Techstars Head Honcho in Town

Techstars Head Honcho in Town

Techstars CEO David Cohen came to give his blessing to the grads of the accelerator.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Homes Need More than a Fancy Thermostat

Homes Need More than a Fancy Thermostat

Co-founder Nayeem Hussain said the Keen Home team plans to build devices that work with smart home systems.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Smarter Vents

Smarter Vents

Keen Home is developing smart devices for the home, the first being a smart vent for central air systems.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

An Insight on Energy

An Insight on Energy

Co-founder and CEO Connell McGill talks about Enertiv's plans to help property owners cut energy costs.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Waste Not Want Not

Waste Not Want Not

Enertiv's device gathers real-time data on energy usage in buildings to spot where power is being wasted.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Brick and Mortar Gets a High-Tech Boost

Brick and Mortar Gets a High-Tech Boost

Preston Reed, CEO, chats about how Footmarks can help retailers and brands improve the in-store experience for consumers.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Beacons for Brands

Beacons for Brands

Footmarks developed these devices, called beacons, that retailers can setup inside their shops. Beacons can share messages and info with shoppers' smartphones while they roam the aisles and gather data on customer behavior.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

A New Kind of Social Ring

A New Kind of Social Ring

Co-founder Jeanniey Mullen and the ringblingz team think teenagers (and others) want accessories that literally connect with their social circles.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Fashion Meets Smartphones

Fashion Meets Smartphones

It's a digital accessory for keeping in touch with your inner circle. Unlike smartwatches, which display incoming messages from everyone, ringblingz only light up when select people contact the wearer. Consumers can style their own ringblingz, with the help of 3D printers.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

And Speaking of 3D Printers . . .

And Speaking of 3D Printers . . .

MakerBot Industries CEO Bre Pettis dropped by to see the teams, which used MakerBot 3D printers to crank out prototypes.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Helping Cyclists Find Their Way

Helping Cyclists Find Their Way

Hammerhead CEO Piet Morgan talks about the challenges bike riders face when navigating.

photo courtesy of R/GA and Techstar

Clear Directions for a Route

Clear Directions for a Route

The Hammerhead attaches to the handlebars on bicycles and lights up to guide riders along the route they have chosen.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

A Bit of Healthy Fun

A Bit of Healthy Fun

With an idea to help people with respiratory health issues, team member Corey Wilson-Wirth said Alvio is more than fun and games.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Fun and Fresh Air

Fun and Fresh Air

By breathing into Alvio video game controllers, those with respiratory conditions such as asthma can exercise their lungs while entertaining themselves.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Going Green with Gadgets

Going Green with Gadgets

CEO Gabriel Blanchet, and the rest of the Grove team from MIT, created technology to give agriculture a lift.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Harvest Time Goes Digital

Harvest Time Goes Digital

Grove is working on innovation for farms as well as homes. These devices can alert farmers to risks to their crops. The team is also working on an appliance to let people raise vegetables inside their homes with aquaponics instead of soil.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

A New Type of Monitor for Babies

A New Type of Monitor for Babies

A new father himself, CEO Kurt Workman said the Owlet team's invention speaks to many parents' needs.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Keeping Tabs as They Sleep

Keeping Tabs as They Sleep

Owlet's wireless device fits on a baby's foot to monitor breathing, heart rate, temperature, and sleeping position.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Helping Doctors Be In The Know

Helping Doctors Be In The Know

Doctor and co-founder Dave Beiser said Qualia can gather data to improve health in a variety of ways.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Wearable Health Tech

Wearable Health Tech

Qualia is developing devices people can wear as readily as fitness trackers to gather information about their well-being.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Looking Forward to the Next Class

Looking Forward to the Next Class

R/GA's Stephen Plumlee said the accelerator should see its next round of startups sometime in the fall.

photo by João-Pierre S. Ruth

Lock a few startups in a room with some hardware for 90 days and they might come out with something big.

That was the hope with the inaugural class of the R/GA Connected Devices Accelerator, which held a demo day on Tuesday in New York.

The accelerator, formed as a partnership between digital marketing agency R/GA in New York and Techstars, was announced last August and the first class was named last December.

This is all part of the growing Internet of Things trend that meshes distributed hardware with data and software. Bolt, the accelerator in Boston, has also been cultivating startups that build physical stuff backed by computing power.

After working with mentors over the past few months to hone their ideas, the teams from the R/GA Accelerator showed off the fruits (and vegetables in the case of Grove) of their labor. The slideshow above offers glimpses of the co-founders and devices they demoed. The startups created gadgets with vastly different functions, along themes such as collecting data to improve health, offering navigation tips to bike riders, and managing energy in buildings.

The teams came from the New York area as well as Boston, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Puerto Rico. Of the ten originally picked for the accelerator, nine teams presented at Tuesday’s demo day.

Stephen Plumlee, R/GA’s chief operating officer, chatted with me after the demos. He said the organizers are considering different themes in connected devices for the next class. And whereas the inaugural class was timed to debut at this year’s SXSW Interactive festival in Austin, TX, he said the next class might be geared towards the annual International CES tradeshow in Las Vegas.

Finding the right experts to help nurture startups with highly diverse ideas might seem daunting, but Plumlee said the partnership between the organizers put them in touch with the right folks. “Techstars had mentors who ran all kinds of companies,” he said. “And [R/GA] had clients that also ranged across those verticals.”

Calvin Chu, who was named managing director of the accelerator last November, said his team sought business mentors who had made real world products and came out ahead. “We look for entrepreneurs that have built hardware companies that have IPO’d, gone big, or have been bought out,” he said. In other words, “entrepreneurs that have done it before.”

To add some expertise from the retail world, Chu said the accelerator tapped R/GA’s clients including L’Oréal, Equinox, and Coca-Cola.

Another bit of help came from Brooklyn’s MakerBot Industries, now owned by Stratasys. Plumlee said made 3D printers available to the teams for form factor experiments and prototyping. “MakerBot, along with Stratasys, were critical,” Plumee said. “The companies were using [the 3D printers] every day.”

João-Pierre S. Ruth is the editor of Xconomy New York. He can be reached at jpruth@xconomy.com and followed on Twitter @jpruth.