LogMeIn, the company best known for its remote access software, is preparing to launch a new platform aimed at easing the building and managing of applications that leverage the 'Internet of Things'.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a phrase attributed to Kevin Ashton. Ashton, who is now general manager of Belkin, came up with the phrase in 1999 while working at Proctor & Gamble. In his words it combined "the new idea of RFID in P&G's supply chain" with the "then-red-hot topic of the Internet".
The term refers to linking the Internet to physical objects: Equipping otherwise non-networked objects, ranging from household appliances to industrial machinery, with the ability to communicate and interact across IP-based networks such as the Internet.
LogMeIn CEO Michael Simon said that the company's new IoT platform, which will be unveiled this quarter, is not so unusual for the company, which prides itself on the underlying platform – dubbed 'Gravity' – that enables the connectivity between devices and drives applications such as LogMeIn Rescue and its LogMeIn Ignition remote access offering for tablets and smartphones.
"Originally, connectivity was really about computers," Simon said.
"In the 'Internet wave' there were about 1.1 billion computers on the internet and we we're really just trying to enable workforce mobility. Then you had the 'mobile wave', where you added in smartphones and tablets as well as computers, and it got to about 6 billion devices on the Internet."
"Suddenly in this bring-your-own-device world – bring your own phone, bring your own computer – it was much less about connecting to a computer, and it was much, much more about connecting people. It wasn't just a change in the device: It was actually a change in terms of what we were really trying to do."
LogMeIn's 'internet wave' products centred on access and device management while its 'mobile wave' offerings were about "collaboration and people – the devices are transient, they come and go both to LogMeIn's universe and to the business' universe and to the individual."
This device transience is reflected in the much larger number of devices in the LogMeIn ecosystem – some 250 million at last count – than the number of people who use the company's services (about 55 million last year).
The next wave, Simon says, is the Internet of Things wave, which will see an explosion of the number of devices connected to the Net.
"In that world, it's no longer about computers, it's no longer about people. It's literally about people and the world around them connecting," Simon says.
"Devices, sensors, places and people... Whether we're successful or not, time will tell – we're an early player in it – but I viscerally believe it is the biggest technology market coming ever."
Cisco estimates that only some 0.6 per cent of objects that may one day become part of what the networking vendor dubs the 'Internet of Everything' are connected to networks. The company estimates the business opportunity as being worth US$14.4 trillion over the next 10 years.
Details of LogMeIn's new IoT platform, including its name and launch date, are yet to be revealed, but it will build on the company's Cosm technology for IoT applications, which the company obtained when it acquired Pachube in July 2011.
"About a year before we acquired Cosm, we were very interested in the space because it felt like a natural extension [for LogMeIn]," Simon said. "Conservative estimates now are saying 50 billion devices on the Internet with the Internet of Things. I actually think that will be eclipsed."
The platform is designed to solve three problems for building applications on top of the IoT, Simon said: Scalability, security and interoperability. By offering a secure platform-as-a-service for IoT applications, Simon said businesses will find it easier to build and deploy their own services for connected objects.
"The bill of materials is less than $20 to make a coffee maker internet-enabled," Simon said.
"That's great. Slide one of the PowerPoint presentation: It would be great if I could have coffee made automatically when I need it. Slide two: Our solution. Slide, three, four, five, six and seven: Well we're going to stand up a service on Amazon Web Services, we're going to hire four programmers...
"From a business standpoint, we're dramatically reducing the time to market. We're dramatically reducing the cost to get a product to the market, and hopefully we're delivering a lot of peace of mind. I think it's the biggest opportunity our industry will have ever seen."