As one of America’s top hubs of innovation, New York City is host to a number of robust communities, enrichened by a plethora of experts, entrepreneurs, companies, and enthusiasts — with notable brawn in the field of technology.
Within this diverse realm of tech, the Internet of Things is emerging with a force — and multibillion dollar economic value — to create and connect objects of all types to the web.
Occupying the the space where hardware, software, Big Data and business intersect, IoT has become a point of interest for a savvy and diverse group of New Yorkers to build and test sky-high creative solutions to real life problems.
On June 18, 2014, this NYC community came together for the first time in a gathering organized by IoT innovator Mitchell Golner through Meetup.com. Predictably, wonder ensued.
The IoT community
Held on the 12th floor of Midtown high rise, a plush, open space with a large shimmering skylight (provided generously by OfficeLinks), the IoT event kicks off with free pizza, drinks, and rigorous networking between folks of various expertises and backgrounds.
Upon entrance, members are instructed to mark themselves to with stickers identifying their interests: business, software, hardware, or a combination of the three. Business is by far the most popular sticker, I’m told — with hardware the least and software somewhere in between.
The group matches their multidisciplinary interests in demographics: observable persons range in age and ethnicity, with gender only slightly skewed in favor of men.
Golner, who organized the meetup, sums up this kind of intersection and diversity well. What makes IoT so special, he indicates, is a necessary overlap in discipline that forces engagements between fields that may have previously had to communicate quite little.
The economic value of IoT is also huge, Golner demonstrates with estimates from Cisco, IDC, and McKinsey: worth anywhere between $2.7 trillion (McKinsey’s estimate) and $19 trillion (Cisco’s) in the next several years.
The opportunities lie in both consumer and industrial capabilities, from smart watches and thermostats to intelligent factories and power plants. With that kind of span, the current buzz is of little surprise.
The Internet of Things is already quite vast and quickly growing; if each NYC company presented, the meetup might have never ended, which wouldn’t be good considering the limited supply of Domino’s.
The agenda consisted of three unique presentations.
OpenPicus followed Golner’s illuminating introduction with a brief, pre-recorded video, in which the CEO displayed the Italian-native company’s devices: sleek, modular cloud-friendly hardware chips called Flyport that serve as a customizable IoT solution for developers.
Next up was Kisi, an IoT security company that works with landlords and offices to install an app that can unlock residents’ and emplyees’ apartments and places of work right from their mobile phone.
Kisi’s goal is to expand its service further — ideally, a person could wake up and use the product to unlock an entire day of doors, from house, to car, to work, to the gym and anywhere else in between.
Lastly, InteraXon presented their brain-sensing headband, Muse, two of which were passed around for the audience to try on and (unsurprisingly) take selfies in.
The headband, designed as a non-medical product modeled after EEG sensors, is meant to minimize stress by aiding wearers in a relaxation and concentration process using an app called Calm.
Utilizing ambient sounds like wind and birdsong as well as tried and tested verbal instructions, the headband sends immediate brainwave feedback to wearers’ mobile devices to alleviate stress and record results.
But the possibilities are endless, we’re assured: in the future, InteraXon’s website claims, Muse could be used to allow wearers to control music and entertainment devices all with their mind.
If the beginning of IoT has this much to offer, it’s difficult, and verging on impossible, to imagine where we’ll go from here — especially with the end nowhere in sight.
In New York City, IoT is thriving even in it’s infancy. Imagine an infant can both read your mind and unlock your car. What would that kid be able to do in its adolescent years? Or, more importantly, as an adult?
As IoT evolves, its budding NYC community is likely to be at the forefront of new ideas, innovations, and connected solutions. We’re glad to be along for the ride, which for the foreseeable future, is being built skywards by the smartest minds in the business.