Internet of Things Lab opens, features innovation throughout Indy

Attendees at the Grand Opening of the IOT Lab attend a demonstration of Huston Electric's Smart Interactive White Board, a horizontal touch screen television meant for group collaboration. It allegedly fulfills all the possible uses of a normal white board, no erasers required. Photo by Ethan O'Sullivan on March 22.
The doors to the Internet of Things (IOT) Lab opened on Technology Lane in downtown Fishers on March 22, just next door to the Launch Fishers building. The grand opening ceremony drew in large swaths of the entrepreneurial community from across Indiana.

Hundreds of professionals, ranging from designers to engineers, met inside of the spacious halls of the lab. They ate cake and refreshments on the lab’s brand new furniture and became acquainted with the new technology center’s vision.

Several companies associated with IOT ran stands where they made pitches to members of other businesses and tried to establish connections with the visitors.

The president of 1st Maker Space, Kim Brand, adorned his stand with bright LED lamps and key-chains, all plastic 3D creations his company designed and printed using their “Maker Space” printers. He created one item, a pair of LED glasses, at FHS during student choice day on Sept. 22. He targets schools, museums and libraries as his primary audience because he claims that creativity among American youth has plateaued with the rise of technology. He believes his own technology can reverse that effect.

“People used to make things in their shop class, things they could take home and their parents could hold onto after decades,” Brand said. “Why would we kill that creativity and entrepreneurship when we need it now more than ever?”

IOT technology relies heavily upon network connections to quickly communicate data between machines, which means that hacking is a risk. That is where software security companies come in, many of which hosted stands at the opening.

The night belonged to more than just corporations, however. Muhammad Afaneh, for example, runs a self-employed business called “SmartLinks.” For the last five years he has been selling low-energy blue-tooths and technology lessons out of his own home. When he reopens for business, he will have a spot nestled right at the front of the lab. He, and many of the lab’s companies are excited because it gives them the kind of face-to-face interaction they cannot find online.

The FHS Robotics Team set up a booth in one area of the lab, while a couple of their representatives demonstrated their use of the Internet to program and control one of their smaller, non-competitive robots. Using video game controllers connected to a wireless computer they commanded it to lift boxes and roll around the room.

All of the featured companies came from across Indiana, some of which were even drawn out of the state’s capital. That achievement was met with excitement by some of the speakers.

“This is the latest chapter in a book that’s been written by great communities like Fishers and the rest of the corporate community,” event host Gerry Dick said, prior to introducing remarks from Mayor Scott Fadness.

The inclusion of the Robotics Team and small businesses like Afaneh’s serve as reminders of the lab’s aspirations. City officials have stressed that the lab’s primary purpose is to encourage innovation, not blind profit. They plan to use several of the lab’s suites to allow easy and quality collaboration between businesses and clients; an idea that they hope will ultimately launch Fishers.

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