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Onstream’s vision for the Internet of Things

Sally Roberts
sroberts@nnbw.biz
Onstream’s Bob Christensen, left, vice president of business development, and Craig Macy, chief executive officer, show Pong-Zillai, a demonstration system that's headed to the IoT Evolution Expo in Las Vegas Aug. 17. Onstream's intelligence framework uses data from a paddle to tell the ping-pong throwing robot how hard to make the game.
Annie Conway/NNBW |

A Reno start up is set to make the world a more intelligent place.

Onstream, which creates intelligent frameworks for devices produced by others, began pitching its product at the beginning of the year from its base at The CUBE at Midtown.

While smart devices can tell you what’s going on, intelligent devices use interconnected systems to make changes.

“What it means to start building intelligence into mundane things, is you start out with something that’s sort of connectivity- and monitoring- based, which is what most things are focused on,” said Craig Macy, Onstream’s chief executive officer. “We want to do more than that. We want a smart device, not a smart worker (that pushes buttons to make changes).

“I seldom run into something going to market that doesn’t have an intelligence aspect.”Craig MacyOnstream CEO

“The next leap for this notion of smart devices is that we stop noticing what they are doing. Instead of putting something in your face that you have to make a decision about, it just starts improving things without you noticing.”

Recently Traynor Family Enterprise gave its stamp of approval to Onstream. The Nevada-based holding company, which backs a variety of technology and industrial ventures, committed $2 million in debt-based funding to Onstream.

Later this month, the Onstream team will publicly present itself at the IoT (Internet of Things) Evolution Expo in Las Vegas with help from its demonstration system Pong-Zillai.

Pong-Zillai incorporates a ping-pong-ball launching robot — already on the market by another company — and boosts its IQ by gathering data from a smart paddle that it uses to instruct the robot how to serve the balls.

“If you’re doing well, it becomes very obnoxious. If you’re not doing well, it becomes very easy,” Macy said.

The Onstream system also sends data to a cloud that, in turn, controls a scoreboard displayed on a video screen.

Pong-Zillai is not a real product for market, but a systems demonstration.

A real-life Onstream system is helping a Nevada mine operate with more precision. Cirrus Systems, a mining solutions provider that is part of the Traynor holdings, uses Onstream as the intelligence backbone for its traffic control and monitoring system that prioritizes, automates and monitors mining traffic. The result is increased efficiency and safety, while reducing vehicle wear.

To build intelligence, “you need to make traffic lights smart,” Macy said.

Until Onstream, that meant building the system from scratch,he said. Onstream takes the existing traffic controls and creates a system to receive data, analyze it and then send out commands to change behavior, such as turning a light green or red.

“We handle all that stuff in the middle,” Macy said.

Onstream is also developing applications for fitness and wine companies to improve their operations.

That’s just the beginning.

“I seldom run into something going to market that doesn’t have an intelligence aspect,” he said.

Macy explained that a company producing a tech device could turn it into an intelligent device without starting over by employing an Onstream system.

“We don’t sell to consumers,” he said. “We sell to someone who’s building something.”

With Reno becoming more of technology haven, Onstream is just where it needs to be.

He sees the area as a satellite to Silicon Valley, which is where he moved from in 2005. Far from squelching the trend, the Great Recession “gave the town a great deal of time to look intelligently at how it wants to reinvent itself,” he said. “Look around and I know we’re definitely headed in the right direction.…

“A lot’s going to happen in the next five years and I want to be a part of that.”

The same is true for Onstream, which will be moving out of the CUBE incubator into a new space in September at 1387 Haskell St. That is also expected to lead to new hiring, especially technical staff and sales/marketing/“evangelist” positions to help Onstream continue to grow.

“This will be an exciting year,” Macy said.