Internet of Things News of the Week, May 8, 2017
Here’s notable Internet of Things news from the past week.
Sirius XM purchased Automatic: In a deal that’s likely about data, SiriusXM will pay more than $ 100 million to buy Automatic, the maker of a connected car device. Automatic dongles plug into a car’s onboard diagnostics port and can track location, measure certain aspects of driving and track miles. My bet is SiriusXM is making a play for relevance as carmakers and the tech firms try to control as much car data as possible. The deal gets SiriusXM deeper into the car and could perhaps give it some leverage as it seeks to remain relevant with carmakers and consumers. (TechCrunch)
Actility is in a buying mood: Actility, an IoT network company, has acquired a geolocation system company called Abeeway for an undisclosed amount. The deal gives Actility location capabilities to add to its existing low power wide area networking options. So now a manufacturer of a connected device or fleet management company can get not just connectivity, but also the location from one vendor. This is Actility’s first deal since raising $ 75 million. For more, see my profile on the company. (Actility)
Best Buy will become Vivint’s showroom: As the competition heats up between the providers of security and home automation, Vivint has scored a deal to show its stuff in Best Buy. The companies announced a strategic partnership that puts a Vivint smart home demo in Best Buy stores around the country beginning this summer. Customers who like what they see can schedule Vivint to come and install the system the next day. It’s unclear how persuasive large retail displays for home automation are, but it’s something ADT, Alarm.com and others may want to consider. (Fortune)
Ecobee bets big on voice: Ecobee, the maker of my favorite connected thermostat, has launched a new version featuring Alexa, Amazon’s personal assistant. This allows users to control their thermostat via voice and to access other Alexa features. More surprising is that Ecobee also said it will put Alexa in a light switch that will arrive later this year. (Ecobee)
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PTC brings Kepware’s integrations to Microsoft’s Azure: PTC said its Kepware industrial connectivity software can now integrate with the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. This brings Kepware’s ability to translate obscure manufacturing protocols into something that can be read by today’s IT infrastructure and software to Azure. It also feels like a reaction to the launch of the Linux Foundation’s EdgeX Foundry which strives to build an interoperable platform that might make this sort of partnership less relevant. (PTC)
Intel places its hopes in autonomous cars: As Intel strives to find a new market as lucrative as servers and personal computers, it has branched into wearables, robots and wireless. And now it is bringing many of those efforts together in its Silicon Valley Innovation Center for Autonomous Driving. Its goal is to push the autonomous car industry forward and in doing so advance its own fortunes by placing more silicon and software into cars. Intel has built entire industries before. Remember when it funded hot gaming companies that could take advantage of its more powerful computer chips back in the late 80s and early 90s? The challenge for Intel is working well with others, although it does seem to be adapting to this idea of being one part of a larger ecosystem. (Intel)
Does IoT need a code of ethics? I laughed so hard at this article because it’s kind of like saying broadband needs a code of ethics. Or software does. I would certainly agree that folks building connected products need ethics, as do the folks installing them, but I’m not really optimistic that anything will happen. I am sure we should probably re-calibrate our ethics for a world where data is constant and algorithms are deployed to make efficient use of resources (see my essay above), but I’m not sure who will lead that charge. The government isn’t. Silicon Valley is certainly not considering it, so that leaves us with embattled unions, consumer advocacy groups or a few big corporations. (The Atlantic)
How Amazon’s Alexa becomes a $ 10 billion product: This story came out a month ago but I missed it. That bums me out, because it clearly lays out how this investment bank’s analysts believe Alexa will become Amazon’s $ 10 billion business. (CNBC)
About that Juicero drama: You may have already forgotten the collective outrage piled on Juicero, the maker of an expensive juicer that was found to be unnecessary by Bloomberg. I shared my thoughts on an episode of This Week in Google, but much of my thinking is echoed in this article by analyst Mike Wolf who points out that while Juicero bears blame in this saga, it’s also trying to do much more than press juice. At its heart, the company is trying to rethink how to get local produce into the stomachs of everyday Americans without compromising on flavor or safety. The hardware here is secondary. (The Spoon)
Speaking of food … Whirlpool has acquired Yummly, a recipe startup. (There’s a lot of food in this newsletter so far, so I hope it’s not right before lunch for you.) This deal has the potential to be awesome because Yummly is both a recipe engine and a storehouse of food data and cooking information. Whirlpool will likely use this to make its own appliances smarter, giving them the expertise to cook an awesome steak in the oven or perhaps suggest recipes based on what a person has in their fridge. I’d love for this sort of data to be shared across all appliance makers because it seems silly to wait for other big vendors to recreate it — or to pick an oven based on its recipe for chocolate cake — but that is probably too optimistic. (TechCrunch)
Exciting data about IoT startups: Wing Ventures published an analysis of IoT startup data last October that counted more than 700 IoT platforms. Now the firm has updated the study with more recent data. (Wing Ventures)