CES 2014: "Connected everything" gets funding, manpower, attention

Travel conditions were terrible across much of the US, but that didn’t dampen enthusiasm for all things connected at the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week. There were too many home automation vendors on the show floor to count, and suppliers of M2M infrastructure and services were also out in force to tout the benefits of connectivity, with major new initiatives/investments announced by Cisco, Intel, Wipro and Bosch, among others.

The keynote address from Cisco’s chief executive John Chambers spoke of $19 trillion in new Internet of Things (IoT) revenues and productivity gains by 2020, and 15–25 billion new device connections by 2015. The company took the occasion of CES to announce that its investment arm was setting aside $100 million for funding of early-stage stage companies that would drive IoT.

Cisco (San Jose, CA USA) sees particular potential in smart-city deployments, with major projects underway in municipalities like Barcelona (Spain), Dallas (USA), Songdo (South Korea), and Nice (France).

“It does seem as though a critical mass in applications has developed over the last several months,” says the company’s chief globalization officer and executive vice president of industry solutions Wim Elfrink, “and we see two thirds of the new applications are coming in citizen services in the public sector.”

The company also stated that its internet business solutions group has hired more than 100 consultants that will specialize in smart-city deployments.

Intel (Santa Clara, CA USA) used CES as a coming-out party for its new IoT solutions group, which integrates its intelligent systems group and the recently acquired software developer Wind River Corp. Vice president of the new group is Doug Davis, who reports directly to Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich and agrees that IoT growth is at an “inflection point.”

He sees growth driven by increased computing efficiency, as illustrated by Moore’s Law; ubiquitous connectivity, including cellular, Wi-Fi and other NFC norms; and more powerful, distributed data analytics.

“That last factor is critical – it’s where new business models are being derived,” says Davis.

The company anticipates that its new Quark processors will have broad embedded applications, because of their efficiency in low-power environments. That is somewhat of a new direction for Intel, long known for higher-end processors in its Xeon and Atom lines. The company’s CES presence was loaded with M2M applications, including infotainment systems from carmakers Infiniti and BMW.

Influential systems integrator Wipro (Bangalore, India), during 2013, formed a dedicated M2M/IoT operation consisting of more than 50 dedicated full-time employees.

Wipro has just recently announced its formation of a partnership with Tele2, the Scandinavian operator, to provide end-to-end IoT solutions, to complement its longer-standing relationship with enablement software-platform provider Axeda.

“We see M2M/IoT as a tool for the bigger picture of connected service transformation,” says Alan Atkins, Wipro’s global head of M2M, “where Wipro is very active in four major sectors, namely manufacturing, healthcare, telecoms and energy and mining.”

It was widely reported last year that the $70 billion conglomerate Bosch AG was sticking its toe into the M2M waters with its new division, Bosch Software Innovations (Berlin, Germany). The company, which develops business process software designed for M2M applications, is now opening shop stateside, with its US regional offices to be based in Chicago.

“The process modeling aspect of our systems can be crucial to successful M2M deployments – it can literally determine when and where a project a makes sense, before massive spending takes place,” says Matt Jennings, the company’s newly minted managing director for the Americas. Bosch-SI now claims upwards of 600 employees, and reports directly to Bosch chief executive Volkmar Denner.