Editor’s note: NC RIoT, the regional organization focused on making the Internet of Things a reality, recently put on a full-day conference to help educate those wanting to learn more about IoT’s potential. The result was a sold-out developers day with attendees from as far away as Atlanta. Another NC RIoT event also brought out a big crowd in Greensboro last month, including NXP’s huge IoT truck. Two of the organizers recap all the intellectual exchanges at the hands-on IoT ed program.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Last Thursday the community known as NC RIoT launched a new education program focused on the Internet of Things (IoT). The series known as RIoT ED debuted with Developer Day. The NC RIoT team designed this full-day session to let our region’s engineers get hands-on time with cutting-edge IoT hardware and software products, and the people who built them.

IBM hosted the event at their RTP headquarters, which drew a sold-out crowd of over 130 attendees.

Larry Steffann, co-founder of NC RIoT set the stage.

“The RIoT community identified that education in IoT was lacking, which slows market awareness and adoption. We responded with RIoT ED to provide opportunities for students, start-ups, working professionals, and enterprise companies which recognize the opportunity that the IoT economy presents, but need help in building their strategy, products, and services”.

With an early morning start on a cool spring day, RIoTers from across NC, VA and as far as Atlanta began networking over coffee. Soon a standing-room crowd filled the auditorium to hear IBM’s GM of IoT Chris O’Connor deliver the day’s inspirational kickoff and keynote address. Chris relayed numerous case studies for using connected devices to reduce cost in operations while making money through new services, and how their super computer Watson plays a role.

Chris explained, “IoT is digital disruption of the physical world”. Providing context by example, a major appliance manufacturer saves warranty costs by connecting its products to the internet. Today, a repair truck takes multiple trips to fix a broken appliance. First to assess the issue, then to return with the parts to fix it. When the devices can sense the problem and communicate the fix automatically, one less trip is needed. If you’re an engineer building next generation products, learning about and prototyping with IoT solutions ahead of market trends ensures a competitive advantage.

Multiple tracks

Developer Day continued with three technical tracks over four sessions. Participants learned details of IoT systems and got hands on with hardware components and software demos. Facilitators included semiconductor, data analytics, simulation and testing, and verification companies. Everyone experienced a taste of the components they need to build complete IoT solutions.

From the hardware side, ST Microelectronics showcased their Nucleo product line. They focused on how they build interoperability into all products to future-proof applications that use their devices. Technology changes fast, so having the ability to continually upgrade without losing functionality is crucial.

IoT wearables

With wearables being one of the hottest categories of IoT, NXP taught a session on how to quickly bring a wearable product to market. Their wearable application reference platform, appropriately coined WaRP, makes it easy for entrepreneurs and start-ups to move from concept to working prototype.

Nordic Semiconductor, innovators of Bluetooth Low Energy, covered the radio space. They helped unpack the litany of acronyms from IPv6, ICMP, UDP, TCP, DTLS, TLS, CoAP and MQTT. Attendees learned how to get their device or “Thing” connected to the Internet. Pushing this data to the internet enables aggregate data collection, new business intelligence, and builds more value.

Modeling, simulating

Before jumping straight into hardware prototyping, RIoTers learned the value of modeling and simulating to save cost and optimize performance. ANSYS demonstrated how multi-physics software helps engineers understand the trade-offs between speed, bandwidth, signal integrity, power integrity, thermal and electromagnetic performance. Not your typical dinner conversation, but essential information to build best-in-class connected products.

On the back end of product development, ACS helped participants understand the regulatory space and how to get the approvals necessary to sell wireless devices in the US and other countries. Markets across the world have different rules and requirements. Selecting the right wireless approach ensures you’ll clear regulatory hurdles in your end market.

A Watson demo

A total IoT solution includes not just the hardware and sensors, but also data analytics. Analyzing, understanding, and taking action on data will drive much of the economic impact of the coming IoT revolution. IBM hosted Developer Day, just a short stroll from Watson. Yes, that Watson. The computer that won Jeopardy is now powering IoT applications. IBM showed participants how to utilize free tools to connect devices to that powerful analytics platform.

Wrapping up the event, Linx Technologies and Arrow Electronics showed demonstrations of IoT components and systems in action. At every RIoT event our community raises a glass. Schneider Electronics and Team Manufacturing graciously hosted the after party at Page Road Grill.

Tom Snyder, who recently joined NC RIoT as Executive Director announced that while Developer Day was a first foray into education, the community will see additional offerings announced during the summer and fall.

If you haven’t RIoTed yet and are eager to learn more about IoT, keep an eye on RIoT ED.

About the authors

Tom Snyder serves as Executive Director of NC RIoT. Matthew Davis is a co-founder of NC RIoT, along with Larry Steffann, GM of the Wireless Research Center of NC, and also serves as VP of Marketing at Reveal Mobile.