By the Blouin News Technology staff

Sourcing the crowd for the internet of things

by in Enterprise Tech.

A Fitbit Inc. Charge wearable electronic fitness device. Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Fitbit Inc. Charge wearable electronic fitness device. Bloomberg via Getty Images

The global phenomenon that is the internet of things (IoT) is creating new economic cycles within the tech world. As with any burgeoning technology, funding is the most important step, and in IoT there are hosts of smaller startups looking to play a role alongside the tech giants who have deeper pockets. Crowdfunding has been of immense value to these hopeful players as users themselves are the ones who reap the immediate benefits from pumping money through crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others. Reports from the Wearable World Congress held this week in San Francisco, California detail how crowdfunding has actually spawned a multitude of hardware companies with wearable startups as the majority.

The Wearable World Congress event brought together all manner of folks looking to be at the forefront of the IoT and wearables scene — a market that many believe is the next wave of billion-dollar investment. Indeed, nearly every research firm at one point or another over the last couple of years has forecast the explosion of IoT (with wearable technology as a huge component) through 2020. The conference hosted demonstrations and gathered speakers to look ahead to how wearables will — and already are — playing a huge role in the development of IoT.

But little companies aren’t the only ones launching IoT projects. Last month, IBM announced that it will be pouring $3 billion into creating an IoT unit over the next four years that will focus on building a cloud-based open platform designed to “help clients and ecosystem partners build IoT solutions.” And some giants are using crowdfunding as well; GE has seen success with a crowdfunding campaign for Paragon — its induction cook-top with a smart thermometer that raised over $300,000. It plans to run another campaign later this year. And while Intel hasn’t launched a campaign thus far, it has not discounted the importance of relying on others to help build out new industries. The EE Times quotes Ayse Ildeniz, vice president and general manager of strategy and development for new devices at Intel:

We can reach 50 billion connected things, but I can’t imagine us doing it on our own. We’ll have to tap into other industries to make them smart. It’s not a couple companies making decisions about what you wear, but a whole system and the people who have the building blocks to make this happen.

This trend is also not just relegated to the U.S. Crowdfunding for new hardware is growing in popularity all over the world. Last week, Tech in Asia reported that Bangalore-based startup Greenopia achieved a successful campaign on Wishberry — a crowdfunding website based in India. Greenopia surpassed its funding goal and raised INR 9,58,500 (US$15,000) in 45 days to support the development of its self-watering plant pot that communicates with the user’s smartphone to indicate the hydration status of the plant. Its success story is one of many, and certainly just the beginning for both the tiny startup and the tech giant as the IoT industry gains momentum.