SECTIONS - The Internet of Things
August 10, 2015

Listen and Learn; Consumer & Enterprise

This issue’s cover story is about AT&T and how it’s working with IBM and Mueller Water Products to help organizations reduce water waste. The partners are doing that by using connected technology to listen to pipes and detect when and where there’s a leak, so the organizations they serve can more quickly take steps to fix the leak.

Augury is another company, this one a startup, that has created technology to listen to machines so organizations can take action when needed based on the noises those machines make. Augury CEO Saar Yoskovitz, a serial entrepreneur, and the company’s co-founder, both from the Israel Institute of Technology, started the company about three and a half years ago.

Early last year, Augury raised $2 million in seed funding from First Round Capital and Lerer-Hippeau Ventures. Augury is currently enrolled in Work-Bench’s spring accelerator program. The company’s solution – a combination of a software-as-a-service offering based on all-you-can-eat or per-use pricing, and hardware – is like Shazam for machines, said Yoskovitz. The first hardware product is a device that connects to a machine to sense vibration via an ultrasonic sensor, which Yoskovitz said is like a stethoscope. It also connects to an Android or iPhone smartphone.

The total solution sends data to the cloud and returns information to the user about the health of the machine and what needs to be repaired, he explained. And Augury aims to bring predictive maintenance to new markets. Predictive maintenance, he said, has been stuck in the high-end markets like aerospace; Augury brings it to small factories, offices, and hospitals.

The initial focus of this solution is heating, ventilation, and air conditioning equipment like pumps, fans, and chillers. The solution is being sold to factories, hospitals, office buildings, and shopping centers. The company was in beta this spring with one of the largest HVAC companies in the U.S., and expected to do a commercial launch of the HVAC solution in May.

Yoskovitz said Augury’s goal is to eventually be in everything and anything that has moving parts. That, he said, could even include things like refrigerators and washing machines. While companies like Augury expect to apply their solutions to both commercial and consumer use cases, others like Laird are emphasizing the distinction between Internet of Things applications in the enterprise vs. the consumer world.

In a recent interview with IoT Evolution, Ron Seide, senior vice president of the embedded wireless group at Laird, said the company divides IoT into two categories – consumer and enterprise. And he said Laird is focused on the enterprise space, which he said means you need scalability, security, and the ability to authenticate devices to the network.

Laird sells wireless modules embedded into host data capture devices like handheld barcode scanners, and medical devices like ventilators. The company also is moving beyond just radio modules to deliver client server middleware software to take data and turn it into actionable information. A year ago the company announced its first IoT app, which pulls information off locomotives and uses it to improve the safety of railyards.

Now Laird is modularizing that solution and bringing it to market for other applications, Seide told IoT Evolution. The medical space is one vertical in which Laird seems to be interested. The company recently published a white paper about how IoT can be used in patient care and back office hospital operations.

Seide said millions of dollars are lost by medical facilities because services are provided but not reported, and therefore not billed for. Medical billing records have already gone electronic, Seide noted, and now medical devices can collect information and deposit that into EMR systems so treatment is billed for and health care facilities eliminate the chance for mistakes introduced by humans on this front.

“Every major manufacturer of medical devices today is working to IoT-enable its devices,” said Seide. “That starts with connectivity and wireless connectivity.”

Bluetooth is a low-energy technology that will play a growing role in enterprise IoT, Seide added. Meanwhile, he said, Wi-Fi doesn’t have power profile requirements, and is massive overkill in terms of data rate and throughput, and LTE is for high bandwidth applications that require megabits of throughput, so is also overkill for many IoT devices, and can be a drain on battery life. However, no single connectivity technology is the silver bullet for all applications, he said, so the answer is to make them work together.

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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