Boston accelerator to focus on connected devices

A new accelerator coming soon to the Boston-Cambridge area will focus on the “things” part of the internet of things.

The accelerator, called Bolt, is the brainchild of Ben Einstein, who founded Brainstream Design, a product design company in Northhampton, Mass. Einstein is now scouting Boston-Cambridge locations for his new venture, according to The Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner. The idea behind Bolt is to help startups that want to build actual, physical devices by providing the funding, space and physical machinery they need to do so.

Connected devices go way beyond iPads and smart phones. New devices help consumers monitor their health, even brush their teeth. The advent of tiny, affordable sensors and near-ubiquitous connectivity means that more devices will be web-connected over time. As of last October, there were 9 billion connected devices, and by 2020, that number was expected to explode to 24 billion devices, according to the GSMA, the global mobile industry trade group.

That’s a big addressable market for Bolt’s prospective clients.

The production of physical devices has higher barriers to entry than, say, creating software. To make a physical device, a company needs actual equipment — drill presses, saws or more-modern-day machinery, such as computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) milling machines and 3-D printers. Bolt could help by providing that infrastructure.

As Einstein told The Boston Globe:

We’re thinking mostly about off-the-shelf components being combined in new ways, where you might have a new device that works with a web service, or plugs into a mobile phone.

Bolt will be on the lookout for 10 design teams for its first class of startups, according to the report.

Einstein graduated from Hampshire College, where he concentrated on product design and development.

The market for connected devices will be, by most accounts, huge. But so will be the number of startups and established companies attacking it.  Stay tuned for some aggressive competition.