Trondheim-based FourC have designed an open infrastructure platform for large-scale IoT deployments. As with most technical solutions, it’s best explained with a use-case.
Consider public transportation. You wait at a bus stop, consulting the live display to see how long the next bus will be. You buy a ticket on your mobile phone, showing it to the driver as you board. The driver registers your journey on his touch-screen device. In the bus control centre, an operator tracks the progress of buses through the rush-hour traffic, watching out for potential problems. How many separate sensors and systems are in play in this example? The answer: almost too many to count.
FourC wants its Groovy M2M Cloud System to connect the dots in situations like these. Imagine collecting all the data from all these sensors, devices, computers and then analysing it in the cloud. The system would track using position sensors like GPS and enable “playback” of those, show the location of devices on maps, display statistics, allow configuration on-the-go and more. Such a system also frees the end customer to source solutions from the best provider, not necessarily the one that matches their previous hardware or software.
Sigmund Henningsen, Business Development Manager at FourC, explains the benefits:
“On a bus you have several computers doing exactly what they are meant to do. The problem with that is you develop a system, install it on its own computer and that’s that. In a few years when the client wants new features, the world of dev tools has moved on and you have a problem integrating a new system onto the old system. Maybe they are using different suppliers or even a different operating system.”
“The basic idea of Groovy M2M is to provide the hardware layer, i.e. small computers, with a Linux operating system designed for distributed computers. The system is like VMWare, providing a messaging service to connect to the cloud and other applications. Each application can run in its container independent of other applications. We strongly believe you need to have a system that can handle different applications from different vendors and even Linux and Windows applications side by side.”
What will convince decision-makers isn’t so much the technical solution, but the business benefits of feature-rich asset management for thousands of devices. Automatic rollback, remote console support, one-click application installs, easy beta-testing of updates, faster development cycles, and sales teams who can offer more features and applications for the same hardware, will draw the bean counters to a solution like this.
For those marketers out there, FourC offers a great example of vertical marketing, with pages describing the benefits of their platform for different markets such as automotive,home automation, and healthcare and medical.
One of the more interesting potential applications for the Groovy platform is in healthcare, as Henningsen explains:
“Today, automated home technology can give alerts, cut power, cut heat to hobs, but there is little or no collection of data to share reports and spot trends. For example, if the heat to the hobs must be cut every day, then family or healthcare workers should be made aware of it.”
Striking partnerships with software developers will be key to FourC’s success, and I’ll be interested to see if they go after the end customer or take a partner-first approach. I also expect one or two markets to take off and wouldn’t be surprised to see FourC working solely with transport or solely with healthcare in a year or two.
The Groovy M2M platform launches this month.
Photo credit: Steven Kay