& cplSiteName &

IoT Startup Banking on WiFi Connectivity

Jason Meyers
8/26/2014
50%
50%

Internet of Things (IoT) startup Electric Imp is betting that the established and already well-connected world of WiFi will be the ticket to fast and economical expansion of the IoT ecosystem, both in the home and in industrial environments.

Electric Imp Inc. has built what it calls an end-to-end IoT connectivity platform, consisting of a component featuring a WiFi radio that embeds its Imp operating system into devices and provides a secure connection to the Imp Cloud. The Imp Cloud, the company says, acts as a central hub that provides connected devices with more security and control.

"You can run an application between the device and the cloud, and since there's a real-time connection to the cloud, you have all the computing power of the cloud in your device," says Bryan Kennedy, VP Strategic Development for Electric Imp. "Everything in the device is operating on a virtual machine in cloud, so you have complete and constant visibility to what's going on in the device."

The embedded WiFi radio in the Electric Imp component is a distinctive part of the strategy, Kennedy says. Relying on WiFi for connectivity moves devices out of the traditional M2M model of needing cellular connectivity, he says, and Electric Imp's WiFi-based approach is one-tenth the cost of a 3G/4G solution -- and addresses security implications that other networking standards can't.

Besides which, Kennedy adds, "working with the carriers reminds me of the old Soviet Union."

"WiFi has become so ubiquitous, and cost is dropping like a rock," he says. "More importantly, WiFi has been around long enough that security is rock solid, where Bluetooth is Swiss cheese. It's easy for us to change our radios out, but that market is so huge, so cost-effective and so secure, we're going to stay running in it for quite a while."

As for the whirr of activity in new IoT standards group formation, Kennedy said he believes it will take years for that to coalesce, and that protocols like Z-Wave and ZigBee are "doomed" and will quickly become the stuff of legacy. (See Raco Aims to Eliminate Need for IoT Standards, AllSeen Attracts More IoT Hopefuls and Thread Group Spins New IoT Networking Protocol.)


Get the latest on the evolution of connected things by visiting Light Reading's dedicated IoT content channel.


Electric Imp recently landed $15 million in Series B funding from new investors Foxconn Technology Group, PTI Ventures and Rampart Capital, and returning investor Redpoint Ventures . Company co-founder and CEO Hugo Fiennes, who was involved early on in the development of the Nest thermostat ultimately acquired by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), was also a returning investor. The new funding adds to the $8 million Series A investment the company closed in 2012.

The company started out in the home automation space, but is now looking toward products that have longer lives and into industrial manufacturing.

"Home automation has fast time to market, but limited shelf life and margin-sensitive products," he says. "White goods and appliances -- fridges, washing machines, pool pumps -- are much more expensive, and they tend to have five to 10 year asset lives. Once you connect you are guaranteed a service contract."

Getting embedded into those kinds of products also provides the company with a natural outgrowth into products for commercial and industrial settings, he says.

"When we knock off the business unit that does AC in the home, we have a reference in the same company and we're already a vendor," he says. "Then it becomes a much easier for them to implement our technology into their commercial and industrial product lines."

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading

(10)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/27/2014 | 6:01:56 PM
Re: Is it safe?
@Liz G,

That's cool. My ISP hasn't even sniffed that type of functionality yet. They probably reserve those luxuries for the business class paying customers :(
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/27/2014 | 1:11:11 AM
Re: Is it safe?
@pcharles09 my internet provider Sonic.net provides a Cisco client for us to use.  I use it on my laptop and I am trying to use it on my phone- still working the configuration issues. A huge benefit when traveling overseas, is that my IP is a US domestic address which means I can access Netflix, banking etc. easily and safely.
pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/27/2014 | 12:28:09 AM
Re: Is it safe?
@Liz G,

Is it a corporate tunnel or something you use personally? If yes to the latter, which one do you use?
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 10:56:13 PM
Re: Security!
Sounds like they are taking security seriously, but still unproven in the IoT space. We will have to wait and see.
jasonmeyers
50%
50%
jasonmeyers,
User Rank: Blogger
8/26/2014 | 8:27:24 PM
Security!
I asked Electric Imp to weigh in on these security concerns. The following response is from Tom Sarris, the company's communications manager: "We understand the concerns about Internet security, as well as security within the IoT space as a whole. The Electric Imp platform is aimed at removing the challenges and roadblocks designers face when creating new connected devices. We believe security is a requirement and not an afterthought. Security has been considered at every level of the Electric Imp platform from the chips in the hardware to the cloud services. The imp hardware supports WiFi networks with WPA and WPA 2 Personal security and uses TLS/SSL encryption for all communication between the device and server. To help further ensure security during the setup process, our platform features a patent pending optical setup configuration called BlinkUp, which allows network credentials to be passed to a device without broadcasting them over the air."
Liz Greenberg
50%
50%
Liz Greenberg,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 5:24:18 PM
Re: Is it safe?
All I know is that I run a VPN whenever I can if I have to use public WiFi...I think that swiss cheese applies to most wireless technologies.  If these guys have some way to lock it down great but ubiquity will be important or it is still swiss cheese.
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 1:25:13 PM
Re: WiFi security
This model sounds like an expansion of the Chromecast topology.   

Chromecast is a Wifi connected device that runs video in two ways.   Triggered by an app but streamed directly from the Google Cloud.  Or in a roundabout way, where you stream it normally to a PC and then send it back up the Wifi to Chromecast.

In any case, I've read that some Chromecasts have been hijacked since they broadcast themselves using Wifi!  


Chromecast Hack Lets You Rickroll Your Neighbor's TV


Dan Petro built a "Rickmote Controller" that can hijack a Chromecast, and play an endless loop of Rick Astley's "Never Going to Give You Up."
thebulk
50%
50%
thebulk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 12:45:30 PM
Re: Is it safe?
WiFi is a great technology for connecting devices, but security is a fundamental issue with WiFi so I would be very concerned. 
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/26/2014 | 10:48:46 AM
Is it safe?
I know there's security built into this approach, but is WiFi really to be trusted with IoT apps?
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, August 3, 1:00PM EDT
The Central Office Re-Architected as a Data Center
Guru Parulkar, Executive Director, Open Networking Research Center, Open Networking Lab
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, August 10, 1:00PM EDT
Telcos & Open Source 101
Phil Robb, Senior Technical Director, OpenDaylight
Friday, August 12, 1:00PM EDT
The Role of Open Source in NFV
Jim Fagan, Director, Cloud Practice, Telstra
Wednesday, August 17, 1:00PM EDT
Using Open Source for Data Centers and Cloud Services
Roz Roseboro, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Reinventing Operations for a Virtual, Software-Defined World

7|28|16   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Jim Hodges speaks with Accenture's Larry Socher and Matt Anderson about what service providers must do to transform their business to get the benefits of SDN and NFV including: leveraging DevOps, introducing real-time OSS and implementing analytics.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Fujitsu Sales Leader Shares Lessons Learned

7|27|16   |   5:12   |   (0) comments


As Fujitsu's only female sales leader, Annie Bogue knows the importance of asking for what you want, being flexible (she's been relocated five times), keeping a meticulous calendar, 'leaning in,' working harder than everyone else around you, being aware and more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
VeEX Test & Measurement Solutions

7|25|16   |   08:57   |   (0) comments


Cyrille Morelle, president and CEO of VeEX Inc., talks test and measurement with Light Reading's Steve Saunders at BCE 2016. This includes innovative products such as VeSion Cloud-Based platform for network monitoring; MTTplus Modular Test platform for Access, Business, Carrier Ethernet, Transport and Core services; and OPX-BOX+ for Fiber Optics.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live From BCE 2016

7|25|16   |   03:20   |   (0) comments


VeEX's Senior Director of Business Development, Perry Romano, explains how VeEX provides tools to help install, maintain, monitor and manage network infrastructure efficiently and effectively. The portfolio of products on display include the RXT-6000, MTTplus and TX300s.
LRTV Custom TV
Real-Time Telemetry & Analytics for Intelligent SDN Orchestration

7|25|16   |   03:09   |   (0) comments


Packet Design CEO Scott Sherwood discusses how real-time network telemetry and analytics are enabling a new breed of SDN orchestration applications.
From the Founder
The Russo Report: Driving Disruption

7|25|16   |   07:44   |   (0) comments


In the first episode of a four-part series, Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders and Calix President and CEO Carl Russo drive around town discussing the disruptive mega-changes in the communications industry and where hope lies for service providers to meet the escalating demands of the cloud.
LRTV Custom TV
NetScout: Maximizing Enterprise Cloud for Digital Transformation

7|20|16   |   04:53   |   (0) comments


Light Reading Editor Mitch Wagner talks to NetScout CMO Jim McNiel about maximizing the benefits of enterprise cloud and digital transformation while minimizing potential pitfalls with a proper monitoring and instrumentation strategy.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Ciena's VP Offers a Career Crash Course

7|20|16   |   4:14   |   (2) comments


How did Ciena's Vice President of Sales, Angela Finn, carve out her career path? Simple, she tells WiC. She stayed true to her company, customers and principles. She shares her advice for women on how to be authentic and credible, as well as for companies that want to make a real change to their culture and practices.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV in 2016: Part 2 – Climbing the Virtualization Maturity Curve

7|19|16   |   06:56   |   (0) comments


Many of the initial use case implementations are single-vendor and self-contained. The industry is still climbing the virtualization maturity curve, needing further clarity and stability in the NFV infrastructure (NFVi) and greater availability and choice of virtualized network functions (VNFs). Interoperability between NFVis and VNFs from different vendors ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Versa's Kumar Mehta for an interview focused on why service providers are building SD-WAN managed services, and how Versa's telco customers are innovating.
LRTV Custom TV
Juniper Networks & The Evolution of NFV

7|19|16   |   06:01   |   (0) comments


Senior Juniper Networks executives talk to Light Reading Founder & CEO Steve Saunders about NFV developments and the recent independent evaluation by test lab EANTC of Juniper's Cloud CPE solution.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink Goes Beyond Managed WiFi

7|19|16   |     |   (0) comments


CenturyLink's managed WiFi allows enterprises, such as retailers and resorts, to track guest WiFi usage in order to help them better communicate with customers.
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Five of the Top 10 most targeted countries in Check Point Software Technologies' global Malware & Threat Index for Q1 2016 are in Africa.
Hot Topics
Verizon Sports Big Plans for Yahoo
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 7/26/2016
Light Reading Beyond
Steve Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 7/28/2016
Yahoo Signing Off in $4.83B Sale to Verizon
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 7/25/2016
Facebook Gets Its Drone On
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/22/2016
Ericsson Board Has Been Asleep at the Wheel – Consultant
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 7/25/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
I've enjoyed interviewing many interesting people since I rejoined Light Reading, but William A. "Bill" Owens certainly takes the biscuit, as we say where I come from.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.