MachineShop, a Boston-based startup, has raised $3 million in first round funding from its customers and partners including CSR, Diebold and Xchanging. The company plans to use the money to build out a service that helps businesses use their existing sensor data to build connected services.
The internet of things isn’t going to just fall from the sky like fairy dust, ready to help businesses establish more efficient energy usage, just-in-time inventory management or any of the other benefits connected systems might offer. Many businesses have had sensors, connected fleets, security cameras, monitoring for important equipment and even computer-based barcode scanning for years. Those won’t go away.
Last year, Ton Steenman, VP and GM of Intel’s Intelligent Systems Group, told me that 85 percent of the information companies want to use is already coming in via a legacy infrastructure. MachineShop wants to help them use it by making that data available as an API or service.
Any developer who has access to that API will then use the data to build applications and services. It is unclear so far exactly how MachineShop does this, but it fits into an overall trend we’re seeing in the market with companies trying to build Towers of Babel to translate the myriad protocols in use today to some common language that can then be offered in an understandable form to developers.
We have Skynet.im, a framework for connecting devices that can use its client software; Node.Red, a way of visually mapping and manipulating the connections between different sensors and nodes on the network; Tessel, a board that lets web developers talk to connected devices; and many more. And startups aren’t the only players. Large companies including Intel, GE and Oracle are all offering both hardware and software to help businesses get the most out of their data. Most offer some type of appliance that “speaks” a variety of protocols used in the industry to access the existing data and then share the data it gleans across new services.
MachineShop can create the APIs for its customers and will also write additional services for them if needed. Those services can be kept private to the customer or shared with others on the platform. For example, Diebold will now be able to get thousands of pieces of security equipment connected to the internet in a standard language that developers understand. MachineShop also takes care of issues like authentication. This is a hot space and a huge problem set, but it could take the vision of the internet of things as a means to develop internal and external businesses services a step further.