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IoT start-up unveils end-to-end platform for 802.15.4 network

Posted: 29 Oct 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Helium  IoT  Machina Research  6LoWPAN  Zigbee 

Others have adopted a similar approach of using better power amps and LNAs as an alternative to meshing. Alternatively, some mesh implementations synchronize communications among nodes to implement meshing in ways that can use less power than point-to-point connections.

Sensors in a Helium end node ride on a modular daughter card using a custom interface based its application processor's I2C and general purpose I/Os. "Helium will enable sensor networks to do many things that can change over time," said Chandhok.

End nodes for the refrigerator-monitoring app use a thermistor and door-contact switch. Future nodes may support accelerometers, humidity monitors and moisture sensors for use in agriculture.

Two potential customers are participating in a trial of Helium refrigeration-monitoring system. "Ultimately our platform is a B2B sale, so we target big consulting firms and insurance and health care providers," said Chandhok.

The company raised a seed round of $2.8 million in April 2014 from eight investors including Fanning and Marc Benioff. A September 2014 Series A round raised $13.4 million from Khosla Ventures and FirstMark Capital.

A handful of potentially similar start-ups are still keeping quiet about their products including Samsara which raised $25 million from investors including Andreesen Horowitz. The founders sold their last start-up, Meraki Networks, to Cisco Systems for $1.2 billion.

"We are very aware of Samsara and watch the way they describe themselves in words that are similar to those we use," said Chandhok.

Philip DesAutels, senior director of IoT at the Linux Foundation, claimed he knows of at least two similar start-ups still in stealth mode, one called Micosa and the other not yet revealing even its name.

Despite dozens of IoT accelerators sprouting up around the globe, Chandhok downplays the field of start-ups.

"The rest of the competition is either piecing together open source software or using old techniques to get embedded-node software into the cloud, but not providing a compelling IoT platform," he said. "I can't walk down Market Street without hearing about 100 IoT companies, but not one's broadly targeting the enterprise," said Chandhok who is based in San Francisco.

- Rick Merritt
  EE Times

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