RIoT and NASCAR are leading the technology race into the 21st Century by growing an ecosystem that establishes leadership in IoT, Smart Cities and 5G. Like city operations, NASCAR handles massive technical and logistical complexity at their events, ensuring that their citizens are safe and secure while enjoying a quality experience.   The race day environment is an ideal test bed to prove next generation IoT and 5G technologies, applicable to smart cities and other applications. The green flag dropped with a first partnered event in Charlotte last week.

RIoT returned to Charlotte to bring thought leaders from around the region and country to explore the Industrial Internet of Things. This single-day conference was paired with a nighttime networking event that featured more than 25 companies as speakers and exhibitors. Global industry leaders included IBM, Verizon and Renesas, as well as local companies that provide best-in-class technology and services like Bridgera, Meridian IT and the Wireless Research Center of NC.

While consumer facing applications grab a lot of press, much of the early financial traction of IoT has come from the enterprise and industrial space. Charlotte and the greater NC region are leading the US in a number of technology and application areas.

Case in point, Nick Franza, Technology Innovation Manager for NASCAR kicked off the event by convincingly demonstrating that NASCAR is a technology company at its roots. While sport entertainment fills the consumer’s mind, it is NASCAR’s ability to innovate and successfully overcome technical challenges, like streaming high bandwidth data off a vehicle at 200 mph without Doppler effects that make the company shine.

Hamed Faghoury of Lixar joined Nick on stage to make the first public announcement of an advanced digital credentialing program recently completed. This program streamlines the operational complexities of managing security and accessibility for people on race day. Additionally, the system drives additional revenue for NASCAR’s partners while improving the fan experience.

Further demonstrating the IIoT opportunity, Richard Vaughn of Bosch Rexroth explained, “There are over a million different variants across automotive manufacturing. Connected devices enable modular manufacturing to address these efficiently.”

Dan Thyer, founder of Logical Advantage and a crowd favorite as leader of the 1000+ member Charlotte IoT group, further drove the point home. He demystified how to drive manufacturing efficiency with simple microcontrollers deployed on a production line with Azure analytics tools.

Perhaps the crowd favorite was the 3-story, 80’ tractor trailer NXP brought to town. The behemoth contained over 100 connected devices and Andy Moran of NXP successfully ran multiple live demos for the group. Moran then joined Clay Hine of Nordic Semiconductor and Chris Elmore of AvidXchange on stage to answer audience questions about scaling business initiatives from proof-of-concept to revenue stage.

The evening session at the NASCAR Hall of Fame delivered four lightning talks, highlighted by global giant Arrow Electronics showing how they are improving agricultural yields and dairy herd health with connected cows. (Wow!) Local Charlotte gem, Halo Smart Labs was lauded for implementing advanced weather alert data into their smoke alarm products to provide earlier warning of safety, before the smoke even starts.

Betsy Grider, Managing Director for Technology Development at NASCAR appropriately closed the day. “It’s great to know such a robust ecosystem has developed in North Carolina and we are excited to be part of the growth and strength of the region.”

We couldn’t agree more. See you at the races.