Sunnyvale, California-based Ayla Networks, whose Internet of Things platform provides connectivity for all kinds of product, has launched its platform for manufacturers in Europe and announced its first European customer, Innr for its smart home lighting system.
It has also extended key technology partnerships to Europe with Amazon AWS, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Marvell, Murata and USI.
Ayla, which has raised US$20 million in two funding rounds, now numbers about 100 people, 30 of whom are based in Shenzhen, China. The company was set up in 2010 and launched in 2013 by Dave Friedman, CEO and Adrian Caceres, CTO. Here, Caceres talks to Jeremy Cowan. (Also see: Agile platforms for fast and truly global business transformation.)
Connectivity, security, and data management and analysis are not the core expertise for most manufacturers of connected machines. The goal is to provide Ayla’s customers with a feedback loop to learn faster and adapt their products to end users’ needs. Ayla works with mnufacturers to link appliances like coffee makers, electric fans, and medical devices as well as fire & safety or heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.
Now Ayla’s Europe cloud joins its clouds in North America and China, to make it easier for multinational manufacturers to launch and support IoT-connected products in multiple regions worldwide. Ayla’s core approach to the IoT market has always been to remove the ‘friction’ of IoT connectivity at every level imaginable, and the strict EU privacy regulations add a non-technical layer of complexity for any manufacturer that wants to sell connected products in Europe. With the Ayla cloud platform, manufacturers can use the same IoT technology to launch connected versions of their products in multiple regions, instead of duplicating development efforts for each region.”
Because the Ayla Europe cloud is compliant with EU data privacy policies, manufacturers wanting to sell connected products in Europe “inherit” that compliance when they use the Ayla IoT platform. As a result, says Caceres, they can save considerable time and money by not having to design solutions for EU privacy compliance themselves.
Are customers in China looking for different things from their American counterparts?
“Aggressive time-to-market is key in China. Our client, Tencent [a China-based internet service provider] has the WeChat platform with one billion users. Taxis are hailed with it, and hotel bills paid through WeChat,” says Caceres. “We’re fairly focused on manufacturers, helping them to be iterative, it’s a learning process through Ayla. Many will have had little feedback on their customers’ use of products.”
Are there many surprises in how customers use manufacturers’ products?
“Yes, huge surprises sometimes. Customers have developed features that no-one uses or that people struggle with. Other customers may be shifting from time-based to usage-based warranties. For example, one customer manufactures side-vented water heaters [boilers] and the ignition was being affected wind. When the faulty heaters were sent back to the factory they appeared OK.” Having real-time data on their performance is crucial, and external effects can be key.
Caceres says, “The IoT is fragmented and will remain so because ‘things’ are so diverse. Glucose meters and air-cons are different,” so Ayla is agnostic. “The winning IoT platform will be the one scaling the best and addressing all the different domains without customisation. We support smoke detectors, medical devices, HVACs, coffee makers using the Ayla IoT platform. But I didn’t write a single word of code to enable them to use it. Many platforms have to have an engineer to write lines of code to customise for all these protocols. We must be protocol, data, device and application agnostic.”
European IoT ecosystem to support global manufacturers
The strategic partnerships with WiFi chip makers Broadcom, Qualcomm and Marvell, and with module makers Murata and USI, are important foundational elements of Ayla’s growing ecosystem in Europe. Ayla uses Amazon’s AWS cloud service as its global cloud provider, including for its new European cloud service.
“Ayla works with the wireless chip and module makers and cloud service providers that our manufacturing customers use in their connected products,” said Bill Podrasky, vice president of business development at Ayla. “Extending these relationships to the European market will give manufacturers more options for wireless chip and module providers, while also providing new channels for Ayla to reach European manufacturers.
To further expand its European ecosystem, Ayla has:
- Begun using the AWS EU (Frankfurt) Region cloud infrastructure to support its Europe cloud
- Made its North America cloud Safe Harbor compliant, which means that European companies can use the Ayla North America cloud and remain compliant with EU privacy regulations
- Added staff in Europe, including a strategic accounts director and pre-sales engineering personnel
- Begun working with manufacturers based in Europe as well as U.S.-based manufacturers seeking significant sales in Europe
Ayla has signed its first customer in Europe, Innr Lighting B.V. from the Netherlands. Innr is using the Ayla IoT platform, including Ayla’s Agile Mobile Application Platform (AMAP) technology, to scale its smart home lighting solution across Europe.
“We realised that to add the functionality, security and compatibilities needed to extend beyond our local base would be prohibitively expensive, time-consuming and complex to do ourselves,” said Jeroen Dalderop, CEO and co-founder of Innr. “We are in the lighting business, not the IoT connectivity business. Ayla not only provides all the back-end connectivity, security and cross-brand compatibility we need, but also has the AMAP framework for adding mobile app control to our cloud-based products.”
Innr, founded by former Philips executives, develops and markets smart home lighting solutions with the goal of bringing better home lighting within reach of everyone. Innr uses knowledge of light placement and light intensity to allow users to create room- and activity-specific lighting “scenes”.