IoT startup revises 802.15.4 nets

November 04, 2015 //By Rick Merritt
Helium Inc., has announced an end-to-end offering to put businesses on the Internet of Things using a novel approach to 802.15.4 networks.

The startup packs $16 million in venture capital and a strong management team, but faces competition from another startup still in stealth mode with a similar story, seasoned team and $25 million in backing.

Both efforts indicate it’s still early days for IoT with new twists on core technologies and business models still emerging. Indeed the startups are probably not the last to enter the field which already has attracted dozens of alternatives from large and small companies.

The complexity of building an IoT system was a key concern identified in a survey of 1,700 companies across five markets conducted by market watcher Machina Research.

“It’s a confusing area to navigate,” said Andy Castonguay, a principal analyst at Machina Research. “The field is ripe for innovation and change, and the ecosystem is exceptionally fragmented, so I think you will see more companies coming up with easier to use solutions,” he said.

Indeed, Helium was born when its co-founders (which included former Napster CEO Shawn Fanning) hit a wall trying to use off-the-shelf components for an IoT startup. They turned to a Colorado-based radio expert and together decided in 2013 to create their own platform.

The Helium platform consists of end nodes and access points using a variant of 802.15.4, as well as cloud services and analytics. Ultimately, Helium aims to sell the platform to companies that act as system integrators, but initially it will go direct to end users to prove itself with a system it has built for monitoring refrigerators in hospitals and the food-service industry.

The Helium platform includes IoT nodes, access points and cloud services.

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