Omron Expands IoT Industry Goals to the US - Stacey on IoT

Omron Expands IoT Industry Goals to the US – Stacey on IoT

This news was first published on December 9 in my weekly newspaper Stacy on the Internet of Things newsletter.

Omron, a manufacturer of sensors and industrial equipment based in Kyoto, has built a selection of IoT sensors and gateways designed to make deploying connected sensors much easier for businesses. The company, which is perhaps most familiar to us in the consumer world for its medical equipment, showed off its new gateways at the IoT Expo in Austin, Texas, last month.

The plan is to launch a sensor called the IoT Module along with an IoT Gateway next year in the US, Carey Horan, Omron’s director of business development, told me. The company will white-label the technology for companies that want to build their own software on top of the hardware for their specific industry segments. With Omron equipment, a company that makes tractors, for example, can add IoT functionality simply by adding the gateway to its hardware and reselling the sensors.

Omron’s IoT Gateway is displayed at a trade show in Austin. Image courtesy of Omron.

The Omron IoT Gateway will have LTE Cat M1 cellular, NB-IoT, LoRaWAN, Wi-Fi or BLE connectivity over unlicensed spectrum, and will be pre-certified by government agencies responsible for overseeing wireless communications in the countries where it is sold. Device buyers can pick and choose between connectivity and power options based on their needs.

The first Omron sensor designed to work with the gateway measures the quality of oils and fluids, and will be designed for refining operations. The company also plans to launch a weather sensor next year that will measure rain, wind speed and direction, atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity. Work is also underway on environmental sensors that measure air quality, volatile organic compounds and noise.

Horan expects the market for Omron sensors and gateways to be in energy operations, smart cities, and agriculture. Omron is well known in both the manufacturing and industrial worlds, with the majority of the company’s revenue coming from. Sales of Omron’s industrial robotic arms and sensors make up 57% of its annual revenue.

Expanding this customer base isn’t difficult for Omron. The company also sells electronics infrastructure to cities, another market it hopes to reach with its new IoT equipment. Omron has invested in the Internet of Things internally as part of an overall focus on achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and plans to pass on its learnings and equipment to others who are also trying to reduce their carbon footprints.

I have two concerns about Omron’s approach. First, we saw early in the launch of IoT companies focus on providing sensors and gateways to companies that were easy to deploy, but hard to get information from. Omron says customers can pull information from the gateway using an API or MQTT, which the customer can build an interface around. Omron also provides a low-code programming environment for users who want to quickly build an application or dashboard from data for their end customers.

My second concern stems from the challenge of many IoT platforms launched to date, namely that they have been too generic to help solve the specific use case(s) for the end customer. The ease of programming the dashboard for specific use cases will help here, as well as unlocking more sensors that will work with the gateway. Omron has many choices in sensor technology, and you just need to build the package around the sensor technology to make it work with its gateway.

So I think the industry should prepare for another IoT platform option.

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