Scotland is fast becoming a hub of Internet of Things activity. With six IoT networks set up from Renfrewshire to Orkney, and a commitment from the Scottish Government to a national roll-out, there’s a groundswell of new companies looking to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the next revolution in connectivity.
They’re developing novel use cases and applications for what remains to the wider world a concept shrouded in mystery. Many of these organisations are doing things that will change the way people live their lives, businesses work, and society functions.
Whether it’s smarter flood monitoring, new wearable devices, or technology for the workplace, there are exciting IoT developments underway in Scotland that have truly global consequences.
What better time than now to look at some of the most promising and ambitious companies emerging from the country? In compiling this list, two clear themes shone through: people and places. While the former is being driven by individuals and focussed on leisure and wellness, the latter tends to be concentrated on health and care – driven by social and economic costs and quality of life for citizens.
Six companies to watch:
Beringar is a Scottish property technology start-up focused on enhancing the productivity of assets. Founded in 2016, the company has developed a state-of-the-art IoT sensor and edge computing system that deliver real-time data on the use of spaces and moveable equipment – it’s aimed primarily at the NHS.
Why is it one to watch? The NHS spends an estimated £30bn every year managing its estates and facilities, but consultant-led studies suggest many of its buildings are being used to a fraction of their capacity.
A recent trial of Beringar’s confirmed this analysis – collecting 160,000 data points and detecting empty space that the staff thought was in regular use. Extrapolated across the entire estate, the technology could be transformative for the UK’s National Health Service.
Established in 2014, Livingston-based Sensor-Works is already part of Scottish Enterprise’s high growth start up programme – an initiative designed to help businesses with significant potential. Its latest product is BluVib, a wireless machine condition sensor set to have a huge impact on the Industrial Internet of Things sectors.
Why is it one to watch? BluVib is very different to what is already available on the market: it’s appreciably cheaper, low power, and can be used wirelessly with any kind of device.
It has the potential to play a significant role in the development of ‘Industry 4.0’, advanced processes set to transform manufacturing and industrial operations, providing greater visibility and connectivity to improve decision making and reduce costs.
It has already been deployed on equipment at the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre to measure vibrational signatures on machines, providing an early indicator of when instability might occur.
Driving a major change in the way social landlords support their tenants and manage their properties, iOpt Assets is using IoT to monitor the internal environment of social homes. The company is already working with a local authority to save millions of pounds on property management and repair bills – all while fighting fuel poverty.
Why is it one to watch? By the end of 2017, iOpt Assets aims to have rolled out its sensing products to 2,000 homes in Scotland, spread across a variety of local authorities and housing associations.
That’s a big increase on the 50 currently using the technology, but it has much more potential: the Chartered Institute of Housing says there are almost four million local authority and housing association homes let at a social rent in England alone and, internationally, the possibilities are almost endless.
In July 2014, SussMyBike founder Alan Mason set out to make a viable technology for helping mountain bikers get the most out of their bike. After a successful crowdfunding campaign, the company built a data logger unit which will help millions of people benefit from properly set-up suspension and the company is approaching the final stages of design and manufacture.
Why is it one to watch? SussMyBike is targeting MAMILs (middle-aged men in lycra), who tend to have lots of disposable income and, let’s face it, love a gadget.
Mountain biking is a sport that’s already huge in Scotland and still growing, giving the company a ready market to develop its initial offering and finesse its capabilities – it then has several others lined up. There’s also the opportunity to create a servitised offering and, with an integrated social network, they could develop the sort of revenue streams realised by companies like Strava and Endomondo.
Suund is a partnership developing technology to ensure that the vulnerable and elderly are properly taken care of, whatever their circumstances and wherever they live. The organisation has links to health professionals, social care providers, building developers, as well as access to both substantial data analysis and sensing expertise.
Why is it one to watch? The exciting thing here is that Suund is developing solutions to a broad set of challenges, which are felt across the world and becoming more pressing as populations age and budgets are squeezed. The partnership is driven to find solutions to particular problems and focused on a market they understand well from many years of experience.
The LiveSkin system from Sansible Wearables is digitising contact sports in a way we’ve not seen before. Professional and performance sportspeople – as well as weekend warriors – should be watching this start-up with anticipation. Developed as lightweight items worn on the body or wrapped around the fists, LiveSkin users can gain accurate information on how they perform in training.
Why is it one to watch? While we’re all familiar with athletes gathering data on personal apps, Jack Ng, the CEO of Sansible Wearables, is bringing this technology to contact sports such as rugby, American football, and boxing.
Data is gathered, analysed and processed to provide information that allows training schedules to be tailored to the needs of the individual. For example, the system might identify a higher likelihood of injuries occurring from overuse or fatigue, or provide information to help analyse how rugby players might be handling tackles in order to improve technique or prevent injury. It has massive potential in the growing sports market.
Dr Mark Begbie is the business development director at CENSIS