When I travel to various conferences, there are certain technology themes that are strengthening connections the Internet of Things for manufacturing. We witnessed several of these this week. Here is a quick outline of some important announcements.

Why should we invest in IoT products and technologies? I hear this often. Like as not the answer will be predictive maintenance.

Augury has developed a unique technology for sensing situations that can predict upcoming failures. It must be solid technology with a solid management team. Why do I say that? Take a look at the funds investing in the company this week.

Augury Secures $17 Million Series B Funding Round

Augury, an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology company, announced that it has closed a $17 million Series B funding round co-led by Eclipse Ventures and Munich Re / HSB Ventures, the venture arm of Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB) and Munich Re. Augury will use the funding to strengthen Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) relationships, develop strategic partnerships and further establish itself as the leader in mechanical diagnostics.

This round of venture capital funding for Augury comes after a successful Series A raise completed in August of 2015. Additional investors in the current round include Sound Ventures, First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and Pritzker Group Venture Capital.

“Augury is by far the leading provider of mechanical diagnostics in the commercial and industrial sectors,” said Lior Susan, Managing Partner, Eclipse Ventures. “This investment perpetuates the commercial application of IIoT technology into what will become an inevitable part of predictive maintenance technology. We are confident that Augury will continue to redefine and lead the future of diagnostics in the Industrial Internet of Things.”

Augury’s existing OEM relationships include Grundfos, Armstrong and PSG Dover. Additional industry-leading customers include Johnson Controls, Trane, Carrier, Mueller, Aramark and AECOM. As they expand their market reach, Augury will continue to exponentially grow their mechanical malfunction dictionary, thus improving their diagnostics capabilities. This injection of capital will help to solidify Augury’s market leading position as a real-time, intelligent Predictive Maintenance (PdM) solution.

“We are building a long-lasting company with the goal of diagnosing everything that has moving parts, effectively creating the mechanical nervous system of the IoT,” said Saar Yoskovitz, CEO of Augury. “Equipment manufacturers and other market leaders in the industrial sector are increasingly turning to PdM as a critical component for their IIoT strategy. This funding will enable Augury to become a driving force towards the connected era of tomorrow.”

“Insurance companies are playing a significant role in the deployment of IIoT solutions,” said Jacqueline LeSage Krause, Managing Director, Munich Re / HSB Ventures. “This investment in Augury further strengthens HSB’s leadership position in IoT and insurance.”

Cloud and the Edge

The cloud is a consistent topic of conversation. Sophisticated technologists are now discussing connectivity and bandwidth and edge computing/cloud relationships. Here is an interesting take.

Vapor IO, the next generation platform for edge clouds, announced Project Volutus, which enables cloud providers, wireless carriers and web-scale companies to deliver cloud-based edge computing applications via a network of micro data centers deployed at the base of cell tower sites. The company also announced today that Crown Castle, the nation’s largest provider of shared wireless infrastructure, has made a minority investment in Vapor IO to accelerate the project’s development and deployment.

Project Volutus is a “data center as a platform” service, powered by Vapor Edge Computing. Project Volutus offers fully-managed micro data centers at the base of cell towers, literally at the true edge of the wireless network. It combines Vapor IO’s patent pending hardware and software technology with the nation’s extensive network of cell towers and dense metro fiber to build and operate self-driving, distributed edge data centers in major metropolitan locations.

“Zettabytes of machine to machine communication and new application types will require a shift in how the industry thinks about data centricity and the delivery of edge services,” said Cole Crawford, CEO and founder of Vapor IO. “Project Volutus is the most cost-effective way to deliver cloud applications that benefit from last mile wireless proximity and sub 10-millisecond round trip latency. By locating Vapor IO’s technology at tower locations and connecting to dense metro fiber, we will provide the fastest, most economical way for cloud providers, telecom carriers and web-scale companies to deliver next generation edge services in every major US city.”

In addition to supporting traditional cloud applications, Project Volutus allows carriers to incorporate virtual Radio Access Networks, including those based on Intel Corporation’s FlexRAN reference design, for speed and scale when upgrading their networks. By cross-connecting the radio network directly to edge services and the internet, Project Volutus eliminates multiple network hops and facilitates a new breed of low-latency edge applications.

Eye Tracking Research

OK, eye tracking technology can be creepy if the company sneaks it in on you during your browsing sessions. But research into how people look at and interact with their various screens is valuable in the development of improved HMI and other visualization screens. Here is a company taking it into virtual reality for research.

Tobii Pro, the global leader in eye tracking research solutions, announces a new solution for conducting high-end, eye tracking research within immersive virtual environments (VR) – Tobii Pro VR Integration.

The research tool, based on the HTC Vive headset integrated with Tobii eye tracking technology, comes with the Tobii Pro software development kit (SDK) for research applications. Researchers can collect and record eye tracking data from a VR environment with pinpoint accuracy and gain deeper insights on human behavior.

Eye tracking research in immersive VR is transforming how studies can be conducted and opens up entirely new possibilities in psychology, consumer behavior, and human performance.

Through VR, researchers have complete control over a study environment which allows them to run scenarios that previously would have been too costly, risky or difficult to conduct in real life.

“Combining eye tracking with VR is growing as a research methodology and our customers have started to demand this technology to be part of their toolkit for behavioral studies. The Tobii Pro VR Integration is our first step in making eye tracking in immersive VR a reliable and effective research tool for a range of fields. It marks our first major expansion of VR-based research tools,” said Tom Englund, president, Tobii Pro.

Tobii Pro VR Integration is a retrofit of the HTC Vive business edition headset with a seamless integration of Tobii eye tracking technology. It is capable of eye tracking all types of eyes, collecting binocular eye tracking data at 120 Hz (images per second). The solution allows study participants to move naturally while wearing the headset without compromising the user experience or the output of the eye tracking data.

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