It is about time Old Saint Nick joined the Fourth Revolution and embraced the Internet of Things (IoT). Like businesses and workers across the world, some of whom will be eagerly waiting for Father Christmas to drop-in on the night of the 24th December, the chief-gift-giver could see some magical efficiency and productivity improvements by upgrading his technology.
First, Santa Clause could do with monitoring his trusty reindeers. How does he know when Rudolf might be getting ill, and how does the jolly man figure out if Comet is eating properly? Saint Nick needs to turn to Dutch agritech start-up Connecterra to find out.
This disruptive business, which aims to “rewire humankind’s relationship with nature”, is working closely with farmers to monitor their cattle. Connecterra uses sensors mounted on the cows’ necks and machine-learning algorithms to determine the animals’ daily behaviour. Ida, the Artificial Intelligence (AI) assistant, can help identify fertility, health, feeding and heat-stress issues with the cattle. Such a game-changing system can be easily used by Santa to look after his reindeers – he just needs a smart-phone or tablet.
Second, the bearded sleigh-rider is known to heavily indulge in a mince pie or two. But all that delicious free food and milk could be causing havoc inside the big man. As such, Santa would do well to use a personal digestive tracker before his flight around the globe. Irish start-up FoodMarble has developed such a connected device called AIRE. The small personal breath analyser combined with an app will be able to identify foods that are most compatible with Santa’s digestive system.
Third, Saint Nick needs to make sure those billions of presents are ready on time. This monumental production process puts a serious strain on the elf workshops in the North Pole. To assist the little helpers, Santa could use predictive analytics to monitor the gift-making machines. Industrial IoT business Senseye can use its applications to help the elf workshops avoid machine-shutdowns.
Finally, and probably most crucially, Santa is going to have to keep his newly kitted-out autonomous sleigh and reindeers secure from Grinch-inspired hackers, who want to ruin Christmas. Kris Kringle could turn to UK-headquartered IoT cyber protection specialists RazorSecure.
The companies’ software can be deployed in the rail, automotive, maritime and aviation sectors. The latter being most relevant for Santa. RazorSecure uses machine-learning to identify malicious activity through anomaly and deviation detection. In other words, if some Scrooge tries to hack into Santa’s system, the software will identify and help stop the attack.
All in all, with a basket of new IoT devices, Santa will be able to make his presents quicker, deliver them more efficiently, ensure baddies cannot thwart his plan to spread Christmas cheer and, most importantly of all, he will be able to return to the North Pole at a record pace to have a good merry rest.
Tim Stone, Venture Partner Director at Breed Reply, Europe’s leading IoT early-stage active operational investor