The Internet of Things is one of those concepts that got talked to death in 2014. Helium Systems is just one start-up hoping to inject new life into the idea of connected living moving forward, and it might just be able to do that. The company has been working steadily away at its San Francisco base of operations for the last two years; it was only this week that the company announced it had raised $16 million in funding and attracted a range of notable tech names as investors (including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff).
According to The Wall Street Journal’s Don Clark, the Internet of Things has become “a catchall term for adding communications and computing power to devices ranging from light bulbs to oil drilling gear… Smart devices are expected to communicate using familiar wireless technologies like cellular, Wi-Fi or a low energy version of Bluetooth.”
But where does Helium differ from the competition, apart from in its investor pedigree? It has its own wireless communication protocols and modules capable of transmitting small amounts of data cost-effectively, can supposedly connect up to 10,000 devices at a time, and has developed a software platform that will enable users to harness and use the data generated by sensors and monitors on any and all of their devices.
“We think we are going to be an enabler for an explosion of business around things and sensor data,” says Rob Chandhok, a software specialist who was the driving force behind Qualcomm’s open source, Internet of Things-inspired initiatives before recently leaving the company to join Helium.
“By leveraging low power wireless bands and building a highly distributed network of ultra-affordable base stations… [Helium] could receive and transmit small amounts of data from those devices seamlessly,” writes Ryan Lawler at TechCrunch. “While Helium hopes to build out its own network for devices to connect to, it’s not ruling out letting devices add data through other networking solutions… The more devices there are that connect into its network, the more powerful it will be.”