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UW-Madison IoT Lab Produces Bicycle Early Warning System, Other Innovations

February 12, 2016 By Steve Senne in

Machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT) are spurring investments and research programs at U.S. universities, as well as throughout the commercial ICT industry value chain. The University of Wisconsin’s IoT Lab, for example, is expanding as a result.

Students participating in UW-Madison’s IoT Lab, such as Will Caldwell and Katie Miller, are engaged in a wide range of projects. Their IoT Lab project makes use of harmless laser lights and wireless sensor communications to enhance safety for bicyclists.

Dubbed ¨Safe Cycle,¨ the prototype of the bicycle ¨early warning system¨ alerts cyclists to the approach of vehicles, even if they’re approaching from directly behind, by causing the bike’s handlebars to vibrate just enough to be noticeable. 

UW-Madison IoT Lab

The flagship Wisconsin state university’s IoT Lab has evolved from a ¨sandbox¨ for innovative ideas to an incubator for IoT-driven devices, equipment and applications that have the potential to be commercialized, a UW Engineering Department news reports highlights.

In addition, some 35 companies involved in the fast emerging IoT market space have confirmed their interest in joining UW-Madison’s IoT Lab. American Family Insurance, A.O. Smith Corp., Andersen Corp. and Rockwell Automation have already joined.

Corporate IoT Lab members pay annual contribution fees to take part in group projects, learning events and other activities, according to the Engineering Department’s news report. So-called corporate ¨core partners¨ contribute more, which allows them to help set the IoT lab’s strategic research agenda and use it as a resource to develop, test and prove innovative ideas and concepts.

“I am pleased with how the lab has grown from a technology sandbox into a growing community of students, faculty and industry-leading companies… We focus on helping manufacturers be more successful,” explained Joe Kann, Rockwell’s vice president of global business development, during a recent IoT Open House. “And we know that there is research that needs to be done in applying IoT to manufacturing. We need a whole new crop of talent to apply that. We recruit from all the research universities and we get more people from UW–Madison than any other school. It’s a very important campus to us, and we want to have a deep relationship.”

h uses the term ¨Internet of Everything¨ to capture the profound ramifications of the IoT movement, is among those looking to join. “It’s people, process, things and what you do with the data so you are providing the right information to the right people. Cisco wants to be right in the middle of that,” Cisco’s IoT product specialist Elizabeth Echele added.

Early skepticism revolving around IoT has vanished, according to Bradley. “We have a diverse group of companies that share the same questions around IoT,” he said, “and we will provide the tools and resources to give them a competitive edge… The Internet of Things is not just a fad. We hear from students and industry that we are focusing on the right things.”