Litmus Automation raises $7M: Edge computing company Litmus Automation has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Litmus customer Mitsubishi Corporation. The investment brings Litmus Automation’s total funding to $12.6 million and will help the company boost sales and marketing. Its software connects industrial process controllers, and the data they collect, to existing IT systems or the cloud. (Litmus Automation)
Wireless Power comes to the kitchen: The Wireless Power Consortium, which brought us the Qi standard for wireless charging, has now created a higher power standard called Ki designed for kitchen appliances. I wrote about this a year ago after seeing a demo of the tech. The idea is that blenders, mixers, and other countertop appliances could be placed on a charging pad inside countertops and people could use them without having to plug them in. I’m keen on the idea, but can’t imagine paying extra for it, so I’m not sure how quickly the market will develop. If other people want to buy Ki-certified gear next year, and drive costs down, I’ll be happy to pick up my cordless coffee maker in about 10 years. (The Spoon)
IoT’s big challenge is heterogeneity: I really liked this interview with VMware’s IoT CTO Greg Bollella, who discusses why companies are hesitant to adopt some form of IoT solution. What struck me was his comment about how CIOs fear heterogeneity. Bollella says, “The heterogeneity introduced by the physical world is just going to be there…it’s unlike regular compute, where we like to make everything homogeneous so it’s easier to manage.” This is a pretty profound comment because the computing efforts of the last 20 years have all been focused on making computing scale by making it the same. This is how we got from one sysadmin managing a row of Sun servers in an office back in 1999 to one sysadmin managing a few thousand servers in a Google data center today. The most impactful IoT tech of the next few years will be those that help scale heterogeneity or turn heterogeneous data, inputs, devices, etc. into something that can be managed at scale. This is a significant challenge and one that’s not really discussed much in enterprise tech. (TechRepublic)
This accessory can create a context-aware home: Tying our cluster of different devices together to create a smart home can require a lot of time spent crafting rules and linking products to a hub. But one feature consistently lacking is presence detection at the individual room level. But Intellithings has launched a potential solution called the RoomMe sensor. For $129 this device knows that you (or your phone) has entered the room and it’s paired app on your phone can let a subset of home automation products know where you are and then send triggers so they adjust their settings based on your preferences. It’s cool and I can’t wait to try it. (CE Pro)
IoT case study in plastics packaging: This story talks about how a plastics packaging company used Crate.io’s database to bring 900 industrial IoT sensor readings into one database, improving notification times from minutes to milliseconds. (eWeek)
Finally, a sensor for seeing when your wash is done: This isn’t going to save the planet, but it may help save a few wrinkled clothes or extra trips to the dryer. One of the most common questions we get on the IoT Podcast Hotline is how to affix a sensor to a washer or dryer to see when clothes are done. This is actually fairly tricky for a novice, but someone pointed me to a product that looks like it helps without the pain of rewiring or developing your own energy-reading algorithm. The bad news is that demand has overtaken the supply, so it’s out of stock. But I’ll keep checking back. (SmartDry)
Philips Hue adds retro smart lights: This year at the IFA trade show, Signify, the parent company behind the Philips Hue brand, showed off new connected lights that use Zigbee and Bluetooth radios. These new lights include vintage-style filament lights and a new version of the Hue Go portable, color-changing smart light. Philips is also launching a new button for $20 and a new smart plug (its first). These products will hit stores in September and October. (CNET)
How did your Google/Nest crossover go? When Google said it would kill the Works with Nest program in May, people were upset. So upset that Google decided to change the program so that people who loved the Works with Nest program could slowly transition off of it or stay on. August 31 was the date on which Google said people would need to transition from their Nest accounts to a Google account so they could get new features. Kevin transitioned and didn’t love it. Others transitioned and were subsequently very upset. I’m curious to hear how your experience went. (StaceyonIoT, ZDnet)
Google open-sources privacy-protecting algorithms: Privacy is such a fraught topic in the IoT because we have more sensor data that can tell us more things about people, and all of that data can be stored and searched thanks to cheap computing power. Privacy is hard to find in the IoT. But Google is trying to make it a little bit more challenging to find out who someone is based on their data by open-sourcing the tools it uses to make it more difficult to tell real data from noise. Read on for a definition of, and a good explainer on, the concept of “differential privacy.” (The Verge)
Palo Alto Networks to buy an IoT security company: Palo Alto Networks plans to acquire Zingbox for $75 million in a bid to boost its IoT security services. We’re going to see a lot more IoT security buys in the next few months as the fall M&A season starts heating up. (CRN)
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