The first ever IoT Hackday on Saturday October 18th proved to be a winner for more than just one team. Though team Subconscious Behavior Alert walked away as the crowd favorite, and scored a box of goodies any IoT hacker would love, the Twin Cities was really the biggest winner. It saw a relatively new community, the Internet of Things community, make it’s public debut.
The inaugural event, brought to life by Justin Grammens and Varun Bhartia, gathered teams together at Minnetronix for a day dedicated to connecting “things” to the internet. Those things included Christmas lights, bikes, blinds, pet feeders and trackers, a unique use for a play kitchen and more. Many on these teams have toiled away hacking devices at home and in various user groups around the city for the past few years. This day was different. This day was all about the IoT community…and what a crowd was there. Sure there were the 20-30 year old guys that anyone might imagine being at a tech event. But, there were also older adults, seniors, women and kids! All of them armed with laptops, sensors, wires, soldering irons and plenty of ideas.
After a day of hanging together and working on their projects, Saturday night saw the showcase of their hard work… the public demo. Most, if not all, of the projects demoed without a hitch in front of the 50 or so guests who came out to see the fruits of their labor. While not always the prettiest, with their wires and sensors hanging off boards and gathered in cardboard boxes, Christmas lights were lit, stuffed dogs were fed, bikes received onboard directions and clocks spun on play kitchens, all via the internet.
I was especially taken with the kids who had spent the day working on coding flexible light strips and boxes to display arrays of light and color that would make them the hit of any party. They said they had a great time and seemed more than happy to hangout with adults on a Saturday.
With the success of firms like SmartThings, Exosite and Spark rooted here, the Twin Cities has the potential to be a true IoT hotbed. The first ever IoT Hackday proved beyond any doubt that there is the energy and enthusiasm to keep stoking it.