WindyCityThings WindyCityThings

Icon of calendar June 23-24, 2016
Icon of map pin Chicago, IL USA

Conference Schedule

WindyCityThings will take place over two days. Full conference ticket holders will have access to all sessions, along with continental breakfast and lunch on each day.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Coffee and Networking

Photo of Zach Kaplan

This Isn't Your Fathers Manufacturing - Software Has Taken Over

Zach Kaplan, Inventables

We’re at the very beginning of a digital manufacturing revolution. In computer terms the Apple IIe has just come out and we believe this time it’s called Carvey. However, this time a number of things are different. The internet and specifically YouTube have dramatically decreased how long it takes to learn new things. In the first revolution people went to the YMCA to take a class on computers. Today you go on YouTube and there are thousands of videos.

Digital manufacturing is finding success because inventory is no longer required, products are made on demand and website like ETSY, Shopify, and Kickstarter make it possible for small teams to sell consumer products.

The last century in manufacturing was all about the assembly line. This century is all about digital. The most significant changes in the next 10 years will be in software. It’s the tight integration of hardware and software where magic happens.

About Zach Kaplan

Zach Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Inventables, the leader in 3D carving. A maker his whole life, he is on a mission to ignite digital manufacturing world wide and provide everyone with ambition a way to get started. Inventables flagship products Easel, Carvey, and X-Carve are used by a new wave of makers carving everything from circuit boards to skate boards. Named a “modern Leonardo” by the Museum of Science and Industry and a 40 under 40 by Crain’s Chicago Business, his dream is create a world with 2 million digital manufacturers that have raving fans, not just customers.

Photo of Lorena Mesa

IoT Help? A Tool Belt for the Beginner

Lorena Mesa, Sprout Social

IoT, the internet of things, what does that actually mean? IoT should be accessible for all and this talk will help you enter the busy, exciting world of IoT in 30 minutes!

In this talk we will discuss what IoT is from the perspective of a beginner. What about making an IoT beginner project? Look no further, we’ll make one together! Using a Raspberry Pi, a USB wi-fi dongle, a battery, and a motion sensor we’ll walk through making a people counter IoT project. We’ll also review a basic project setup as well as discuss some tools to have handy to help you in building your first IoT project! IoT should be accessible for all and this talk will help you enter the busy, exciting world of IoT in 30 minutes!

About Lorena Mesa

Political analyst turned coder, Lorena Mesa is a Sprout Social platform software engineer, PyLadies Chicago co-organizer, and Write/Speak/Code conference organizer. Lorena loves to make meaning out of data, asking big questions and using her code to build models to derive that meaning. Part Star Wars fanatic but mostly a Trekkie, Lorena abides by the motto to “live long and prosper”.

Photo of Brendan Hennessy

Intro to Circuits for the Web Developer

Brendan Hennessy, LaunchPad Lab

IoT is the fusion of the hardware world and web development. There are so many great starter kits available that give you tools to build a prototype with a micro-controller (Arduino, Particle Photon, etc.). However, you still need a fundamental understanding of circuitry and how to pick your components and integrated circuits to get your job done. We’ll use a simple challenge - controlling a light remotely - to learn the fundamentals.

We’ll dive into the key knowledge you’ll need to build a prototype of your connected device. What is voltage, current, and power? How do I not fry my micro-controller? How do I size my components correctly? Also, we’ll discuss important tools - breadboards, digital multi-meters - that are crucial to troubleshooting and debugging as you build out a circuit. Finally, we’ll discuss how to interface with your prototype via the internet and highlight the cool things you can start building on top of it.

About Brendan Hennessy

Brendan Hennessy is the Co-Founder and CTO of a Chicago web development firm called LaunchPad Lab. With a product-focused approach to development, the team uses inventive and creative ways to solve real problems. IoT is a focus area for the team in building a complete system to interface with connected devices and visualize data on the web.

Brendan’s degree in Electrical Engineering provides for a natural interest in IoT - the fusion of hardware and the web. As a member of the ITA IoT Council he’s excited for the potential to transform Chicago into a hub for IoT product development.

Photo of Kevin Hoyt

IoT All The Things (An Audit)

Kevin Hoyt, IBM

There are no shortage of IoT platforms to launch your next product, but which one is the right one for you? In this session join IBM Developer Advocate, Kevin Hoyt, on an audit of some of the more popular chipsets on the market. This will include overviews of Electric Imp, Photon Particle and Photon Electron, Tessel 2 from Technical Machines, and Intel Edison. Explore GPIO options, wireless pairing, development tooling, physical size and technical specifications (processor, battery, etc), set against a backdrop of real-time data delivery.

About Kevin Hoyt

Kevin Hoyt is a Developer Advocate at IBM on the Emerging Technology team. He focuses on cloud services, the Internet of Things, and cognitive applications. In nearly a decade of promoting IoT, Kevin has presented hands-on workshops and sessions to professionals and STEAM programs around the world. Based in Denver, CO, Kevin enjoys desktop fabrication (CNC, 3D printing, laser cutting), and general aviation in his free time.



Photo of Eric Hankinson

MQTT Security & ACL In-Depth for Mosquitto

Eric Hankinson, LeanDog, Inc.

When you have many devices, users, and communication protocols, how do you secure them all in your IoT infrastructure? What does troubleshooting this infrastructure look like? How do you control topic mapping & broker bridging? We will go into an in-depth explanation of a holistic authentication and fine-grained ACL solution using Mosquitto, Django, REST, SSL/TLS, WebSockets, and your own Certificate Authority, to secure Embedded Linux devices with their cloud and mobile counterparts.

About Eric Hankinson

Eric Hankinson is a software developer and embedded systems engineer at LeanDog in Cleveland, OH. As a child he built & dismantled random things, and tinkered with electronics in his spare time. Today he writes software for the web and embedded devices, builds gadgets, participates in the Maker movement, spends time with his family, and shares his talents through talks and workshops. Eric is passionate about craftsmanship, continuous learning, and bringing others along for the ride.

Photo of John Hennessy

Secrets to Building a Successful IoT Business

John Hennessy, Chief Revenue Officer, Kantar Retail Virtual Reality

There is nothing more frustrating than an innovative IoT product or service that isn’t earning the revenue it deserves. It’s not only frustrating, it’s inefficient. But you can avoid the frustration by learning from others who have succeeded.

John and his team built a successful global wireless monitoring system that uses IoT to improve food safety and ROI. This presentation will cover the surprises and critical success factors, from concept through funding, that made this IoT project successful. Bring your questions and inquisitive minds to understand, learn, and participate in this lively discussion.

About John Hennessy

John Henessy is Chief Revenue Officer at Kantar Retail Virtual Reality. Through a unique VR system, Kantar gives brands and their retail partners the power to share, change, evaluate, and implement changes to product packaging, shelf sets, signage, store layouts, and product displays, as quickly and easily as they model, modify and implement data using spreadsheets.

Made possible through the Kantar Retail VR, Virtual Reality Performance Suite.

Photo of Rajesh Sankaran

The Array of Things

Rajesh Sankaran, Argonne National Laboratory

The Array of Things (AoT) is an urban sensing project, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that will be installed around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. AoT will provide real-time, location-based data about the city’s environment, infrastructure and activity to researchers and the public. This initiative has the potential to allow researchers, policymakers, developers and residents to work together and take specific actions that will make Chicago and other cities healthier, more efficient and more livable. Learn more about AoT from Rajesh Sankaran, who co-leads the AoT instrument R&D along with Pete Beckman and Charlie Catlett.

About Rajesh Sankaran

Rajesh Sankaran is an Assistant Scientist in the Mathematics and Computer Science division of Argonne National Laboratory, and he co-leads R&D on the Waggle Platform. He plays lead technical roles in Array of Things, WxSeNet and Smart Windows research initiatives, and he is associated with COOLR and EcoSpec projects. Rajesh’s interests include research topics related to Attentive Sensing, Embedded Computing Systems, Sensor Driven Computation and Computationally Steered Sensing. His research at Argonne has involved close collaborations with Environmental, Urban, High-Performance Computing and Weather/Climate researchers.

Photo of PJ Hagerty

From Turing to Big Data: A Look at Computing and Analytics

PJ Hagerty, IBM Bluemix

A look at where computing and analytics began and where it is headed. The basis of all DevOps and development starts with our measurements. We need to understand what role analytics and metrics plays in modern computing. To find out, we look at where analytics began in the advent of computer science and where we stand today, with an eye toward the future.

About PJ Hagerty

PJ Hagerty is a developer, writer, speaker, musician, and Technical Advocate at IBM Bluemix. PJ is known to travel the world speaking about programming and the way people think and interact. He is also known for wearing hats.

Photo of Pat McGuire
Photo of Nick Rohrbeck

Unlocking the Power of the Most Important Piece of the Internet of Things

Pat McGuire, Solstice

Nick Rohrbeck, Solstice

M2M and the IoT have been around for quite some time and now the hype and the opportunity is bigger than ever. With that hype comes a lot of noise that is centered around the technology and complexity of an implementation. This has led to most connected solutions missing the most important piece…The user! As you look to implement an IoT solution, it is critical to keep the customer at the center and put the user experience first. We’ll break down the components of a great experience and discuss helpful tools and processes that can be used to uncover and shape your IoT solution, allowing you to reach customers with new touch points and increase customer lifetime value.

About Pat McGuire

Pat McGuire is a Connected Product Consultant at Solstice Mobile. Pat strives to help clients create and deliver the most intuitive experiences possible for their customers. With a background in software consulting, he joined Solstice for the opportunity to work with today’s most exciting emerging technology and has helped to deliver a broad range of projects with varying styles of connectivity. Although Pat is focused on delivery in his role at Solstice, at home he is a technology geek that enjoys learning to code and tinkering with DIY connected projects.

About Nick Rohrbeck

Nick is a Senior Connected Product Consultant at Solstice. In his time at Solstice, Nick has helped in the creation and execution of a number of projects with customer experience always remaining the number one priority. In the area of connected products, Nick has helped deliver award winning applications for a number clients. When he’s not at Solstice or traveling, Nick enjoys staying updated on how the latest connected product could affect his everyday life, specifically taking a few strokes off his golf game.

Photo of Rashad Glover

IoT and Youth: Securing our Future

Rashad Glover, BLUE1647

Ken Watkins, BLUE1647

BLUE1647 is a co-working space for software developers, hardware engineers, entrepreneurs, artists, and makers of all kinds. Members have access to 3D printers, CNC machines, and (most importantly) the BLUE1647 network of entrepreneurs. In this presentation, two members of the BLUE1647 leadership team will share their experiences with building IoT devices, teaching IoT classes (to youth and adults), and bringing IoT to the public at large.

About Rashad Glover

Rashad Glover manages the manufacturing engineering lab at BLUE1647. In that role, he mentors adults and youth as they transform their ideas into real products. Rashad lives and breathes the Internet of Things, bouncing between embedded software, 3D printing, CNC machines, and circuit design all in the course of a typical day. He earned dual bachelors degrees in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering from Central State University and a masters degree in Business Administration and Management from Antioch University Midwest.

About Ken Watkins

Ken Watkins is Chief Strategy Officer of BLUE1647. He is a mobile and web developer, speaker and instructor from Chicago. Ken has worked with various sized organizations from startups to corporations. At BLUE1647, Ken teaches and mentors high school and university students who are building applications and developing hardware products.


Networking Reception

Silversmith Hotel, 10 South Wabash (at Madison Street)

Friday, June 24, 2016


Coffee and Networking

Photo of Paul Hatch

UX and the ID-IOT

Paul Hatch, TEAMS Design

We are witnessing the start of the third wave of the Internet revolution – after we connected documents, we connected people and now the things get to play together too! But it’s early days yet and we’re seeing the awkward first steps of a baby learning to walk (and fall).

Just as when the first home computers were being built in a garage, many startups are focused on the technical functionality of their IoT products and are not concerned about the user experience or look & feel.

The future belongs to the company that can create that “1984 Macintosh moment”, where suddenly the product connects with the user at an intrinsically emotional level and establishes its place in IoT history. But how do we do that?

Paul Hatch will explain how the UX process can help in the design of physical interactions, bridging the gap between traditional industrial design and IoT or… ID-IoT.

About Paul Hatch

Paul Hatch is CEO of TEAMS Design, a global UX and Industrial Design company that designs for Bosch, Siemens, Honeywell, Bissell, Mr Coffee and Stryker and has received more than 1,000 design awards.

Hatch is co-author of two books and has spoken at conferences and trade shows in four countries.

In 2014 Hatch co-founded the non-profit Design House to help revitalize local manufacturing. He’s also known for founding an extreme debate event called Fight Club, which the New York Times called “A Designer Slugfest.”

Photo of Adam Justice

A House Divided

Adam Justice, Grid Connect

There is a significant barrier to the Internet of Things. Products are split by competing standards, creating problems for the interoperability of devices in the home. The question is, who will come out on top? HomeKit, Brillo/Weave, Amazon Alexa and OCF all are promising. Manufacturers are dependent upon these standards as stages for the interoperability of their products.

This session will evaluate how the consolidation of standards will affect the market for connected devices and what is needed to drive the industry forward. We will review the role of manufacturers and consumers in developing our own future as it relates to connected technology.

About Adam Justice

Adam Justice is vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, a manufacturer and distributor of networking products and wireless sensors. He is responsible for developing the vision for the ConnectSense product line, a family of HomeKit-enabled wireless sensors.

Adam is an expert on the Internet of Things and has spoken on the topic at conferences including Dreamforce, TechWeek and Sensors Expo.

Adam started his career at Accenture where he was a consultant working on systems and IT projects for a number of Fortune 500 companies throughout the country. Adam left Accenture in 2009 to join Grid Connect.

Photo of Glynn Bird

Offline-First IoT

Glynn Bird, IBM

IoT systems are often architected using MQTT with data streamed live to a cloud-based broker. This talk will introduce an offline-first approach where data is written locally and synced to the cloud when convenient.

About Glynn Bird

Glynn Bird has worked in the steel industry creating sensors and control & instrumentation systems in research and development. Later, he was a web developer creating search and automation systems. He is currently a Developer Advocate for IBM.

Photo of Nick Barendt

Practical Security with MQTT and Mosquitto

Nick Barendt, LeanDog Software

How do you connect your fancy new IoT device to the cloud, and secure the connection? We will walk through the essentials of securing MQTT systems, focusing on the Open Source Mosquitto Broker. From simple username/password authentication to more advanced SSL/TLS security and authentication, securing Websockets, and basic ACL mechanisms, we will cover the configuration and usage to keep the black hats out.

About Nick Barendt

Nick is a wayward electrical engineer, having spent his career in software. Combining expertise in both real-time, embedded systems and scalable cloud computing, he is a jack of all trades (perhaps a master of none). His interest in continuous learning and passion for startups led him to LeanDog Software, where he leads the Studio at LeanDog, a Product Design and Delivery practice. He is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.




Lightning Talks

Lightning talks are quick, five-minute talks given by your fellow attendees.

Photo of Bob Kressin

On-Boarding Both Simple and Complex Sensors to the Cloud

Bob Kressin, KS Technologies

One of the second order effects of the introduction of great mobile devices in 2007 was the introduction of inexpensive but incredibly accurate sensor technology. Years later, we are now able to integrate these sensors into everything imaginable, and emerging IoT infrastructure is allowing us to on-board these sensors to the Cloud.

In this talk, we’ll examine all of the technology layers that make up a simple sensor (in this case, a beacon) and how to rapidly prototype a system-level approach. We’ll then scale that to a very complex sensor (in this case, a test-and-measurement device) and compare the similarities, the differences, and the many details that must be considered in the system. Be prepared for a combination of low-level hardware considerations coupled with high-level architecture possibilities.

About Bob Kressin

Bob Kressin is President of KS Technologies, a product and engineering services company specializing in mobile hardware, app, and Cloud-based engineering solutions. Before starting KST, Bob was an R&D Engineer, working as a Mixed-Signal IC Designer for Hewlett-Packard designing oscilloscopes. In the past few years, Bob has worked to bring beacon and mobile sensing devices to market, forging technical relationships with Texas Instruments, Dell, Intel, and Google. Bob earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and his MS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Photo of Christopher Coté

Rosetta Home: The Key to Deciphering Your Environment

Christopher Coté, CRTLabs

Initially created as a research and development platform, Rosetta Home is developed by CRTLabs, a division of the National Association of Realtors. The system was designed to interact with the multitude of consumer products entering the smart home market. From energy management to security devices, Rosetta Home gives a universal interface for interacting with your devices and understanding the data produced by them.

CRTLabs is a fully-functional laboratory in the National Association of REALTORS’ headquarters at 430 North Michigan Avenue. The lab studies the internet of things, smart home and renewable energy technology as well as other emerging technology areas in order to understand the impact on our industry.

About Christopher Coté

Christopher Coté is the Lead Engineer at CRTLabs, a division of the National Association of Realtors. He has over 15 years of experience in professional software development and 5 years of hardware development experience. He is passionate about sustainability and efficiency in architecture and the built world in general.

Photo of Charles Korn

Test-Driven Development in an IoT World

Charles Korn, ThoughtWorks

Test-driven development is widely used in a variety of software engineering contexts, but applying it to embedded software poses some unique challenges. How do we overcome them and reach TDD nirvana?

In this talk, the presenter will give an overview of some tools and techniques you can use to apply TDD to your IoT device development, based on his own experiences…

  • A brief introduction to TDD for those who haven’t seen it before.
  • Extending the red-green-refactor cycle from ‘traditional’ TDD to combine both fast, iterative development on your computer and the reassurance of being able to run your tests on your target hardware.
  • Tips and tricks for testing hardware interactions.
  • How to make TDD work with C and C++ if you’re from a non-embedded development background.

About Charles Korn

Charles Korn is a developer at ThoughtWorks. He enjoys working with mobile devices and hardware to create cool experiences for users - he’s made iPad-controlled robot arms, Kinect-powered mouse pointers and a personalised weight-loss app that learns about you over time.

Photo of Richard Cross

Using the Automotive Cloud to Improve Safety

Richard Cross, HERE

Cars are now shipping with sensors and internet connectivity. At HERE, we are building cloud services designed to gather data and distribute it to improve safety. Learn how the Internet of Cars will make driving safer both for human drivers and self-driving cars. The development of a Digital Transportation Infrastructure promises that more drivers will be able to drive more efficiently and comfortably in the future. Since this system needs to be rapidly scalable, I will discuss features of the cloud and the DevOps toolkit that make delivery of Automotive Cloud Services a reality today.

About Richard Cross

Richard Cross is a DevOps Engineer for HERE’s Automotive Cloud group. He studied High Energy Physics at UW Madison where he was deeply involved in large scale computing projects and the web. After completing his Ph.D. in 2001, he worked at Bank of America on their corporate online banking website and several private cloud infrastructure projects. He joined HERE in 2014 shortly after completing his M.B.A. at the U. of C. Booth School of Business. His focus is in cloud infrastructure with the goal of designing and deploying systems which will securely provide safety data simultaneously to 10,000,000 cars.