Haltian aims to be Finland's Nokia for the Internet of Things

Last November, we talked to Haltian Ltd as part of our Crowdsourcing Innovation series. The Finnish IoT startup, which features several former Nokia engineers amongst it ranks, raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter for its Thingsee One product; a durable, multi-purpose IoT sensor that’s ready straight out of the box.

“It was very intensive but definitely worth it,” says ThingSee CEO Pasi Jokinen. The last 10 months have been busy for the company; the product has just launched along with an accompanying visual programming tool, and Thingsee has been a subsidiary of Haltian.

From crowd to production

Many crowdfunded tech projects fail to materialise or end up being very different from what was promised because of poor planning, but Haltian managed to avoid that trap. “There have been some changes in components, we have made fine tuning to the design and overall we have been able to listen to our customers giving feedback to us.”

Although there were some delays in shipping due to minor changes and certification, Thingsee Ones are now in the hands of all the original backers and the feedback has been good, but that doesn’t seem to be surprising for the company. “The goal set for the Kickstarter campaign was just a small amount of the total production budget,” Jokinen explains. “We know how costly it is to produce HW and almost each of us at Haltian has approximately 15 years or more experience on it. We had done our math well in advance to be able to proceed further and put a lot of effort in making the device high quality.”

Billed as an “everyman device,” the One is designed to help companies get their IoT ideas off the drawing board and into testing; features include an accelerometer, humidity and temperature monitor, gyroscope, light sensor and more. The Creator software is all drag and drop, requiring no coding.  “Everything starts from the idea. Thingsee wants to be the primary tool for getting answers to questions, exploring new frontiers and solving everyday IoT problems. Our focus is enabling the new application, be that in either business or pleasure.”

Early testers have used the devices for tracking off road vehicles in the wilderness of Finnish Lapland and GPS speed surfers on the coast of Spain. But despite the user-friendly nature, Jokinen wants companies to go beyond prototypes and use his products on a wide scale. “We want companies and individuals to realise their first prototypes with Thingsee One, get real life data using some tens of devices with actual users and later build a business based on Thingsee.” He describes the One as “very capable” and sees few reasons why companies couldn’t build a complete IoT operation using it as the hardware backbone.

A household name

The Internet of Things is being billed by many a trillion dollar industry made up of devices which number in the dozens of billions in the next few years, and Jokinen seems to agree. “Every object will become connected, but we need companies to show the real value of IoT to the average Joe, at a cost that lowers the risk for developing new solutions.”  You’ll be hard pressed to find a major technology company that isn’t factoring the IoT into its plans. But Jokinen doesn’t think it’s the incumbents who will rule. “The adoption of the IoT will mainly happen through new players and they will need new tools for exploring currently hidden customer value. “Thingsee aims at making building the Internet of Things easier and faster, at a fraction of the cost,” he says. “We are in many ways ahead of the competition today and aim at keeping it this way with continuous development of our assets and business models.”

“With Thingsee we aim at becoming a household name for great IoT developer tools and at Haltian we want to realise some of the most advanced and well-reputed IoT devices out there for our customers.”

Haltian’s recent partnership with IoT-Cloud specialists Kii is just one example of the company’s plans to make the company a household name and shows ambition. “Kii Cloud is the backbone of the “space” ecosystem, so by being Kii Cloud compatible, developers are instantly connected worldwide.” Cisco is also reportedly a fan of Thingsee, and has been using the devices for new IoT ideas. “Thingsee is being used in their new IoT sales model they are running,” says Jokinen, with the focus being on “rapid prototyping in manufacturing, transportation and logistics as well as new digital services of their own workspace.”

So far things are looking good for Jokinen and Co., but what’s next? “We design a lot of great new products for our customers, but in addition we have a constantly ongoing internal innovation process.” Outside of the Thingsee One, Haltian has developed manufacturing and testing software for connected products and is working on software that simulates the graphical performance for mobile system designs.

Made in Finland

The Internet of Things may be a global industry, but Haltian and Thingsee are big on keeping things local. The company is based in Oulu, Finland – aka one of Nokia’s former manufacturing towns – and “Made in Finland” is proudly emblazoned on each Thingsee One box.

“One of the main reasons why we chose to manufacture the product in Finland was to guarantee the quality and have the R&D process efficient and because we have a great partner right beside us here in Oulu,” Jokinen says. While he’s one of the few people at the company without a Nokia-based history, he still owes a lot to the mobile phone maker bought out by Microsoft.

“Thanks to Nokia, Oulu is one of the best locations for building hardware products and we can really take part to the manufacturing process, monitor it well, and secure the quality all the way.” But it’s not just the quality manufacturing the company cares about. “It is deep in our values to be a good company citizen. We value highly the local community and want to employ as much as possible local people and companies.”


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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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