Filament Deploys Mesh Networks of Smart Sensors for the Internet of Things

Filament, a developer of ad-hoc mesh networks of smart sensors for industrial applications and the Internet of Things (IoT), announced that it has closed $5 million in funding led by Bullpen Capital. Joining the Series A round are Verizon Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Samsung Ventures, Digital Currency Group, Haystack, Working Lab Capital, Techstars, and existing investors.

“As the industrial internet continues to proliferate, companies rely on machine-to-machine communications to gather and analyze data from physical objects,” notes the Filament press release. “Filament is developing new blockchain technologies that will allow businesses to easily deploy and operate standalone sensor networks with existing infrastructure, in any environment, with or without the cloud.”

Sensor Networks for Smart factories, Smart Farming, and Smart Cities

filament-twitterSensor networks used in remote industrial areas or environmental monitoring application can’t always rely on external Internet connectivity. First announced at the O’Reilly Solid Conference in June, Filament‘s wireless sensor devices, dubbed “Taps,” can cover large remote areas with low-power autonomous mesh networks that establish their own connectivity. With a battery life of up to 20 years, Taps can talk directly to each other at distances of up to 10 miles. Taps have on-board chips for secure accessibility and communication, embedded environmental sensors, and can be equipped with custom sensors.

“We envision a decentralized system where billions of devices – each independently interacting and transacting value with each other – will create a massive opportunity for new business models,” said Eric Jennings, co-founder and CEO of Filament.

Jennings told Fortune that each sensor costs about $25, but the cost drops quickly based on the volumes ordered. Most Filament clients, ranging from large Fortune 50 to smaller companies in oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture and mining, pay between $10 and $12 per Tap.

“[Filament’s vision is] about connecting trillions of things in a secure and trusted way, without crushing the networks,” said Duncan Davidson, partner at Bullpen Capital. Ed Ruth, director at Verizon Ventures, added:

Smart factories, smart farming, and smart cities are the next frontier – all with the promise of greater efficiency, automation, and intelligence.

Working in autonomous mesh networks bridged to the external world, Taps can exchange information, coordinate their work, respond to commands, and receive payments. For example, an operator could sell on-demand area monitoring services to corporations and public administrations. Taps use built-in blockchain technology to store and process all transactions in the distributed mesh network and execute “smart contracts” autonomously.

“The Samsung team is excited to support Filament’s progress of leveraging the secure blockchain technology to build a decentralized IoT future,” said Patrick Chang, Strategic Investments, Samsung Global Innovation Center.

Other P2P technologies in the Filament stack are BitTorrent, the distributed contract management protocol Jose, TMesh and Telehash, a lightweight interoperable open source protocol with strong encryption to enable mesh networking across multiple transports and platforms.

It’s interesting to note that, even without smart sensors, ad-hoc mesh networks for communications have important applications, including the possibility to empower communities with local connectivity in emergencies where Internet services are disabled by natural causes or hostile actions. With the new funding, Filament becomes one of the best positioned companies in this area.

Images from Filament and Pixabay.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.