The Internet of Things, or IoT, emerged as the third wave of internet development and is gradually merging the physical and online worlds. Prompted by the smart hardware boom, this sector is in full bloom in China with repercussions across fields such as smart homes, wearables, connected cities and cars, and beyond.

The size of the Chinese IoT market has soared from RMB 170 billion (around US$27 billion) in 2009 to RMB365 billion in 2012, and exceeded RMB500 billion in 2013 with annual compound growth of over 30 percent. The burgeoning market is attracting ever more companies: here are ten startups worth watching in the new year.

1. Xiaomi is trying to duplicate its business model, so successful in the smartphone market, in various hardware sectors. After initial success with its low-cost fitness bracelet, the company launched a 100-hardware-companies strategy in a bid to connect more smart gadgets in fields like healthcare (iHealth), smart home (Ants, Yeelink), and so on. The company also announced a strategic partnership with Chinese home appliance giant Midea.

2. Broadlink is smart home solution provider which specializes in IoT Wi-Fi. In addition to existing smart socket and remote controls for infrared devices, Broadlink is also the developer of BroadLink DNA, which helps conventional home appliance makers “smartize” their products. Broadlink’s Wi-Fi solution has been integrated into Xiaomi’s smart router.

3. Gizwits is a Chinese IoT technology platform that connects home appliances and consumer electronics products to the internet and smartphones. GizWits provides IoT developers with data analytics as well as tools such as remote access, notification, and Over the Air (OTA) firmware upgrades. The company has launched a self-serve software development platform Gizwits 2.0 and a programmable microcontroller board GoKit, for smart home gadgets.

4. Ayla Networks China is the Chinese arm of U.S.-based Ayla Network, a startup offering cloud connectivity solutions for manufacturers to turn appliances, HVAC and more into intelligent devices. Upon the receipt of a US$14.5 million investment this year, the company is going into the Chinese market with a series of moves like launching a Chinese site, cooperating with Sina and adding a Chinese director to the board. Dave Friedman, CEO and co-founder, believes that China will lead the world in this sector.

5. Lifesmart is a Hangzhou-based startup principally engaged in developing smart home devices. Its product line includes a smart control center, smart sockets, surveillance cameras, environment sensors, etc.

6. Yeelink helps manufacturers build smart products, from hardware design to mobile app development, from the concept stage to initial products.

7. Landing Technology is a Shenzhen-based smart home startup, dedicated to developing, manufacturing and selling smart home devices and wearable devices and related know-how. Their “IVYLINK” and “Goldweb” brands cover smart devices and network devices & accessories respectively.

8. Orvibo is focused on IoT and smart home hardware. Its product line includes smart gadgets, full-digital visual doorbell products, and cloud platforms that provide intelligent services for thousands of IoT terminals. The company’s flagship product Kepler is an intelligent gas detector that promises to protect your home and loved ones from potential dangerous gas leaks.

9. MXchip was incorporated in Shanghai at the beginning of 2005 with a focus on short distance wireless network technology and products.

10. Phantom is a smart home solution provider primarily focusing on smart illumination and surveillance. The company reportedly secured US$1.5 million of pre-A investment last year.

image credit: Shutterstock


Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)