Twilio’s Foray into IoT
Twilio is moving into IoT which may eventually become a large new source of revenue. Here’s a press release sent out yesterday of the first large deployment. (press release abridged by me)
July 2019 - Sensoneo is the first commercial Narrowband IoT deployment in the US, powered by Twilio and T-Mobile
Smart Waste management company leverages Twilio and T-Mobile Narrowband (NB-IoT) connectivity to optimize waste collection, demonstrating the future of smart cities.
Twilio announced it is powering its first commercial Narrowband IoT deployment in the US by Sensoneo, a smart waste management solution provider. Sensoneo’s solution is enabled by Twilio’s Narrowband IoT SIMs and the first generally available developer platform for NB-IoT. The combination of T-Mobile’s Narrowband Network with Twilio’s service management platform and APIs provides developers a fast, efficient and scalable way to connect a fleet of IoT devices.
Twilio is here to help developers imagine, build, deploy and manage the world’s largest fleets of cellular IoT devices. Our Narrowband partnership with T-Mobile gives developers the quickest and most scalable way to deploy a fleet of inexpensive, low-power devices with exceptional nationwide coverage. Sensoneo is a great example of the unique opportunity that Narrowband innovators have to disrupt established industries as the smart city vision comes to life.
Sensoneo Smart Waste Management for Smart Cities
Humanity creates more than 2 billion tons of municipal solid waste every year. Despite this scale, the process of managing this waste is antiquated, involving overflowing trash bins and dump trucks emitting CO2 as they wait in traffic. Sensoneo’s Smart Waste Management solution includes smart ultrasonic sensors embedded with Twilio NB-IoT SIMs that monitor waste levels, pick up status and real-time temperature of bins. Powered by Twilio’s NB-IoT SIMs, T-Mobile’s NB IoT network, GPS location and BLE technology, this real-time data is instantly sent to Sensoneo software to optimize collection routes, pick up frequencies and vehicle loads.
Sensoneo uses Twilio’s Narrowband IoT solution that combines SIMs, an API platform, a software development kit, and a management console to connect and manage its smart sensor technology.
Twilio was a clear choice for us. T-Mobile provides us a high-performance network complemented by Twilio’s superior platform and flexible console with very useful features such as the ability to manage SIMs and check sensor behavior. Twilio is an ideal IoT provider for IoT solutions looking for reliable connectivity and quick scaling.
The lower throughput and low power NB-IoT cellular network is ideal for massive IoT devices like Sensoneo’s sensors that only need to transmit small packets of data and need to conserve battery power for years. The network’s simplified radio protocol reduces the cost of cellular modem hardware and lowers ongoing connectivity costs. With the power and cost efficiencies generated by NB-IoT, the market is ripe for new categories of lower cost, battery efficient internet-connected devices that don’t currently exist.
This was presaged by this earlier press release nine months ago:
Oct 2018 - Twilio and T-Mobile US partner to introduce Twilio Narrowband: the nation’s first developer platform for Narrowband IoT
Twilio Introduces the Narrowband Developer Platform for Innovators
T-Mobile’s first U.S. Narrowband IoT Network optimized for IoT devices sending small and infrequent packets of data
Twilio has created a new developer platform for the T-Mobile Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) Network today. Twilio Narrowband is the first developer platform for NB-IoT in the U.S., a cellular low-power wide-area network technology, which will substantially reduce prices and increase battery life for intermittent low-bandwidth connections. Twilio also announced the Twilio Breakout Software Development Kit (SDK) to help developers start taking advantage of NB-IoT networks.
NB-IoT was designed for the majority of IoT devices that don’t need a lot of bandwidth. With NB-IoT, devices can consume a fraction of the battery power they do with previous cellular M2M devices, enabling connectivity at a fraction of the cost. NB-IoT is built for smaller data packets, such as timestamps, GPS coordinates and status updates for a variety of industries, from smart metering to health device monitoring. With the power and cost efficiencies generated by NB-IoT, the market is ripe to open for new categories of lower cost, battery efficient internet-connected devices that don’t exist today. T-Mobile is the first to deploy a NB-IoT network in the U.S., which launched nationwide in July.
“Together with Twilio, the Un-carrier is unleashing developers and building an entirely new ecosystem for IoT solutions. I can’t wait to see what awesomeness they create!” said the CEO of T-Mobile. “Once again, T-Mobile is at the forefront of innovation, enabling a world where anything and everything can be connected. The possibilities are endless!”
Twilio Narrowband Developer Platform is comprised of three components:
• Narrowband SIMs: Since the introduction of Twilio Programmable Wireless two years ago, Twilio has been focused on getting developers started quickly with cellular connectivity, instant self-service onboarding, no contracts required and two-day shipping in the U.S.
• Twilio Narrowband IoT Developer Kit: A limited supply developer kit including an Arduino-based development board and Grove sensors specifically chosen for innovative low-powered wide-area solutions. It also features the u-blox LTE Cat NB1 SARA N410 hardware module, certified for the T-Mobile Narrowband network.
• Twilio Breakout SDK: Twilio Breakout SDK reduces the complexity of hardware and heterogeneity of different networks, allowing developers to focus on creating their narrowband IoT device deployment. The Breakout SDK handles tasks such as network registration and intelligently optimizes communication between devices and cloud services based on the network capability requirements across IP, Non-IP and SMS.
“We see Twilio as part of a new wave of IoT connectivity providers that is disrupting the market by reducing the friction for developers. We think its offer is especially well suited to the Narrowband market, where operational costs need to be kept extremely low," said Tom Rebbeck, at Analysys Mason. "The market for NB-IoT connectivity is potentially very large - possibly exceeding 3 billion connections by 2026 with potential applications in consumer electronics, utilities, agriculture, smart cities and other vertical markets. The new models that are built for scale, such as Twilio’s, are likely to become the standard for much of the market.”
The two companies first teamed up back in 2016 with the launch of developer tools for cellular IoT, opening up the opportunity for IoT solution developers to build in cellular connectivity for the first time.
Twilio’s Narrowband Developer Platform will be available in the U.S.for beta access in early 2019.
And to show that they are serious about IoT, here’s another partnership with Microsoft Azure from just two months ago!
May 2019 – Twilio partners with Microsoft Azure IoT, adds identity and authentication capabilities to its IoT connectivity offering.
IoT solutions often ignore identity and authentication best practices due to cost and complexity, introducing security risks.
Trust Onboard reduces complexity around identification and authentication for makers of cellular IoT devices
Announces integration with Microsoft Azure IoT enabling developers to automatically authenticate devices to Azure’s IoT cloud platform
Twilio announced Trust Onboard, a feature for its IoT SIMs that enables developers to identify and authenticate cellular connected devices against cloud services. Twilio launched Programmable Wireless in April 2018, and has shipped more than a million SIMs that provide global connectivity to IoT developers.
With Trust Onboard, Twilio now delivers connectivity, device identification and authentication capabilities on a single SIM, dramatically accelerating IoT time to market.
Twilio also announced integration with Azure IoT as part of Microsoft’s IoT Plug and Play connectivity, letting IoT developers to sync devices to their Azure cloud from the Twilio Console, establishing trust as soon as the device comes online.
Cellular IoT developers are burdened with two major challenges. First, developers need to reliably connect large fleets of devices to cellular networks of different types around the world. Twilio’s IoT SIMs and Wireless Supernetwork tackle this problem. Then developers need a simple, secure mechanism to exchange data with their devices. Trust Onboard is our first product that helps developers bridge this gap. It’s a frictionless way to deploy a large fleet of devices, identify and authenticate each one to the cloud.
As IoT device fleets get larger and time to market becomes more critical, identity management is increasingly painful for IoT developers, who have often had to invest significant time and resources figuring out how to securely pre-install unique identity credentials during manufacturing. Having Trust Onboard certificates pre-embedded on each SIM reduces the time it takes to get an IoT solution to market while adhering to best practices.
Trust Onboard: provides a unique identity to an IoT device via preloaded X.509 certificates, enabling a developer to authenticate against any cloud service. With Trust Onboard, developers can:
Establish a trusted identity for each device — with unique X.509 certificates on each SIM, developers don’t need to worry about generating or distributing their own certificates.
Authenticate against any cloud or backend service — dual certificates give developers the option to perform authentication in their own device code, or delegate it to the cryptographic hardware of the SIM itself.
Remove complexity from the manufacturing process — developers can optimize their supply chain and reduce time to market by using one vendor for connectivity and identity management.
Twilio’s Cellular IoT platform and Microsoft Azure IoT hub
With Trust Onboard, Twilio provides a simple user interface for an IoT developer to order SIMs — including embedded SIMs — with two day shipping. After ordering, they can now associate SIMs with their Microsoft Azure account so that each device can be identified and trusted by Microsoft Azure IoT Hub the first time it comes online.
Securely connecting large volumes of cellular connected IoT devices to cloud based solutions is still too difficult for customers. With Twilio Programmable Wireless with Trust Onboard and the integration with Azure IoT that we’ve done, our joint customers have a great solution to this challenge. This joint solution means the whole process enables zero touch provisioning for customers, so that non-experts will be able to turn devices on wherever they are in the world and they will automatically show up in their Azure IoT Applications and be fully operational. That is a huge customer benefit and supports our drive to simplify IoT.
Obviously this is just starting out but it may well have huge potential. Hope it’s been a useful read.