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5 crazy IoT start-ups that actually exist today …and growing rapidly

Internet of Things (IoT) is about connecting devices primarily for monitoring, tracking, measuring performance, and enabling other computer systems take intelligent and near real-time decisions. But today, this definition and scope is rapidly changing.

When the technology was initially came into market, it came with the promise of connecting things like networks, sensors or any other devices that can be connected to the mainstream computer systems aka internet. Initially mission critical things like airplanes, automobiles, safety monitoring equipment etc. were chosen to be connected and tracked. However, as the prices of the sensors and communication infrastructure falling down following the Moore’s law, we started to see application of IoT technologies beyond mission critical systems.

I list here 5 such areas that are being transformed by IoT throwing tremendous business opportunity for budding entrepreneurs.

1. Kids let plants tweet when they need water

Feeling sorry for not taking care of your domestic plants? You can ask your kids to do this adding an IoT solution to this problem. There are IoT solutions that let your plants tweet when they need water. I am sure your kids love to use this toy and want to talk about it in their social networks too. Parrot offers Flower Power, a plant monitoring and alerting product that boasts of design features like an apple product. Though such a solution was first heard about 6 years back, over the last 5 years, this technology has improved at lot. The current solutions are already matured enough to boast of elegant design features and intuitive use interface in their apps.

What’s in it for budding Entrepreneurs?

What other things we always want to take care of in life but fail to do often? How about the needs of our kid, pets and sometimes our costly home appliances that need special care? This budding technology is going to find its place in all those areas very soon. Do you want to be part of that?

2. Shot spotter to spot gun fires and explosives.

Today law enforcement and security departments can identify the exact location of gun fire even if nobody is around to report it. Gunfire locator is an IoT system that works with the combination of acoustic, optical and potentially other types of sensors to identify the source, direction of the gunfire and the type of weapon used. And guess what, the quality of this system was found to be better than that of 9xx callers. ShotSpotter offers customized solutions to law enforcement, critical infrastructure like building, utilities and transportation apart from sharing intelligence reports to elected officials and various communities. Their ShotSpotter Flex, a cloud based solution, is a completely hosted and managed service for which you don’t need to worry about hardware and communication infrastructure etc. With an affordable annual subscription, today you can have someone provide that service directly to your security department.

What’s in it for budding Entrepreneurs?

Sound recognition, interpretation and reporting as a technology are currently being used mainly for public security monitoring. You can extend this to private or industrial environments. This can be a valuable solution for organizations that have operations spread across a wider region like mining, utilities, transportation etc. If you are a domain expert in any of such industries, you know what the need is and how to conceptualize a solution.

3. Beer mugs tell you how much you drunk

In 2012, Thomas Amberg and Marc Pous have built an IoT-enabled beer mug that can count how often and how much beer the holder consumes during the famous Octoberfest in Munich, Germany.

#OktoberfestOfThings was an active thread on twitter during the fest and thereafter to symbolize and promote IoT for such innovative applications. You find various forms and shapes of this emerging game changing technology on flickr

As the disruption is slowly looming in this field, there are some serious contenders started working more than 7 years back. Vessyl, is one such company that came up with a cup equipped with sensors to detect what is inside the cup and the consumption behaviour. Vessyl displays a variety of data about the cup’s content both on the cup itself and through a mobile app. After selling $1 million in pre-orders, they have recently secured $3 million in seed funding to make some new hire and to help with the manufacturing process.

What’s in it for budding Entrepreneurs?

I think this area is in deceptive stage at the moment, but we’ll see it getting into disruptive growth very soon. Beverage consumption is such a fundamental need and we all want control on it.

You may want to monitor your kids drinking habits for healthy drinks and sometimes, medicinal drinks. For those who do not have control on what they drink, this technology can offer a variety of solutions.

4. Cow callers let farmers know when cows are in heat (ready for artificial insemination)

IoT has reached to cows. Yes, this is indeed a strong business case with huge potential in the next 3-5 years. It may sound absurd, but the game in milk production is about impregnating cows as soon as possible after they’ve had their last calf. Missing a cycle means lost sales of about 5 gallons of milk a day, costing over $300 per cycle. So any failed attempts to impregnate a cow come with a price tag and there is an IoT solution to fill the gap. Silent Herdsman from UK is in this business already and there are interesting companies for pet tracking like PettrackerLoc8tor etc.

What’s in it for budding Entrepreneurs?

Cows embracing IoT is just scratching on the surface. We need a whole lot of food other than milk. Finding ways to produce food without wasting any reproduction cycles is going to be a billion dollar opportunity very soon.

5. Hackers use inexpensive Arduino controllers to add intelligence to ordinary objects.

I keep reading and hearing the stories about hackers coming up with crazy ideas. Of course, it sounds crazy when you hear for the first time. But quite often it catches the world like a wild fire. People start exploring the possibilities with such experiments leading to successful start-ups.

Steve Sande, a high-tech journalist, had a problem. His 17 year old cat is suffering from excess heat when he is not at home and fan is not switched on. Using a sensor to monitor temperature, connectivity model and a controller to operate the switch based sensor data, he converted household fan self-aware. Problem solved. A Salesforce.com employee built a personal device to sound an alarm if his company’s stock price drops below $100.

Some Japanese hackers designed customized Geiger counters that automatically updated radioactivity levels on an online map. With this, the public can see real-time radiation levels and plan their evacuation during emergencies. The need to build such a solution was triggered from the recent flooding of nuclear power station that lead to widespread radiation. In earthquake-prone Chile, a student built a seismometer to tweet its readings. It quickly amassed more than 300,000 followers, who were grateful for the early alerts.

What’s in it for budding Entrepreneurs?

I see that such innovative IoT solutions increasingly come out of college projects rather than being conceptualized out of corporate strategies. And these prototypes definitely lead to start-ups and possibly success stories that we all want to talk about.

With prices of sensors and communication equipment plummeting, IoT solutions are increasingly viable for wider situations in our daily life. To build an IoT start-up, the only limit is your imagination.

Are you currently working on any IoT solution or do you have any crazy ideas? Let me know.

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