IoT News Roundup

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

CompTIA finds uptick in companies making money from IoT; Vodafone testing sun-exposure app using NB-LTE technology; think tank says federal government dragging its feet on IoT adoption; crowdfunded sensor-filled beacon blows past goal; GE rolling out Predix starter kits.

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CompTIA Survey Shows IoT Is Paying Off
Nonprofit trade association Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has released a report, titled “Internet of Things Trends and Opportunities”—based on the results of two online surveys it conducted in May and June 2016—that shows an uptick in companies that are hitting pay dirt with the IoT. CompTIA surveyed 350 IT channel professionals and 512 business and IT executives, then compared the results with a similar survey it conducted last year. Only 8 percent of respondents said they had made money from IoT offerings in the previous survey, but that figure it now up to 23 percent. The surveys also showed a bias toward large enterprises when it comes to revenue from IoT implementations. Thirty-six percent of large firms (those with 50 or more employees) surveyed are making money from their IoT initiatives, compared with just 15 percent of midsize firms (20 to 49 employees) and 15 percent of small companies (fewer than 20 employees).

Through the surveys, CompTIA also sought to rank the top challenges and limiting issues for both IoT technology providers and end users. Concerns of weak cybersecurity measures topped end-user concerns, followed by worries about interoperability between IoT solutions and legacy systems and ongoing costs of implementing IoT technologies. Vendors said building up expert teams, financing IoT product development and educating consumers are their top challenges. The full report is available for download on the CompTIA website.

Vodafone Testing Whether Swimwear IoT Will Float
At the Mobile World Congress in February, telecommunications provider Vodafone, in partnership with Nokia, conducted some demonstrations of Narrow Band Long-Term Evolution (NB-LTE) technology, a variant of LTE cellular technology optimized to meet the performance requirements of IoT nodes. Vodafone is now running a proof-of-concept test to evaluate the use of NB-LTE to help consumers limit their exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV sensors, communicating via NB-LTE, are embedded into swimwear and sunhats, and a companion app on consumer smartphones displays how long they have been exposed to harmful UV, urging them to remain in shade when the rays are most harmful, or letting them know that it is safe to recreate in sunshine when the rays are the least harmful.

The sensors could also be used for geolocation, so that parents would, for instance, be alerted via the app if their children wandered away from them, beyond a set geofence, while at the beach. Vodafone has not released much in the way of details or partners, and says it has no immediate plans to release the product commercially.

Reports Finds Government Lagging in IoT Adoption
The Center for Data Innovation, a nonprofit think tank that is working to educate policymakers and the public regarding a range of technologies, including the Internet of Things (in affiliation with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation), has released a report indicating that the U.S. federal government is lagging in its adoption of IoT technology, especially outside of the defense sector. The report attributes this sluggishness to “lack of strategic leadership, skills and funding; inadequate procurement policies; and an unwillingness to take on risks related to privacy, security, interoperability, data governance and return on investment.” In order to assess adoption activity, the report’s authors interviewed technology experts from both the government and private sectors.

Agencies able to overcome the hurdles that the report lays out could reap a list of benefits, including cost-cutting, improved public services, worker health, public safety and reduced energy use.

The report, which is available here, offers a road map for accelerating IoT deployment, which includes establishing an Internet of Things taskforce through the federal CIO Council to provide cross-government leadership and coordination, carrying out goal-setting exercises within each agency of the federal government to ascertain how best to use the IoT, and appointing a chief data officer within each agency to prepare for and guide IoT adoption.

Crowdfunding for Sensor-filled Open-Source Beacon Blows Past Goal
Finnish startup Ruuvi Innovations has blown past its $10,000 goal on Kickstarter, in a campaign it launched to fund the production of RuuviTag, a Bluetooth beacon that can be used as a standard proximity beacon (compliant with both the iBeacon and Eddystone protocols), but that also supports a wide range of use cases thanks to the integration of temperature, humidity and air-pressure sensors, as well as an accelerometer. It also includes an integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) antenna to support NFC applications.

The RuuviTag also supports an exceptionally long read range. According to Ruuvi, the tag has an open-air range of 500 meters (1,640 feet)—five times the standard Bluetooth range.

So far, nearly 1,800 individuals have backed the campaign, raising more than $112,000. The beacons, which will be manufactured by Gravitech in Bangkok, are scheduled to ship to backers starting in October 2016. A single RuuviTag costs backers $20 for a version with just a temperature sensor, and $25 for the tag with the full sensor array. The campaign is slated to run until August 10.

GE Predix Kits: Designed to Fast-Track Industrial IoT Projects
General Electric says that in response to interest among developers, it has added a new product to its Predix industrial internet software platform. The new Predix Kit is a bundle of hardware and software designed to enable end users to quickly connect industrial assets to the Predix platform, by reducing the amount of time developers spend setting up boards and configuring software. According to GE, a developer could use the kit to get a proof-of-concept industrial IoT system up and running within just 15 minutes. The kit includes Predix edgeware, preconfigured with asset-management and visualization software running on an Intel Edison prototyping board.

The kits, which can be connected to Predix cloud-based software modules via a Wi-Fi connection, will be available beginning next month, but GE has not yet released pricing. Other versions of the kits, in which the software is paired with either the Raspberry Pi board or GE’s Field Agent ruggedized edge device, will become available in the future, as will kits with software designed for specific use cases, such as monitoring and managing solar panels or safety equipment used in mining.