Intel Invests $22 Million In Startups In Communications, IoT

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With the latest round of investments, Intel Capital has now invested more than $500 million this year in startups around the world

Intel is investing another $22 million in 10 startups that are focused on segments of the industry that the chip maker is pushing into.

The money spent by Intel Capital, the vendor’s investment arm, brings to more than $500 million the amount invested this year in startups, according to Wendell Brooks, corporate vice president of Intel and incoming president of Intel Capital. The investments were announced Nov. 3 at the 16th annual two-day Intel Capital Global Summit.

The startups are working in such areas as communications, networking, wireless charging and the Internet of Things (IoT). Among the startups getting money was FreedomPop, a three-year-old company that is bringing consumers free high-speed Internet and mobile phones services. According to reports, FreedomPop also is looking to get into the smartphone business with a device that will use WiFi network and be powered by Intel’s SoFIA line of processors. The first of the smartphones reportedly will be available next year.

The chip maker’s low-cost SoFIA systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) include wireless modems and are aimed at smartphones and tablets. The first of the SoFIA chips come with an integrated 3G modem, with 4G capabilities coming in the first half of next year. Intel has been a strong emphasis on the SoFIA communications chips as it looks to challenge market leader Qualcomm.


openstackIt could be a boon to Intel , which has been struggling to get its processors into many smartphones. Most smartphones are powered by SoCs based on ARM’s low-power architecture and developed by Qualcomm, Samsung and others.

According to news site GSM Arena, FreedomPop CEO Stephen Stokols said that the new smartphone “may mean more to Intel than it does to FreedomPop in some respects. … We are going to showcase their technology more than they could on their own, for sure.”

Another startup in the communications space getting Intel investment is LISNR, which has created a communications protocol called Smart Tones that that sends data over audio using a high-frequency, inaudible technology, according to Intel officials. The digital sound file essentially turns any speaker or piece of media into a beacon that they said works better than current technologies like Bluetooth.

Others include Sckipio, which builds broadband modems and chipsets that officials said will deliver up to 2 Gb/s broadband into the home over existing copper wiring, and what3words, whose technology enables people to find and communicate a location more accurately and easily than GPS.

The IoT also was a focus of Intel Capital. Intel has been aggressive in pushing into the Internet of things with development platforms, reference architectures and a line of small, power-efficient Quark processors. On the same day the investments were announced, Intel officials at another event unveiled new IoT development platforms, a low-power Quark sensor chip, and accompanying software and services.

The IoT startups receiving Intel money include Body Labs, which is working to collect and digitize all the data related to the shape of the human body, creating a digital platform that can be used for designing, buying and selling goods and services. In addition, Microprogram Information that offers everything from hardware and software to information management services for everything from rental bikes to taxi fleets to mobile point-of-sale systems. Perfant Technology creates imaging and video technologies for artificial intelligence, machine vision, 3D reconstruction and virtual reality.

Other companies were Chargifi, a wireless charging network that is found in hotels, shops, restaurants, offices and airports; KMLabs, which builds advanced laser systems for research and industrial uses; and Prieto Battery, which makes and sells 3D advanced batteries.

Intel also is putting money into Parallel Machines, a year-old  early-stage company that is working to create highly optimized environments for pushing forward predictive analytics and machine learning.

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Originally published on eWeek.

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