Bangalore's first Internet of Things laboratory - IoTLab launches with startup demos and fanfare


In what could be a major boost to the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem in Bangalore, a first of its kind IoT Lab was launched on April 09, on the occasion of IoT Day. The laboratory is an initiative by Bangalore Alpha Lab, a co-working space based out of JP Nagar and the IoT enthusiasts community called IoTBLR.

IoT Lab is a unique collaborative workspace where IoT enthusiasts can meet to discuss ideas, share expertise, work together on projects, get access to a library of equipment & components, build products, launch companies, and generally have fun bringing IoT to life. The lab is being bootstrapped, and equipment as well as expertise is being crowdsourced.

"The space is affordable for us to give out, but we really didn't want to go ahead and spend $200,000 to procure all the equipment. The idea is to be very lean and create a collaborative space," said Ahimanikya Satapathy, co-founder of Bangalore Alpha Lab.

Ahimanikya (L), Nihal (Center) and Vinay (R)

The IoTBLR enthusiasts have come together to get the first set of equipments consisting of development board, components and testing equipment. The community also brings along with it a significant amount of expertise in terms of the experience in building IoT products.

A few components at the lab

"IoTBLR is an open community for people who are interested in the Internet of Things. We started the group in June, 2013," said Nihal Kashinath, founder of IoTBLR. "What we have seen over the past 10 months is that there is interest, and we have been conducting several workshops to impart these technical skills to the IoT community, but what is lacking is consistency. People have been coming to the meetups which are held every three weeks or so. So, we felt the need for a permanent physical space where people can sit together and work on projects," he added.

The launch saw a great turnout of around 100 people which goes to show the significant amount of interest that IoT is generating. The event also had demos by five IoT product companies and projects by a few hobbyists. The startups who demoed at the event were:

MagnetWorks: MagnetWorks helps companies in the manufacturing sector, with tangible improvements in production, process and energy efficiency, and offers end-to-end hardware and software systems to wirelessly monitor, control, analyze and optimize industrial machine data.

SmartBuildings™: SmartBuildings™ is a breakthrough technology from UrjaGreen Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Based out of Bangalore, the company is developing innovative technologies for energy conservation, management, and monitoring in buildings. The focus is on energy efficiency, data center reliability, comfort and analytics.

LINQS: LINQS wants to add digital experiences to physical products and makes products smart by connecting them to the web.

Smartrhomes: smartrhomes is creating the world's first automation hub for housing societies.

IntuGine Technologies: Their product Nimble, a tiny and flexible ring shaped device is designed to magically transform 15 ft in front of the computer into a highly accurate interactive space.

Crowd at the IoT Lab

Some interesting projects that hobbyists showcased at the event were Smart Gloves, a chat bot running on Raspberry Pi, and a demonstration of the Thingsquare kits by IoTBLR member Nagasai Arun. "We want to encourage people to solve local problems," said Nagasai about the vision behind IoT lab.

Coined by Kevin Ashton, cofounder and eexcutive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, IoT is in vogue. The wearable market is already flooded with devices and gadgets that want to monitor every aspect of your lives, and this is just the start. It is predicted that by 2020, IoT will grow to 40-80 billion devices. At the recent Mobile World Congress Cisco CEO John Chambers quoted the figure of $19 trillion, the economic value he attaches to the Internet of Things over the next decade.Although, at this point in time, hardware product companies from India are few in number, but they are definitely on the rise. Initiatives like the IoT Lab are definitely a step in the right direction. What it needs is the support of the crowd to source the equipment and spread the word. A team of mentors and technical experts willing to volunteer and work with the hobbyists and angels/VCs coming out in support of such initiatives, both vocally and financially, will give the IoT and hardware product ecosystem the necessary shot in the arm.

What do you think of the IoT lab? Would you like to contribute towards it? We are listening. Do comment with your suggestions and crowdfunding intent. And, we recommend that you visit the IoT lab at Bangalore Alpha Lab once. 

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