Daniel Ayoub, director of technical sales at Jail, shows off a smart wine bottle, one of the new Internet of Things ideas under development, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, at the Jabil Blue Sky Center in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
SAN JOSE -- A Silicon Valley startup is getting some financial muscle behind its quest to transform existing commercial properties into smart buildings.
Mountain View-based Verdigris on Monday said it has created a system that can meld artificial intelligence with a big building's array of devices, sensors, machines, appliances and power circuits.
It's all part of the so-called internet of things, in which everyday devices -- such as motors, refrigerators, dishwashers and power components -- are connected through wired and wireless networks so they can communicate with each other. Jabil Circuits, a Florida-based tech hardware supplier, is backing startups that fit into Jabil's efforts linked to the internet of things. Verdigris, in Jabil's view, is one of those startups.
Mark Chung, CEO of Verdigris, shows off a new product called Einstein, a fifth-generation, Internet of Things energy sensor during an introduction Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, at the Jabil Blue Sky Center in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
"A lot of devices and systems are coming together to shape the future with the internet of things," said Mark Chung, CEO and co-founder of Verdigris, a 20-person startup located at Moffett Field.
In December, Verdigris landed $9 million in funding, with much of the backing coming from Jabil Circuit, the Stanford-StartX Fund, Founder.org Capital and Data Collective, as well as angel investors.
"Jabil is supporting companies that can envision, create and deliver connected solutions," said John Van Akkeren, president of Radius Innovation & Development, a subsidiary of Jabil. "The internet of things is an opportunity for us to transform our business."
At its Blue Sky Center, Jabil Circuit is exploring new ideas connected to the internet of things, automation, product design and intelligent supply chains. The South San Jose incubator is a place for innovators to collaborate and fashion new products and services, and for Jabil to showcase those technologies.
Verdigris' new technology consists of a wireless module, named Einstein, that's roughly the size of a roll of paper towels. The system can deliver real-time alerts to property owners about power usage in their commercial buildings, as well as data that can be used to analyze ways for the complex to be more energy efficient.
Einstein can potentially do more, though. Powered by an artificial intelligence system that is constantly learning, Einstein also can be commanded to operate devices and other components in the building to modify power usage.
The Einstein system also attempts to monitor the health of machines or other devices in a building.
"This is the Holy Grail of the industrial internet of things," said Matthew Bereman, head of finance and operations at Verdigris. "We try to predict when things are going to break before they do."
Still, the startup faces challenges. The device is being offered to commercial property customers, and its price point ranges from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars -- but that puts the technology out of reach for most residential customers.
Einstein, an Internet of Things energy sensor, was introduced Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, at the Jabil Blue Sky Center in San Jose, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
Verdigris hopes to someday offer the unit for free to residential customers. And it's working on a version that could scale to the power requirements of big utilities.
The company also has landed on the radar screen of the NASA Ames Research Center, which could use the technology to make space launches more efficient.
Verdigris has installed its systems in about 100 sites, primarily hotels, large manufacturing centers and hospitals. About a year ago, the Einstein system was in about 10 sites, the company said.
"Einstein makes it incredibly easy to know what's happening inside your building in real time, down to a single application," Chung said.
San Jose officials are betting that Jabil's Blue Sky Center will bolster the city's technology ecosystem.
"It will help keep San Jose in the forefront of hardware innovation, engineering and, ultimately, commercialization," said Nanci Klein, the city's assistant director for economic development.