blog_IMG_2150Over 270 people descended upon The Durham Bulls Athletic Park last Tuesday night for a RIoT. Instead of mayhem, madness, and pandemonium, civility triumphed. The crowd proved social, festive, and well behaved for this “Internet of Things” event.  NC RIoT hosted its tenth gathering to focus on sports, health, and fitness technology with an emphasis on internet connected wearables.

True to all RIoT events, attending RIoTers heard from IoT experts, this time on wearable technology. Do you know what makes cutting edge tech even more enjoyable? Hot dogs, chicken wings, and cold beer brewed fresh from the Bull Durham Beer Company, located two stories below.

A stroll through the PNC Club on the 3rd floor of the stadium allowed RIoTers to come face-to-face and get hands-on with today’s groundbreaking technology. Over a dozen companies displayed their products. The NC State ASSIST Center also exhibited two student projects. The first, a shirt designed to measure a body’s hydration level. The second, a shoe insole built to measure athletic performance.

As a host of these events, one of the most rewarding elements is exposing the community to new companies, new ideas, and new technologies. The presenters and panelists delivered, and the audience agreed.

Dr. Steven LeBoeuf began the night by highlighting Valencell’s groundbreaking biometric sensors. Delivering a passionate, humorous, and informative presentation, this Cajun doctor deftly explained the difficulties of wearable tech. Striving for accuracy, comfort, and battery life leaves little room for error. Given their impressive roster of clientele, the market agrees that Valencell solves their problems with their products as well as their intellectual property.

Ivonna Dumanyan, a former Duke student and collegiate athlete, shared her company’s vision for catching injuries before they occur, and reducing recovery time. Two wearable IoT patches measure specific movements and metrics that provide trainers with never-before-seen insights on an athlete’s muscle fatigue and performance degradation. The key to their product is the data they collect. This impartial data drives better decision-making versus an individual judgment by a trainer. Their smart use of data highlights the foundation that data plays in the exploding IoT market opportunity. With multiple NCAA schools as customers, they’re making an immediate impact.

Devon McKenney delivered the final presentation of the night. This former professional soccer player turned professional personal coach built, along with this team, one of the world’s first connected soccer balls (footballs for the purists). Their technology enables players to understand ball movement, ball control, and provides specific training instructions to advance a player’s game. The dramatic reduction in cost of sensors will allow many similar products to begin hitting the market. Devon’s early recognition of this trend and his application of the technology provide him a great head start on his competition.

The evening concluded with a panel focused specifically on the challenges of designing and marketing wearable technology. The panelists represented the hardware, the software, and the entrepreneurs that fight these struggles everyday. The executive summary: new and existing wearable entrepreneurs have ample resources available to them right now to speed their time to market.

Looking at the big picture, the RIoT X event highlighted our state’s growing presence as a hub of wearable IoT. Between the cutting edge university research at ASSIST, the leadership of these startups, and the historical strength of the region, NC is on its way to becoming a national hub for wearable technology.

Side note – RIoT heads to Austin, TX next week to represent our region in the Smart City Innovation Summit and Global City Team Challenge. More details soon!

Also – check out this Storify tweet timeline of the event: