Hologram Upgrades: Hardware + Software + Community = Stronger IoT Networks

/ Written By Ben Forgan

Last year, the Hologram team published an ebook on the building blocks of cellular connected devices. We were enabling connectivity with our 2G/3G GSM global cellular IoT network, accelerating IoT product development with our Hologram Dash, and just beginning to build our Hologram data router. We helped agricultural technology companies better monitor crop data in fields around the world. We also helped dockless bike share programs reinvent the meaning of connected city mobility. We’re seeing projects come to life that in our own childhoods, could have very well been in a sci-fi book.

Today, IoT is creating a movement in terms of what’s possible from a technical perspective. Imagine the solar energy companies having greater capacity to store excess photovoltaic power. Imagine warehouses being able to reduce risk of injury by using more technical solutions (like drones). Even households will run more efficiently.

But here’s the challenge. Despite the promise of IoT, research has found that as of 2017, 75% of IoT projects are failing due to prototype→ deployment and security challenges. The “‘internet of things’ is expected to grow from more than 12 billion devices in 2015 to 50 billion by 2020,” according to research from Cisco. Many cybercrime wake-up calls over the last two years have made it extremely clear that every IoT device has the potential to be a vulnerability.

That’s why Hologram has been working aggressively to tackle security, bandwidth efficiency, and the prototype → deployment process. Our team’s approach has been to combine software and hardware infrastructure to create a smarter cellular network (which has evolved into the world’s largest software-defined network). You can read about the backstory that went into building this vision, here.

How We’re Making IoT Development More Accessible, and Deployment Smoother

Some experts say that IoT has qualities of a new industrial revolution. But unlike other technology movements—such as security and open source technology—the barriers to participation have been high. The trend that Cisco observed, of IoT projects are failing at the prototyping stage, is a strong signal that change needs to happen.

You might have already read in our press release that “Hologram’s new network takes advantage of modern software frameworks to provide an ultra-scalable, self-improving cellular connection designed to scale quickly for the trillions of devices entering our world in the next decade.” While Hologram’s technology caters to enterprise customers, it also puts advanced diagnostic and management tools in the hands of startups and independent developers.

In order for innovation in IoT to advance, and for product teams to increase their success rates from planning to launch, developers need more control over their IoT networks. Telcos have understood this need for a little while. For one, we’ve seen IoT cellular use cases being split between lower-bandwidth applications such as telemetry or sensor data and high-bandwidth ones such as video streaming or batch gateway streams. It’s also possible to optimize networks by power consumption. IoT-optimized networks are going to offer a few benefits:

  • They’re going to drive down costs and barriers to devices getting on the network
  • They’re going to make data usage more cost effective
  • They’re going to increase the efficiency of power consumption

With lower costs, fewer barriers to network accessibility, and more optimized power consumption, doors will open for even more IoT product development. The market is fast-moving. Here’s what Hologram has been working on feature-wise, based on feedback from our customers:

The ability for IoT developers to have stronger control over their networks. Software defined IoT networks enable developers to tailor security and application protocols to specific needs.
Upgraded global SIMs can now access 2G through 4G LTE networks. Developers with a wide spectrum of use cases can reach more than 100 LTE networks in more than 50 countries. Hologram’s customers can now develop applications which typically require higher bandwidth connectivity applications such as live data streaming, content updates, or VoLTE.
Pricing that better aligns with product development use cases. HIgh-bandwidth monthly plans are available in the United States for 2G/3G/4G LTE coverage from 250MB to 5GB per month. Starting at $20 for 1GB monthly, these plans will better support IoT developers building solutions that require cost-effective, high bandwidth cellular plans such as digital signage, video monitoring, and drone logistics.

Hologram’s new software defined network gives builders power of choice in utilizing their cellular networks. These capabilities eliminate friction from prototyping to deployment. It’s common for developers build V1s on WiFi and then run into hiccups when in the field.

To learn more about Hologram’s feature releases, take a look at this writeup from Hologram’s cellular product manager, Ryan Lee.

More Smart Developers Need to Tinker with IoT

If IoT is akin to an industrial revolution, many smart developers are getting left behind. The reason is that it’s often unfeasible for many product teams—and solo developers—to work directly with telcos or networks that don’t have a pay-as-you-go, use-the-features-you-pay-for models.

Hologram’s ultimate goal is to open its platform to more smart minds—to expand dialogues about IoT to a more holistic community of engineers, product managers, and business development leaders. To that end, we’ve launched a new developer plan. Starting today, new users to our Hologram platform can get started with a free SIM that includes 1MB/month on our global IoT cellular network. For our existing customers, this Developer Plan is eligible for any existing device on a personal organization by simply changing the plan on our Hologram Dashboard.

Check out the story and vision behind the Developer Plan from Hologram’s head of developer relations Ben Strahan, in this blog post here.

Hologram will be releasing more platform updates throughout the summer. In addition, we’ll be attending DefCon this week and other conferences such as Mobile World Congress Americas coming up soon so drop us a line at success@hologram.io if you’ll be in town as well!

If you want to brainstorm or talk about your idea, we’re here for you as a source of support. Sign up for our developer plan to start building on our platform or get in touch with our team of engineers and community developers at our Hologram community forum. You can access some tutorials to start tinkering with Hologram, here.

Cheers,
Ben Forgan
CEO