The group known as NC RIoT
has moved beyond discussing the Internet of Things movement to helping people join it.
In a series of events coming this fall, people with ideas for IoT products—combinations of hardware and software along with sensors, radios, Bluetooth or other antenna technology—will get the chance to learn from local leaders in the movement. It's a natural evolution for an organization that has grown from a handful of hobbyists to 900 members who range from Cisco and Cree executives to venture-backed CEOs to inventors.
"The group itself and the business community is evolving out of let's talk about pie in the sky stuff," says co-organizer Matthew Davis, whose day job is as vice president of marketing for Reveal Mobile. "We have companies in the area building solutions. We’ve got an example where Phononics is working with Brightwolf and Smashing Boxes to put together a complete IoT solution. We thought, 'How can we help other companies do this?”
Then, over the first weekend in October, RIoT will host its first hackathon on NC State's Centennial Campus. Inventors or business people who have an idea for an Internet of Things device simply show up and get the help of local companies to bring their idea to life. Lending their time and expertise over the weekend are hardware manufacturers, electronics experts, software and app developers and designers, security professionals, university professors and seasoned IoT executives. They come from local companies like Brightwolf, Device Solutions, STMicroelectronics, Smashing Boxes, the Wireless Research Center, Reveal Mobile, NCSU ASSIST and Groundwork Labs.
Davis says those who will get the most out of the weekend will have an idea for a prototype or an IoT company. They could also work within a larger organization without experience in IoT. He hopes some of the attendees are students at local universities.
A winning project will be selected at the end of the weekend, and that person or team will be invited to take part in an abbreviated Groundwork Labs program to learn how to turn the technology into a business. Davis says other prizes may be added prior to the event. Registration will go up soon.
Davis and Stefann aren't planning any full or part tie programs like an accelerator or incubator. But they expect to ramp up the activities of the organization in months to come. They're so committed to the growth of RIoT because they're witnessing powerful connections being made to bring IoT products to life. They see an increasing capability in the Triangle to take products from idea to industry.
"No single company can deliver the IoT stack from start to finish," Davis says. "You've got to have more than yourself building it. You've got hardware, software, security, testing, safety, branding and marketing. We're figuring out how to bring those together more frequently in a meaningful way."