A startup that kicked off its efforts last year to create an open operating system for the Internet of things through a Kickstarter campaign that raised $567,968 is getting another $4.9 million from capital venture firms and other investors.
Spark Labs officials announced the Series A funding July 8, with the leading investors being Lion Wells Capital, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Collaborative Fund and SOSVentures. At the same time, the company reportedly is moving its headquarters from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Company officials have said they will use the new money to hire as many as 25 people and continue working on the company's efforts to build a software platform for the Internet of things (IoT).
The number of intelligent, connected devices and systems—from tablets and smartphones to home appliances, cars and business systems—continues to grow rapidly, with Cisco Systems officials forecasting that as many as 50 billion devices could be connected to the Internet by 2020. They key to the IoT is enabling these systems to communicate with each other so they can share the vast amounts of data they'll be creating.
A growing number of vendor consortiums—including one announced July 8 by the likes of Intel, Dell and Samsung—are looking to create open, standard frameworks that will enable this easier communication between devices.
Spark Labs began its efforts by developing the Spark Core, a small hardware development kit and reference design that is connected to the cloud and is designed to enable developers to quickly build connected products. It also is reportedly compatible with Arduino-based devices. The Spark Core, which includes an ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller and a WiFi module, sells for $39.
In addition, Spark Labs has unveiled Spark OS, a cloud-based, open-source operating system for the devices created using the Spark Core. Spark officials have said the open-source nature of the OS is a key differentiator from such offerings as Apple's HomeKit platform for connecting Apple devices and the various tools offered by Google for Android.
Vendors and analysts expect the IoT to be a booming market, with IDC analysts predicting $7.1 trillion in revenue by 2020.