The term Internet of Things (IOT) was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 2009 and refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an internet-like structure. Cisco CEO John Chambers says the Internet of Things market is poised to reach $19 trillion in the next couple of years. Ram Krishnan and Arvind Padmanabhan are two engineering veterans who have their feet firmly in the space and have started up WiSense to realize the potential of IOT in India.
Ram has 17 years of embedded product development experience and has worked with Cisco and TI with extensive experience in low power wireless mesh networking, developing energy constrained systems and power line communications. Arvind is a National University of Singapore alumnus with 15 years of experience in various wireless technologies. WiSense, short for wireless sensing, was started by the two in August 2013. “Our aim is to provide the software and the hardware required to prototype IOT related products/solutions. The IOT revolution is here but it is not accessible,” says Ram.
There are too many technologies to master — radio communication, embedded software development, selecting and interfacing with sensors, low power design, sending data to the cloud and so on — and the team at WiSense believes that everybody has some IOT related idea but they do not know where to begin. “We want WiSense to be a prototyping platform and more for everybody,” says Ram. WiSense wants people to use this platform to translate their IOT idea to a working prototype and beyond. The intention is to develop innovative solutions to India specific problems using IOT related technology.
Using sensor networks to speed up accident response: In India, there are several train accidents. On 29th September 2013, 26 people died when an AC coach caught fire. The excuse given for the accident is that the government can’t install expensive fire fighting equipment in every train. WiSense proposes a simple cost effective solution for such cases — low power wireless network can be installed on trains to notify the driver. This can be used alongside the existing chain system and the network of nodes can relay an alarm message in a matter of seconds to the train driver (complete details here).
WiSense’s primary offering is a wireless sensor networking development kit which includes both hardware (wireless sensor nodes, including all kinds of sensors) and software that the team has written from scratch. WiSense’s low cost basic node with a controller board, RF board and couple of sensors costs less than INR 2500 and the liberal software license policies. WiSense is already working with companies like FORMCEPT and the development kit will be sold on the website. “We offer training on our development kit as well. Students can get exposed to a variety of technologies through our kit. We want educational institutions to upgrade from simple microcontroller based courses to WiSense sensor nodes,” says Ram.
The company is totally bootstrapped at the moment and is looking for funding to build a bigger team and explore other opportunities such as miniaturization of sensor nodes. There is a lot happening in the IOT space globally but the awareness is low in India. WiSense has a very solid founding team and with the right resources, the team can surely make a thing or two of the internet.