The IoT sensors, which consume little power but can penetrate eight to 10 walls and extend to as much as 300 feet, provide something of an insurance policy for Michaels, too. In that event of a claim of food-borne illness, Michaels says that he can provide insurance entities evidence to show that his coolers were in compliance. "It's a lot more peace of mind that I want to have and that Chick-Fil-A wants to have when we're operating our restaurants," Michaels says.
Michaels says Chick-fil-A has always stressed food safety and quality as the single biggest priority to the business, though sensitivity to the mission has certainly ratcheted up since the Chipotle outbreaks sickened hundreds of people last year. But automating temperature checks with technology also frees up Michaels and his staff to focus on checking food quality outside the stores, such as in the supply chain, in which several vendors provide Chick-fil-A its ingredients. "This frees up our capacity to look at food safety in totality," Michaels says. "We're just looking at any way we can get to get technology to help us with that."
IoT for every industry
Monnit CEO Brad Walters.
Quick service is a popular industry for Monnit, which in addition to Chick-fil-A counts popular ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s among its 8,000 customers, according to Monnit CEO Brad Walters. However, the sensors are also used by many telecommunications service providers to monitor HVAC systems in their data centers, he adds. And the business is diversifying. Walters says Monnit recently sold $8,000 worth of its IoT sensors and gateways to a botox chain in Minneapolis, which had lost $30,000 worth of inventory when its stores got too warm.
While Monnit powers Chick-fil-A and Ben & Jerry’s sensors from its cloud service, the company also allows customers with sensitive information, such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to host Monnit on its own servers. Walters says CDC uses Monnit to watch temperature settings in its labs. “One [service] size can't fit all because of the diversity of the things that are out there,” Walters says. “There is too much custom need out there.”
There's little question IoT is big business, though how big is up for debate. IDC claims the global IoT market will be worth $1.7 trillion by 2020.
Such a large market presents an attractive investment target for the likes of General Electric and Samsung Electronics, which said Tuesday that it will invest $1.2 billion in IoT over the next four years. The company said it would split the funds between internal research and development and investments in other startups.
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