The Internet of Things (IoT) has enabled the connection of millions of devices, resulting in a vast amount of data being extracted from these devices, which then enables innovation in applications areas like industrial automation, predictive maintenance, and artificial intelligence. The IoT theme is certainly an area that we have been paying close attention to, where we have seen an exponential increase in venture investments at the intersection of cleantech and IoT from traditional venture capital investors and large multinational corporations, totaling more than $15 billion so far in 2017.
With the rise of venture capital dollars going to IoT, there has been an influx of companies and solutions on the market, creating a very fragmented landscape within the IoT ecosystem. As a result, this fragmentation has become one of the challenges in adopting IoT technologies and applications on a commercial scale.
Wifi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Zigbee, 5G – these are just some of the well-known wireless networking technologies that are currently available for IoT-based solutions. Each of these wireless protocols has different characteristics that were designed for specific applications. For example, LoRa (which is the underlying protocol adopted by Actility) is optimized for low-power operations across a wide network area, suiting industrial and smart city applications very well. The fragmentation issue here is less so on the selection of the appropriate wireless protocol, but more on the uncertainty of interoperability across the various communication networks. In addition, when customers need to adopt multiple types of communication networks, the associated costs can become unrealistic when trying to achieve their targeted ROI.