Microsoft Extends a Hand to 10 Emerging IoT Firms

Microsoft has just announced the 10 start-ups it has selected for its home automation accelerator program. Before you yawn, consider this: home automation technologies are providing one of the cornerstones of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT).

These companies have been developing IoT technologies that specifically target the home, with the emphasis on products that are user-friendly and affordable.

Future Focused

The list is interesting for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it offers a clearer insight into what Microsoft has in mind for the IoT. Both Apple and Google have bought or developed technologies that underline their IoT ambitions, but Microsoft’s strategy has been less clear.

Microsoft's lack of focus probably has as much to do with the stagnation the company experienced during the search for a new CEO as lack of ambition. Since the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO, Microsoft appears to have caught the wind in its sails: It has issued  a whole pile of new releases and initiatives that appear to be pumping a bit of life into what had become a pretty staid and boring company.

This initiative is a project that should pay major dividends in the future. A few weeks ago, we listed the top 10 IoT companies, along with the top 10 IoT movers and shakers.

They represented, to a large extent, established vendors that have a large interest in the IoT. However, it is clear that the IoT is an open market and the leaders may eventually turn out to be IoT focused start-ups.

According to a blog post by Steven Guggenheimer, corporate vice president and chief evangelist for Microsoft Developer Experience and Evangelism, the company has been traveling across the country and whittling a list of 400 applicants for the program down to 10.

The Internet of Things and home automation in particular is rapidly emerging. With consumer demand growing for solutions that are intuitive, connected and affordable, there are tremendous opportunities for new players in the space. The goal of this accelerator is simple:  To help a new generation of companies create smarter and safer homes," Guggenheimer wrote.

The accelerator, which has been established in partnership with the American Family Insurance company, will provide the 10 start-ups with mentorship, tools and connections to accelerate business growth. The American Family Insurance connection will use its background in home insurance to outline what it believes makes a home safer and how smart technology advancements can proactively protect users.

Just Get to the List

The 10 companies are:

  1. Chai Energy: This company offers real-time insights into the way energy is used in the home globally, and for each appliance individually
  2. Heatworks: Heatworks claims to be the world's first fully electronic, connected, water heater application controlling the way water is heated and stored
  3. Neura: This is a company that creates intuitive and intelligence experiences between users and the environments they live in. It provides devices with contextual awareness and learning abilities
  4. Novi Security: Novi provides technologies and smart security systems to track all activities across the home
  5. Reemo: Provides wearable technology with an interoperable interface for monitoring both conventional appliances and more recently connected homes
  6. Plum: Provides Wi-Fi enabled light-pads, smart plugs and outlets that let the users control lights and electronics from a wall switch or smart phone
  7. Red Balloon Security: Offers always-on-everywhere host-based defense for embedded devices.
  8. Scanalytics: Offers insights into consumer behavior in the offline world
  9. Sentri: HD camera and built-in sensors track the home's vital stats and trends like temperature, humidity, air quality, and weather
  10. Wallflowr: Detects risks related to accidental fires caused by ranges, stoves and ovens

Exposure to the Microsoft accelerator should help these companies develop or finish projects and cut the time to get their products to market. It also give a better idea of where Microsoft sees itself in the IoT in the coming years.

Title image by Adam J. Sablich /