When you think about the Internet of Things (IoT) you likely think of consumer hardware products like smart thermostats, Wi-Fi lightbulbs or quantified self gadgets, such as various fitness trackers and other gizmos. CyberLightning, however, is an IoT startup of a different kind. It offers a platform for industrial IoT usage, such as utility companies or other providers of infrastructure, to help them monitor their wares via a 3D user interface that makes complex ‘big data’ easier to get a handle on and which can be mission-critical when managing smart city grids and other aspects of the industrial Internet of Things age.
Today the Finnish company, which was born in 2010 out of a research project at the Center for Internet Excellence at the University of Oulu in Finland, has announced its first funding round. It’s raised a decent-sized $4.2 million from various investors, including VC firm Inventure, TEKES (the tax payer-funded Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation), and other EU tax payer-sponsored funds.
The startup’s software platform, CyberVille, enables corporate customers, such as energy, traffic or other infrastructure companies, to capture data from numerous IoT-based sensors and measurement points, and analyze the data via a “business intelligence” dashboard that uses 3D to make all of those data points a lot more digestible.
“If we are thinking of utilities and their monitoring and control rooms, there are multiple systems that provide masses of numerical or 2D-imaged data on tens of displays from raw material logistics, power plants and smart grids,” says co-founder and CEO Ville Mickelsson. “Those systems are connected with each other on some level but there is a need for experienced personnel to manage everything and still there is lots of complexity that affects the operations and business. This is the basic problem.”
To reduce that complexity, CyberVille integrates those many data points into a browser-based 3D interface that, in theory, can be accessed and operated from any device, including tablets and smartphones.
“What this means in practice is that, for example, a utility maintenance guy can control a whole electricity windmill farm easily from wherever with his mobile device,” explains Mickelsson.
Specifically, the CyberVille 3D UI provides a mirror of a real world area, so, to continue with the example of a wind farm engineer, they would be able to see at-a-glance if one of the mills is rotating too slow without the need to either follow or understand the numerical rotating speed data. “Then by just clicking the mill on his UI he can turn off or adjust the function of that mill.”
Mickelsson says the newly raised capital will be used by CyberLightning to accelerate growth and push its international expansion.