Startup Of The Week

Startup Of The Week: Haltian

Haltian, a Finnish startup, has developed an Internet of Things platform called Thingsee to simplify the adoption of connected devices in sectors such as smart cities, manufacturing, energy, logistics and facilities management.

Platforms such as Haltian’s Thingsee, which includes both wireless sensors and a cloud-based data management service, are seen as a critical step toward wider deployment of connected devices. While observers have touted the benefits of such systems for years adoption continues at a measured pace as companies launch pilot projects and weigh the costs and benefits.

Haltian co-founder Ville Ylläsjärvi

To lower some of the hurdles, the Thingsee platform starts with a variety of customizable wireless sensors. These sensors can, for example, measure things such as distance which allows for tracking the rate at which a container is filled, or the movement of assets. They can also monitor the movement of people in a facility or enviromental factors such as temperature, humidity, air pressure, or light. The company packages those sensors with hardware called the Thingsee Gateway that manages the connection of all the sensors and hooks them into the company’s cloud-based data plat form.

Through the platform, customers can monitor performance, need for maintenance, and analyze the data to improve efficiency of their workflows, says Haltian co-founder Ville Ylläsjärvi.

The company is now working with Finland’s transmission system operator, Fingrid, to help digitize the maintenance of its electrical grid. Its sensors are doing things like monitoring temperatures of various components. Sudden changes in temperature can indicate some kind of trouble, whether it’s dirt, corrosion, or a faulty part.

In its largest deployment to date, Thingsee has partnered with Lindström, the global textile provider and facilities management company. Lindström is using more than 100,000 of the IoT devices as well as the Thingsee cloud service for a service it callsFlowability Smart Washroom Service.” Sensors are placed in towel dispensers which monitor the rate of usage and alert facility managers of the need for replacements or maintanence, Ylläsjärvi says. The system has lowered Lindström’s costs while allowing its clients to offer improved service in facilities such as shopping malls, hospitals, and various other public spaces.

Founded in 2012, Haltian is based in Oulu, Finland. It was started a group of former Nokia employees who left the company amid layoffs in its faltering mobile phone business. “We were working together in an internal unit of Nokia,” says Ylläsjärvi. “Even back then, we were focused on developing new ways of creating products.”

Initially, the Haltian team focused on product design, specializing in helping clients create connected consumer products. This role as a boutique product development company resulted in steady growth, until the company decided to start building its own hardware. That resulted in the launch of the Thingsee IoT platform in November 2017. Following an initial burst of interest and pilot projects, the company raised a $5 million round of venture capital in December 2018, led by Finnish VC firm Inventure.

Today, with more than 70 employees, the company is looking ahead to the rollout of 5G networks, wich are predicted to encourage even greater IoT adoption. The Thingsee platform is now evolving to be ready for use with 5G networks, says Ylläsjärvi.

At the same time, Haltian has continued its product development work with other clients. Ylläsjärvi says wider IoT adoption remains unpredictable, with many larger players hesitant to move beyond pilot projects. Continuing to have steady revenue from that product development work gives Haltian a solid foundation, he says, as it continues to encourage partners to embrace the Thingsee platform and a connected future.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.