Andreessen Horowitz Funds IFTTT; Puts Wood Behind The Internet Of Things Arrow

IFTTT, a San Francisco-based Internet of Things startup with a passionate following among webheads, announced Thursday that it has raised $7 million in a Series-A fund led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Launched in December 2010, IFTTT puts the power of the Internet in the hands of ordinary people, making it possible for them to easily link web services together. This year, IFTTT expanded its scope to include physical objects like Belkin’s WeMo devices and the Winthings body scale and blood pressure monitor.

John O’Farrell, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, explained that the firm had selected IFTTT from a growing number of Internet of Things startups because of the promise it holds for freeing personal data that is trapped in applications like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Foursquare. “For example, when I post on App.net, my post instantly appears on Twitter too, thanks to IFTTT,” he writes. “Every time I post a photo (or am tagged in one) on Facebook, IFTTT downloads it to my Dropbox without my even having to think about it.

The two things that could doom the ‘Internet of things’ revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

M2M is huge, and power everything from point-of-sale machines and ER devices to much of the Big Data revolution. But all that is in danger, says John Horn of RACO Wireless, if we don’t patch two major holes.

Complexity is a profit killer

M2M solutions must be made to be easier to deploy. We’re talking days or weeks here – even hours. Not years. Solution providers need the ability to get thousands of M2M devices up and running at once, crucially, using existing, standardized technology. They need the ability to customize rate plans and to see in real-time how their customers are actually using their applications. This is possible. More to the point, enterprises that get their M2M applications up and running quickly are seeing amazing returns. No longer do enterprises have to sit on the sidelines and wait as the process unrolls while they continue running their business with the same deficiencies that their solution is intended to improve. Typically, there is up to a 40 percent return on their investment in the first year alone.

But every time there’s a problem with that M2M application or the enterprise IT department has to focus on something like making the wireless connection work, that ROI is reduced. And at some point, if deploying a M2M application distracts from a company’s core business rather than enhancing it, then the ROI is no longer worth the effort.

Sunsetting 2G could slow some M2M applications

Unfortunately, simplicity isn’t the only thing holding back the growth of M2M right now. In fact, the very future of some M2M applications is being challenged, thanks to the mobile industry’s migration to 3G and 4G networks. In the process many are simply shutting down their existing 2G networks, stranding customers who have M2M applications that rely on them. There is one story of a small boutique in the Midwest that relied on a 2G network to process credit-card payments. Without notice, its 2G cellular service was shut off and suddenly the shop’s point of sale device was non-functional, leaving a vulnerable small business scrambling to find options.

Complicating matters is that many M2M applications simply don’t use enough data to justify updating or transitioning them to wider pipes and the more costly devices associated with 3G and 4G networks. So, while in many cases it may be an option to upgrade to a significantly more expensive 3G or 4G compatible device, the low levels of data consumption required by these applications would not come close to justifying it, and so unnecessarily put a hit on a businesses ROI.

These shifts force customers to be very strategic in how they plan their M2M strategy. As some carriers are forced to move away from 2G networks because of spectrum constraints or other long-term strategies, there are other carriers that remain committed to supporting their 2G networks. The bottom line is that for M2M to reach its full potential, application providers need easy-to-implement M2M solutions. And they also need some assurance that their M2M solutions will still be supported in the future as networks continue to evolve. If you give enterprises and potential M2M application developers these two things, M2M will reach its full potential.

How the Internet of Things will change almost everything.

In a guest post for Forbes, John Humphreys, VP-marketing for cloud management software provider Egenera equates the Internet of Things to a central nervous system of the Planet.

If you think the digital world is crowded now, wait until you see what the next few years will bring. Today, there are roughly two Internet-connected devices for every man, woman and child on the planet. By 2025, analysts are forecasting that this ratio will rise past six. This means we can expect to grow to nearly 50 billion Internet-connected devices in the next decade.

Over the next decade, most of the connected device growth will come from very small sensors that are primarily doing machine-to-machine communications and acting as the digital nerve endings for highly dynamic global sense-and-respond systems.

Driven by a revolution in cheap sensor technology, we have, for the first time, the ability to impart a central nervous system on our planet. This fabric of technology will allow us to measure systems on a global scale and at the same time offer a never before seen resolution.

The Role of the Cloud

If all of these sensors act as the central nervous system for the planet, then the cloud is the brain. It’s the place where all the data flooding in will be collected, collated, analyzed and turned into information and that information turned into knowledge.

In a world containing vast arrays of constantly changing sensors, the challenges for the cloud include scale of operations and rate of change. Whether it’s for a social network, a scientific study or for resource optimisations, a key characteristic of the Internet of things (IoT) is its massive scale and self-organising nature.

The challenge is the temporary nature of the network. As such the next generation of the cloud will need to malleable enough to scale autonomously, adaptive enough to handle constantly changing connections and resilient enough to stand up to the huge ebbs and flows in data that will occur. To meet this challenge, cloud computing will need to accelerate its evolution and rapidly move past its current form.

Internet of Things: Dealing with data

It’s important to consider where data is coming from when thinking about the Internet of Things. A lot of the useful data we might use personally naturally comes from us. So, it’s not so much an internet of things as an internet of people – with things that gather data.

DJ Patil, a data scientist with Graylock Partners recently gave a talk at Le Web about how we could be using data to improve ourselves.

“It should be the Internet of nouns,” he told The Next Web. “A noun being a person, place or thing. When we think about ourselves, we create data – things like our temperature, perspiration, our heart rate, can all be measured. So the way we instrument ourselves can help us to understand more about ourselves.”

One of Patil’s clear examples is the data we use in medicine: “We can build jet engines that tell us when they’re sick. Why don’t we have a world where the doctor looks at your data, calls you and says “you’re not looking that well, maybe you should come in now”?

One of the technologies at Le Web that really seemed to be on the fringes of consumer technology was the Muse headband from InteraXon. Simply put, it’s a headband that reads brainwaves so that users can collect data about themselves and even work on exercises to improve focus and attention.

It’s another example of how collecting data can help us make better choices, but InteraXon co-founder Ariel Garten sees a future where our brain waves may be the trigger which can change the physical world around us.

“Way, way down the road, this is a technology that is going to be used to turn on and off the lighting in your own home,” she told The Next Web. “It will be able to let your computer know when you’re frustrated so you can change the size of the monitor so you can interact more effectively. It’s something that’s going to allow technology to support you more readily and effectively.”

Garten’s sensational demonstration on stage at Le Web saw the event’s host Loic Le Meur type out an email. Doesn’t sound so shocking initially, but as he typed, his emotional state dynamically changed the font his words appeared in. It looked a lot like magic.

To paraphrase William Gibson, the Internet of Things is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. The Muse headband will go on sale in 2013, Lockitron is also shipping next year, Fitbits are spreading and the data keeps growing.

It looks as though 2013 will be a real breakthrough year when it comes to bringing the Internet of Things to a wider market. If platforms do become more accessible and standards are set, then if you can think of a ‘thing’ and find the data to connect to, it seems as though almost anything could be possible.

The ‘Internet of Things’ gets new digs

The “Internet of Things” has a new and improved switchboard.

Pachube — basically an API to connect and collect data from all kinds of devices, sensors, and environments worldwide – recently re-branded and re-launched itself as Cosm, with a new focus on collaboration and social elements.

Pachube’s founders first envisioned it as a “patch bay” to connect the Internet of Things, but say they’ve since expanded the vision to be less about “behind-the-scenes infrastructure.”

“The idea of the Internet of Things needing a piece of equipment has become less useful than the concept of it involving shared ‘workspaces’ and ‘environments’ (‘microcosms’ and ‘macrocosms’),” wrote Cosm’s Usman Haque in a recent blog.

Aside from the name change, which Haque repeatedly touts as much easier to pronounce than Pachube, Cosm’s improvements include a user console to monitor data feeds, more real-time data, commenting, and a more sophisticated system to manage into the thousands of devices.

Cosm link: https://cosm.com/