14 top IoT conferences to attend in 2018

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The Internet of Things marketplace is moving fast, with remarkable innovations becoming business as usual. To keep up, you may want to consider one of this year's IoT conferences. Not sure where to put your conference dollars? Here’s a comprehensive guide to the best IoT events in 2018.

Staying on top of technology trends within the sphere of the Internet of Things (IoT) is an ongoing challenge, given the industry’s rapid-fire changes and how those changes affect other areas of IT. Topping the list this year in hot IoT topics are high-performance computing, edge computing, advanced analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, smart homes, and smart cities.

The best technology conferences both teach the tools, processes, and tactics in use today and explore emerging IoT-related technologies. However, not all conferences are created equal. Some fall flat in content, and others are geared to specific use cases such as consumer IoT, smart cities, or health tech.

Yet, IoT is still in its formative years, as are several related technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. That makes it difficult for a general IoT conference to stay narrow enough to be helpful and yet broad enough to hit all the bases.

We’re here to help you sort through which 2018 IoT conferences are worth your time and money. They are handily categorized as must attend, worth attending, or worthy mentions, although your individual mileage may differ. Each section is presented in chronological order. If a conference is aimed at a specific audience or industry vertical, it is noted in the description.

Must attend

Conferences in this category are selected according to how well they address the top IoT trends for this year. The rankings also take into consideration factors such as speaker quality and the topics of talks. IoT is relatively new, but when conferences have a history of more than a few years, comments from attendees in previous years and attendance growth are noted.

IoT Evolution Expo

Twitter: @IoTEvolution

Web: http://www.iotevolutionexpo.com/east/

Date: January 22-25, 2018

Location: Orlando, FL

Cost: $3,595. If you just want to attend the IoT Workshops, that’s $775 (plus $100 if you wait to buy any pass on site). Free for exhibit hall.

This event centers on enterprise operations, the view of IoT through IT eyes. In other words, this conference is less about robots and more about using IoT to improve efficiencies, drive revenue opportunities, and solve business problems.

But IoT Evolution is not solely about IT’s struggles with IoT-related bandwidth, gateway architectures, remote monitoring, asset management, deployment rollouts, and interoperability. A business integration and analytics track and a security track address additional business issues, and plenty more.

To enable crossover opportunities, the IoT event is collocated with the Smart Cities Conference, which appeals to business types in manufacturing and city management who need to know how to connect the buzz of IoT to productivity and efficiency.

Reason to attend: If you’re in IT and interested in figuring out how to monitor, manage, and exploit IoT to improve productivity and efficiencies, this is your jam. You’ll also learn how to manage IoT in the field, on the factory floor, or anywhere remotely.  

IEEE 4th World Forum on Internet of Things

Twitter: @ComSoc

Web: http://wfiot2018.iot.ieee.org

Date: February 5-8, 2018

Location: Singapore

Cost: $1,000; $900 for IEEE members

The World Forum on the Internet of Things is the premier conference for the IEEE IoT Initiative, with the theme of “Smart Cities and Smart Nations.” Singapore was chosen as the conference location because it's known for its advanced technology.

The conference focus is on creating better lives and sustainable stewardship of the planet. It’s about using imagination to foster innovation in smart cities and nations to improve every human life.

If you’re thinking this is a feel good, new age, tree hugger convention, think again. This is hard science in action, sharing bleeding-edge technologies and concepts with a highly technical audience. It’s just that organizers and participants think IoT technologies can and should be used for good, rather than just for profit.

Presentations are given about IoT research done and reported by some of the most august researchers on the planet. A broad program of peer-reviewed papers and presentations attracts some of the brightest minds who are purposefully set on proactively reshaping the human experience.

Five vertical sessions target practical applications: smart cities and nations; public safety, emergency response, and humanitarian technologies; logistics; Industrial IoT; and IoT for agriculture. The topical area sessions include security and privacy; policy and regulation; best practices, standards, and open source; blockchains and apps; and automation and artificial intelligence.

Reason to attend: If you want to learn how IoT in smart cities can be used to improve human lives, this is the conference you most want to attend.

Industry of Things World USA

Twitter: @IoTClan

Web: http://industryofthingsworldusa.com

Date: March 7-9, 2018

Location: San Diego, CA

Cost: Ranges from $2,695 to $3,495. Team discounts are available.

The Industry of Things World event, in its third year, serves an audience of executives concerned more with the business end of Industrial IoT, rather than the technical aspects. The three-day conference focuses on how industrial IoT affects business models and production processes in several major industries.

The focus this year is on automation, M2M communication, interoperability, analytics, and new business models. And, of course, all of those topics are viewed through the lens of risks vs. rewards.

Reason to attend: If you’re an executive looking to determine the business sense in industrial IoT, remake your business models, capture rewards, mitigate risks, and learn and network with peers wrangling with these same concerns, this is the conference for you.

Linux Foundation OpenIoT Summit

Twitter: @linuxfoundation

Web: https://events.linuxfoundation.org/events/elc-openiot-north-america-2018/

Date: March 12-14, 2018

Location: Portland, OR

Cost: $850, with early-bird discounts. Academics (students and faculty) and hobbyists (individuals) get in for $200.

Open source has gained so much momentum in recent years that it’s taking application development by storm. To no one’s surprise, open source owns the majority of the IoT software development space. Now the only thing left to do is figure out which of the many open source IoT projects you want to learn, support, or adopt.

This conference is highly technical, aimed at firmware and software developers as well as architects working on Industrial IoT projects.

The Embedded Linux Conference is combined with OpenIoT Summit and is an awesome technical conference for developers and companies using Linux in embedded products, which is just about everyone these days. True to its open roots, the conference is vendor-neutral. You’ll learn from experts on all aspects of embedded Linux, from hardware to user space development.

This is a “where the rubber hits the road” event where you can not only learn from experts in leading companies and open source projects, but also network for job opportunities or recruit new talent.

Reason to attend: Whatever you’re looking for in open source IoT skills and projects, this is the primo place to hunt for it.

Internet of Things World

Twitter: @IoTWorldSeries

Web: https://tmt.knect365.com/iot-world/sponsorship-information

Date: May 14-17, 2018

Location: Santa Clara, CA

Cost: $2,295, with group rates and early registration discounts. $795 for the Developers Conference.

This year, the Internet of Things World conference is focusing on IoT in industry verticals, with a mission to provide actionable information rather than a sweeping overview. In 2018, there is an emphasis on growing partner ecosystems and where specific puzzle pieces fit in behemoth vertical markets such as Industrial IoT and artificial intelligence.

Expect Startup City to be bigger, with more than 100 startups featured. The Hackathon is back this year. Conference organizers added more case study sessions, a two-track Developers Conference, and additional tracks to beef up the technical education on utilities and energy, and smart buildings and construction. Experience Zones offer hands-on encounters for techies and business types. There are more parties and other social events this year too, increasing networking opportunities.

In short, the 2018 conference is aimed at providing attendees with more actionable information and skills they can carry home. The change in focus comes in response to feedback from critics, who last year complained of too much buzz and glitz and too little of the nuts and bolts in making an entire IoT system pay off.

Reason to attend: If you’re looking to learn which players might make a good fit for your ecosystem, or which ecosystem your company should join, this is a great place to get the lay of the land. If you have a specific business problem to solve, this is a great venue for finding the answers or the talent you need.

IoT Tech Expo North America

Twitter: @iottechexpo

Web: https://www.iottechexpo.com/northamerica/

Date: Nov 28-29, 2018

Location: Santa Clara, CA

Cost: $1,500 for the “ultimate” pass. Expo pass is free.

This is a two-day event offering top-level discussions among major players across manufacturing, transportation, health, logistics, government, energy, automotive, and several other industries.

The conference is meant for a broad appeal. Tracks serve IT decision-makers, developers and makers, OEMs, government and council officials, automotive executives, operators, technology providers, investors, and venture capitalists. Because it covers so much ground, attendees get a strong overview of where IoT stands now and where it’s headed. Typically, the broader a conference goes, the less the depth in drill-down topics. But that’s not a problem here, as it is exactly as billed: a top-level view.

Reason to attend: This is the conference for someone who wants an overview in where IoT stands now and where it is headed. Major companies sponsor the event and provide speakers, so the networking opportunities are strong if you’re looking for an IoT-related job or people to hire.

Worth attending

The following conferences are well worth your time and conference dollars. They didn’t make the cut of the must-attend category not because they are unworthy, but because they are likely to appeal to niche and highly specialized causes, audiences, or technologies.

In other words, they fall in this category as an organizational matter, not a reflection of popularity or quality.

Bosch ConnectedWorld 2018

Twitter: @BoschSI

Web: http://bcw.bosch-si.com/berlin/

Date: February 21-22, 2018

Location: Berlin

Cost: Ranges from €300 to €1,000

This is a huge conference by the Bosch Group, a German multinational engineering and electronics company ranked as the world's largest supplier of automotive components. The company actively uses and provides numerous IoT products.

There are two “tickets” or tracks: a Hackathon ticket for developers, user experience experts, idea generators, and designers; and a Conference ticket for power players, senior decision-makers, and destiny dreamers. Both have customizable experiences.

The fun thing about this event is that it simultaneously gives you a feel for the massiveness of the IoT space and for just how small our world is getting through IoT hyper-connectiveness.

Reason to attend: Is your interest primarily in automotive IoT? Consider this conference if you’re really into connected cars and smart city concepts.

Atmosphere 2018

Twitter: @ArubaNetworks

Web: http://www.arubanetworks.com/atmosphere/

Date: March 25-30, 2018

Location: Las Vegas, NV

Cost: $1,095 for Airheads plus technical training. Airheads admission only is $695. Partner admission is $395.

This event is all about how you can use intelligent edge capabilities using Aruba products on the Aruba Mobile First Architecture. There’s lots of hands-on training sessions and plenty of opportunities for certification testing too. The Enterprise Network Security track succinctly addresses the plentitude of security issues in IoT, mobile, and cloud, and the innovations that are evolving to address them.

Reason to attend: If you are an Aruba customer or partner and looking to increase your mobile and security strategies for IoT deployments, this is the conference for you.

ACM/IEEE IoTDI 2018

Twitter: @TheOfficialACM

Web: http://conferences.computer.org/IoTDI/

Date: April 17-20, 2018

Location: Orlando, FL

Cost: Not yet announced

This is the third ACM/IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things Design and Implementation (IoTDI). IoTDI is colocated in even years with IEEE IC2E and in odd years with CPS Week. Topics address the entire IoT ecosystem, including cloud and edge computing, data analytics, sensor networks, mobile devices, Internet architecture, middleware, and IoT applications.

This heavily technical conference offers information largely not covered in other IoT conferences, such as analytic foundations and IoT theory; protocols and network abstractions; novel quality requirements and their enforcement mechanisms; IoT application back ends and resource management; evaluation and testbeds; and social computing and human-in-the-loop issues.

In other words, it’s not for the weak in machine logic or the math-handicapped. But what did you expect from ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers?

Reason to attend: You’re an engineer and you have zero tolerance for marketing fluff and executive briefs. You want an IoT conference full of red meat for real engineers. This is it.

ICIOT 2018: 20th International Conference on Internet of Things

Twitter: @wasetorg

Web: https://waset.org/conference/2018/06/new-york/ICIOT/home

Date: June 3-4, 2018

Location: New York, NY

Cost: Starts at $296, or €250

This conference, scientifically sponsored by the International Computer and Information Engineering Committee, is a huge meeting of academic scientists, researchers, and research scholars who present scientific papers and share research on anything and everything having to do with the Internet of Things. Expect esoteric information and bleeding-edge breakthroughs tested and presented with scientific rigor.

Reason to attend: You’re so beyond what passes as “innovative” in IoT at most conferences. You want hard science, sound engineering, and imaginative research. You already know what’s happening in IoT. You want to know what’s coming next and maybe even how your own ideas compare.

Minds + Machines 2018

Twitter: @GE_Digital

Web: https://www.ge.com/digital/events/minds-machines-2018

Date: September 12-13, 2018

Location: San Francisco, CA

Cost: To be announced

GE practically invented the term Industrial IoT (IIoT). The company is very in the know on all things IoT in the industrial, i.e., manufacturing, sphere.

While it's too early to get many details on the 2018 event, the company offers a place to sign up for announcement emails. But if past events are any indication, the event will showcase today's IIoT technologies, the future of the industrial landscape, and the breadth and depth of potential digital outcomes.

Reason to attend: You're a manufacturer interested in unifying or solidifying your IIoT play and want to see what is cresting the horizon, or you are a GE partner or developer interested in learning more technical details in the digitized industrial space.

Worthy mentions

Events in this group have niche audiences, but if you’re looking for information on these highly specialized topics, they are good picks.

Sensors Expo & Conference

Twitter: @SensorsExpo

Web: https://www.sensorsexpo.com

Date: June 26-28, 2018

Location: San Jose, CA

Cost: $899 to $1,199. Expo Hall pass is free.

This 30-year-old conference is anything but stale, considering the key role sensors are playing in IoT today and the avalanche of innovations that came along with that. The Sensors Expo & Conference is updated every year with the latest on all things sensors. There are hundreds of speakers and a multitude of technical sessions packed into just three days.

New this year are five symposia ahead of the conference: MEMS and Sensor Technologies, Energy Harvesting and Efficient Power Solutions, IoT, Industrial IoT, and Printed/Flexible/Stretchable Fabric Sensors. Also new are 10 tracks to better cover all the forks in innovation, and the colocation of two related conferences: the Medical Sensors Design Conference and the Autonomous Vehicle & Sensors Conference.

Reason to attend: Sensors are undergoing a renaissance. You need to stay on top of what they can do now, how they can be used, and how close edge computing is getting to the sensor these days.

SGIoT 2018 – EAI

Twitter: @EAI_Social

Web: http://sgiot.org

Date: July 11-13, 2018

Location: Niagara Falls, Canada

Cost: To be announced

This is a Smart Grid IoT conference, meaning it has high appeal for energy and public sector audiences. Speeches and papers address smart grid communications and IoT.

All accepted papers will be published by Springer and made available through SpringerLink Digital Library. According to organizers, proceedings from EAI conferences are indexed in leading indexing services, including EI Elsevier Engineering Index, Thomson Scientific ISI Proceedings, Scopus, CrossRef, Google Scholar, DBLP, as well as EAI’s own EU Digital Library.

So, yes, this is a very smart, hard-hitting conference that not only tackles smart grid issues, but future energy management and security issues too. If you’re wondering what EAI stands for, it’s European Alliance for Innovation. EAI is an open community with about 40,000 members who seek equal treatment and fair recognition for all researchers in ICT research worldwide.

Reason to attend: If you’re interested in IoT use and innovation in smart grids and the energy space, or worried about protecting those things, this conference is for you.

Gartner Catalyst, Cloud & IoT Conference

Twitter: @Gartner_inc

Web: https://www.gartner.com/events/na/catalyst

Date: August 20-23, 2018

Location: San Diego, CA

Cost: $3,575. Group rates, public sector, and early-bird pricing are available.

This conference covers big data innovation, cloud computing, edge computing, IoT, analytics, business intelligence, and DevOps. It aims to help you create a blueprint for project planning and implementation of these technologies, offering a high-level business view on IoT.

Reasons to attend: If you’re a Gartner Research client, this is a good time to learn more and spend more time with the analysts, as well as compare IoT notes with other Gartner clients.