China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker, on Wednesday became the latest tech giant to present its own take on the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), centered on an operating system designed to allow household and business appliances to communicate with each other online.


Whenever we talk about Huawei, it’s normally within the context of the company’s growing smartphone business. What we don’t talk about as much is the Chinese giant’s massive networking operation — but it’s this department that’s making a big entry into the Internet of Things. Huawei has announced that it’s buying Neul, a Cambridge-based startup that specializes in building low-power wireless sensors for monitoring in various industrial and medical applications. Neul is probably most famous for having built the UK’s first smart road, a 50-mile chunk of highway designed to monitor traffic flow and avoid congestion. Huawei has pledged to use its vast resources to turn Neul’s Cambridge HQ into an “internet of things stronghold” which, we’re sure, will go down really well with those people who refuse to deal with the company on security grounds.


Huawei’s latest expansion comes at a time when consumer-oriented firms such as Xiaomi Inc and Apple Inc, anticipating an explosion of Internet-connected home appliances and consumer devices, have sought to build ecosystems around their popular handsets.

Last month, Tencent Holdings Ltd unveiled its own operating system for Internet-connected devices such as TVs and watches that is open to all developers, taking on domestic rivals Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Inc and Xiaomi Inc [XTC.UL] in the smart hardware space.