RALEIGH – North Carolina’s largest IoT industry group, RIoT (Regional Internet of Things), is bringing back its popular RIoT Demo Night for another year. Held digitally on Nov. 10 from 4-7 p.m., the event will focus exclusively on new and disruptive technologies in the esports and entertainment markets.
During the event, esteemed sports industry leaders will share how technology has impacted their careers. Then, two esports teams from NC State University and Barton College will compete in a live League of Legends tournament.
Headlining the program is former Arizona Cardinals linebackers coach Jen Welter, the first female coach in National Football League history. Earlier this year, Welter was added to Madden NFL 20’s Superstar KO mode, leading her own team dubbed Shutdown.
Welter will be joined by former basketball coach and player Keith Smart, known for taking the winning shot for the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1987 NCAA championship against the Syracuse Orangemen.
The speaker lineup also includes Rob Thompson, founder of GamePlanU (an organization that connects sports industry startup founders and career-seekers to mentors, advisors and investors), as well as Larry Long Jr., director of collegiate sports for Durham startup Teamworks (which offers an athlete engagement platform used by both collegiate and professional teams).
NC State’s League of Legends team and Barton College’s esports team will then compete in a live-streamed tournament to win RIoT’s League of Legends champion title. Each team includes five undergraduate students.
Prior to the competition, two varsity players from each team will join a panel to discuss the evolution of esports and its role as a collegiate sport.
RIoT Executive Director Tom Snyder says esports is a rapidly growing industry, and it’s one where North Carolina is well-positioned. Snyder cited Barton College’s Esports Arena, which runs on a high-speed fiber-optic network from Greenlight Community Broadband in Wilson.
“All of the equipment in esports, from consoles and controllers to wearables and heads up displays would all be considered IoT,” Snyder added. “Additionally, there are interesting IoT technologies associated with esports broadcasts, new AR and VR games and the stadiums and distribution networks through which leagues bring their product to the fans.”
Tickets to RIoT Demo Night 2020 are free and available on Airmeet.
This year’s RIoT Demo Night marks the fifth annual event of its kind. The program started in 2016 as a way to showcase local startups with IoT-based solutions to complex problems.
Historically, Snyder says, IoT Demo Night has always been RIoT’s largest annual event, drawing crowds of over 1,000 in the last few years.
In 2018, RIoT Demo Night became the culminating event for startups completing the RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP), a 12-week business development program for early-stage IoT startups.
The latest RAP cohort includes eight teams. The fall 2020 program began in September and will run through late-November.
At the 2020 Demo Night, RIoT partner companies and RAP alumni will showcase their products/services in break-out virtual exhibit rooms.
“This is a self-directed component of the event for participants, but we have dedicated time so you can meet RAP teams without missing the speakers or exhibition match,” Snyder says.
RIoT hasn’t slowed its growth plans this year, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization kicked off 2020 with a new RAP cohort in Wilson, held at the new Gig East Exchange startup incubator. And, just last month, RIoT opened two new chapters in Virginia and Colorado—marking its first expansion outside North Carolina.