The backbone behind the ‘connected home’ and ‘industrial Internet’

Five questions with Jim Basar, Product Manager at Intwine Connect

Intwine Connect, LLC develops hardware, software and services for the monitoring, management and utilization of business-critical performance data.  The company’s mission is to collaborate with customers to provide an end-to-end solution that connects machines to machines, businesses, and end users via user-friendly, real-time, two-way communications. We recently sat down with Jim Basar, product manager at Intwine Connect, to ask some questions about the Intwine Connected Gateway, the market and their relationship with TI.

TI: What is the Intwine Connected Gateway? 

Basar: The Intwine Connected Gateway (ICG) is a networking product that provides lower-level, physical-layer gateway functionality and upper-level application functionality.  The platform was designed with a wide array of physical interfaces and a powerful application processor. This enables customers to seamlessly add Machine-to‐Machine (M2M) communications to their products and support a wide range of connected applications. The ICG allows users to connect multiple LAN technologies for remote applications through the Wi-Fi® client or Ethernet WAN.  The ICG is also certified on the Verizon 4G LTE network for cellular WAN connections.  The ICG, combined with proprietary software and user-defined interfaces, is the technology backbone that enables Intwine and its customers to connect an ecosystem of proprietary and standard monitoring and measuring devices to create “the connected home” and “the Industrial Internet.”

TI: What makes the Intwine Connected Gateway stand out from its competitors?

Basar: The Intwine Connected Gateway is emerging as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the Internet of Things (IoT), and we are finding applications across multiple industries.  The ICG solves three clear problems within the IoT industry.  First, the wired and wireless protocols within the IoT are fragmented; second, it is difficult and cost prohibitive to send data to the cloud; and third, the typical cost of gateway hardware diminishes the value proposition.  We approach the market differently: our unique products and experience in the “connected home” allow us to offer end-to-end connectivity to large OEM customers that are looking for complete solutions to get their devices online.  In this way, our technology and market are pretty interesting because with the IoT, we see technology that was commercialized and popularized in the consumer market finding its way back into the industrial market.  Because of our experience in the consumer market, we are able to give OEMs a one-stop shop to connect devices, monitor critical performance data, and maximize the management of device information.

TI: There are many wireless connectivity technologies on the market.  Why did you choose Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, and ZigBee® technology for your gateway? 

Basar: We chose to include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee connectivity on the ICG because they are the standards based technologies and are widely accepted in the connected device market.  These protocols have a large pool of devices that are already in the market and will allow us to quickly expand our network of connected devices.  For example, the on board ZigBee module allows us to connect to the millions of smart meters that are currently deployed throughout the US and the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module gives us the ability to connect to any standard smartphone or tablet for local application access and control.

We didn’t stop at Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee though; the ICG also supports non-standard wired and wireless interfaces through the use of expansion modules.  The expansion modules allow Intwine or its customers to create “daughter cards” that can meet the communication needs of nearly any network of end devices including Z-Wave, proprietary Sub-1 GHz protocols, CANbus, Modbus, BACnet, and a multitude of additional wired and wireless interfaces.

TI: Why did you choose TI’s wireless connectivity technology for your product?

Basar: Intwine has always had a good relationship with TI.  Our founder, Dave Martin started his career with TI and worked in the sales force for 9 years before starting up his first company.  TI’s deep and wide-ranging understanding of technology and broad portfolio also makes it the right choice for wireless applications and allows us to easily and cost effectively expand our wireless technology offering.  The online forums and dedicated personal support have also been invaluable throughout our product development process.  We have received support from TI employees across the world and they have been extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and supportive.  We also use a TI Sitara™ processor to simplify the radio integration and enable extensive custom Linux application development on the gateway. 

TI: Where do you see your technology going in the next five years? 

Basar: Now that the ICG is through the final stages of product development and the certification process on the Verizon 4G LTE network, the real fun begins for Intwine.  We are now engaging with customers across the nation and finding new customers and markets for the ICG that we never imagined.  From indoor air quality monitoring and security to condition-based equipment maintenance, building energy management, and much more, we expect the ICG will be a key player in the commercialization of the IoT and M2M communications. 

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