Prescient Devices

STEX25 Startup:
September 20, 2019 - September 19, 2020

Redefining the Internet of Things

By: Daniel de Wolff

Today, system integration accounts for close to a quarter of the internet of things (IoT) market. This represents a significant amount of time, energy, and resources devoted to integrating end solutions in a market that, according to a recent report by Bain, is predicted to reach approximately $520 billion by 2021. In that same survey, customers cite integration with existing information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) systems as one of the most significant barriers to IoT adoption.

Today's IoT solutions are either turn-key solutions, which offer little programmability, or technology platforms requiring significant expertise to stitch together a solution. As a result, IoT systems are notoriously difficult to customize and grow, which is why more than 90 percent of enterprises are stuck in the proof-of-concept phase when it comes to IoT adoption.

More than 90 percent of enterprises are stuck in the proof-of-concept phase when it comes to IoT adoption.

Andy Wang, founder and CEO of Prescient Devices, aims to change all of that. Prescient Devices provides the first and only IoT system integration platform with powerful design automation capability. “Our system essentially virtualizes a distributed and fragmented IoT system into a single visual design. Whether the customer has one device or a thousand, at the edge or in the cloud, they can bring these devices into our design software and build an application with simple graphical programming," says Wang.

Wang is an entrepreneur and IoT industry veteran with a PhD from the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In 2011, he co-founded GTI IoT Technology, his first IoT startup, to make low-power wireless sensors for industrial and infrastructure monitoring. Wang helped grow GTI from a two-person founding team to a profitable company of more than 150 employees that has deployed hundreds of thousands of IoT devices to date.

Through that process, Wang noticed that while IoT technologies were being adopted at a rapid rate, a certain segment of his customer base was unsatisfied with the black-box nature of the solutions on offer. For industrial enterprises, manufacturers, and product makers, finding a way to customize and iteratively improve their IoT systems was a significant challenge that wasn’t being met. “It took me a few years of thinking about the problem, but it turns out the solution was right in front of me the whole time,” says Wang.

As an electrical engineer, Wang is well acquainted with design automation software. It has been used to great effect in system simulation, integrated circuit design, product testing, and FPGA design, among other things. But until Wang and Prescient Devices, no one had thought to apply the concept to the IoT market. Prescient Devices’ platform, which they call Prescient Designer, allows enterprises to design the application logic of their system without ever having to understand the IoT technology stack. “Design automation software allows us to abstract away the difficult aspects behind the technology and enables the user to easily implement the application functions they care about,” Wang explains. The result is a drastically simplified process that provides enterprise customers the ability to customize, iterate, and optimize over time.

Design automation software allows us to abstract away the difficult aspects behind the technology and enables the user to easily implement the application functions they care about.

As IoT technologies evolve rapidly and grow in complexity, the Prescient Devices platform has the potential to revolutionize IoT system integration. A snapshot of a Prescient Devices pilot program with a customer in the manufacturing sector provides insight into just how challenging these systems can be. One particular customer is looking to integrate a hybrid IoT, IT, OT technology system in their factories to solve several challenges. They want to use machine vision for quality control, sensors and actuators for product tests, and AI for remote monitoring.

It’s a highly complex system of fragmented applications that uses a variety of technologies across operations, IT, and connectivity. “It’s a tremendous challenge to support this type of technology system,” says Wang. “What we provide is a platform that lets customers focus on their application solutions while we supply the underlying technology infrastructure. Our pilot customer appreciates our solution because it is a single platform to implement these different solutions that they can then improve and iterate over time. What we do is unique; it's something our competitors simply do not offer."

As Wang looks to bring his breakthrough technology to the field of IoT, he’s been taking full advantage of what the Industrial Liaison Program has to offer. “Thanks to ILP, we’ve been connected to dozens of the largest, most forward-looking industrial companies in the world,” he says. “It's been the most useful resource for us to date."

Though their technology is horizontal, Prescient Devices is focused on the industrial sector for the time being. Their customers typically have deep domain expertise but require support with IoT technology. "We want to work closely with customers to understand their systems, their needs, and help them to develop extensively connected, data-driven IoT solutions for the long term," says Wang.

Andy Wang
Andy Wang, Founder & CEO, Prescient Devices