Nabto nabs $1 million in funding for tiny web servers

Nabto makes web technology for devices like medical appliances (see Medotech’s Grindcare) and building automation devices. The Danish startup just closed a new funding round combining funds from previous investor Østjysk Innovation, the Danish government-backed fund Vækstfonden and some private investors. The new financing will mainly be used to boost Nabto’s sales and marketing.

Nabto’s target market is home or industrial devices that are remotely controlled or whose data needs to be queried from a web browser. More broadly it applies to the type of interconnected device that will form the upcoming “Internet of Things“. Many of the target devices will be located behind a firewall and have dynamically assigned IP addresses, which is problematic when it comes to locating and connecting to them. The web client can be a PC, tablet, mobile phone or any other Internet connected device.

Nabto combines HTTP and VoIP technologies to minimize the processing and memory requirements of a web server embedded in the device. This is done by moving the heavy lifting from the device to the web client (via a browser plug-in) and an additional mediation base station. The base station keeps track of the locations, i.e. the IP addresses, of all the devices it manages.

Instead of the web client connecting in the normal way to the device’s web server (which requires locating it and getting past the firewall), it contacts the base station which mediates a one-to-one connection to the device. This connection is of the same type as that used in Voice over IP (VoIP)  applications like Skype or other peer-to-peer (P2P) applications. P2P is scalable for large numbers of devices. Nabto’s product also provides security features like authentication and encryption.

Device manufactures buy a licence per device for the web server and one or more base station.

According to CEO Carsten Rhod Gregersen, proprietary systems built by the device manufacturers themselves are the company’s biggest competitors. Other competitors might be companies who build home gateways or central device management services like Google Power Meter, but Gregersen argues that most manufacturers don’t want to use an external service shared with the competition.

Nabto was founded in 2007, is based in Aarhus, Denmark, has 10 full-time employees and has previous raised $1 million in private and seed funding.

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