Fostering Innovation with IoT{Accelerate}Berlin

Jake Ward kicks off the IoT{Accelerate}Berlin event.

Jake Ward kicks off the IoT{Accelerate}Berlin event.

The Internet of Things is sizzling hot -- top of mind for developers, innovators, and notably for traditional industries. Sensors and machines that communicate and learn at astonishing rates will drive innovation and dramatically change our world.

Promoting that innovation was the objective of the IoT{Accelerate}, an 48-hour Apps Alliance event we recently hosted in Berlin. That goal was worthwhile and served all participants well, but the real winner of the program showed all of us that innovation and IoT is not about the "T" - it’s about people. 

The Alliance believed that if we and our partners -- Google, Ericsson and Intel -- gathered IoT startups for a weekend of business and technological education and collaboration, we could reasonably hope to identify exciting companies and help them accelerate their businesses and products. Monetary prizes and the opportunity to join with energetic participants from significant companies attracted a great group of applicants and high-quality participants. However, the outcome still surprised us.  

During IoT{Accelerate}Berlin we met more than a dozen companies working with IoT technologies. Some were iterating and improving on existing concepts – door locks and auto fleet management – to build new services made possible by a “smarter” world. Their ideas were good. Some were very good. A handful of participants were working with IoT technologies in a different way entirely; they were putting people rather than technology at the center of a more connected world.

Jake Ward with IoT{Accelerate}Berlin winner, Nicholas Caporusso of dbGLOVE

Jake Ward with IoT{Accelerate}Berlin winner, Nicholas Caporusso of dbGLOVE

The best example, and the top winner of the competition, was INTACT Healthcare. This small, Italian startup had developed and begun prototyping a wearable device called dbGLOVE that performs “miracles” for blind and deaf people and their friends and loved ones.

The glove is filled with sensors that digitize hand-to-hand touch-based communication that blind and deaf people have used for more than a century. When one person types a message to a second person who is wearing the glove, the software translates the message into meaningful touches delivered by the sensors using one of several touch-based alphabets, such as Malossi and Braille. Similarly, the glove enables the person to utilize touch-based communication to interact with friends or loved ones - or perhaps simply a customer service person or a new acquaintance - who has no knowledge of touch-based language.

An example of dbGLOVE's technology

An example of dbGLOVE's technology

INTACT technology is remarkable and the product well on its way, but the company's founder, Nicholas Caporusso, is not developing this technology with profit or even innovation in mind. His father is a diabetic who has lost his hearing and sight in one eye, and will soon lose the remainder of his sight and enter a world of isolation and darkness. His son had the skill, and more importantly the motivation, to provide an alternative and better future for his father and so many more like him.

More than one workshop leader at IoT{Accelerate}Berlin spoke to the participants about Gartner’s Hype Cycle and what they as startups should keep in mind while building their products and companies. We are at the beginning of the beginning, and no one knows for sure what comes next or where we are headed. Intertwined with the promise and potential of innovative products and services is one certainty: maintaining the humanity of any technology has, and always will, drive founders, solutions, and success.

The IoT{Accelerate}Berlin event was held on March 27-29, 2015.  See all winners of the competition by visiting: http://www.iotaccelerate.com/ 


Posted By: 

Jake Ward

Executive Director and Co-Founder