The rapid development of smartphones spurred on the industry development of the Internet of Things (IoT). Many are confident that the IoT will be one of the important areas of business in the near future. Apple Inc. was hopeful about the industry and unveiled “HomeKit” during the 2014 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, expanding its business into the IoT industry. Apple’s participation in the industry will inevitably drive market competition and indicate that the time of the IoT is coming.
Investing software and hardware facilities into IoT
Oplink Communications, Inc. (Oplink), established some 20 years ago in the Silicon Valley, also saw the potential in the IoT. Oplink is a NASDAQ-listed company. Following the 2008 global economic downturn, the company decided to apply its expertise in fiber-optic communication to other fields. Oplink looked to the IoT and became one of the early comers in the industry in 2010. To reinforce its software technology, Oplink acquired software company Oridus and obtained products experiences and patents in mobile-cloud cooperation. They jointly developed cloud service platform software. Joseph Liu, Oplink’s chairman and CEO, told TechNews in an exclusive interview that his company did not take the same path as other companies.
Oplink used to provide ODM service for Tellabs, Inc., a U.S.-based designer of fiber optical network, and produced 88-channel all-optical switches. Oplink therefore obtained experience in multicast technology and used the concept in the cloud interactive system. Users can connect to home security, safety, care and monitor services via their smartphones; using a user-defined function, the system allows authorized users to be simultaneously notified of triggered alerts.
Tech giants eyes IoT prospects
Joseph Liu believes that the IoT will be developed at a compound growth rate. Among the early comers, only about 1 percent of them have made profit in the IoT. The IoT business will reach US$730 billion by 2020, Liu said, citing statistics. Liu once predicted that smart home systems would be the upcoming trend in technology development, but Oplink insisted to walk a different path. Based on the ecosystem in Taiwan’s industry, hardware could be used in collaboration with simple software programs; by doing so could allow users to operate the system with simple apps. However, Oplink wants to create more added value for software programs and the value will lie in the company’s cloud computing power.
Apple advanced into new territories by investing the IoT industry and is expected to draw Android and Google alike into the competition. Oplink may face fierce challenge in this front. Liu said that in spite of his concerns for his own company, he believes that the technology industry has always been competitive and the only way to avoid losing is to join the competition. He said the key to remaining competitive will be the ability to differentiate oneself from its rivals.
Smartphones and broadband system facilitate Plug-Activate-N-Play system.
Oplink developed a smart home cloud interactive platform, “Oplink Connected Life,” based on its expertise in wireless transmission and cloud service technology. The comprehensive platform has multiple functions, including multi-tier, multi-users, and multi-locations. The system also has several patents. In addition, the non-pairing and zero configuration technologies allow users to install and activate the system within minutes.
Take Oplink’s TripleShieldTM for example. Users only need to plug in the OPU, web camera and sensors, connect them via routers, and download an app on the smartphones to start using the system. The automatic setup will complete in minutes. When the sensors trigger alarms, all authorized users or family members will be notified at the same time by the app in the smartphones. The Plug-Activate-N-Play, non-pairing and zero configuration characteristics make it easy for consumers to use. Liu said the series will hit the market in New York in June 2014 with products featuring home security, personal safety and care.
Oplink has invested over US$10 million in R&D in the past year and has reinforced security measures with regards to users’ private information. The system has two layers of protection. The first layer is authentication; when users log in using password, the password will be encrypted. In the second layer, data transmission will be protected by advanced encryption standard.
It seems that Oplink has everything in order except for one crucial thing. Quoting Acer founder Stan Shih’s “smiling curve” concept, Liu said that Oplink has comprehensive R&D technology and manufacture capabilities but that on the other side of the “smiling curve” shows where Oplink needs improvement — sales and marketing. Oplink has begun its personnel planning and proposed measures to reinforce its marketing and sales capabilities.