Consumers may not be ready for the Internet of Things, but these major companies are
The Internet of Things has a lot of hype, but also plenty of hope that it will make a Jetsons-like future a reality. But the number of companies that have been able to penetrate the public consciousness and acceptance into U.S. homes is considerably small. Outside of Nest, SimpliSafe, and maybe iRobot, adoption of IoT devices by the general public has been relatively small.
The Internet of Things, however, has made inroads outside of the home and in the industrial building space. And the reasons are two-fold.
First, many organizations want to find ways not only to be more "green," but also — and maybe more importantly — to project a brand consciousness that comes with an association of energy-efficiency and being "planet friendly." It's the "Hey, we are so Green!" type of branding that has done wonders for organizations like Patagonia and Chipotle. The second advantage of the commercial Internet of Things is the bottom line. Energy-efficiency has become far more cost efficient than it was 10 years ago. And making it cheaper to run warehouses, manufacturing plants, and other large facilities can save organizations the costly expense of keeping buildings comfortable, operational, and connected.
This morning, Lucid, an Oakland-based commercial energy saving software platform optimized for smart buildings, announced that it has raised $14 million in Series B funding from a group of investors including GE and Autodesk.
The company says that the new funding, which also included backing from Formation 8 and Zetta Venture Partners, will help it become a central cog in the growing commercial Internet of Things space. Lucid's software, which it refers to as an operating system for buildings, is meant to help companies, landlords, and commercial real estate operations reduce energy consumption by serving as a dashboard to control Internet of Things connected hardware and other building energy management systems.
Already, the likes of Disney, Sony, and Stanford University are using Lucid's BuildingOS software to save money by tracking energy usage data and manage connected devices, like smart lighting and heating/cooling systems, in a more effective way.
While Lucid is positioning itself as the control system for commercial IoT customers, another company, Digital Lumens has found a way to successfully integrate its smart lighting system for the unique needs of organizations as varied as Dartmouth College, Dassault Falcon Jet, Coca-Cola, and California's Stone Brewing.
Earlier this week, Digital Lumens announced that large-scale deployments of its intelligent LED lighting systems have made it one of the largest IoT lighting operations in the world. According to the company, its smart lighting fixtures have been installed so widely that they cover more than 200 million square feet of commercial and industrial space globally.
One of the company's largest intelligent lighting deployments has been at the Leverone Field House at New Hampshire's Dartmouth College. The installation of smart LEDs has saved the college 75 percent in lighting costs. The operation has been so successful for Digital Lumens that it just launched a new product offering geared towards sports facilities. It's new SportsPack offering will make it easier for sports venues, like hockey rinks and multi-purpose athletic facilities, to manage their lighting costs in a more efficient manner.
As companies like Digital Lumens and Lucid continue to expand their offerings and prove to be cost-saving on a large-scale basis, the IoT industrial space will grow. That may potentially lead to a trickle down effect for the consumer Internet of Things by making useful devices more price-friendly for homeowners, and by making software management for IoT products easier to use.
However, we are still a long way off from luxuries like those enjoyed by Marty McFly in Back to the Future II. But one can still hold out hope that our house will cook pizza for sooner than later.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]