IoT cryptocurrency market start-up secures Microsoft as participant (update)

1 Dec 2017

Microsoft’s Lisbon office. Image: Lerner Vadim/Shutterstock

This week in all things IoT, Microsoft sees a blockchain-driven future in connected devices, and IoT in agriculture gets even bigger.

There was some more Irish success in the internet of things (IoT) sector this week with news that Wexford antenna provider Taoglas is engaged in the largest city-based deployment of IoT in the world so far.

In the coming months, around 3,200 smart sensors will be installed in street lights across San Diego in California, in a partnership between the city and General Electric.

The vision is to use the city’s streetlights as the anchors of a digital network that will cut energy use, monitor air quality and even highlight open parking spaces.

Previously named the Irish high kings of IoT, Enniscorthy-based Taoglas last year revealed a $2m investment in an IoT centre in San Diego.

Microsoft signs up for new IoT cryptocurrency market

IoT will be driven by blockchain, and what could be the driving force behind these billions of device transactions is a new cryptocurrency market launched by an ambitious start-up called Iota with 20 other companies, including Microsoft and Fujitsu working as participants.

However, confusion surrounding the role of partners in the deal at the time resulted in Iota issuing an apology.

“With the FOMO-FUD cycle taking its toll on Iota and us being continuously misrepresented in the media, we wanted to come forth with a public statement clearing up the confusion and miscommunication surrounding the data marketplace that has happened over the past few weeks,” the company said.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this issue to our associated collaborators and the community at large.”

It did, however, say any perceived partnership with Microsoft was created by the media.

“This supposed ‘partnership’ was never communicated by anyone at Iota nor our PR agency to any of the journalists,” it added.

“The press release, blog post and data marketplace website clearly state that Microsoft was only a ‘participant’ in the data marketplace’s innovation exercise.”

Agriculture reaps rewards of IoT adoption

According to new research from the IoT analyst firm Berg Insight, the installed base of wireless IoT devices in agricultural production worldwide reached 17m connections in 2016.

The number of wireless connections is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10pc, to reach 27.4m in 2021.

While the standards of IoT connectivity vary, wireless transmitters have been widely adopted in dairy cow monitoring applications along with remote monitoring via in-field sensor systems.

“Leading providers are now investing in technical platforms capable of supporting integration with third-party hardware and software solutions as agricultural equipment [and devices] are becoming parts of broader systems,” said Fredrik Stålbrand, an IoT analyst at Berg Insight.

One such company is John Deere, which revealed to earlier this year the extent to which it is investing in IoT and artificial intelligence (AI).

Baidu and Xiaomi team up on IoT and AI

When the Chinese equivalents of Google and Apple team up to develop IoT and AI, you know that serious things are afoot.

According to TechCrunch, it was announced at Xiaomi’s first developer conference in Beijing that the company and Baidu will come together with a joint market capitalisation of $86bn.

The pair have already begun working on a collaborative project in DuerOS, a conversational operating system created by Baidu that is starting to appear in Xiaomi’s hardware.

While the two are keeping their future plans under wraps for the moment, some of the areas of IoT and AI they will look into include deep learning, self-driving cars and virtual reality.

French ‘internet of horses’ start-up secures almost €2m

A French start-up named Seaver has closed €1.8m in funding to create IoT solutions for the equestrian industry.

Founded in 2016 by Zakaria Antar and Pierre-Yves Lalo, the company gives riders, coaches and owners access to useful information about their horse and performance, such as heart and respiratory rate, calories, time spent at each gait, and an overview of the course and jump height.

“Activity trackers for humans are starting to become popular today; it was absurd that technology had not yet entered the horse community,” said Antar, Seaver’s co-founder.

“This fundraising will allow us to continue the work begun two years ago, whose goal is to revolutionise the way we ride and take care of our horses. This also represents an opportunity to further understand this great animal.”

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Microsoft’s Lisbon office. Image: Lerner Vadim/Shutterstock

Updated, 10.38am, 5 March 2018: This article has been updated to show that Iota later clarified that Microsoft was not a partner, but rather a participant in the programme.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic