Recap: Demos & Drinks in OC, Smart Home Edition

At the end of September, Tech in Motion Orange County hosted a Demos & Drinks mixer – smart home edition! Some of the best home automation companies were on display at Eureka Building’s high-tech outdoor venue while 400 Tech in Motion members enjoyed drinks, viewing the latest home tech and meeting up with local techies and friends.

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Featured companies INSTEON, EDGEhome and Smartenit demonstrated how our Orange County members could use the latest smart home tech in their own homes.

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Medicast, a service that delivers doctors to your home within two hours with just a click of a button graciously sponsored the event and raffled off a service package to a lucky member!

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INSTEON entertained our members by demonstrating how they’ve integrated their Windows 8.1 phone app with Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant.

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EDGEhome and Smartenit both helped our members understand the logistics behind home automation. While Smartenit has been part of demo events other than Tech in Motion, they were sure to note that this was one of their best demoing experiences to date. They said the casual atmosphere and interest from our members really made their demoing process enjoyable!

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Edgehome

Founder Peter Cullen of Core Performance Consulting also sponsored this event, and provided our members with information on how his company can provide excellent Cloud based Accounting Services to small and mid-sized businesses.

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As always with our events at Eureka, people networked into the early evening and left our event with new information, new friends and new memories! We can’t thank our sponsors Workbridge Associates, Jobspring Partners, Core Performance Consulting, Medicast and Eureka Building enough for helping us put together this event!

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If you’d like to learn more information about joining the largest tech meetup in Orange County, please check out Tech in Motion Orange County to join the group and RSVP for our upcoming events!

Tech In Motion Chicago Goes Back to School with Ed Tech

Tech In Motion Chicago hosted our first Back to School demos & drinks event focusing on those startups changing the education space with technology. Techies from all over Chicago came out to network and chat with some of the coolest startups in the education space. We had a great turnout and each of our five demo companies had a unique approach – we even had a demo-er who had been featured (and funded!) on ABC’s Shark Tank. Packback Books, Overgrad, mLevel, digedu and Jail Education Solutions all came out and demoed their apps and platforms to a very enthusiastic Chicago crowd.

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To recap the event, we thought it would be interesting to ask a few of our demoers some questions about where they saw the ed tech space heading in the next few years.

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Ian Hood with mLevel

1. What do you think is the biggest impact tech has made on education so far?

I think the biggest impact that technology has made within the education space, and really all of our lives, is the ability to access information at will. Whether it be a desktop, a tablet or a smartphone, people today can find information on any topic with the touch of the finger. The process of having to ask your teacher about a subject, search the edition of the encyclopedias at your house (if you were lucky enough to own them), or take a trip to local library are all but gone. The ability to access information at any time is the biggest impact in my opinion.

2. What did you think people were most surprised about, or found most interesting in your presentation, or about ed-tech in general?

I think people were just most surprised to see the mLevel Platform in action. The ability to create a game on any learning subject that could then be delivered to any mobile device without the need for code was powerful, especially for teachers who are already stretched for time. They also loved the analytic suite as they have never before been able to easily assess what a student does and does not know about a topic. They liked that they didn’t have to dig for that information manually, it was bubbled up and easily accessible.

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Amanda Glandon with digedu

1. What do you think is the biggest impact tech has made on education so far?

We all know technology has been advancing teachers’ abilities and students’ engagement. But the potential for an even greater impact lies in technology’s ability to unite a community around improving education. It’s may not be the norm yet, but soon, teachers will be regularly using technology to collaborate on lessons, students will be logging in to complete their classwork, parents will have access to exactly what their students are learning, and administrators will have visibility into the strengths and weaknesses of their teams. EdTech can bring together each of these areas with the common goal of improving student learning.

2. What did you think people were most surprised about, or found most interesting in your presentation, or about ed-tech in general?

I think people are surprised at how much digedu can do! Students can receive lessons tailored to their needs anywhere they go, teachers can create, curate, and control exactly what their students are accessing and drive their mastery — and it can all be a lot more fun than reading a textbook chapter or completing a worksheet!

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Ryan Hoch with Overgrad

1. What do you think is the biggest impact tech has made on education so far?

This is generic, but true: its ability to connect any individual to the world’s information. I remember my first year teaching thinking “how the hell am I going to do this.” I then found out about Teach For America’s resource exchange where I could find entire lessons on exactly what I was teaching. While I still had a lot to learn about to deliver the content, at least I had the content. Whether it’s MOOCs, Google, Wikipedia, TFA’s Doc Exchange, or whatever, tech connects people with the best information the world has to offer. That is so awesome.

2. What did you think people were most surprised about, or found most interesting in your presentation, or about ed-tech in general?

People thought it was incredible that we had bootstrapped Overgrad to serving 20,000 students in under a year with only two people. Having to grind it out day-to-day, I never stopped to think about what we have accomplished. It was humbling to receive that recognition, but there’s still a long way to go.

Since we received such positive feedback on this event, we are planning a follow up “tech talk” in October to hear from 5 local Chicago startups on the changing ed tech space for K-12. We hope to see you there!

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A big thanks to our sponsors, Jobspring Partners & Workbridge Associates. We hope to see you at Tech in Motion Chicago’s next event and make sure to join our official meetup group!

Is Pac-Man a Museum Piece? You Bet!

When video games finally win widespread recognition as a major art form, some of the credit will surely go to Chris Melissinos. Chris, a guest speaker at Philadelphia’s Gaming Expo, is the man who created the largest-ever exhibition on “The Art of Video Games” for the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

“Video games are a medium that incorporate all forms of art: illustration, sculpture, music, narrative, character, culture, everything,” said Melissinos, a Queens native whose exhibition drew near-record crowds in Washington before starting a nationwide tour that just landed at The Hudson River Museum in Yonkers. (Feb 15-May 18)

As Verizon’s Director of Corporate Strategy for Media and Entertainment, Chris tracks new technology, picks the coolest stuff and develops the plans for bringing it to Verizon’s customers.

“Given my experience with and passion for video games, you can bet they will examining their role in Verizon’s future media strategy,” said Melissinos, who began programming at 9 and completed his first game when he was 12. “Verizon provides an amazing set of platforms, from mobile to cloud, upon which video games can be delivered and enjoyed.”

Such efforts to shape gaming’s future come just as many Americans are enjoying the efforts Chris made to chronicle its past.

He first got the idea for a gaming retrospective 9 years ago. He and a friend came across a treasure trove of gaming memorabilia, systems, accessories and more than 6,000 games. Chris remembers marveling for several hours at his friend’s time capsule, and then the idea struck him.

“These,” he thought, like Indiana Jones before him, “belong in a museum.”

It took Chris 7 years to make his idea a reality, but the reception vindicated the effort. The Art of Video Games drew 680,000 visitors in its 6 months at the American Art Museum, second in the museum’s history.

The family-friendly exhibition features 20 gaming systems spanning 40 years, each equipped to demonstrate 4 artistically important games. Visitors can also play five of the pivotal titles in game history: Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, The Secret of Monkey Island, Myst, and Flower.

“Video games, at their core, are about connection,” Chris explained, “connecting players to the artist and other players. Verizon, at its core, is also about connection, connecting customers to the people and things who matter most to them.”

RSVP to see Chris speak at Tech in Motion’s Gaming Expo in Philadelphia on October, 16th, along with some awesome demos from ten Philadelphia-area gaming studies and video-game inspired anthems from Dj CUTMAN.

This post was adapted from the original article “Pac-Man a Museum Piece?” at Verizon.com. Read the full story at Verizon.com.

Smarthome Connectivity Needs to be Simple

Written by Dan Cregg, CTO, INSTEON

If you’ve been paying attention to all the news of late, the smarthome industry appears to be heading for mainstream adoption with all the major technology players placing their bets on the space.

What’s missing in all this, unfortunately, is a focus on simplicity.  What has driven smartphone adoption by average consumers over the past several years is simple, intuitive interfaces with easy connectivity.  But in the smarthome space, every technology provider and device manufacturer is selecting their own favorite network protocols to connect devices in the home – and almost all of them use radio frequency (RF) communications exclusively.

If the industry wants a chance to succeed in the consumer mass-market, these networks better all work seamlessly together, not cause any headaches and be relatively inexpensive.

That hasn’t been the case with networks in the home historically.  From dial-up to broadband to Wi-Fi, network connectivity has often started out as too complex, not very dependable and pricey.

But turning on lights or turning down thermostats remotely doesn’t require the network bandwidth that our Internet-enabled computers do.  Network protocols with low data rates are better for suited for the simple command and control functions of connected home devices.   In addition, a network using lower data rates can transmit over both RF and the home’s existing electrical wiring or powerline, making it highly cost-effective and far more reliable than either transmission alone.

Check out our white paper that compares the pros and cons of the many network protocols on the market.  We believe the best home automation solution for consumers will feature home automation devices that use a combination of the best network technologies for specific purposes, much like our phones use a variety of connectivity solutions such as GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, cellular, etc.

Connected homes are the world the consumer wants to have and it’s up to all the device manufacturers, technology giants and network protocol companies to work together to make sure it happens.

A big thank you to Dan for speaking at Tech in Motion Orange County.

About Dan Cregg  

Dan Cregg, CTO of INSTEON, has been in the smart home space for over 20 years. He began his tenure at INSTEON as the director of engineering and product development. Cregg was part of the team that gave the world the first network-controlled bulb in 2012. His contributions have made INSTEON’s dual-mesh technology one of the most widely used and reliable protocols available. Before contributing to the advancement of INSTEON technology, Cregg founded HomeRun Automation and SmartLinc, which were purchased by INSTEON’s corporate entity, SmartLabs, in 2000. Cregg holds a master’s degree in engineering from California State University, Long Beach and is an adjunct professor as well as a member of the engineering school’s executive advisory council.