RALEIGH – From internet-connected insects to opioid-detecting sewer bots, RIoT’s 4th annual Internet of Things (IoT) Demo night didn’t disappoint.

More than 70 exhibitors showcasing 100 live IoT demos set up shop on the ground floor corridor of the Raleigh Convention Center on Monday night.

Held in partnership with All Things Open, the largest “Open” technology festival on the east coast, the event drew a 1000-strong crowd, one of the largest in the Internet of Things users group known as RIoT’s history to date.

Its focus was two-hold: raising awareness of how broadly IoT is impacting every industry sector, and then educating people on how to get involved.

“Many of the general public have perhaps heard the term IoT, but perhaps don’t necessarily really know what it means,” said RIoT’s Executive Director Tom Snyder.

“Even if you look in the tech sector, everybody is familiar with the term, but people at the ground floor are still only beginning to understand how profound the impact of IoT will be to the economy.”

Radio-controlled insects? Yes, that’s right

To kick off the evening, a handful of speakers discussed how emerging technology has helped them “hack” the old way of solving problems and doing business.

Edgar Lobaton, associate professor at NC State University.

Among them was Edgar Lobaton, associate professor at NC State University. He’s part of a team developing a radio-controlled cyborg insect.

After an earthquake or incident like the Fukashima Daiichi nuclear disaster, it’s often difficult to immediately send humans into hazardous areas, but these tiny insects might offer the answer.

The hardware includes an electronic board attached to the insect – including sensors, wireless modules and a control interface – and the “bio-interface” with electrodes that send stimulus to the insect.

“Cyborg insects are a unique platform,” said Lobaton. “We have built prototypes that demonstrate the capabilities of the cyborg insects, and have developed algorithms that work in small-scale experiments. We still need to scale up our efforts and look at more realistic scenes.”

From student exhibitors to large corporations

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Alex Arldt, Alex Lilley, Mehdi Garcia and Joseph Abraham of StoreHound

Around the corner on the main floor, another team from NC State was also on hand.

They included undergraduates Alex Ardlt, Alex Lilly, Mehdi Garcia and Joseph Abraham, showcasing their school project — a web platform called Store Hound that offers point-to-point navigation for store customers.

“We’ve got a lot of good feedback from people asking questions,” said Ardlt, 22.

Added Lilly, also 22: “We’ve met a lot of cool people, and seen a lot of new technology. A lot of companies are here. Seeing the ‘real market’ is valuable.”

Meanwhile, Revibe Technologies CEO Rich Brancaccio and his team offered attendees a sneak peek at their soon-to-be released wearable device. Funded by the US Department of Education, it uses vibration technology to help kids and adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder stay on task.

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RIoT’s executive director Tom Snyder and program director Rachael Meleney.

“There are millions of kids and adults out there who struggle to stay on task, who are constantly falling behind when they don’t necessarily have to,” he said, adding that it’s the first time that a machine-learning application inside a wearable device has been used to increase productivity.”

Brancaccio, a school psychologist, originally came to RIoT a few years back with his idea, eventually finding a mentor in the late RIoT founder, Larry Steffan.

As such, the company’s first public reveal took on special meaning.

“We’re paying homage back to Larry,” he said.

Originally founded in 2014 as NC RIoT, the group aims to support all things IoT and disruptive technology industry growth, with more than 5000 members and counting.