The Internet of Things, which is also often called Web 3.0, is the notion of interconnecting any object with the Internet. Traditional examples of Internet of Things (IoT) components are cars, HVAC systems, phones, and anything else connected to the Web; the Internet of Things simply incorporates more objects into the system. The Internet of Things could provide us with amazing convenience tools, such as software that integrates data from your refrigerator with an automated shopping list, letting you know when you get to the grocery store what items are getting low. The Internet of Things is not just useful for consumers but businesses as well, such as analyzing factory-wide sensor information to better track the manufacturing process.
The Wall Street Journal reported on August 29 that Norwest Venture Partners raised $30 million in seed funding for IFTTT (“If this, then that”), a startup with an application that allows software to perform specific tasks given pre-established parameters. Rather than focusing on the crowded standard Web and mobile markets, IFTTT has set its sights on dominating the Internet of Things. In similar news, private securities firm AGT International announced $120 million of venture funding available to startups, stressing that it was primarily interested in projects related to the Internet of Things.
Controlling Applications with Rules
Dow Jones reported that the funding effort by Norwest – its Series B round – was “competitive,” with external funding now amounting to $39 million. The venture capital company places the worth of the company at just over $200 million.
The IFTTT system, formed in 2010 by brothers Alexander and Linden Tibbets, permits users to direct software and connected devices to perform tasks based on given rules.
Those using the IFTTT tool can either come up with their own rules or choose from any of the 14 million rule sets (called “recipes”) available through the official website, which can perform functions such as moving images from Facebook into Dropbox whenever you get tagged and flashing your bedroom lights if your dog gets out while you are asleep.
Over the past 12 months, IFTTT has signed contracts with more than 120 companies – from Microsoft to ESPN to eBay to Nike. When companies agree to a “channel” within the startup’s system, their customers get to manage the settings for any services.
Linden Tibbets, the organization’s CEO, told Dow Jones that the new investment funds would be used to expand staff from 21 to over 40. It would also help secure contracts with additional companies.
Ifttt is also interested in making all its code open source so that developers can create third-party applications to integrate with the environment.
The New York Times reported on August 28 that the IFTTT communities are incredibly active, with 15 million recipes in use each day. The company does not yet have its revenue streams in place, but those are about to be unveiled. One source of income will be a paid version that allows social media managers and others to connect various accounts to the system, each with their own recipes.
Collaborative Challenge & Market Predictions
Although the Internet of Things holds enormous potential for business and possible rewards for everyone, not everyone is convinced that it’s the right gamble for tens of millions of dollars. Babson College IT professor Thomas Davenport explained to CIO Journal that compatibility between all the various objects, manufactured using different proprietary systems, will make it very difficult to launch a functional Internet of Things. IBM executive Paul Brody concurred, suggesting that the players that would make the Internet of Things possible won’t be able to cooperate sufficiently at present.
Regardless of the collaborative challenge, the IoT has a huge amount of momentum behind it right now, based on what Forbes recently called a “sudden surge in interest.” Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, said that the reason the Internet of Things is becoming so popular now is that the price of setting up sensors and networks has decreased incredibly. With Wi-Fi available just about anywhere, it’s a simple process to connect devices wherever you are.
Estimates by market research firms are also extraordinarily optimistic. Gartner predicts that the revenue of IoT related companies will be more than $300 billion in 2020. IDC posits that by that same year, the global market for the Internet of Things – which was $1.9 trillion last year – will almost quadruple to over $7 trillion.
A Dream for the Future
Companies such as SmartThings and Phillips have started releasing products that can be Wi-Fi connected – such as door locks, light bulbs, and Crock-Pots – allowing people to control at-home tools from a distance.
In an IoT-connected world, you could set your door to lock at a certain time each day, so you don’t have to manually turn the key. You could also set up your system so that the light switches on and coffee starts brewing every morning at 7 AM. IFTTT would like to see all companies agreeing to one open platform for the mutual benefit of businesses and consumers.
The Internet of Everything is possible in part because of the advances of cloud technology. The distributed virtualization model of resources and devices within a cloud system allows companies to offer IoT services much more reliably and efficiently. Let our cloud experts show you why cloud is trumping VPS and shared hosting.
By Kent Roberts
Image Credit: IFTTT.com