Go Ignite gifts security start-ups passage to 1.2 billion phones

Five companies have emerged from the Go Ignite start-up acceleration hub with game changing partnership deals at some of the world’s largest operators – in technologies covering the connected home, AI and security.

Granted these aren’t Faultline Online Reporter’s typical coverage areas, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoiding dipping into the IoT pool of buzzwords as these industries merge into the entertainment and social media ecosystems. Plus we think the emerging technologies are pretty cool, and so too do the giants Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Singtel and Telefonica.

In the second year of the start-up initiative, Cujo and Vayyar Imaging claimed the Connected Homes crown, while Sparkcognition and NanoLock Security won the IoT Cyber Security sector, and SafeToNet was the sole winner in the Consumer Experience AI category.

The prizes include the opportunity to form business partnerships with the four operators mentioned – opening windows to a combined mobile subscriber base of more than 1.2 billion across five continents. Each start-up also gets to attend a two day workshop in Madrid and access to “mentors and experts” – which sounds like a precursor to impending acquisition.

Unfortunately, Go Ignite does not outline which specific products or features from each start-up winner impressed the four operators, but we will touch on each individually.

To the connected home first, a field Deutsche Telekom in particular has been pushing ahead in, where Israel’s Vayyar Imaging and Cujo from the US shared the top spot. Vayyar Imaging has built smart home sensor technology which creates 3D images within a home, monitoring things as subtle as a baby breathing and alerting users in the event of an emergency, to seeing through walls. By removing cameras from the smart home equation, this scraps the privacy issue which is a big put off factor for many consumers, and the sensor systems are also unaffected by the dark, fog or smoke.

Cujo manufactures a device which plugs directly into a home WiFi router and claims to protect every connected device in a home, patching holes where traditional anti-virus and anti-malware software normally fall short. It works by analyzing network traffic data locally, then sending out statistics on that data to the cloud for further analysis, but affirms that the contents of packets are not delivered to the cloud to ensure privacy.

We consistently cover the great work being done by the content security companies in conditional access, multi-DRM, watermarking and so on, but the consumer device side is where countless holes arise to which the security pioneers are helpless. This is where the overlap comes into play, as the number of streaming devices increase in the home, so too does the likelihood of more powerful DDoS (distribution denial of service) attacks targeted at large organizations (operators).

The Go Ignite panel must have had its hands full in the Consumer Experience AI category, with every man and his dog claiming to be a trailblazer in machine learning algorithms. This area, focusing on providing personalized or new forms of customer support, also went to a security start-up, UK firm SafeToNet, which has built an AI app and cloud-based system to block harmful messages before they are read by recipients – aiming to stem cyberbullying and other risks associated with social media.

This technology would certainly come in handy for Twitter given the company’s apparent refusal to change the lengthy manual process it uses for reporting and removing abuse.

NanoLock was one winner of the actual IoT Security prize, providing a management platform to monitor intelligence on attempted attacks – protecting firmware and sensitive data in connected devices. Joint IoT security winner SparkCognition has developed what it calls AI-powered  cyber-physical software for the security of businesses in sectors such as manufacturing, finance and energy – but says its focus is on disaster aversion.

So it becomes clear that all five start-ups are involved in security in some way or another – a refreshing outcome given the constant hurricane of bad press swirling around the IoT industry, where operators and even major content firms are being dragged and therefore face growing risks.

Go Ignite is an alliance between Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Singtel and Telefonica, set up at the end of 2015 by the start-up programs  Orange Fab, Deutche Telekom’s hub:raum, Telefonica’s Open Future and Singtel’s Innov8.

Two years ago, Orange said it may find itself sharing some of the discoveries from Facebook’s Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP) with partners in the Go Ignite initiative, on the basis that, if a broad customer base is created for a technology, its costs will go down and the innovation around it will go up. “If we have a start-up that is good for one of us then it might be good for all of us,” said Orange back in 2015 when Go Ignite launched.

MD of Deutsche Telekom’s hub:raum, Axel Menneking, said, “Also in this second edition we received numerous applications from strong teams. The five winners were able to convince us with their ideas on artificial intelligence and security issues. The topics range from helping to protect children from bullying, protect critical infrastructure, and secure management platforms. I’m sure these teams will be doing good pilots with us and the other three telecom companies.”