More obscure low-power end point devices could be getting new life soon thanks to advances in communications technology for the IoT. To date, there’s been no incentive for carriers to build widespread wireless coverage that is secure, reliable, and super-cheap. Established wireless carriers have difficulty justifying the build out of their networks to accomodate devices that might transmit less than a few dollar’s worth of data per year. The connectivity void this creates just may have opened the door to a whole new ecosystem of players, thanks to the blockchain model we’re already familiar with.
Anyone who hears that an internet-of-things startup is getting into blockchain technology would be forgiven for laughing it off as another hollow scheme. But Amir Haleem, cofounder of Helium, says he has no interest in making a quick buck off the irrational exuberance that permeates the cryptocurrency world. In fact, just the opposite—he’s interested in cryptocurrency only as a way to build a true internet of things, once and for all. And he knows his idea is so far-out it could take a while before people catch on.
Haleem started Helium in 2013, along with Napster creator Shawn Fanning. The company’s first product, which is now on the market, is a hardware system that uses a homegrown wireless standard to provide long-range, low-power wireless coverage for devices like sensors that track and monitor medicine or food supply chains. Software routes the data to internet-based applications hosted by whoever owns the sensors.