Comcast’s advanced technology arm Comcast Labs announced a partnership last week with CO-based Boomtown, a startup accelerator, to build an Internet of Things lab. We spoke with execs at both companies on details of their plan. IoT is more than just about connecting devices; it’s also an opportunity to find technology that helps lower cost and improves operating efficiency, said Boomtown founder and managing director Toby Krout. Take WiFi for example. It opens up possibilities such as allowing cities to connect everything from parking and emergency services to traffic control and security cameras, providing value to residents and lowering costs for the city, Krout said. He cited smart city and connected home as among the services that the lab will work on. The goal is to look at “everything that’s out there and try to get an idea of what consumers might be looking for,” said Krout. The lab “resonates with what we do,” said Joshua Seiden, executive director of Comcast Labs, which has development centers in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver and DC. Comcast Labs has internally demoed everything from video delivery and video compression to interactive TV and cloud storage, Seiden said. The partnership aims to enable companies to access the latest hardware and software in the market, explore interactivity and communication across every major traditional and mobile operating platform. A big challenge in the IoT ecosystem is companies have been developing services and products on the side load, making it difficult for them to be used by companies like Comcast. The lab seeks to bring companies together and create interoperability across devices and platforms, said Seiden. In addition, many standards for the IoT are still in development, making the market fragmented. Krout said the lab aims to educate companies and ensure they can access the latest specifications. The execs expect the lab to go live in May. Research firm Gartner predicted in a recent report that the IoT market will remain fragmented until at least 2018, with no dominant ecosystem, providers or technical model to set industry-wide standards. That said, the firm expects 4.9bln connected devices to be in use by 2015, increasing by 30% from 2014.

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