Startup Helium Systems Offers IoT Platform for Enterprises

The company this week rolled out its Helium offering that includes sensors, a wireless network and a cloud environment for management and analytics.

IoT cloud

Startup Helium Systems is releasing a platform that officials say will give businesses an easier pathway into the booming Internet of things.

The company, which launched in 2013, this week unveiled its Helium platform, which comes with sensors, a wireless network, a cloud for collecting the data from the sensors, and analytics and management software that can help businesses more quickly gain insight into the large amounts of data generated by the sensors.

The Helium offering is designed to reduce many of the complexities that are keeping some enterprises from participating in an Internet of things (IoT) space that is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years and offer business opportunities that can amount to trillions of dollars worldwide, according to Helium officials.

"There is immense potential in giving physical things the power of perception to provide businesses with the tools they need to make highly informed decisions," Rob Chandhok, president and chief operating officer of Helium, said in a statement. "Helium's platform is an end-to-end solution that moves at the speed of software so your insights grow along with your business."

Chandhok came to Helium in December 2014 from Qualcomm, where he headed up the chip maker's efforts in such areas as the IoT and wearable devices.

The projected numbers of connected devices in the world by 2020 vary, but they all tend to be huge. Gartner analysts put the figure at 26 billion, while Cisco Systems expects it to grow from 25 billion last year to more than 50 billion by 2020. Others have said 100 billion or more. And Cisco executives have said the financial impact on companies worldwide could be as much as $19 trillion in five years. IoT spending could reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to IDC analysts.

Helium officials said the opportunities for enterprises are significant, but that many businesses are hampered by the complexities involved with deploying IoT devices in their environments. Helium's end-to-end platform is designed to give businesses what they need to get started. That includes sensors that can be deployed within minutes after getting them out of the box. They include multiple sensing inputs, the vendor's wireless network and local computing power, officials said, noting as an example that one Helium sensor can measure temperature and door status to monitor a refrigerator.

The sensors can be upgraded wirelessly, and most will run for more than a year on two AA batteries, with battery life extended as much as possible through optimization by the platform to determine how often sensors send and receive data.

The platform, which is available now, also comes with Helium's always-on cloud environment that can manage the flow of real-time and historical data at scale, and every sensor reading is storage in the cloud. In addition, it leverages machine-learning capabilities to monitor for abnormal behavior and deliver real-time alerts, and analytics to help businesses gain insight into the data that's being generated from sensors and captured in the cloud, according to Helium officials.

The Helium Network enables communication between the sensors and the cloud, operating at both 900MHz and 2.4GHz bands to avoid conflict with WiFi and Bluetooth traffic, officials said. It also includes access points.

Helium Systems initially is working with hospitals and other health care organizations as well as companies in the food, beverage and grocery industry to create smart refrigeration systems for everything from blood bags to vaccines.