‘Nervous system’ of the IoT startup raises $20.3M

Afero, a start-up that describes itself as the "nervous system" sitting in the middle of the internet of things (IoT) world, has raised $20.3 million in an investment round led by Samsung's investment fund.

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The U.S. -based firm, founded by Joe Britt, a former employee working on Google's Android operating system (OS), announced the investment on Wednesday, which was led by Samsung Catalyst fund, and joined by Presidio Ventures, Sanshin Electronics, SoftBank, Fenox Venture Capital, Assembly Fund, and Robert Dobkin.

Afero is looking to become the center of the IoT industry, which could see revenues hit $7 trillion by 2020, according to IDC.

Britt explained the problem with current internet of things devices, saying that the process is fragmented. You have to decide what kind of hardware to use, what OS to put on the device, how it will connect to the cloud. It requires separate teams who need to co-ordinate their development.

"Because all this work was done manually, there was more risk of human error, it's clumsy," Britt told CNBC in a phone interview.

Afero sells a chip that can be embedded by any manufacturer into a product enabling it to connect to the company's cloud. Then companies can get analytics, security and access to Afero's so-called application program interface (API), allowing developers to create cloud apps.

It is essentially trying to sit in the middle of several IoT devices.

"The way I think about it is there are a number of things that are hot – artificial intelligence, IoT, robotics, those are interesting because they fit together as a system. AI is the brain function, robotics and sensory as analogues of our human senses. Afero meanwhile is building the nervous system," Britt told CNBC.

Like Android and iOS have become the dominant operating systems and the backbone of the vast majority of the world's mobile devices, Afero could potentially carry out a similar role. If large numbers of devices use its cloud, it could make it more attractive for developers to build applications.

"Rather than being the domain of companies that have the resources to build this we have created a tool to get many more developers to build IoT devices," Britt said.