25 trailblazing companies proving Ireland is an IoT hub


5 Oct 2015349 Shares

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Irish-born, Irish-led and Ireland-based companies are blazing a trail for the internet of things revolution

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Whether you call it the internet of things, the internet of everything, or IoT, you can definitely call it Ireland’s latest great tech opportunity.

IoT Makers Week

We’ve previously detailed how this opportunity is being grabbed with both hands by Irish innovators and entrepreneurs, and, like the telecoms revolution that preceded it (that little old thing we call the internet), smart businesses are catching on fast to IoT.

Some are Irish-born, Irish-made and Irish-led, while others are international entities using headquarters and R&D centres here to further their IoT efforts – a testament to the tech talent on this island that can support such endeavours.

1. DecaWave

Making a considerable wave (to pardon the pun) in the Irish tech scene, Irish chipmaker DecaWave is one of the nation’s indigenous companies making the hardware to bring in IoT technologies.

The firm’s most notable product is the DW1000 chip which measures time and data communication and which will be installed in a number of car models in 2017.

Last June, DecaWave announced it had secured US$4.5m in funding, bringing total investment in the company to US$30m.

2. Intel

As one of the largest companies in the world, let alone in the IoT sector, Intel’s decades-long residence in Ireland has seen it develop much of its IoT hardware technologies right here.

In 2014, the company announced its intentions to make Dublin the first IoT city in the world and it has already begun distributing sensors across the city to measure data such as air quality and noise levels.

And, of course, Intel’s vice-president of IoT is Ireland’s Philip Moynagh, who remains one of the technology’s biggest proponents both at home and abroad.

3. Green Aviation

Originally founded in 2007 as a company providing commercial pilots to the airline industry, Green Aviation switched gears to working with drones in 2010.

Now, headed by its CEO Oisin Green, Green Aviation offers its services as a drone operator for companies, farms or other organisations looking to livestream footage and data to customers.

Speaking last July at the launch of its new fleet of drones, Green said: “Drone surveillance and data collection is of huge benefit to the large agriculture sector in Ireland.”

4. GeoPal Solutions

Once featured as a Siliconrepublic.com start-up of the week, GeoPal Solutions is a cloud service and mobile app for companies that need to manage a field-based workforce.

For companies that have fleets of drivers or employees off-site, GeoPal’s smartphone app sends back information to the head office in real-time to let them know how their staff is doing, both for security and efficiency reasons.

Founded here in Ireland in 2011, one of the company’s largest clients is Dublin City Council, which uses GeoPal to track and issue assignments to off-site staff .

5. Von Bismark

Von Bismark was started three years ago by Irishman Eoghan O’Sullivan. The Microsoft Ventures-backed company is headquartered in London with offices in Dublin.

Another former Siliconrepublic.com start-up of the week, Von Bismarck uses Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect 3D and its skeletal tracking technology to create virtual wardrobes and virtual mirrors for shoppers.

Last year, in a world first, the company, which is also backed by Enterprise Ireland, secured a deal with Microsoft to build a marketplace that allows retailers to sell their inventory to 13m Xbox users worldwide.

6. FormFormForm (Sugru)

Sugru is one of the biggest Irish-founded success stories in the maker space in recent times, with the product raising more than £3.5m through a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube earlier this year.

Its creator, Kilkenny woman Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh, was also named as one of the Top Tech Superheroes to Watch in 2015 by CNN.

Described by Forbes magazine as “21st-century Duct Tape” Sugru is an adhesive that moulds like play dough and sticks to almost anything, then turns into a strong, flexible rubber within 24 hours. It is manufactured in London, and the company behind it – FormFormForm – is planning to set up seven factories around the world that will manufacture Sugru near its target markets.

7. Cortechs

Cortechs is an innovative Irish start-up that is amongst a growing number of companies looking at how IoT can improve our health.

Led by Áine Behan, Cortechs makes wearable brainwave technologies that help children with ADHD focus on tasks more effectively. The company’s product combines neuroscience, sensors and next-generation technologies, and recently won a FutureHealth programme at the NDRC.

The games contain a mixture of cognitive and ‘neurofeedback training’, which involves retraining the brain using brainwaves and is a known intervention for attention and impulsivity behaviours in ADHD.

8. Moocall

Agri-tech has received its own fair share of clever creations recently, with Moocall’s device – which alerts farmers when cows are about to birth – being one of the better ones.

The potential for the Irish company’s device is massive, as it would do away with the need for regular, time-consuming site visits, and CCTV monitoring.

The Moocall sensor attaches to the cow’s tail and measures the pelvic area of the animal up to 600 times per second.

“When the animal reaches a certain stage during labour, our unit wakes up and uses a machine-to-machine (M2M) SIM as a communications chip to contact our server,” explains Niall Austin, the Offally farmer who co-founded Moocall.

“When this action occurs, a text alert is then sent to the farmer’s mobile phone.” Simple.

9. Dairymaster

Sensors, accelerometers and GPS are just three key ingredients of IoT, and three tools that can make farming an awful lot easier.

Dairymaster, a Kerry company investing big time in agri-tech R&D, utilises these technologies to good effect with genuinely innovative devices that help with the complex nature of farming.

Take Swiftflo Commander, for example – an entire processing system that, once installed at a milking facility, aids dairy farmers with an interconnected suite of information screens reporting on milk yield, milking times and somatic cell count data for each animal.

Last month, it took top gong at the National Ploughing Championships’ Innovation Awards, bagging €15,000 after seeing off 170 rival entries.

10. Bord Gáis Energy (Hive)

Better known as the nation’s main energy provider, Bord Gáis Energy has also dipped its toe into the IoT world, with its Hive device a recent example.

An attempt to get into the in-home interconnectivity that IoT is quickly bringing on stream, Hive is a thermostat that can adapt to the user’s habits.

You can control it remotely from a chosen device, with it also reading users’ living patterns to learn behaviours and act accordingly.

Home heating will likely be one of the first – and most effective – introductions of IoT to the masses, and it seems Bord Gáis Energy thinks so too.

11. GAA (Croke Park)

Intel’s project to turn Dublin into the world’s first internet of things city has reached new heights with Croke Park, the third-largest stadium in Europe and the focal point for Ireland’s Gaelic games tradition.

Over 70 companies, as well as researchers from Dublin City University (DCU) and Arizona State University (ASU), have converged at the home of the GAA to figure out how they can use the stadium to beta-test and pilot new IoT ideas.

Current projects are focused on enriching the stadium and fan experience by monitoring pitch quality and stadium microclimate, analysing the athletes’ performance, predicting traffic to and from the stadium, and developing apps that indicate queueing times at refreshment and convenience facilities.

“The demands that we face – not just on match days, but 365 days of the year – make Croke Park an ideal test bed for IoT technologies, and we look forward to assisting our partners to deliver innovations developed in our smart stadium for deployment in smart city environments,” said Peter McKenna, director of Croke Park.

“We are already world leaders in stadium sustainability, and intend to become world leaders in stadium connectivity and smart technologies. This collaboration with DCU, Intel and ASU will help us to deliver that goal.”

12. Keenan Systems

Keenan Systems is an Irish company that makes feeder machines and other devices for more than 30,000 customers in the agricultural sector.

“We are bringing internet of things to the field in the literal sense,” said John McCurdy, director of innovation.

“We are looking at creating sensors that will help farmers ration feed in order to provide the best kind of beef or milk they want to produce.”

McCurdy said Keenan will mine big data to provide better decision-making results for farmers.

“We see data sharing as a huge opportunity in the industry. Equipped with the right nutritional information, a farmer can ensure that the quality of steak that makes it to the supermarket is as good today as it was yesterday,” he said.

Keenan is working with Intel on APIs and also has a new lab for companies to collaborate in. As McCurdy puts it, “With internet of things, we are scratching the surface right now, but there’s a lot more to be done.”

13. Glen Dimplex

Glen Dimplex, which is headquartered in Ireland, is the world’s largest electrical heating business, with a turnover of US$2bn and more than 10,000 employees.

The company is currently working on a smart electrical thermal storage system that will integrate with energy from renewable sources, the use of which will result in a 25pc reduction in energy bills for consumers.

Muiris Flynn, director of manufacturing at Glen Dimplex, said recently that he believes IoT can also be harnessed to provide energy providers with faster and more efficient demand information. “Ultimately, for the IoT platform to work, power and latency issues will be critical,” he said.

14. U-blox

U-blox is a wireless communications company that invests heavily in the development of products and solutions for the internet of things.

The company has created chips, modules and software solutions that can be used to enable people, vehicles and machines to locate their exact position and communicate wirelessly over mobile and short-range networks.

Founded in Switzerland in 1997, U-blox has an engineering centre in Mahon, Cork, in which it invested €1m in 2013. At the time, Andreas Thiel, head of wireless products development at U-blox, anticipated the surging demand for 4G/LTE connectivity that would be driven by next-generation applications relying on machine-to-machine communications, and the Cork facility became U-blox’s fourth R&D centre in the world.

15. Kingspan

John Shaw, CIO of Kingspan, the Kingscourt-based company that makes insulation and energy products for export worldwide, said recently that IoT sensors will play a key role in the next generation of the company’s solar photovoltaic products.

“Our transition will depend on the internet of things, and growth will be fuelled by the Intel Quark chip,” he said.

Shaw said that the forecasted future of smart cities, smart factories and electric vehicles won’t happen without breakthroughs like Intel’s Quark chip.“The IoT will enable huge economic change and represents an enormous opportunity for Kingspan. We are getting heavily involved, particularly around solar. We see our transition being enabled by IoT, and Quark will be key to that.”

16. PCH

Irishman Liam Casey’s PCH is integral to the design and delivery of the high-end smart devices consumers crave globally. Working across the entire technology spectrum, PCH completes the design and delivery of products from Beats, Apple and many other household brand names.

PCH has revenues of over US$1bn a year and employs 2,800 people worldwide, including 80 people in Cork where the company is headquartered.

In partnership with DCU, PCH held various Hardware Hackathon events in Dublin this year and last year, and Casey himself has been established as a key player in the emerging hardware start-up space, establishing his own Highway 1 incubator programme.

17. Movidius

Movidius has created a microchip that can read and map the interior of an entire room once it’s placed inside it. This technology caught the eye of Google for Project Tango, which uses it to create smartphones that can visualise and sense an entire room in 3D.

The growth of the internet of things, with billions of connected devices to be installed globally in the next several years, is accelerating the market for Movidius’ technology.

Earlier this year, a major funding round raised a total of nearly €38m, bringing 100 new jobs to Dublin.

18. S3

S3 is a multinational technology firm that originated as a spin-out of electronics giant Philips. Based in Leopardstown, Dublin, much of its history is centred on supplying silicon design expertise and services to some of the world’s biggest technology companies, though its new strategic journey also involves creating its own products.

The most energy-efficient, high-speed analogue-to-digital converter ever was created by S3, whose TV technology division was recently acquired by consulting giant Accenture.

The buyout of this portion of S3’s business will see Accenture use the Irish-developed technology in its business, but it has not revealed the financial terms of the deal.

19. EMC (INFINITE)

Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) member EMC recently launched INFINITE, the international future industrial internet testbed as part of a €2m joint investment with Vodafone.

This Cork-based innovation platform has been built specifically for the development of industrial internet products and solutions, providing facilities for the testing and exploration of technologies such as M2M communications for manufacturing, fleet management, machinery, household appliances, and even fashion.

Phase one of the test bed, which is led by EMC, will connect the data centres of EMC, Vodafone and Cork Internet Exchange (CIX) into a reconfigured EMC network. In Phase Two, INFINITE’s first-use case – Bluelight – will enable ambulances to securely connect to a hospital’s system and relay information while en route.

20. Drop

Drop is an award-winning Irish start-up whose iPad-connected kitchen scale and digital baking assistant embodies the promise of the IoT world we are entering.

Headed by CEO Ben Harris, the design-driven company is on a mission to change the way we cook. To do this, Drop has not only created a kitchen scale of the future, but is working with chefs and kitchen experts to create and curate an entire data library of cooking aids.

21. Shimmer

Shimmer provides wearable wireless sensing technology, solutions and consultancy services to the research and education, enterprise and end-user markets.

The company was founded in Dublin in 2008, a spin-out from research Ben Kuris (who would go on to become Shimmer CTO) had developed at Intel.

An R&D facility in Boston, Massachusetts, was launched in 2009 and Shimmer has enjoyed many successes over the intervening years. Most recently, the company won a €10m contract with US company Emerge Diagnostics to provide technology that would help to diagnose the severity of occupational injuries in order to improve claim management within businesses.

22. SmartBin

Founded in 2010, SmartBin has created intelligent remote monitoring systems for the waste and recycling sectors.

Utilising IoT technology – wireless level sensors, predominantly – SmartBin ensures that collection routes are optimised for efficiency, and that only bins that need attention are included.

SmartBin is very much a global business, with clients spread across the world and offices in Dublin, Boston, Singapore and Sydney.

23. Cesanta

Cesanta is a software company, helping to drive the internet of things with embedded communications technology.

Founded in 2013, Cesanta’s offices are in Dublin’s Silicon Docks. Made up of Google engineering alumni, and a participant in Google’s 2015 Adopt a Startup programme, the company uses software libraries and embedded solutions to enable apps, devices and machines to connect and communicate.

24. Action Point

Founded in Limerick in 2005, Action Point is an IT infrastructure and services provider, and software development company.

With offices in Limerick, Dublin and Cork, Action Point’s services include offering IoT development support for other businesses. Most notably, Action Point created an app for Aga that allowed the iconic cooker brand to develop an IoT-ready cooker, the Aga iTotal Control.

25. Dell

Dell opened its first European IoT lab in Limerick this summer, the first expansion of its kind outside of the US.

Its first such lab opened in California last year, but adding a base in Limerick offered a chance for Dell’s European customers to connect with a dedicated space to build, model, architect and test their IoT solutions, and get them to market faster.

Dell’s now multinational IoT division is focused on creating leadership IoT solutions through its product, IoT Gateways. These small wireless or connected data-collecting devices can be mounted almost anywhere and are fitted with Intel processors and two cores, making them a robust component for driving IoT applications in building and industrial automation.

IoT Makers Week explores the internet of things revolution and the makers driving it with reports on Siliconrepublic.com from 5 to 9 October 2015. Get updates by subscribing to our news alerts or following @siliconrepublic and the hashtag #IoTMakersWeek on Twitter.

Trailblazing image by Africa Studio via Shutterstock