SA ‘internet of things’ startup eyes global expansion
Johannesburg – South African based technology firm IoT.nxt hopes to make the ‘internet of things’ a more beneficial reality for companies across the globe.
The ‘internet of things’, or ‘IoT’, has become a buzz phrase in technology circles in recent years as it refers to connecting everyday objects such as fridges and even cars to computer networks.
Thus far, consumer-use cases of the internet of things have included the likes of using a smartphone app to switch on lights in a room or adjust thermostat temperatures.
However, the internet of things can also be tapped to unlock greater efficiency and cost-savings among companies.
But a key challenge facing this unlocking has been complex, differing systems that don’t talk to each other and which don’t provide users with a single interface to view all connected objects.
IoT.nxt – which has a 30 person team in Tshwane – plans to solve this problem by using its secure field gateway device dubbed the ‘Raptor’.
The Raptor is interoperable with various input and output devices on the edge of networks.
A practical application of the tech could connect a company’s air conditioners, lifts, alarm systems and conveyor belts to the internet of things. Subsequently, a company can then react faster when incidents occur and possibly save on costs.
“What our technology does is, first of all, it hooks up everything you have out on the edge. It doesn’t matter what type of technology you’ve got,” Nico Steyn, the CEO of IoT.nxt, told Fin24.
“What we say is whatever you’ve got out there, we’ll connect to that firstly. So, even it’s an analogue device … something that doesn’t have an IP (internet protocol) address; something that you can’t plug a network cable into it. We will bring all of that onto a digital platform, which basically means we give it an IP address and then on top of that what we’ll do is we’ll visualise it,” Steyn said.
IoT.nxt also has a software system that provides a single user interface that helps monitor all connected objects on the ‘edges’.
“A lot of people have created an application. We haven’t created an application; we’ve created a framework. So, this framework can be applied to any industry and to any device,” said Steyn.
“These applications reside in vertical silos. And the true unlock of IoT is based on the fact that you need interoperability.
“What really makes this unique is that we are agnostic,” added Steyn.
To date, IoT.nxt has implemented its solution at a large scale abattoir delivering products for retailer Woolworths.
The company says it is also in the final stages of introducing its technology at a well-known wine estate in the Western Cape.
Looking at South Africa, Steyn told Fin24 that IoT is starting to take off locally.
“There’s been a lot of digitisation that’s taken place in South Africa,” Steyn said.
Steyn also told Fin24 that IoT.nxt has also raised funding from investment holding company Talent10, whose shareholders include Sipho Nkosi, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Exxaro Resources Limited.
Meanwhile, Steyn said that the company’s technology is a world-first and that it is eyeing global opportunities.
“We believe that we have a global product. Having said that, we believe that there’s a massive opportunity inside of Africa,” Steyn told Fin24.
“I believe that Africa has got a massive opportunity in terms of IoT,” he added.
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