Ottawa-based Martello Technologies Group, which combines network performance management with SD-WAN to provide a unique hybrid unified communications-SD WAN solution, has been enlisted by BlackBerry to develop an Internet of Things solution. That solution will use BlackBerry QNX technology to provide the ability to optimize multiple cellular providers in smart cars travelling at highway speeds, in real time. Martello is one of seven Canadian startups selected to work with BlackBerry in developing technology aimed at specific projects within the BlackBerry QNX environment. They will do this work through the BlackBerry L-SPARK Accelerator program, which was announced in September. The seven selected companies are the first cadre of companies to enter the Accelerator program.
“This is really important from a Canadian technology perspective,” said John Proctor, President and CEO of Martello. “BlackBerry working with us smaller folk is so important for developing the Canadian industry. We are grateful for that, and also to L-SPARK for organizing and setting this up.”
The initiative is one of the manifestations of BlackBerry’s deepening focus on the Internet of Things – which they term the Enterprise of Things, to better define the part of the market in which they have interest. Their Spark platform, which they announced in September, and which is a blend of existing BlackBerry functionality and items in development scheduled to roll out in 2019 is the heart of the strategy. BlackBerry QNX, a BlackBerry subsidiary which makes software used in smart car driver assistance systems, is a major component of the strategy. BlackBerry reported last summer that the QNX Software was now in 120 million cars, and that it will be leveraged further for more advanced Internet of Things capabilities with the expansion of BlackBerry’s Spark platform.
This is where the BlackBerry LSPARK Accelerator Program comes in. In September, BlackBerry announced a partnership with Kanata-based L-SPARK, a software-as-a-service accelerator which develops and runs this type of program. The BlackBerry LSPARK program was specifically designed to select, train and support promising Canadian startups developing IoT solutions using BlackBerry QNX technology.
“There was a formal application process,” Proctor said. “We were shortlisted and presented our proposal to a panel. Once, we were accepted, towards the end of October, we started getting BlackBerry training right away.” The program will provide six months of intensive, one-on-one, training aimed to grow and scale each company and bring new products to market.
“What is really helpful here is the access to the leadership and the technology within BlackBerry,” Proctor said. “We aren’t developing something in the hope that BlackBerry will like it and want to use it. We are now working on building something based specifically on BlackBerry’s input, in an organized program focused on developing something that BlackBerry wants. We are the biggest of the seven companies selected for the program, but BlackBerry is much bigger than us. It would be hard for any of these seven to work on our own with BlackBerry, without this program.”
Martello’s specific solution will leverage their facility with both network performance management and SD-WAN to produce a solution that will optimize multiple cellular networks running in BlackBerry QNS.
“We are making sure that what we can do already can work at speed,” Proctor said. “It has to be able to support multiple cellular connections, has to be able to work in motion, at a 100 km/hr speed, and it’s absolutely critical to be able to do that in real time.”
Two of the other program participants are also from Ottawa – identity and access management provider Bluink, and EVE [Evolved Vehicle Environments], which makes software for connected cars. Acerta Analytics Solutions from Kitchener makes a SaaS platform that uses machine learning to provide real-time malfunction detection and failure prediction. KyberSecurity, from Montreal, protects applications with an interlocked suite of advanced multilayered cybersecurity technologies. Edmonton’s Soltare makes a solution iHear, that provides automatic detection and directional identification of approaching emergency vehicles, part of the company’s focus on building smart sensory safety systems for cars. Visionary Semiconductor of Waterloo looks to overcome the heavy computing and form factor problems of current 3D imaging technologies with colour imaging and depth mapping through one compact device.