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July 21, 2015

Who will rule IoT? Top 5 tech titans fighting for the IoT crown

These are five of the biggest companies that want to connect the world.

By Joao Lima

Forecasts differ between 20 billion and 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Despite the disparity, the numbers indicate that we are on the cusp of a smart revolution.

But who will lead the revolution and become the outright victor of the IoT? CBR runs down the 5 biggest companies vying for the top spot.

1. Intel

Since 1968, the company has been engineering computers, smartphones and now wearables with its chips. The firm is now working on next generation devices to improve efficiency and battery life of connected products.

The company has launched the IoT Platform to help developers understand how components of a solution work together and where security and analytics capabilities happen.

Over the last few years, Intel has also developed connected solutions for the smart car, utilities, retail and healthcare industries. In the automotive space, the company has partnered with Hyundai, BMW, Infiniti and Kia to deploy its technology that allows infotainment systems to be more responsive.

The chipmaker also designed an IoT ecosystem to smarten up buildings and ease their management, as well as solutions for Industrial Automation. Collaborating with Wind River and McAfee, Intel has produced solutions to be run on Linux and Windows and help factories improve efficiency with real time analytics.

2. Microsoft

In the wearables space, Microsoft has put into the market its Band solution. The smart fitness tracker hopes to rival Samsung’s and Apple’s smartwatches. The company also designed a pair of virtual reality glasses, HoloLens, which recently secured a space in the International Space Station and will be used by NASA to train astronauts.

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The firm believes digital transformation will transform the way companies operate, from real time analytics to using robots to improve workplace safety.

In April 2014, the company unveiled the Azure Intelligent Systems Service, designed to connect, manage and capture machine-generated data from sensors and devices. In March this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the Azure IoT Suite.

Looking to the future, Microsoft announced a university degree based on the IoT in June, which the firm expects 3,000 students to take part in until 2025.

3. Cisco

Cisco is responsible for the "Internet of Everything" (IoE) term. The company is one of the biggest tech IoE preachers of the moment and has aligned business strategies to meet demands of a digital and connected world.

Cisco is targeting the data centre space to increase the efficiency and ability to manage the explosion of data fostered by the IoE. The company designed a Unified Computing System (UCS), which reduces provisioning times by 86%.

The tech titan is also investing in the cloud space, to host all data extracted from connected devices and machine.

Looking to the next stage of data management, the company has invested in edge computing, aka Fog. Cisco is looking at ways edge computing can be used in real-time smart car communication, among other applications. Edge computing, in this instance, would eliminate the need of data flying inbetween the data centre and the vehicles.

Phil Smith, Cisco UK&I CEO, is a big IoE apologist and has been tasked with passing on the company’s ambitions in this space. For him, IoE will deliver the digital transformation UK businesses so desperately need and enable the workforce to deliver new and better services.

4. Google

Until Nest’s $3.2 billion acquisition in February 2014, Google was seen as a slow adopter of IoT technologies, despite being one of the biggest tech companies in the world.

Since then, the company has launched a new IoT body – Thread Group – targeting standards for communication between smart home devices.

In June this year, Google announced a new OS for the IoT, which allows developers and manufacturers to build connected devices. The Brillo OS includes Weave communications protocol, which offers developers a common language for locating devices on a network.

Google is a big player in the wearables space, with special emphasis towards augmented reality. The company developed its Google Glasses and it is now looking to develop smart contact lenses.

Smart cars, including driverless vehicles, are currently being tested. The company developed driverless cars that do not include pedals nor steering wheel. It expects these to become commercially available by 2020.

5. Samsung

Since September 2013, the company has been releasing to the market different smart watches, and is now working on a rounded device for the wrist.

In December 2014, the company launched the Samsung Gear VR, a pair of virtual reality glasses. Built in partnership with Oculus, the gadget works with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 smartphone.

In 2014, it spent $200 million to acquire SmartThings, a company working to build an open platform for smart homes.

In January, the company’s CEO BK Yoon announced a $100 million fund to help developers and boost the start of an open system to the connected world. In May, it introduced the ARTIKTM platform to allow faster, simpler development of new enterprise, industrial and consumer applications for the IoT.

Samsung has warned the tech industry that the IoT will not achieve its full potential, and might even fail, unless electronics firms collaborate more.

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