The internet of things is the new frontier for technology. We do not say that lightly, but the signs are all there and the projections too: as devices become more and more connected, and more people have a potential remote control for all of them in their pocket (read: smartphone), the technology could seriously revolutionise our lives much like the internet has.
At its most basic, the Internet of Things (shortened to IoT) is the network of physical objects communicating with each other through the internet, using sensors, software and network connectivity to send data to each other. The term “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999, but it is only in the last few years that its potential is truly blossoming as connected mobile devices become more ubiquitous, sensors smaller, computing power and cloud technology cheaper. The concept of the “IIoT”, the Industrial Internet of Things, has also come to the fore as auto manufacturing, production lines and supply-chain networks network their devices to streamline operations, operate predictive maintenance and gather real-time data to react to demand, among many other things.
The uses for the IoT are wide-ranging and varied. A concept often cited is that of the “Smart City” – for example each lamp-post in a city being inter-connected and linked to a cloud-based platform which tracks light levels and adjusts each lamp post’s power accordingly. Or imagine an industry in which all the tools are networked via sensors communicating with a central server that keeps track of the stress each tool is put under, and automatically orders a replacement part to arrive days before it fails. For a more domestic example, the IoT in a smart home could have sensors tracking light, temperature and humidity levels to determine when to turn on the heating and start your washing machine.
From a business perspective too, the future of the Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things looks bright. According to Gartner, in 2016 there will be up to 6.4 billion connected “things” in the world, and McKinsey estimates that the IoT market will comprise a “$11 Trillion business opportunity” over the next 15 to 20 years. Given the very close connection between mobile, apps and IoT, we’ve decided to compile a “big list” of companies and services in the sector for those looking to leverage this technology for their business.
There are, of course, many parts to the internet of things: the sensors and their operating systems, the networks over which the sensors communicate and their protocols, the servers to receive and store all the data and the software to either automate or analyse it all. Below we have listed some of the best companies providing each of these services, both on a general level and in more specific sectors such as the smart home, security and fitness: the latter has had the most media coverage of IoT applications thanks to things like Fitbit and other fitness-tracking devices.
Platforms tie the hardware, the sensors and the data all together, allowing you to create your own monitoring and analysis apps with their API or providing their own. Google and Apple have recently gotten in on the IoT market, but there are plenty of other options out there too, including plenty of open source ones.
HomeKit – Apple’s own connected devices platform, it is open both app and hardware developers and is obviously compatible with Siri as a “trigger” for user actions. Highly polished as you’d expect from an Apple release.
Brillo – Currently invite-only, but this is Google’s IoT platform, so it’s worth asking for one. Comes with its embedded OS based on Android, has loads of customisation options and partners with Intel and Qualcomm.
AllJoyn – Part of the AllSeen alliance, this is an open source framework designed for interoperability between devices, without requiring the internet as network. Comes with a set of system services.
IoTivity – An open source project by the Linux Foundation, and backed by the Open Interconnect Consortium, this is one of the biggest and most extensive platforms out there, with constant updates and great documentation.
Axeda – Provided by PTC Software, Axeda is their M2M (Machine-to-Machine) cloud solution, but it comes with a vast range of services, from security to asset tracking, device management to predictive maintenance and more.
Arrayent – This IoT platform is already used by a number of big-name brands such as Whirlpool, Monster and Osram. Has a very large set of features including data analysis, good security and over-the-air updates.
Octoblu – A codeless and “protocol agnostic” analytics platform. Uses a drag-and-drop interface to build your analysis software, and can be hosted both privately or on the cloud.
Ayla Networks – Specifically designed for enterprise-level applications, this platform aims at making products IoT-connected at launch by providing consumers with a functional app, and provide you insights from customer data.
Ayla’s Intro to Homekit
Neura – This platform comes with a backend geared towards learnings from customer’s behaviour and data in order to present them with useful notifications on how and when to use their connected devices. API and 2 SDKs available.
IFTTT – Stands for “If This Then That”. Originally started as a “recipe maker” for various apps, it now works with the IoT after collaborating with Belkin WeMo, and as an IoT business is valued at $170m.
Jasper – One if not the highest-valued IoT Platform provider, it has a very powerful Control Centre, works in a large number of applications and supplies real-time data. Cisco are looking to buy the company.
Gainspan – Provides all-in-one modules to develop IoT devices and apps. Sells software dev kits, chips, BLE modules and more to turn most devices IoT-connected.
A lot of these operating systems are stream-lined for use on IoT-devices: coded directly in machine language, they’re built to be as fast as possible, and can sometimes be a bit minimalistic (multi-threading is a bonus, for example). If you really want to make your IoT devices as quick and functional as possible, this is where you need to start. A lot of these are “Real Time” operating systems, meaning they are designed for dealing with real-time data as fast as possible.
Nano-RK – Made by Carnegie Mellon University, this Real-Time Operating System was created to be used in wireless sensor networks. Uses a Threads programming model.
Contiki – Also opensource, Contiki provides low-power internet communication using both IPv4 and IPv6, applications for it are written in objective C and can run on a range of low-power wireless devices.
LiteOS – This OS for embedded controllers and sensor networks is described as “Unix-like”. Allows for multi-network management of data and programs.
RIOT – A powerful and programmer-friendly IoT-compatible engine, RIOT offers both C and C++ programming, multi-threading and real-time operation. Designed with energy efficiency in mind.
RIOT: The friendly operating system for the IoT!
Tiny OS – Open-source and BSD-licensed, this operating system was designed for low-power devices and networks. Averages around 35,000 downloads a year and can be found on Github.
FreeRTOS – Claims to have been deployed millions of times with blue chip companies. Simple and easy to use with only three source files, it was designed to function both for low-power and normal networks.
Nimbits – A “data historian” and rule engine that also has its own cloud servers (accessible for free) and a wrapper to develop Java, web and Android apps.
OpenAlerts – This software works to get devices communicating over IP networks (wired and wireless). A scalable Linux/BSD application, it comes with is own dashboard and can be managed from a web browser.
Thingsquare Mist – A platform to connect devices to smartphones. Featured on the BBC and Wired among others, it also works with Radios, and has a development team behind it ready to create bespoke solutions for your product.
Thingspeak – Compatible with Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Twitter and mobile apps, this is a data-collection and analysis software for the internet of things which allows to set up automated actions to trigger on specific conditions.
IoT Toolkit – A project to build a “multi-protocol” internet of things, so normally “siloed” devices can communicate with each other. Comes with its own API.
The Thing System – A set of software and network protocols to get devices to communicate “horizontally”. Written in node.js, it works on WiFi, Bluetooth and USB networks.
Nitrogen – A simple and lightweight node.js software platform, it comes ready to deploy with a set of dev tools, all to be found on github.
Argot – A part-time project, this language to connect devices has been developed over the course of ten years. Says it is specifically designed to work in “embedded environments”.
dat – Peer-to-peer data sharing platform, works with very large datasets and in real-time too. Can be found on github and works in browsers and on desktop.
If your devices are too far away to connect directly to each other, they’ll need a network to link to and carry the data from one to the other. These are some of the best offerings out there, specifically designed for the internet of things. Seamless WiFi and BlueTooth integration is something network and device providers are striving to achieve, while some producers are forgoing classic network protocols entirely to come up with better solutions for the IoT.
AT&T – The communications giant is trying to make itself the standard when it comes to connecting devices. It has already connected more than 26 million devices in the US, and they’re present all over the world.
Cisco – The household name provides pretty much every solution for the IoT, from routing and switching to Wireless and embedded networks, and all scalable to huge size.
General Electric – GE more or less coined the term “Industrial Internet.” As you’d expect from a company this size, GE provide everything from the sensors to the network and the software platform, known as Predix.
IBM – Has partnered with Libelium to provide an IoT starter kit to go with it’s Watson Platform. Specifically, IBM provide a 6LPWA (Low-Power, Wide-Area) network to connect devices with Libelium wireless sensors.
SIGFOX – Global connectivity network for internet of things, concentrated on low-throughput communication in order to maximise speed, efficiency and battery life.
SIGFOX: Make Things Come Alive
Ingenu – A network provider, it uses RPMA wireless signals to get information and data flowing between devices and servers. Says one access point can provide 300+ sqm of coverage.
Eseye – Already has 440+ networks set-up worldwide. Provides the network, the sim card to connect to it and a number of different gateways, as well as design, testing and management services.
ThingPark – Provided by Actility, this is a low-power wireless network provider, covering up to 15km in rural areas or 2-5km in urban ones. Designed for Smart Cities and Smart Homes.
The Internet of Things can cover pretty much any object a sensor can be attached to and that will generate meaningful data. Having said that, there are particular places in which the IoT is being developed due to its high usefulness, though that’s not to say these are the only applications out there. If anything, it’s still early days for the IoT and it’s too early to tell which parts of our lives the IoT will revolutionise the most.
Mocana – The “Security of Things” platform provides a security layer between the cloud and the devices it connects to, from automotive to industrial IT sensors. Includes file protection, secure connectivity and device authentication.
Nexdefense – Specifically aimed at industrial control systems, “Sophia” is a software which monitors your network and scans for anomalies which may give intrusions away. The US department of energy is involved in development.
Bastille – A monitoring platform for the workplace, it combines machine learning as analytics to keep track of all devices connected to your network, identify abnormal behaviour, prevent air attacks and more.
Bastille, Security for the Internet of Things
Scanalytics – Underfloor foot-traffic analytics (both the sensors and the platform provided) for retail stores to keep track of customer behaviour and monitor foot traffic.
Euclid – Analytics software, offers three different products: brick-and-mortar location analytics, comparison analytics and both of the above applied to marketing and improving the bottom line.
Placemeter – Analytics for the city, analyses video and converts it into data on foot-traffic, volume and directions of pedestrians and vehicles and more.
Prism Skylabs – “Transforms” cameras into analytics tools, allowing you to divide shop or factory floors in areas, track items, people and traffic, turning it all into actionable data.
Waygum – Delivers the “last mile” mobile layer to industrial IoT networks. A platform for users to manage inventory, monitor services, track costs and analyse big data from their factory floor or supply chain.
Cyberlightning – Offers various solutions for big data, especially in the energy sector and the smart city, can also be mobile based.
An example of a CyberVille software monitorin a wind farm.
Jawbone – One of the best fitness trackers around: while it already has an app to go with it, they can also supply you with an API for you to make your own.
Misfit – Has a very wide array of IoT-connected devices such as fitness trackers and watches, but also supplies an SDK and an API for building apps for connecting devices through your phone, both iOS and Android.
Introducing Misfit Ray by Misfit
Sentri – A one-size-fits-all solution for home monitoring, connecting all the devices in your house with a simple app which you can use to control and track heating, cameras, appliances and more.
Lockitron – IoT-connected locks for doors: can be used for home to lock and unlock remotely, but really comes into its own with the app in a workspace.
August – IoT-connected devices to use at your threshold: connectable doorlocks, doorbells and keypads.
uBeam – Uses sound waves to provide wireless battery charging. Not precisely IoT-related but certainly part of a smart, wireless home.
Peel – Its signature product is an app that Turns any smartphone or tablet into a remote to control IoT connected devices. Easy set up.
Peel Smart Remote App with Streaming
Where to get the best news, insights, reports, analysis and strategy. The Internet of Things is a brave new world developing extremely quickly, and these resources will help you stay on top of the latest trends and innovations.
GSMA – GSMA cover a wide range of tech topics, but are particularly active in the IoT: they’ve launched the LPWA Initiative and created IoT “best practice” protocols together with their IoT partner companies.
Machina Research – Research and analysis on big data, M2M networks and the IoT. They can either offer bespoke research on your specific requirements, or provide market intelligence, strategy and reports on the sector.
MachNation – Insights, strategy and analysis are all part of the MachNation package, but their main product is Io3, a bespoke search engine for IoT-related companies and services and products.
IoT Analytics – Insights and reports on the ever-increasing IoT market. Some of their product is free, such as the quarterly IoT company rankings, while others are on a pay-per-report basis.
The IoT “ecology” is very much in its early days, with new innovations, ideas, standards and applications emerging and evolving every day. It truly is the new frontier for mobile technology and networks, so we hope the list above provides you with a good guide of which companies are doing what. Given the fast pace at which this world market is moving, however, there are bound to be more companies and actors coming up – if you think we’ve missed any, drop us a line!