The weekend was shaping up to be a disaster…a natural disaster. Hurricane Joaquin started its northward slog
towards the eastern seaboard, with the state’s first Internet of Things hackathon beginning in 24 hours. By Friday morning, the storm shifted further east, sparing central NC from the high winds. The RIoT Hackathon got the green light.
Despite the downpour, 80 IoT hackers and mentors arrived at NC State’s Centennial Campus Friday evening. The night begin with a quick introduction by the NC RIoT team. A dozen attendees pitched their ideas to the audience in the Monteith Research Center auditorium. After the pitches, everyone congregated on the ASSIST Center’s 4th floor event space to enjoy dinner and self-select their teams.
The RIoT Hackathon blended the best elements of a traditional hackathon—bang away on hardware or code for a weekend with just your idea—with a traditional startup weekend where attendees pitch ideas, form a team and mock up software. Build not only a great product, but something with the potential to become a great company.
Drawing inspiration from the RIoT community, member companies Bright Wolf and Device Solutions removed the technical complexity from the event. Device Solutions provided 10 Cellio hardware kits along with dozens of sensors. Bright Wolf opened up its software and analytics platform, directly integrating the hardware and software ahead of the hackathon. Enabling plug and play setup spared teams the most challenging and technical parts, allowing them to instantly build prototypes and suss out the business model, a critical judging criteria.
Chris Lamb, CTO of Device Solutions, explains the technology his company donated to teams competing at the RIoT Hackathon in October 2015. Credit: RIoT
Up for grabs for the winner…a coveted spot in a Groundwork Labs IoT accelerator program. The accelerator will meet over 5-6 sessions through March 2016, with the opportunity to pitch to investors in 2016. Also included is testing from the Wireless Research Center of NC and spot at the NC RIoT booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. To celebrate their victor, the winners also would also receive $150 to The Pit Authentic Barbecue restaurant here in Raleigh, courtesy of the NC RIoT sponsors.
Without further ado, the winning team:
Pronounce it like barometer, but with beer. In the U.S., the keg industry represents $20 billion annually flowing from 45 million kegs. Unfortunately, up to a quarter of those suds are lost due to poor pouring and foaming. Accurate to 1/100th of an ounce, the team’s working prototype engaged multiple sensors to detect exactly how much keg quantity remains, how much was poured, the quality of the pour and the temperature. The founders will be testing their prototype at local watering holes this Fall.
BeerOmeter is the winning team at the RIoT Hackathon in October 2015. Credit: RIoT
The honorable mentions:
A wearable sensor worn as a patch or necklace that utilizes a PhD authored algorithm to predict oncoming asthma attacks.
A significant product enhancement to existing sleep apnea oral appliances. It fits onto existing mouthpieces, with its sensors sending numerous data points instantly to the cloud. Patients, doctors and insurance providers will all benefit from the exponential increase in data.
This team provides affordable and reliable renewable energy to rural and urban communities around the globe. The company integrated sensors into its existing solar platform to detect and predict lighting failures in the system.
A sensory device that analyzes the biometrics of elderly patients and nursing home inhabitants.
A Bluetooth-enabled pill bottle paired with a smartphone app to help patients and doctors track and follow their prescribed regimen.
Additional Hacker Teams
Building a software and hardware platform to replace aging data monitoring services in city storm water services.
Tech Smart (Pothole)
A way to automatically detect and locate potholes based upon sensors embedded directly within vehicles.
Allows vacation home owners to monitor temperature, humidity, water leaks, smoke and fire remotely through a cellular-based gateway.
Predicting avalanches from satellite data and devices directly on the ground.
Teams work on their IoT prototypes during the RIoT Hackathon in October 2015. Credit: RIoT
Impressed with the talent, not only will Groundwork Labs accept the winner into the accelerator, but all of the honorable mentions as well. In fact, every team that pitched can meet with John Austin, director of the Durham accelerator.
The event wouldn’t have been possible without the combined efforts of Reid Powell, Taylor Howard, Christian Stump and Anastasia Lalamentik, all from Bright Wolf.
During the months leading up to the hackathon, the entire planning team believed we would see great ideas come from the Hackathon, but were still uncertain exactly what would transpire. Based upon the teams formed, the effort they put forth and the prototypes built, the event was a resounding success.
Only time will tell if great companies emerge out of the previous and future IoT Hackathons. With the support of Groundwork Labs and the NC RIoT ecosystem, we are confident that we’ll look back and see great companies. One thing we can be certain of: the engineering talent in our state, and our ability to innovate in IoT, is second to none.