The maker of Schlage locks creates $50 million fund for IoT

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Allegion, the $ 2.4 billion company that makes Schlage branded locks, has created a $ 50 million fund to invest in the internet of things. This is Allegion’s first foray into corporate investing as a formal fund, although it has made investments prior to the fund’s creation.

Rob Martens, a futurist at Allegion and president of Allegion Ventures, will lead the three-member investment team. He says the goal of the fund is to find and assist startups trying to develop technology for access and for security and safety. This could be in the home or in office and industrial settings. He’s not exactly excited for startups trying to enter the consumer IoT space at the moment given the pressures they face to support their products over a long period of time and the pressures that can put on profitability.

However, he says many cool technologies aimed at the consumer market might be suited for industrial or enterprise environments. In those cases Allegion could be the right partner to help a startup break into those new markets. “The lion’s share of our business is not on the residential side, it’s on the commercial side,” Martens says. “With our assistance and our experience in the space we might help [a startup] accelerate their product into those commercial markets.”

Historically, corporate venture firms invest at later stages once a product and strategy is fairly clear for a startup. Allegion plans to invest earlier.  Martens is interested in seed, A and perhaps B stages of funding. Martens says he expects to stay involved in investments for five to seven years, noting that Allegion may also choose to expand the fund at such time if it’s needed.  Like many corporate venture funds, Allegion is treating this as way to advance technology it’s interested in seeing, as opposed to focusing solely on returns.

So far the internet of things has proved fertile for corporate-backed venture funds, with Amazon investing in nine companies through its Alexa Fund and insurer American Family Ventures putting money in five startups as of the middle of 2017. Corporate venture firms are also active on the industrial side. Back in 2016, CB Insights noted that five of the top 12 IoT investors were corporate venture funds, including Intel Capital, Qualcomm Ventures and Cisco Ventures.

Many of those corporate investors become buyers of new industrial or smart home technology.  So it’s possible that as Allegion invests in startups helping secure our world or improve the economics of the internet of things, it will find an idea that’s too good to pass up.

For more, check out Martens’  interview on this week’s Internet of Things Podcast.


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SAS creates new global Internet of Things division

SAS, a provider of data analytics software, has created a new global division dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT) to help organisations from manufacturing to retail and healthcare reap the benefits of IoT.

The company’s new IoT division will be led by Jason Mann, who takes up the role of VP IoT. SAS adds the division will ‘develop new partnerships and expand existing ones to bring together best in class technology and expertise’.

Companies in SAS’ remit include GE Transportation, Lockheed Martin and Octo Telematics. The former is enlisting SAS to uncover use patterns through the Internet of Things that keep its trains on track. GE Transportation’s vehicles are given edge devices, managing hundreds of data elements each second, to optimise locomotive operation.

“The IoT is set to transform the way businesses in all industries think, act and sell,” said Peter Pugh-Jones, head of technology at SAS UK & Ireland. “That progress will be founded on data. The value of the IoT is in the information it produces about the world around us.

“SAS’s new IoT division will provide companies with the tools and capabilities they need to analyse and understand that data. With SAS they’ll be able to use the IoT to help make more intelligent decisions, introduce stronger AI and add value everywhere from production to supply chain to marketing and beyond.”

Plenty of organisations are moving towards creating a specific IoT division. One, as sister publication Enterprise CIO previously explored, enterprise mobility management (EMM) software provider MobileIron created a VP IoT role this time last year, filled by Wind River alumnus Santhosh Nair. This move can also relate to revenues; as of this year, Software AG is reporting cloud and IoT revenues separately. Latest from the homepage

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Solar energy isn’t just a tool to reduce emissions and help slow climate change — it’s a job creator. According to the most recent National Solar Jobs Census published by The Solar Foundation, the industry creates more jobs than any other sector in the U.S.

According to the census, solar energy adds jobs 17 times faster than the overall economy in the United States.

In 2010, there were only 93,000 jobs in solar. The sector has seen a steep rise and six years later 260,077 people were employed in the field.  This means that in 2016 one in every 50 new jobs was in the solar industry, and analysts expect the trend to continue.

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Dwindling Fossil Fuels

This growth in the solar industry is happening as the fossil fuel industry continues to dwindle. For example, the United Kingdom used to produce a substantial percentage of its energy from coal, but now produces twice as much electricity from renewable sources as coal.

Conversely, in the U.S. President Trump has promised that not only is there a future in the coal industry, but it can drive the creation of a significant number of jobs. The President has recently slammed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells, as part of its plans to hamper the renewable sector and make space for fossil fuels. Although the new measure is expected to cripple the solar sector, according to experts coal jobs are not coming back.

Overall this most recent census, along with the explosive innovation currently driving the industry, strengthens the case for investing in solar energy in the U.S., but it’s undeniable that the new tariffs will be casting a shadow over this positive trend in the coming years.

The post New Data Shows Solar Energy Creates More Jobs in America Than Any Other Industry appeared first on Futurism.


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Harvard Scientists Made a Material That Creates Completely New States of Light

Light is ubiquitous and vital, but also incredibly strange – and it’s possible we’ll never exhaust the opportunities to learn more about it.

Case in point: researchers at Harvard have developed a material that can generate and maintain completely new and more complex states of light.

The tool uses polarisation to generate structures such as swirling vortices, spirals, and corkscrews that not only help explore light’s properties, but also have potential practical applications, such as high-powered imaging.

Discoveries about light are still being made. It was only in 2015 that scientists took the first-ever photograph of light behaving as both a particle and a wave.

And it hasn’t even been that long – just 1992, 25 years ago – since light was discovered to have orbital angular momentum.

This is angular momentum based on the shape of its wavefront, rather than its orientation. The new tool – a type of metasurface – uses this along with second type of angular momentum called spin angular momentum (also known as circular polarisation).

“Think about orbital angular momentum and circular polarisation like the motion of a planet,” writes Harvard’s Leah Burrows in a statement.

“Circular polarisation is the direction in which a planet rotates on its axis while orbital momentum describes how the planet orbits the sun.”

It’s previously been established that a single beam of light can exhibit both types of angular momentum, and that connecting them and using polarisation to control the OAM can result in beams with new and complex shapes, such as the aforementioned corkscrew.

According to the researchers, until now there was a significant limit on this. Only certain polarisations could connect to certain OAMs.

This is where the new tool comes in – it allows any polarisation to be converted to any OAM, which means it can create spirals and corkscrews and vortices of any size.

“This is a completely new optical component,” said co-first researcher Antonio Ambrosio, Principal Scientist at Harvard Center for Nanoscale Systems.

“Some metasurfaces are iterations or more efficient, more compact versions of existing optical devices but, this arbitrary spin-to-orbital conversion cannot be done with any other optical device.

“There is nothing in nature as well that can do this and produce these states of light.”

oam sam new light animated
(Capasso Lab/Harvard SEAS)

Orbital angular momentum already has several proposed uses, such as high-speed data transfer, and encoded communications. Researchers have even figured out how to transmit the OAM of individual photons using entanglement.

Other previously proposed applications include the manipulation of microscopic objects, and imaging systems.

This is where Harvard’s device could prove practical. The metasurface could be used to shape optical tweezers to manipulate objects as small as atoms and molecules. Changing the polarisation could change the direction of the applied force.

It could also be used for high-powered imaging, because the black hole down the centre of the vortex can be used to take images of features smaller than the diffraction limit, the researchers said.

“There is interest in these beams in quantum optics and quantum information,” explained co-first researcher Noah Rubin.

“On the more applied side, these beams could find application in free-space optical communication, especially in scattering environments where this is usually difficult.

“Moreover, it has been recently shown that similar elements can be incorporated into lasers, directly producing these novel states of light. This may lead to unforeseen applications.”

Harvard has legally protected all IP related to the project and is currently seeking commercialisation opportunities. The research itself has been published in the journal Science.

The post Harvard Scientists Made a Material That Creates Completely New States of Light appeared first on Futurism.