Exhibitors at the Internet of Things World event here were largely split between designers of low-cost, low power chips and high level cloud software. All shared a quest for sometimes elusive IoT users.
In networking, startup Sigfox, flush from its $115 million funding round in February, promised to set up 1,300 base stations to cover 10 U.S. cities by the end of the year and as many as 4,000 base stations covering 30 cities by the end of 2016. So far it has just 15 base stations up in San Francisco and no announced users for its 900 MHz wide-area, low-data-rate network focused on IoT.
At the high-end of networking, LinkNYC (right), a metro kiosk planned for New York City, was one of the more unique systems concepts presented at the event. The 1 x 9.5 foot kiosk includes a gigabit-class WiFi router, an Android tablet and a large digital advertising display.
The city hopes to have about 500 of the systems deployed by next summer and 10,000 within four years, leveraging plans to pull optical fiber to all the city’s subway stations. The access point is expected to have a reach of about 150 feet and offer data encryption.
“We’re trying to build a connected city,” said Jeff Merritt, director of innovation for New York City.
The kiosks are being built and managed by a private consortium at an estimated project cost of $200 million. They could generate as much as $500 million in revenues over a dozen years, mainly through digital ads. The city is taking proposals online until the end of June from companies with novel ideas for uses of the kiosks.
Separately at the event, more than a half dozen emerging companies offered software and services to link to the cloud IoT nodes riding a variety of Bluetooth, cellular and Wi-Fi networks. They included IoTx with code for subscriber management, billing and data routing; Golgi which promised support for both competing Allseen and OIC ad hoc software standards; PubNub which touted a low-latency service suitable for streaming and others including Relayr, SeeControl and Litmus Automation.
Startup Analog Computing Solutions (ACS) presented one of the more novel chip concepts. It aims to deliver in September first silicon for a neural network device that monitors sensor data for trigger events, allowing attached microcontrollers to stay in deep sleep mode.
ACS (Bloomington, Indiana) got its start as an Indiana University research project developing a chip to search for spikes in neural signals in active prosthetics. It is funded with a National Science Foundation grant and is seeking partners to take into new IoT applications its approach described as a sea of analog circuits that look in practice like a collection of analog-digital converters.
Next page: Silicon for smartwatches and buildings