that takes advantage of a city’s infrastructure of street lighting. Inspiration for Kairo came when Ubicquia’s co-founder Tre Zimmerman was working on an IoT project in Rome, involving IP cameras and smart water grids. The cost of providing power was an obstacle to keeping the data recording devices on all day – then he saw a street light was still on outside his son’s room in Florida at 2 p.m.

There’s a light pole every 120 feet in every major city in the world. Do the math. That’s 255 million street lights just waiting to be connected,

Zimmerman observes. By using existing street lights, Kairo claims it could make cities smart overnight. Sao Paulo suffers from major air pollution but simply plugging Kairo into its light poles would instantly provide a sensor network. Deploying Kairo meant finding a partner to help guide the product through the design process to market, which is where Avnet entered the picture.

We help customers optimize the cost profile of their product. We also help them source the right components. We help them find the right manufacturing partners. And we help them take the product to market,

says Chuck Loomis, the Avnet FAE (field application engineer) who worked with Ubicquia.

Avnet does a fantastic job in supplying its customers with FAEs to come and sit in our lab with us while we source these components,

explains Zimmerman. Then they cross-reference them from their line card to check availability and quantity, which really speeds up our process of decision-making. Zimmerman was also impressed with Avnet’s global scale and distribution, which was something he said a small startup like his could “only dream of”.


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