Mobile back-end-as-a-service (MBaaS) provider Kii has announced a partnership with network provider Weaved aimed at speeding up the connectability of the Internet of Things. At the heart of the partnership is an approach that bakes an API into an IoT chip. Masanari Arai, CEO of Kii, and Ryo Koyama, CEO of Weaved, told ProgrammableWeb that this will speed up the growth of mobile applications for the Internet of Things.
IoT growth is creating new market opportunities and giving rise to a new generation of startups, both device makers and developer shops.
While the potential for growth is causing much excitement, the reality is that device connectivity is still a largely unresolved pain point in the IoT market.
Kii and Weaved believe their new partnership — born out of a previous joint webcam project and drawing on their cooperation in the IoT association AllSeen Alliance — can embed IoT connectivity directly into the chips manufactured for new IoT devices.
“There are so many IoT devices hitting the market,” says Arai. He continues:
All of those IoT devices require a couple of key things:
- a testing environment and analytics
- third-party developer opportunities
- a big data play
- and a mobile application; if you have an IoT device, you typically need a mobile application to control it from outside the home or office
For example, if you have a heat sensor, you might want to communicate with a mobile device or application to alert when a temperature hits a certain threshold.
So with much of this IoT device infrastructure, you want to open an API to a third party and let them create an application for that device. So from that viewpoint, for device makers, opening APIs to third parties is very important.
Also, IoT devices are collecting a lot of information, such as climate, health data, so from a big data perspective this is very interesting. I see huge opportunity in this area of the IoT space.
At Kii, we have discussed cooperations to enable these four areas to come together. Weaved comes from a firmware background, so they have a lot of experience with hardware manufacturers.
So our key strength from this new partnership for IoT device makers is that we are providing the Kii back end so that a combination of our cloud and their devices will make a lot of things possible.
So Kii and Weaved are working together to make that happen.
Koyama explains how Weaved will leverage existing relationships with chip and device manufacturers to embed network connectivity that can be called simply by a RESTful API:
In the IoT world, our perspective is that you need something like a DNS for devices. We allow you to name and uniquely identify devices without requiring to go through a proxy server.
We already work with camera manufacturers like Philips. They also make baby monitors and already use our infrastructure for that.
Now we are introducing a Headstart Kit, which is an SDK for things like naming discovery and messaging. We have made that into an API call in the cloud. Normally you would need to set up your own naming database, and notification system, for example.
But, for example, if you have a device with a Raspberry Pi, we have done an SDK for that so you can just use our API for all of your Internet of Things-related services. It’s RESTful, and typically JSON, so connectivity via API is baked right in.
We have a peer-to-peer technology like a service-level VPN. With the Headstart SDK, you can give any device a name and now it is addressable across the Internet. What our tech and cloud service allows you to do is, say, make this service available like any other sort of TCP service. The solution for us is that if your device works well on local area networks, we let you expand that globally and the connectivity will still allow you a secure TCP connection across the internet.”
Kii and Weaved are looking for IoT device manufacturers that may want to use the service and are initially focusing on potential use cases to prototype the network approach.
“Our basic philosophy is that we want to help make prototyping easy and cheap, so we are thinking of offering this without charging, but it is different case by case,” says Arai.