The Internet of Things at Proto Labs and Beyond

The Internet of Things (IoT) — where essentially any device with an on/off switch can be connected online — has gone mainstream. It’s a technological movement aimed to connect everything and everyone, sharing data between humans and machines to make our lives and work more efficient. It is both an exciting and terrifying concept, but a natural progression as we become a more connected society.

Some of our Past Cool Idea! Award winners are fearlessly playing in the IoT universe:

  • Hush: The world’s first smart earplug which combines sound-eliminating foam and noise masking technology. The product keeps unwanted noise out while allowing important alerts in like alarm clocks or emergency phone calls.
  • Jr.: A freestanding wheel that moves independently through a home or workplace environment while audio sensors and four onboard cameras will focus on security. If an intruder enters a home a Roambot can send a text or email notification to the homeowner alerting them to a break-in.


  • Garageio: Allows user to control and monitor their garage door from anywhere via smartphone. The device provides activity reports and an online portal to view what and who has accessed the door. It also sends alerts when a door is left open for too long, and enables users to open and close doors with the touch of a button.

According to Design World, Forbes and Lopez Research, as IoT continues to evolve, we could see innovations like:

  • alarm clocks that shut off and cue our coffee maker to start perking.
  • cars that have access to our calendars, can plot our most efficient route and send an email or text message if we’re running late to a meeting.
  • smart houses with fridges and many other appliances that all interconnect.

And when it comes to IoT at Proto Labs, we like to think we’re ahead of the curve. Our digital manufacturing services use proprietary software and advanced toolpathing instructions to manufacture parts as fast as possible. Our quoting system and 3D printing, machining and molding equipment are connected every hour of every day. It’s an intersection of manufacturing and technology that is embracing IoT in its own, unique way.

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