Microsoft will spend $5 bn to spur IoT innovation

Microsoft will spend $5 bn to spur IoT innovation
Photo Credit: Reuters
5 Apr, 2018

Redmond-headquartered tech giant Microsoft will invest $5 billion in the Internet of Things (IoT) globally over the next four years, a company statement said. 

This increased investment will support continued research and innovation in IoT backed by the company's cloud, operating system and devices infrastructure and what is ultimately evolving to be the new intelligent edge. It also said that the research will focus on securing IoT, creating development tools and intelligent services for IoT and edge computing, and making investments to grow its partner ecosystem, the statement added. 

In India, Microsoft has partnered with several other firms to deliver IoT solutions for various purposes such as saving electricity, predictive healthcare and automobile safety.

In order to enable smart lighting in Jaipur, the tech giant has teamed up with Samudra LED which in turn has deployed a customised Microsoft IoT-platform-based solution created by ISV Precimetrix to monitor, control and manage smart LED public street lights. The project, as per Microsoft, is expected to benefit 1.65 million people through improved street lighting and a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 36,750 metric tonnes/year. It will also result in $1 million per year in fiscal savings accrued to the government due to the reduced energy consumption, the company said.

For monitoring the quality of water, Microsoft has partnered with TechSpan Engineering to implement a system built on the Azure IoT platform, using sensors provided by the Austrian firm s::can and their India partner Aaxis Nano. 

"Using the power of the Microsoft cloud, IoT and data, the solution taps into the robust s::can sensors to provide measurements across 17 parameters, from chemical oxygen demand (COD) and biological oxygen demand (BOD), chloride and fluoride levels to temperature and colour," the company explained.

The solution is currently being used to monitor drinking water quality online by the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (125 stations) and the Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) in Hubli, Dharwad and Bijapur (3 stations); online surface water quality monitoring by Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi (44 stations); and Central Water Commission, New Delhi (3 stations); online industrial pollution monitoring (over 1,500 stations); and online sewage treatment and flow monitoring by Delhi Jal Board (36 stations).

Researchers at IISc Bangalore are also using a network of IoT sensors coupled with Microsoft Azure analytics to determine how cloud technologies can tackle water scarcity in cities.

In the agriculture sector, the Satya Nadella-led company is running a research project called Microsoft FarmBeats that enables data collection from various sensors, cameras and drones. It comprises two broad areas—a data acquisition system consisting of drones and sensors and a data analysis system consisting of connectivity pieces, cloud storage, and predictive analysis.

In the automobile sector, the company has partnered with Tata Motors, which earlier said it will leverage Microsoft’s connected vehicle technologies that bring together artificial intelligence, advanced machine learning, and IoT capabilities on Microsoft’s Azure cloud, to create a personalised, smart and safer driving experience across the digital life of a vehicle owner.

A tyre management startup named Tyre Express has developed an IoT-based tyre performance management solution powered by the Azure IoT Hub. The company aims to build operational efficiency for commercial vehicle fleet operators by tracking tyre performance. 

In India, procurement of new tyres for a commercial vehicle approximately costs about Rs 1-1.5 lakh. Fluctuations in pressure and temperature can have a dramatic effect on their lifespan. Tyres are one of the largest consumables for fleet operators after fuel, according to the startup. "Operating a vehicle with tyre pressure 20% below rated pressure increases fuel consumption by 5-10% and reduces tyre life by 15% to 20%. The new IoT platform helps monitor tyre performance in real time to help customers take suitable action and improve operational efficiency, reduce costs, and improve profitability," Microsoft explained.

In the manufacturing and predictive maintenance sector, Microsoft has partnered with Tetra Pak which is employing new, digital tools that enable its cloud-connected machines to predict exactly when equipment needs maintenance, preventing breakdowns. 

“Sensors on more than 5,000 Tetra Pak filling machines at customers’ sites globally, all connected to Microsoft Azure, feed real-time performance data to the company for monitoring and analysis – nearly 700 million data points each year. As a result, maintenance can be scheduled precisely and efficiently," Microsoft said. It added that during a recent, six-month period involving 11 packaging lines, the company predicted future breakdowns in five of those lines, spurring preventive maintenance and saving those customers more than $30,000.

The company is also working on a platform called IoT Central which is aimed at deploying high-scalability solutions in the form of SaaS. The platform can be used in smart cities, smart homes, cars and manufacturing.