SA start-up IoT.nxt spots big opportunity in IoT

South African start-up IoT.nxt has created a platform to allow companies to integrate their IT platforms with IoT devices seamlessly. And it’s planning to take the solution global.

Most companies have heard of the Internet of things (IoT), the idea that a vast network of objects, from cameras to air conditioners, can be connected to the Internet to create a vast network of controllable systems.

It’s an idea that promises to make business much more automated and efficient, able to better manage resources remotely and analyse data more effectively.

But integrating IoT sensors and other devices into corporate IT systems is difficult, not least because of the volume of data involved and the complexity in integrating disparate hardware and software systems. A lack of standardisation makes the challenge harder still.

Now a South African start-up, IoT.nxt, has created a platform to allow companies to integrate their IT platforms with IoT devices seamlessly. And it’s planning to take the solution global.

The company’s “technology agnostic” offering acts as a conduit between sensors and other IoT devices at the edge of the network, and the application layer in companies’ IT departments, says IoT.nxt CEO and South African ICT industry veteran Nico Steyn.

“One of the biggest challenges in IoT, if you deploy thousands of sensors and are monitoring them every 200 milliseconds, is you have a huge amount of traffic that hits your network,” says Steyn.

“We have engineered and built a field gateway that manages the data flow effectively. We can pre-set the thresholds for all the devices. We can set it up so that only alarms that happen outside a threshold get sent over the network.”

The secure field gateway, called the Raptor 1000, handles the “edge ecosystem” of IoT devices, in effect ensuring they don’t overwhelm the network with their data. The gateway has a configurable hardware and software stock designed to support hundreds of input and output devices proliferating the IoT world, says Steyn.

The company has also built a software platform that offers a single user interface and collaboration point for all the deployed applications and devices. This “Commander Software” can be installed onsite or as a cloud-based solution. “You can have a control room anywhere in the world getting real-time data fields from all the devices deployed in your ecosystem,” says Steyn.

Finally, IoT.nxt has a business process modelling tool called Workflow that provides an interface for companies to embed their business rules and processes.

Steyn believes his company is onto a winning ticket as there is “very little interoperability” between IoT devices and solutions, making integration a major headache for corporate IT departments.

“We are able to create relationships [between systems and devices]. If diesel in a generator is running low, for example, the system can then send an alert, telling a service provider they have four hours to refill it,” he says.

“The system can check automatically if they have done the job by getting an updated reading from the fuel gauge and it can even create a work order in the ERP (business software) system.”

A year ago, South African companies showed little interest in IoT, but Steyn says this has changed dramatically.

“It’s a little bit like a tsunami now. It’s on multiple levels, not just driven by efficiency. Customers want to use it to improve sales and customer interaction, to improve their security systems.”

IoT.nxt, which has raised funding from investment holding company Talent10, has just shy of 30 employees and is based in Centurion, near Pretoria. Rather than engaging directly with corporate clients, it works through channel partners and specifically systems integrators. Its solutions are built on the Microsoft stack, using the C# development environment. “We see Microsoft as very strategic to us,” says Steyn.

The company is now eyeing international opportunities. “We have big plans to globalise the product. We are working on some super opportunities,” he says, declining to elaborate further.  — (c) 2016 NewsCentral Media


SA start-up IoT.nxt spots big opportunity in IoT

This SA startup wants to open up IoT to local businesses

If you’re a regular reader of the Burn Media suite of sites, you’ll be up to speed on all the latest developments in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. But the truth is, many businesses are simply unaware of how big an impact this array of technologies could have on their operations.

One company hoping to change that is a Pretoria-based startup called IoT.nxt.

Helmed by former Pinnacle Africa Gauteng MD Nico Steyn, the company has built an IoT solution which it says will unlock serious cost savings and create real efficiencies within corporates.

“Our innovation offers companies a consolidated view of their entire IoT ecosystem, allows them to input all documented business processes into one workflow application, detect all devices on a network and dynamically capture their IP and MAC addresses,”says Steyn. “We have already implemented the solution at a large scale abattoir delivering products for Woolworths and are in the final stages of introducing this at a well-known wine estate in the Western Cape”.

According to a press release sent to Ventureburn, the solution allows any device, application, sensor, machine and also people on any network using any operating system to connect and interact.

A business could, for instance, have Siemens air conditioners, Chubb lifts, mostly Apple computers but a few Dells in-between, an alarm system by ADT and conveyer belts by Truco and manage them all on a single platform.

That kind of business focus sets IoT.nxt apart from a number of South African startups in the IoT space, many of which are focused on retailer or consumer solutions. It also gives it an edge on the big corporates who deliver IoT solutions in the business space and have preferred partners.

“The platform is completely technology agnostic which allows a company to leverage off existing investments in systems and devices installed,” Steyn says.

The startup has also developed a device known as the Raptor, which allows companies to more easily manage their IoT ecoststems. The Raptor allows migration of analogue devices and inputs into a digital platform. It serves as a filter for big data and delivers cost savings and efficiencies to the client’s IoT ecosystem. Raptor apparently also functions as a translation tool that aides communication between less sophisticated devices over an IP network.

“The biggest breakthrough we developed was creating a solution that allows any device, application, sensor, machine and also people on any network using any operating system to connect and interact. The platform is completely technology agnostic which allows a company to leverage off existing investments in systems and devices installed,” Steyn says.

This SA startup wants to open up IoT to local businesses