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IoT

Five IoT Startups to Watch in 2020

2020 will be an interesting year for IoT startups. Although much of the manic hype cycle that has surrounded the Internet of Things (IoT) in the past few years has faded, Microsoft reports that 88% of decision makers in over 3,000 enterprises surveyed this year believe IoT is critical to business.

So we've picked just a few startups that will be critical to IoT in 2020, from ambitious companies that want users to create IoT-specific networks in the US and beyond to software that could replace GPS for tracking goods.

So, in no particular order, here are the startups for your perusal:

Helium
Helium is one of the most ambitious startups in the tech world today. Co-founded in 2013 by Napster pioneer Shawn Fanning, along with Amir Haleem and Sean Carey, the company sells a $495 long-range IoT hotspot in the US for consumers to install, which earns crypto-currency from monitoring devices like pet trackers and smart water meters on its network.

Helium styles itself as "the people's network," and a would-be alternative to cellular IoT. CEO Haleem says the company plans to move beyond the US and launch in Europe in early 2020. The company has so far gathered $51 million in funding from Google Ventures, Khosla Ventures and FirstMark.

Konux
Munich, Germany-based Konux develops industrial IoT (IIoT) sensors and monitoring systems for train systems. Konux's sensors are installed along the railway tracks and monitor the conditions of key switch components, providing transit companies with predictive maintenance updates on their rail systems.

In 2019, Konux has signed on customers such as SNCF Réseau, Europe's second-largest rail infrastructure provider, which is using Konux's system to monitor the condition of the switches along two high-speed lines. Konux tells Light Reading that its largest customer is Deutsche Bahn, which it started working with in 2015.

Konux, which started in 2014, has raised $51.6 million in funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Upbeat Ventures, MIG AG and Alibaba Group.

Particle
San Francisco-based Particle aims to be an all-in-one platform for IoT products. This means the startup will help companies build IoT hardware, choose the right connectivity scheme, and bring the devices to its cloud. Particle supports cellular IoT, WiFi and mesh networking for connectivity.

Particle says that it is helping around 8,500 companies get their IoT projects off the ground currently. The company has so far earned $81.3 million in funding from Qualcomm Venture Partners, Energy Impact Partners, as well as Spark Capital and OATV.

Blues Wireless
Lotus Notes creator and former top Microsoft technologist Ray Ozzie has formed an IoT startup that can utilize Notecard, a System-on-Module (SOM) exclusively on AT&T's IoT LTE network, to connect home appliances, alarm systems, smart meters and other devices on encrypted, prepaid wireless. Blues Wireless hopes to sell the Notepad modules at enough of a profit to cover the cost of both the device and the wireless data that the unit will use.

Ozzy's crew are currently in beta with the Notepad SOM.

PoLTE
Startup PoLTE is trying to make tracking equipment easier and cheaper with a software system that lets the customer convert data from an LTE modem into location information. It works with existing modems and only requires a software update, PoLTE claims. Location tracking has typically required a battery-hungry GPS transceiver or masses of WiFi hotspots to triangulate your position.

The PoLTE Location API has recently become available in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace. The startup has signed up with chipmaker Sequans to deploy its software on the chip maker's Monarch LTE chipset. Richardson, TX-based PoLTE has raised $18.5 million in strategic funding since the company was formed in 2005.

Further reading:

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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