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The Sand Hill IoT 50 Needle Movers

By November 4, 2014Article

In this summer’s blockbuster movie “Edge of Tomorrow,” a PR executive played by Tom Cruise goes through innumerable time loops to become a soldier by being reborn every time he is killed. In the context of software startups, successful products are built through repeated testing and improvement. Those that can do the most iterations without dying become the needle-movers.   

The evolving Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem presents opportunities for startups that can create sustainable solutions. Further to our article, “Internet of Things Needle-Mover Opportunities,” we looked at companies that will form the basic foundation of technologies that address the following five IoT challenges:

  • Privacy and security
  • The power barrier
  • Data analytics and management
  • Interoperability and integration
  • Governance 

The SandHill IoT 50 Needle Movers list below excludes established companies and focuses only on early-stage companies expected to play a very critical role in building the base of IoT in the future.  

1. AdhereTech — Smart wireless pill bottles to improve adherence to medications using sensors, cellular technology and real time analytics. Designed for specialty medications and clinical trials where adherence is critical. 

2. Airware — Platform for commercial UAVs (drones) built with NASA. Applications for the “drone economy” cited include precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection, open-air mining and humanitarian campaigns in addition to law enforcement. 

3. Apigee — Digital business platform for API technology combined with predictive Big Data analytics expertise. Simplifies delivery, management and analysis of APIs and applications. Customers include Walgreens, Bechtel, eBay and Pearson. 

4. Apprity — Stealth-mode startup focused on security for cloud-based applications from BYOD and IOT. Directly addresses vulnerability from a large number of access points using expertise in data science and security. 

5. Arrayent — IoT platform to connect household consumer electronics to mobile devices. Also provides an enterprise solution that enables brand owners to connect with their products. Used by Whirlpool, Mattel and Maytag. 

6. Augmate Cloud-based platform for smart eyewear applications for “deskless” workers. Application areas include agriculture, automotive, aviation, construction, manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical. 

7. August — Encrypted lock technology for keyless entry that connects with existing physical infrastructure. Includes 24/7 management and virtual keys that can be distributed for use by mobile devices. 

8. Ayla Networks — IoT-enablement platform to manage consumer devices in the cloud. Investment from Cisco and Chinese VC SAIF. Wide range of use cases targeted including individuals, smart homes, buildings and retailers. 

9. Bastille Networks — Security of IoT devices for corporate campuses. Holistic risk-management approach entails scanning the environment and taking preemptive action to protect physical and human assets. 

10. Buddy — Real-time monitoring of IoT devices to understand customer engagement. Integrates with enterprise platforms such as SAP, Salesforce and Tableau. 

11. Building Robotics — Manages interaction between humans and their workspaces. Application called Comfy allows office workers to customize the temperature in their work area while reducing energy waste. 

12. Econais — Embedded Wi-Fi systems solutions. High performance, ultra low power embeddable modules that are cloud ready. Focuses on minimizing time and cost in deployment. 

13. Electric Imp — Imp is a chip that provides Internet connectivity to electrical devices using Wi-Fi. The platform includes integrated hardware, software, OS, API and cloud services.  Investors include the Foxconn Technology Group. 

14. Enlighted — Commercial energy management solution. Extensively monitors environment using sensors and analyzes data to drive energy efficiency. Led by Joe Costello, former CEO of Cadence. 

15. Evrythng — “Web of Things” company with an IoT platform to connect products to the Web and enable brands to have a relationship with their consumers. Customers include Unilever, Red Bull and LVMH. 

16. EnOcean — Batteryless wireless technology using energy harvesting. Application for building and home automation, lighting, industrial, automated meter reading and environmental applications. 1,200 products based on EnOcean technology by 350 affiliated companies. 

17. FogHorn Systems — Integrates information technology with operational technology. Enables the rollout of applications across legacy operational technology provided by multiple vendors. 

18. GainSpan — Low-power embedded Wi-Fi solutions focused on IoT devices connecting wirelessly to the Internet. Markets include healthcare, smart energy, industrial controls, commercial buildings and consumers. 

19. Helium Systems — Platform for smart machines based on simple device connectivity. Stresses security, low power, low cost and ease of development. Focus areas are healthcare, agriculture and oil & gas. 

20. Humavox — Charges devices without using wires. Uses a platform called ETERNA to create a virtual power cord to charge small devices. Reduces engineering design cycles for “things” by providing an electronic circuit that enables devices with Humavox charging technology. 

21. IFTTT — Acronym for “If this then that.”  A tool that helps end users make connections between apps and devices that they use every day. Potential to create an inventory of “recipes” for interaction between devices. 

22. Impinj — ltra-high frequency RFID solutions for identifying and authenticating items. Application areas include retail, healthcare and consumer electronics. 

23. IMRSV — Perceptive computing solution based on emotion recognition and face detection software. Creates a large volume of data for real-time analytics. Competes with the traditional approach to audience analytics. 

24. — Solution targeted for optimizing commercial and industrial systems. Showcased by the UK government for achieving success at large infrastructures.  

25. Intrinsic-ID — Solution to protect data across mobile devices, embedded systems and the cloud. Hardware Intrinsic SecurityTM  that uses device specific “fingerprints” for privacy. Spinout from Royal Philips Electronics.

26. Isorg — Organic printed electronics components that can be integrated into paper, plastic and fabric. Potential to add “smart” capabilities to objects such as chairs and tables. Applications include security, life sciences and buildings. 

27. Jasper Technologies — Platform to launch, manage and monetize IoT services. Customers include ABB, Vivint and Garmin. Partners include VMware. Candidate to be one of the first IPOs in the IoT space. 

28. Kaazing — High-performance Web communication platform. Has potential to be a key player in the living Web ecosystem that enables future uses of real-time and dynamic collaboration. 

29. Kii — Mobile data synchronization and backup platform to connect devices and applications. Reaches 40 million end users through developer partners. Customers include DOCOMO and China Mobile. 

30. Lhings — Cloud platform designed to create a “Social Cloud of Things” to manage, share and interact with devices. Provides APIs to build new services. 

31. mCube — High-performance motion sensors based on MEMS to facilitate tracking the movement of IoT devices. Generates a large amount of motion data that can be analyzed for insights. 

32. Mesh Systems — Deploys custom solutions for the IoT using their MeshVista(R) platform. Partners include Microsoft and Verizon. 

33. Neura — Enables devices with context awareness and adaptive learning capabilities. Works with 40 devices including Fitbit and Jawbone. 

34. Ninja Blocks — Smart home platform that learns from user behavior and manages IoT devices. Uses gesture interface and micro-location technology that accurately locates radios within the home. 

35. OpenPicus — IOT tool kits for fast prototyping. Primarily operating with design partners in Europe and Asia to provide cloud services, hardware design and firmware development. 

36. ParStream — Analytics platform designed to scale to the volume of data used by the IoT. Customers include Siemens, MPREIS (Australia) and Searchmetrics. 

37. Peel — Smart home control using mobile devices. Metrics cited by the company are 90 million activated users in 200 countries and five billion monthly remote commands. 

38. Pinnocio — Mesh networking for the IoT. Facilitates rapid prototyping of use cases by creating an end-to-end solution using tiny microcontrollers combined with a Web app. 

39. PowerTags — Intelligent building solution for commercial facilities that includes monitoring and management of assets, workforce and energy. Use cases range from elderly care to smart buildings and industrial facilities. 

40. PrismTech — Intelligent data-sharing platform for the IoT with support for real-time situational awareness, control and interoperability. Customers include Atlas Copco, NASA and Northrup Grumman. 

41. PsiKick — Ultra-low-power wireless sensing devices to address the “power barrier” problem. Low power requirements allow energy to be harvested from vibration, thermal gradients, solar, RF or piezo actuation. 

42. PubNub — Platform to build and scale real-time applications for connected IoT devices. Customers include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and CBS Outdoor. 

43. Qualtre — MEMS-based motion sensors targeted at industrial, consumer and automotive market segments. Has a partnership with Alps Electric, a global supplier of electronic components. 

44. Revolv — Unified smart home solution that connects a very large variety of devices such as Nest thermostats, Philips Hue lights and Kwikset locks. Monitoring and control system controls all devices from a single hub. 

45. SeeControl — Cloud-enabled platform to build IoT services without having to write code. Customers include Alaska Airlines, ABB and Fujitsu. 

46. Sigfox — Global cellular network for IOT devices. Optimized for IOT requirements such as low throughput communication and extremely low power consumption deployed on a very large scale and a small carbon footprint. Wide range of applications including agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing. 

47. TempoIQ — Platform for analyzing sensor data designed for the scale required for the IoT. Handles capture, storage, monitoring and analytics. 

48. Theatro — IOT-based solution for in-store retail operations. Combines wearable devices with a cloud-based application that provides an integrated communication and analytics solution for retail stores. Potentially extendible to hospitality and manufacturing. 

49. UniKey Technologies — “Touch-to-open” smart lock platform with electronic keys managed by mobile applications or in the cloud. OEM partner for market leaders Kwikset and Weiser under the brand name Kevo. Company reports having opened and closed smart locks tens of millions of times in over 65 countries around the world to date. 

50. Withings — Quantified-self company offering a range of smart devices around health. Received six awards for design and engineering in the last four years.

Shirish Netke is president and CEO of Amberoon Inc., a provider of data-driven business perspective solutions. He has led companies in the area of software, services and electronic entertainment. He was one of the first evangelists for Java when it was launched by Sun Microsystems and has been quoted as an industry thought leader in the New York Times, Investors Business Daily, Chief Executive Magazine and Asia Times. Follow him on Twitter

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder and CEO of Sand Hill Group and publisher of

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