Internet of Things Lab focuses on tech-savvy inventions

Internet of Things Lab focuses on tech-savvy inventions

Internet of Things Lab focuses on tech-savvy inventions
If six young technologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have their way, bike thieves around campus will face a new obstacle: bikes capable of "talking" to Internet-connected bike racks.
 
The Bike Recovery Network is one of 17 teams at the Internet of Things Lab, which presented the results of one concentrated semester of effort at an open house recently.
 
In the Bike Recovery Network's still-developing system, a radio-frequency identification tag hidden on a bike will communicate with a smart phone that registers when the bike enters and exits the area. Either event triggers a message to a web server that is then texted to the bike owner.
 
When the bike leaves the area without the owner's knowledge, the police department is automatically alerted to the theft. Best of all, on a campus where startlingly few stolen bikes are returned, is the potential for getting the bike back.
 
"If the thief brings the bike to a smart bike rack," says team member Akhil Sundararajan, a mechanical engineering grad student, "you'll immediately know the bike is there, and the web server will immediately notify the authorities, and you can get your bike back."
 
The Internet of Things Lab is a campus hub designed to bring teams together around projects, says Sandra Bradley, the lab's director of research for consumer and retail applications. "Graduate and undergraduate students come from across campus — computer science, engineering, business, communication and retail — and they are able to work on the things they find interesting."
 
In the fall semester, the second time the Internet of Things Lab event was held, 40 students worked on 17 project teams.
 
It's unrealistic to expect a prototype in a single semester, Bradley says. "The goal is more ideation and exploration; it's not really about product design. We like to see the students innovate and come up with ideas that could then be taken to the next stage."
 
One idea that is moving quickly toward the market comes from the The MedCuff group, which began during the first Internet of Things Lab. The Medcuff group is developing a device to ensure that users take prescriptions. "The three-student team is refining their project, getting input from industry and meeting with investors," Bradley says.
 
Cash prizes were funded by We Energies, American Family Insurance, and Terso Solutions.
 
Source and top image: University of Wisconsin-Madison