What to Consider With IoT in Michigan

By Amanda Lewan on June 2nd, 2016 / Comments

At the Mackinac Policy Conference earlier today a panel of leaders discussed the future of the Internet of Things and how Michigan can play a role leading in this third wave of the Internet.

It sounds like a dream. We could take our manufacturing backgrounds and play a stronger role in the future of technology built right here. But what exactly is happening in IoT in our state? How can startups innovate and how can companies participate? We listened and heard a few great ideas to share with you below.

Tom DeVries Principal of Thoughtful led the panel discussion featuring Brian Steketee CEO and Founder of Modustri, Bryan Jones CEO of JR Automation,  Rob Huber Vice President of Innovation and Ventures at Faurecia and Rick DeVos founder of Start Garden. DeVries kicked off the discussion with perspective: Last year there were 9 billion connected objects and by 2020 we expect 50 billion connected objects. How do we react and respond? 

“The idea is still in it’s infancy,” he said. “It’s now a world where objects communication and respond to each other, all connected by the Internet.

Startups and corporations should and are collaborating. Rick DeVos spoke about their new accelerator in Grand Rapids called Seamless, and how it helps to connect startups and corporate partners for greater collaboration.  He sees a lot of opportunity for corporations to open their doors to collaborate and work with the startup community. In order to be successful they try to build a culture of trust between partners and entrepreneurs. Each must remember the value they bring to the table.

“We approached Seamless as a consortium to match and benefit from each industry’s product life-cycles,” said DeVoss.

It’s not always about “things,” but platforms and data too. Though much of the discussion talked about the Internet of Things, what provides an added value is the data found between connected products and the ability to create flexible platforms for these connections. Huber of Faurecia spoke about a new product they’ve launched that monitors heart rate and other information inside a seat. If a driver is feeling drowsy or stressed the seat can warm you or cool and massage you to wake you up. 

“That connection sounds great doesn’t it? But it’s the data that is very rich,” he said. “And that technology has a lot of opportunity in a home or office furniture as well.”

Remember that Michigan has the highest number of engineers. When talking about Michigan’s role one of the panelists pointed out that Michigan graduates one of the highest numbers of engineers in the country. Taking engineering talent and combining it with the growth of the coding community, we could have the right folks in state to create connected software and hardware products.

Focus on the value for the consumer no matter what. No matter the new product or idea or opportunity, all the panelists agreed it’s important to focus on the value for the consumer. At the end of the day the value has to be there to sell the product and serve the customer.

The discussion ended with a look at challenges to pose for those creating and the idea of collaboration came up again.

“Connect. Connect with people, suppliers and customers. It’s a two way street,” said Huber.

What do you want to see for IoT in Michigan? Share your thoughts with us below.

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.