Memfault launches with cloud-based monitoring of firmware bugs

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Memfault launched with customers Logitech and Proxy in tow, who use Memfault's software in the cloud to detect and fix bugs in hardware devices in the field. The startup sees the need as IoT devices grow in number. (Pixabay)

Start-up Memfault emerged from stealth on Friday to announce cloud-based monitoring tools to find and fix firmware bugs for connected hardware devices in the field. The product is apparently an industry first.

Founded in 2018 by engineers formerly employed at Oculus, Fitbit and Pebble, Memfault named wireless peripherals hardware manufacturer Logitech and Proxy as early customers. 

Memfault monitoring provides Logitech with detailed performance analytics on its devices, including the number of pieces of hardware and firmware that are affected by a similar problem. That information helps understand the scale of a problem, which was impossible to do in the past, according to Karthik Rajagopal, director of software engineering at Logitech.

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“Memfault can also pinpoint down to the line of code where the problem lies so we don’t waste time trying to determine how to fix the issue once it’s already in the hands of customers,” said Rajagopal in a statement. “Before Memfault, we could only learn the symptoms of the issue without details on the origin of it, making it harder and slower to fix bugs."

While Memfault’s tools have only been used for a short time at Logitech, the manufacturer expects it will help save developers time while also providing better performing products for end users.

In addition to its official launch, Memfault announced a $2.5 million seed round of funding led by Uncork Capital. Other investors are S28 Capital and Y Combinator. Jeff Clavier, founder of Uncork has also invested in Fitbit, Mint and others.

Memfault provides a software development kit (SDK) which customers like Logitech can use with connected devices as they roll out firmware updates. The software connects to the diagnostic information in connected devices and streams that data back to the cloud where it is analyzed. Memfault relies on a backend to identify, classify and provide error reports so that engineers know what problems are occurring and where. This prevents having to collect affected hardware from customers.

Lance Cohen, director of engineering at Proxy, said Memfault has provided visual analytics for device performance. Proxy makes mobile readers for access and had been relying on Slack to communicate about product problems before Memfault came along. A Memfault dashboard makes it easy to identify problems, he said.

Proxy hopes to take advantage of alerts in the Memfault platform when released soon.

Memfault CEO Francois Baldassari said the company’s products will be important as connected devices proliferate in the IoT universe. “It has become nearly impossible for hardware firms to keep up with bugs and get them fixed before the software is rolled out,” he said in a statement. “Memfault can come in and automatically detect and fix those bugs before they ever reach end users, which can save thousands if not millions of dollars for hardware companies.”

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