Will Kandy Make Life Sweeter for IoT With the Human Element: Ask the Robot

By Special Guest
Cynthia Artin, Special Correspondent
April 12, 2017

Earlier this year, GENBAND’s Kandy cPaaS (communications Platform as a Service) announced its focus on bringing together its expertise in Real Time Communications (RTC) capabilities with innovation in the increasingly hyperconnected world of things. 

GENBAND's equipment and software processes the largest number of VoIP sessions in the world, based on its pervasive footprint in service provider networks. It is one of the largest SIP and session border controller providers, and was an early investor in cloud-based unified communications and over-the-top messaging applications via Kandy's Platform-as-a-Service API/SDK-based platforms. 

Chances are, if you've placed a voice call, participated in a video conference, engaged in chat with a contact center, used click-to-call on a website or mobile application, your IP session has been processed by a Communications Services Provider (CSP) with GENBAND in its core and edge network offerings. With most of the Tier One operators as customers, and a growing number of tech giants like IBM, SAP and Tech Mahindra tapping in, GENBAND created Kandy to expand into new worlds driven by Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). Part of that shift into the “new telecom”  entails adding the Internet of Things to the end-points it connects. 

Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress , Kandy announced that rather than focusing on traditional IoT "data network" solutions, it was bringing "the human element" in stream via contextual RTC solutions, which makes sense for certain use cases (for example field service when equipment sensors can prompt a service call, in healthcare where a heart monitor can trigger a message to a physician, or even when a smart refrigerator can send an SMS to a busy parent when their kids drink the last bottle of milk!) 

Kandy is focusing on bringing solutions to their embedded base of CSPs, working with companies like IBM and their Watson solution for cognitive AI enhanced solutions, and demonstrated using AT&T IoT Starter kits in Barcelona. 

The company also announced they are working with JpU, a company transforming mobile networks into IoT networks, rolling out a combined offering that delivers secure IoT and Real Time Communications capabilities to vertical markets via the mobile service provider. According to the news release, "The combined offering significantly improves IoT network security, reduces costs and enhances device and machine control, while facilitating market-leading Real Time Communications capabilities between IoT devices and applications." 

Kandy isn't the first RTC-focused company to enter the world of IoT data meets human communications. Its competitor Twilio announced a program called "Programmable Wireless" with T-Mobile US that gives developers the ability to control the operation of voice, texting and data on Twilio's T-Mobile-powered SIM cards. The SIM cards can be installed on phones or into IoT-style sensors and gadgets. T-Mobile is clearly going after Twilio's developers with pricing based on volume ("For low-bandwidth, IoT-style applications, pricing will begin at $2 per SIM per month, and data will cost $0.10 per MB metered across a users' pool of devices. For high-bandwidth, smartphone-style uses, data will cost $25 for the first GB and $15 for each additional GB," according to T-Mobile's announcement last year). 

Kandy is taking a different approach - no SIM cards needed. 
“It starts by CSP's bolting Kandy onto their network to add RTC to their IoT solutions," according to Sanjay Bhatia, VP of Marketing Strategy for GENBAND and Kandy. "Our parallel investments in NFV and SDN capabilities enrich our software driven approach, and we're making our patented technology available to CSPs and their developers through the Kandy platform so they can enhance messaging and IoT applications, chat bots and more creative combinations. Developers simply connect to Kandy through our APIs to add everything from push to talk and push to video chat to bot automation for routine tasks."

Bhatia is also enthusiastic about the ability for Kandy's software, based on session management and advanced routing techniques, to "seamlessly escalate to human conversations for more complex activities," something they demonstrated with IBM Watson nearly a year ago at the company's user conference, Perspectives

You can see more on that solution in this video.

“Without the human element in IoT you are left with just 'Big Data' and 'Things' and that is why the intersection of IoT and human interaction is so critical,” said David Walsh, Chairman and CEO, GENBAND in the company's announcement. “Adding context to the data from multiple connected end-points or 'Things' gives businesses the ability to respond in real time in the most relevant manner according to the circumstances and dynamics of the situation being addressed.”

Where some competitors are intersecting RTC and IoT in a fairly routine fashion (alerts for example), Bhatia says Kandy is pushing the envelope with cognitive AI powered combinations. "Enhancing healthcare, financial and other applications which are regulated and carry with them important compliance obligations, we are working with companies like IBM to make sure the human integration his highly intelligent, including advanced Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR)." 

Bhatia noted Kandy's cloud communications, including embedded interactive voice and video capabilities, have driven business in the contact center industry. "It's critical for cognitive AI solutions ensure exchanges are promptly delivered, clearly understood, and correctly and efficiently acted upon, which is why we spent a great deal of time and R&D investment on our Kandy Live Support and Concierge Wrappers.”

In addition to the classic R&D approach, Kandy also enlisted developers around the world to participate in their first RTC & IoT hackathon last year, with winners announced this January. They worked with Collaborizm, an open community of engineers and software developers and MyDevices, an IoT company with its own developer platform for connected devices (Cayenne), to offer prizes for innovations blending human and machine communications. 

"The Pajama Hackathon, as we called it, given that developers came from nearly every continent and thus were working around the clock in this unique virtual hack, was so successful we're already well into our second competition with Collaborizm," Bhatia said. This time, the developers are building code for libraries that can include RTC and IoT software inventions, including a few cognitive robots. 

"I wouldn't be surprised if some of those robots - which really envelope the idea of machines and humans coming together to solve problems - shows up as a VIP guest at our July Perspectives17 event." 

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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