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TORONTO (Reuters) - Telus Corp T.TO launched a package of technologies that connect and control machines via the Internet on Wednesday as the Canadian telecom company bids to generate sales from the so-called "Internet of things".
Among the services Telus will offer are retail traffic analysis so that stores can better stock their shelves, and a safety application that will allow restaurants to check conditions such as air and food temperature and water flow.
The services are part of an emerging trend in which technology and telecom companies add processors, sensors and Web connectivity to objects as diverse as soccer balls and industrial machinery.
"The driving force behind it is focusing less on the technology and more on making business easier and consumers' lives better," Shawn Sanderson, the head of Telus's Internet of things campaign, said ahead of the launch.
The portfolio of services available at launch will be expanded over the next two years, he said.
Vancouver-based Telus said customers will be able to avoid large upfront capital expenditures by billing the offerings as a monthly service.
With their phone, TV and Internet businesses cooling, Canada's big telecom companies have been looking elsewhere for growth.
Telus has moved forcefully into health, and says it is Canada's largest provider of electronic medical records. It said the move to the still-nascent business of connecting machines to each other is a logical expansion.
Using technology first put to work in police and emergency responder dispatch systems some 15 years ago, Telus says it can now use connected sensors in retail, healthcare, oil and gas, and a range of other industries.
Canadian spending on Internet-enabled services could top C$21 billion ($18.35 billion) a year by 2018, according to technology research group IDC Corp, up from C$5.6 billion in 2013.
Telus said it will work with global technology companies such as Accenture Plc (ACN.N), IBM Corp (IBM.N), Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) and Intel Corp (INTC.O). On Tuesday, Intel unveiled a platform to help companies create Internet-connected smart products using its chips, security and software.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway