By Rick Delgado, Contributor
The Internet of Things (IoT) may be the next revolutionary field for tech products for consumers and businesses. In much the same way smartphones and cloud computing have become a regular part of life, the IoT will likely play an influential role in nearly every activity sometime in the near future. The prospect of the IoT is so enticing, many companies have been quick to seize on the idea, producing some fascinating and innovative items that take advantage of the concept. The following are the Internet of Things companies that show some of the most promise with their unique designs and products.
Mellow is a smart sous-vide machine. The system connects to the user’s smartphone, allowing the user to indicate when it should start cooking the food. Weight sensors let Mellow know when food has been added and prompts the refrigeration system to keep the food cool until the user indicates to cook the meal.
Year Founded: 2014
CEO: Zé Pinto Ferreira
Mission: “It’s unacceptable to me that only 1 in 4 dinners eaten at home are cooked from scratch. Losing touch with our food is the leading cause of the obesity epidemic, and technology that makes cooking healthy food as convenient as microwaving a pizza is crucial to us taking our health back into our own hands.” -Zé Pinto Ferreira
WeGoLook is a network comprised of more than 20,000 nationwide “Lookers” that help people wishing to purchase items online mitigate risk. For example, a user wants to purchase a pinball machine in Kentucky but is located in California. The user orders a “Look” and the Looker is dispatched to the onsite location of the pinball machine to take photos, video a working demonstration, and answer questions. WeGoLook delivers the data back to the user in the form of an electronic report with full screen photos, video and other information.
CEO: Robin Smith
Mission: “WeGoLook was created when a friend was about to purchase an item on eBay and said, ‘I sure wish I had someone to go look at that for me.’ I responded that surely there was a company that provided those type of services since so many consumers purchased items online but could not find one. The problem with purchasing an item online is simply this: distance = risk. If a person is unable to validate asset or item existence or current condition, they are much more likely to become victims of misrepresentation or fraud.” – Robin Smith
PrecisionHawks’ LATAS (Low Altitude Traffic and Airspace Safety) is a proposed solution for widespread drone integration. Thousands of drones, both commercial and hobbyist are set to take the skies. But current radar technologies and ADS-b reporting systems are unable to locate and track them due to their small size and low-altitudes. LATAS takes advantage of the IoT by connecting airspace management technologies, such as sense and avoid, geofencing and aircraft tracking, into a service package for commercial and recreational drone operators as well as regulators and air traffic controllers. It is currently available to technology and testing partners.
Year Founded: 2010 (LATAS, patent pending, 2014)
CEO: Bob Young
Mission: “The innovation of the tech community is addressing the timely need for an ecosystem that can accelerate drone integration. Safe and efficient drone integration into the national airspace is definitely one of the more important hurdles and one that we at PrecisionHawk are actively working to address. We believe that collaboration between manufacturers and lawmakers will be vital in the success of the burgeoning commercial drone space.”— Tyler Collins, Director of LATAS at PrecisionHawk
EverCharge creates smart electric vehicle charging stations that relies on SmartPower, a power management technology. SmartPower allows each charging station to communicate with each other to more efficiently distribute power and maximize current building infrastructure. The system also learns drivers’ habits over time to boost efficiency.
Year Founded: 2012
CEO: Jason Appelbaum
Mission: “I created EverCharge with one goal in mind, to make owning an electric vehicle accessible to everyone. This became my passion after I bought an electric vehicle and found that I would not be able to install a charger in my building due to power restrictions. After trying public charging I knew there had to be a better, more enjoyable way to own an EV and that’s when I came up with the SmartPower technology that drives EverCharge. Being able to bring in-home charging to everyone, so they never have to wait or worry about getting a charge, is exactly why I started this company.” -Jason Appelbaum
Humavox’s ETERNA wireless charging platform enables integration of wireless charging into small devices, making it suitable for wearables and other IOT devices. Unlike similar products, Humavox relies on near-field radio frequency technology to transfer energy rather than magnetic induction. The technology uses a transmitter and receiver. The receiver, which goes into the device, is thinner than a SIM card and about the size of a child’s pinky nail.
CEO: Omri Lachman
Mission: “The key for success of wireless charging is to increase and expand its addressability to the most meaningful portable devices in our lives, across all life and market categories. We need to reach true interoperability, so that, like USB and WiFi, it works everywhere, on everything and for everyone. We can’t just offer working technologies. We need to make sure the solutions we offer consumers are a perfect match to address real-life usability scenarios.” -Omri Lachman
Mistbox is a solar-powered device that connects to any traditional AC unit to help make it more efficient. The technology uses evaporative cooling to pre-cool outside air as it enters the AC unit, and it is equipped with sound, temperature, and electromagnetic sensors to automatically optimize run cycles. The company claims it reduces AC-related energy costs by 30% and qualifies for a 30% Federal Green Tax Credit.
Year Founded: 2011
CEO: Josh Teekell
Mission: “Our mission is to provide a simple and cost-effective way for people to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprint without having to sacrifice convenience and comfort. Having grown up in Texas, air conditioning is a big part of life so we looked for a way to maximize efficiency for homeowners to save on their electricity bills. We combine practicality and unrivaled savings with eco-friendly initiatives to improve lives both directly and indirectly by moving towards a cleaner and greener world.” -Josh Teekell
7. Disney’s MyMagic+
Disney’s MyMagic+ MagicBand was developed to enhance the customer experience within Disney parks and enable Disney to handle more customers at the same time. With the band, customers can enter Disney parks without showing a ticket, unlock their hotel room, use FastPass+, and charge purchases to their room. The technology consists of a rubber wristband with an RFID chip and a radio that connects to a system of sensors within DisneyWorld.
CEO: Tom Staggs
Mission: In an interview with Wired magazine, Staggs said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. That’s how we think of it. If we can get out of the way, our guests can create more memories.”
Ôasys is a wall-mounted touch screen that measures water use wirelessly via a sensor installed on the main water pipe and helps the user to compare water usage over time, set goals, compare usage to other users and track local watershed levels and weather forecasts.
Head of Business Strategy: Daniel Martin Callizo
Mission: “In many ways, we can be proud of how humanity is tackling the water crisis. New inventions, policies and grassroots efforts are bringing down water consumption in many places. However, we felt there was a piece of the puzzle missing. Plenty of people are motivated to save water, but don’t understand how their home usage really fits into the big picture. When someone changes a habit to conserve water, we felt they should have a way to see exactly how their effort made a positive difference, so they know where to focus future efforts, set specific goals for making it happen, and feel motivated knowing they’ve done a good job.” -Daniel Martin Callizo
9. Pulse Play
Pulse Play, is a smartwatch developed specifically for tennis and racket sports players. The watch provides extensive statistics for amateur and recreational tennis players to keep track of their performance history. Specific features include real-time scoring, a user ranking system, match history, and a real-time announcer that announces the score throughout the game. The final product will be shipped either December 2015 or January 2016.
CEO: Andy Ram, retired professional tennis player
Mission: “We want to create the largest-ever community of amateur and recreational tennis and racket sport players, and we want to put the focus on them. Pulse Play started with the scorekeeping — after I retired, I kept seeing players arguing over the score at my local court — but I realized pretty quickly that Pulse Play could be much bigger, that we could solve that problem and on top of it build more features that would make racket sport players feel like pros. Right now the market is fragmented and almost all of the attention is on the top handful of players; with Pulse Play, we believe we have a big chance to bring players together and give them something that will take their favorite sport to a whole new level.” -Andy Ram
One of the weaknesses of the Internet of Things is that a user now has to keep track of and monitor multiple devices. Netvibes’ Dashboard of Things seeks to address this issue by providing a central hub to monitor and control all of the connected apps, devices, and accompanying data. The technology allows the user to automate certain actions based on certain triggers. For example, if Nest Protect detects smoke in the home and it’s within a date range the user is on vacation, send a text to a neighbor. If it’s outside that date range, send a text to the user. These “Potions” can eventually be applied to every connected device the user owns. Netvibes currently supports many popular devices and platforms, with more continually being added.
CEO: Freddy Mini
Mission: “With the Internet of Things, consumers now have the power to automate their digital lives and make apps and devices obey their every command. It’s not just about remote-controlling devices; rather, the real power is in programming automatic interactions—If these 2 things happen, then do these 3 things. In essence, it’s Artificial Intelligence controlled by consumers. In this new world, everyone is a powerful programmer, even if you can’t write a single line of code.”