IOT News Roundup

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

Cisco introduces its IoT System; Ernst & Young gains IoT analytics know-how; GreenPeak unveils chip that supports ZigBee and Thread protocols; Icontrol, mnubo to partner on smart home analytics; Z-Wave Alliance grows member base.

Cisco Announces IoT Platform, Bevy of IoT-related Products
In an effort to simplify the rollout and management of large Internet of Things networks, and to help customers attain business insights from those deployments more quickly, Cisco Systems this week unveiled its IoT System, a framework consisting of more than a dozen hardware and software tools to help manage IoT devices and data.

The platform is built on six application areas—or pillars, as Cisco calls them. These are:

Network Connectivity: Routing, switching and wireless products. These include the IE-5000 aggregation switch (with applications in manufacturing and smart city applications); the IW-3702, a ruggedized, wireless access point designed for use in mass-transit systems and for urban Wi-Fi networks; the IR-809 and IR-829 router series, which are available in seven different configurations, with Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE connectivity; a new 4G/LTE module for Cisco's Connected Grid Router (CRG) 1000 series of routers for utilities; a new Mobile IP Gateway (the MIG-2450); and the ruggedized 5921 Embedded Services Router, for use in harsh, remote environments.

Fog Computing: Cisco's term for employing computers at the edge of the network, between the sensors and an end user's back-end systems (generally residing in the cloud), to both filter and analyze data. Cisco thinks 40 percent of IoT-created data will be processed "in the fog" by 2018.

Security: Tools, such as the Cisco IP surveillance portfolio and network products, that protect both physical and digital assets. New products under this pillar are the 360-degree 5MP IP video camera and the 720p IP camera, both of which can host third-party software applications and include audio and digital sensors that can be used to control the camera, as well as audio detection, sensor aggregation, audio message triggers, metadata generation, a local video player and video summarization.

Data Analytics: This pillar can include Cisco's portfolio of analytics software tools, including the new Fog Data Services, which can trigger business events at the sensor level, based on data being collected and analyzed. Cisco also accommodates third-party analytics software within this pillar.

Management and Automation: Software tools, including the new IoT Field Network Director and Fog Director, which give administrators control of application settings and lifecycle, designed to make managing a growing network of endpoints (sensors, routers and so forth) and building networks simpler.

Application Enablement Platform: Application programming interfaces (APIs) designed to help end users in specific sectors (such as manufacturers or city planners), as well as their partners and third-party vendors, to design, develop and deploy their own applications.

Ernst & Young Acquires Entegreat's Consulting Business
Advisory services firm Ernst & Young has acquired the consulting arm of Entegreat, a company that helps manufacturers boost efficiency in their supply chains by analyzing data. E&Y says many of its clients in the manufacturing industry are deploying IoT systems and that, with Entegreat's services, E&Y can better serve those clients by helping them analyze and act upon datasets that they collect.

As companies in the United States begin to manufacture more products in their own stateside factories, E&Y forecasts that demand for such IoT analytics is growing. The services are aimed at helping manufacturers save energy while improving output and cutting waste. E&Y has not disclosed the terms of the deal.

GreenPeak Multi-channel Chipset Supports ZigBee, Thread Protocols
GreenPeak's new GP712 chipset, designed for use in smart home network gateways and set-top boxes, contains a single radio that works with both the ZigBee Alliance and Thread Group communication protocols for Internet of Things applications.

Both protocols are based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard for mesh networks and physical layer communication and media access control, but each has its communication protocols (used for security and commissioning devices) built on that standard. Both also utilize Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the latest IP communication protocol, but Thread uses IPv6 over low power wireless personal area networks (6LoWPAN), which means that a network node compliant with Thread can communicate with any IP-based device. ZigBee has a much longer history than the Thread protocol, but Thread has the backing of some major IoT ecosystem players. The Thread Group was founded last year by a consortium of companies, including Nest, ARM and Freescale Semiconductor.

GreenPeak says application developers and device manufacturers will want a chip that supports both protocols—meaning it can listen for both ZigBee and Thread data packets using a single radio—in one package. But the two standards groups are already starting to work toward interoperability built on existing hardware. In April, the ZigBee Alliance and the Thread Group reported that they are working together to enable ZigBee products to run Thread's mesh-network protocol via the ZigBee Cluster Library application layer.

Icontrol Boosting Analytics Services; Z-Wave Membership Growing
Icontrol Networks has announced plans to collaborate with data analytics company mnubo. Through the partnership, Icontrol will implement mnubo's IoT big data analytics service in order to analyze data collected through its smart home offerings: software platforms which are deployed by service providers and home security companies, or through the Icontrol Piper, its home security, video monitoring and automation device gateway that employs the Z-Wave wireless home networking protocol.

Using mnubo's services, Icontrol says it will be better equipped to analyze customer data in real time, and to use these insights to improve customer service, especially regarding home security and energy management. According to Icontrol's "2015 State of the Smart Home" report, security and energy management are the chief reasons consumers are interested in purchasing smart home systems.

A recent report from Argus Insights shows that buzz around smart home technology is faltering. But Icontrol counters that the smart home market will be buoyed as young adults begin to purchase homes. Millennials showed 79 percent more interest in smart home products this year compared to 2014, according to its "2015 State of the Smart Home" report.

In related smart home news, the Z-Wave Alliance says its membership has grown by 30 percent since the second quarter of 2014. The list of 75 new members includes SmartThings, Samsung's services arm Samsung SDS, and NuTone.