IoT or Internet of Things is the application of the internet and software technology in more traditional sects of our lives, such as door locks, security cameras, LED lights, etc. And while Google Home and Amazon Echo are the most famous IoT devices in the world, there are others being manufactured as well with some big local players involved in distributing and creating devices that can significantly change how we use the internet in our day to day lives.
We are seeing an increasing shift in terms of the adoption of IoT devices. DataSoft, Grameenphone, and many other IT firms have stepped into the IoT production and development sector. And BTRC too has officially backed the usage of IoT devices, issuing a directive on April 24, 2018. The instructions published by BTRC states that it would be legal to import IoT devices and that they are all for the manufacturing, research, and development of devices that can be used to build a smart city. This is why more and more institutions and businesses have been adopting smart-lock systems, Face ID and fingerprint scanners in their compounds. And this has also allowed for a lot more consumers to know about Google Home devices, such as the Google Home Mini and other smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot. But more than anything, the implementation of these devices has helped to motivate companies like DataSoft which are not only making products for the local market but extending their influence in foreign territories as well. In late 2017, DataSoft signed an agreement with Japanese company Smart Life to develop and implement smart-home technology in 10,000 homes in Tokyo. The company are also installing IoT-based toll management systems for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its Matadi Bridge. And to mitigate the water supply shortage facing the people of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, DataSoft has developed an IoT device with the device shipping from July 31, 2018. All of this has made DataSoft a well-known name in the rest of the world and with a production plant located in Gazipur, the company aims to make IoT devices for both local and foreign consumers. DataSoft stated that they are currently working on four IoT devices which would send alerts to the user's smartphone in the case of a gas and water leakage, smoke and intrusion in the house. These devices will be available from next month and users will have to pay Tk. 7,999/- for the first year and Tk. 2,999/- onwards from the next year.
Grameenphone is another major player in terms of the development of IoT services. The telco provides its own Smart Home, Smart Security, and Smart Attendance services alongside the Vehicle Tracking Service. Grameenphone also introduced the country's first IoT-based digital livestock management solution Digi Cow for livestock farmers on December 7, 2018. And it's not just with their own products, Grameenphone also works in conjunction with other IoT development companies. Bangla Trac are currently developing IoT solutions for vehicles and Grameenphone is marketing the device. Chinese company Hexing is also working with Grameenphone in demonstrating its own NB-IoT enabled Gas meter and NB-IoT enabled Smart Prepayment Energy Meter. Hexing is well-known in China for its work with electricity meters. On October 21, 2018, they signed a joint-venture deal with the state-owned West Zone Power Distribution Company (WZPDCL) to create the company "Bangladesh Smart Electrical Company Limited".
There are also many up and coming companies working with developing IoT devices, with one such company being Inovace Technologies. The company has developed a device that will send automated alerts to guardians regarding their children's attendance in school. The company also helped Grameenphone in developing its Smart Attendance device and its own fingerprint attendance service called “TipSoi 21”.
And Grameenphone isn't the only telco to take part in IoT initiatives. Robi launched its own Smart Home and Smart Attendance systems. They also launched Industrial IoT services that focus on modernizing construction. In August 2017, Robi signed an agreement with Sri Lankan start-up using to create an IoT solution focused on helping the RMG industries of Bangladesh. Banglalink has its own Vehicle Tracking Service and the Watchmaniss Security Service, a security service for corporates.
Alongside these developments, there are also retail stores that are importing smart locks and security cameras from China. But there's still a lot of confusion amongst consumers as to how these IoT devices operate, a lot of them finding the prices of these products off-putting. And so the key ingredient for long-lasting development and growth of the IoT development sector is to make sure consumers understand these devices. And a lot of corporations, with its implementation of smart-locks in the office, are bringing the use-case of these devices to an employee level.
There are also ongoing attempts to train employees for the IoT sector and institutions like BRAC University, Grameenphone in collaboration with IEEE, Datasoft, Bangladesh Skill Development Institute, Global Skills Development Agency are already providing such training and solving the issues with existing knowledge gaps regarding this newly emergent sector.