Talking tech since 2003

Chances are you have heard the term “Internet of Things” thrown around quite a bit recently, but what exactly is the Internet of Things? At its core, the Internet of Things (IoT) is just a bunch of connected devices, meaning devices that can talk and listen to the world via the Internet. These types of connected devices are becoming more popular and more people and companies are working to innovate in the IoT space.

An example of a company creating a connected device would be Lockitron, a smartphone enabled door lock and control device for the home. Using WiFi, Lockitron can send notifications and be controlled by Internet-connected devices, and can be linked to a variety of other services for additional functionality.

electric-imp-devBut how can a company like Lockitron turn its device into a connected device and scale it? The answer comes from a company called Electric Imp. Electric Imp wants to be the platform for all different kinds of connected device and it plans on doing this with cloud and hardware solution that makes it simpler than ever for manufacturers to create connected devices.

The hardware aspect of Electric Imp is a small module that you can build into your product, the module has built-in WiFi, an antenna, and even a small processor — this little module turns your device into a connected device. The hardware module communicates securely with the Electric Imp cloud platform, which makes it super easy for companies to scale from a single device to hundreds or millions, all without the company needing to have its own server farm to communicate back and forth with these devices.

I recently sat down with Hugo Fiennes, CEO and co-founder of Electric Imp to learn more about where his company is heading and the future of smart products. The whole idea for the company started during a home remodeling project when he wanted to display information on a floating bathroom vanity, such as stock price and weather, as it turns out when he was writing the software it became very complicated to put together and get the vanity connected to the Internet, and thus Electric Imp was born.

We’ve long been promised smart homes and smart this and that, but to date, that really hasn’t been a reality for most people, Mr. Fiennes believes Electric Imp can change that by making the ability to create connected devices more accessible, even to do-it-yourselfers who want to create their own connected device. By the way, you can purchase a single Imp for $25, though if you plan to tens of thousands or more, you are probably looking at price range closer to $15 per Imp.

budweiser-red-lightsCompanies of all kinds are using Imp’s to create connected devices and even shave production time off development. For example, Quirky was able to shave four months off of development for one of its products because of Electric Imp. They also have five new connected products (powered by Electric Imp) on the way.  As part of a promotion, Budweiser created a product using Electric Imp called “Red Lights” which essentially are like the red lights that go off at hockey games when a team scores. The Budweiser Red Light goes off whenever your team scores a goal with a siren and everything (it grabs the data from the Internet), I got a quick demo and it’s pretty neat. So neat in fact that they sold out and had to make more of them (it’s only available in Canada though, sorry American hockey fans).

Consumer products have been the quickest to adopt Electric Imp, but the company has also made strides in the business space by signing on an industrial client a year ago who will soon be performing a field trial. The healthcare industry is also taking notice, the fact that a connected device such as a blood pressure machine can take your blood pressure and then have the information sent directly to your doctor is incredible. These are some things that can be done with Electric Imp and really the possibilities are limitless.

In terms of working on improving the Electric Imp technology, that’s also in the works. The company is focused on improving the cloud functionality to adding cellular connectivity to the Imp devices. All necessary steps to help other companies create great connected products — something Electric Imp is laser focused on: changing the world by enabling other people to do it.

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