Cashing In on the ‘Internet of Things’

by RaeAnne Marsh

Presence, a recently launched smartphone application from Mesa-based People Power, is the first free wireless Web camera made by recycling old smartphones or mobile devices as cameras, which can be used as monitoring devices. Users include the City of Globe’s school district, which uses smartphones donated by the residents as an affordable measure to maintain security monitoring after-hours. People Power is counting on the “free-mium” business model to reach users and plans to monetize the endeavor by connecting with providers of the various devices, explains David Moss, who co-founded the company with Gene Wang.

For the technology entrepreneurs, it’s all about understanding “the value of what the ‘Internet of Things’ — a network of physical things connected to an individual through his or her smartphone — can do,” Moss says. “To find value in this space, people have to buy a ‘thing’ and [make sure it’s] compatible with other ‘things’ they might be controlling from their smartphone or tablet.” Moss says he and Wang wanted, instead, to allow people to use what they already owned. They built the Presence app on a cloud platform that enables different technologies to talk to each other in an open source manner. They also took security to a level one step beyond that of a banking connection, Moss notes. “It’s not just you authenticating who you’re talking to, but back the other way — to authenticate the device itself that’s talking to the server.”

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