If we talk about the company Estimote, we have to talk about IoT.
Imagine for a moment that you are walking with your friends, and your device is suddenly receiving information about the menu of the day of the restaurant in front of you. Or about the arrival of a pair of shoes that you were looking just instants before. Or perhaps a simple reminder from your fridge telling you that you’ve ran out of milk.
That’s what Internet of Things is all about. IoT is closing the gap between human beings and the objects around them, and Estimote is increasing the perception of it. The company was created in 2012 by Polish entrepreneurs Jakub Krzych and Lukasz Kostka, and has a dedicated team supporting more than 75,000 developers around the globe.
That’s thanks to its Estimote Beacons and Stickers; small wireless sensors that you can attach on any location or object. They broadcast tiny radio signals which your smartphone can receive and interpret while unlocking micro-location and contextual awareness.
Estimote has covered the European and American market (with offices in San Francisco, New York and Krakow) but they don’t rule out the Asian market because it’s massive and far from saturated.
We spoke with Wojciech Borowicz in charge of the Marketing Department:
AkuaroWorld: Estimote is located in United States and Poland. How do you see the American and European markets related to the consumption of IoT technology?
Estimote: IoT is growing fast across the world. It’s not just US and Western Europe, Asian businesses are also investing heavily into IoT. That said, Estimote is more focused on proximity and micro-location and we’re a developer-oriented company. United States remain our biggest market.
“IoT is a very broad term, there is no framework that works well for it. There are consumers solutions”
A: How many programming languages do you work with and, in your opinion, which one is more suitable for IoT?
E: Our SDKs are available for iOS (Objective-C, Swift) and Android (Java). We also have a strong community of over 70,000 developers. Many of them are building custom solutions, allowing them to work with Estimote Beacons using PhoneGap, Xamarin, Titanium, even Unity 3D. IoT is a very broad term, there is no framework that works well for it. There are consumer solutions that will require native mobile apps, there is prototyping that’s often done on Raspberry Pi and Arduino, there’s hardware development which needs vast low-level knowledge.
A: Estimote uses Bluetooth Smart technology. What is the most important thing about this type of technology? Can be used for all devices?
E: Bluetooth LE is the fastest growing interface ever. By 2020, there will be more than 8 billion devices with BLE integrated worldwide. It’s also prevalent in consumer devices. Almost all new smartphones come with BLE. Same goes for wearables. Smart appliances often rely on BLE as well. All this makes it a natural choice for micro-location technology.
Founders: Jakub Krzych and Łukasz Kostka
A: You recently participated in the RealityHack @TAURON Arena at Kraków. The experience was about building apps while Beacons were exchanged to help to reach this purpose. How was the experience? What kind of ideas were the most impressive?
E: We partnered with TAURON Arena Kraków to organize a hackathon. The Arena is the largest venue of its kind in Central Europe and we gave developers opportunity to build location-based experiences for its visitors. In just a few hours they created solutions for seat upgrades, indoor navigation, and audience engagement. It was incredible to see how fast they came up with ideas on bridging a physical experience, like a concert or sports tournament, with digital services.
A: According to Gartnet, by 2020 the number of connected devices will exceed 50 billion. How do you think the progress of IoT by 2020 will be? In which countries do you see the goal closer to being reached?
E: IoT is a global phenomenon. The growth is obvious in tech hubs in US and Europe but don’t forget about Asia. The markets in China, India, and Southeast Asia are massive and far from saturation. Other emerging markets are not sitting idle either.
A: We could consider that one of the most fascinating things about IoT is that it removes the human elements at work. What human work do you think it will be substituted by IoT in the upcoming future?
E: With Google, Tesla, and Uber investing heavily into self-driving cars, drivers are probably in peril. There’s also the idea of ‘lights out factories’ that don’t require human labor to continue operating. White-collar workers are at as much risk. Sooner or later machines will become their equals and then superiors in recruiting, writing, finance, etc. But that’s an extremely complex problem that can play out in a number of ways over the coming decades.
A: When we see the the incredible evolution of IoT, we always have a main concern about security. IoT is having all the things around you connected while putting the data inside the cloud. However, the cloud is not 100% secure, thus, do you think that is there a dangerous zone in IoT related to sensible data?
E: Security is definitely a key issue in IoT and it would serve us all well if companies in this field started paying more attention to it. Especially that we are constantly bombarded with information about one or another company that failed at even basic security measures. Connected devices give third parties access to wealth of often intimate, very granular data about people. This data needs to be protected.