Few movements in technology are slated to disrupt the everyday lives of modern technophiles like the Internet of Things. Growth of technologies regarding machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and connectivity are bringing the internet to a plethora of common items we interact with on a day-to-day basis.
Whether it is "smart" items or non-connected items that are augmented by specific data points such as time codes or geo-location, IoT is changing how we see the world around us. This intersection of the internet, data, and things is providing new information and context.
The IoT is, in essence, a big data play. Consumers can glean data about their use of household items, companies can better understand how customers engage with their product or service, and everyone involved can better automate and understand processes that they are commonly involved in.
It's growing, too. Research firm Gartner estimates that by 2020, 26 billion units will be working within the Internet of Things. A lot of that growth is driven by new companies seeking to connect more and more people and devices to the Internet of Things.
Here are five companies to watch in the IoT market.
California-based Neura connects your individual devices, frequently-visited places, and people close to you. Users delegate the important connections between these inputs and Neura tracks your interactions and learns from your daily routines.
If you allow it to, Neura will act on your behalf to better your daily life through automation. An example on the company's website centers around a user who just finished a run. The software can change your music to something more calm, tell your water heater to turn on so you won't have to wait for a hot shower, and let your family know that you'll be home soon. Of course, you can program the tool for your personal use case and it will adapt to you as you use it more frequently.
One of the biggest issues with the Internet of Things is the difficulty in standardizing the connections between connected "things." Octoblu is a brand new startup that wants to act as a universal IoT system, translating protocols or APIs to work with each other.
According to its website, "Octoblu mediates the connections between devices, allowing you to link devices across protocols and platforms to let them communicate." Octoblu's product is called Meshblu, which acts as a set of universal adapters for its central system which works as a public or private cloud.
TempoIQ, formerly known as TempoDB, is a recent graduate of the TechStars accelerator program. The company, which is based in Chicago, initially focused on building a database for time series data that could better store data from connected devices, but it has since refocused on monitoring sensor data.
Users get access to flexible monitoring and alerts based on sensor data, custom analytics for time series and sensor data, and a scalable backend through a dedicated private cloud environment. After being alerted to a change in data, such as a manufacturing line going down, users can more quickly work to solve the problem. TempoIQ also gives users access to historical data analyses to identify long term trends in the connected devices.
Chui is a smart doorbell. While that may not sound like the biggest breakthrough in IoT, the company is doing some interesting things with its software. Chui uses facial recognition technology to turn your face, and the faces of those you allow, to become keys that unlock a door.
The system tracks and logs who has come and gone, timestamping their visit. This makes it a great tool for businesses who need to keep track of who has been on their property. Users can also unlock the door for expected visitors through their smartphone, so they no longer need to dole out extra keys to a cleaning service or repairman. Chui also allows two way video calls through the device so users can chat with their visitors from their phone.
Scanalytics wants to make physical spaces part of the Internet of Things, and it is part of Microsoft's new Internet of Things accelerator. The company's flagship product is an intelligent floor mat called the SoleSensor, which measures foot traffic. It works like a touch screen for the floor and the company claims that it can measure 100% of foot traffic in an area, down to each individual step. The potential for the enterprise is huge, especially in retail, because SoleSensor can measure what part of the store customers are frequenting and even connect with other devices to prompt actions based on customer behavior.
Here is an example posted on the company's website: "When someone is standing in front of this product for longer than 1 minute, display competitive pricing information and send a text to a nearby sales associate."
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.