Philly Tech Week (PTW) 2018 kicked off its eighth year, with scores of events citywide including “Hot Topics in Tech: Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), AI and AR/VR” on May 1st.


Co-hosted by Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld LLC (RCCB) and Drexel Ventures, the event featured a lively panel of industry experts who described these new technologies and discussed how they are emerging in the marketplace. The program was introduced by Beth Cohen of RCCB and Debbie Buchwald of Drexel Ventures and moderated by RCCB attorney Ian Polonsky.

The panel featured leaders from Comcast machineQ (Bryan Witkowski, Head of Products), Verif-y (Ed Zabar, CEO), Park & Dibadj (Doug Park, Managing Partner, Securities and ICO Attorney), enAbleGames (Joe Reilly, CEO), and Dr. Jichen Zhu (Associate Professor of Digital Media and Computer Science, Drexel University).

Key highlights from the panelists include:

Bryan Witkowski of machineQ

  • Bryan explained that the machineQ™ IoT network optimizes and sends small bits of data over extremely long distances both inexpensively and efficiently. machineQ currently has more than 50 partners on its network today in a number of industries including commercial properties, agriculture and smart city applications.
  • He noted that one of biggest questions in IoT is around sustainability: “with billions of devices connected, how do all of these devices get powered, how do they stay on the network, and how do you reduce the need for batteries to be replaced every few days?” 
    • machineQ is a Comcast service that leverages connected sensor, network and software technologies to enable innovative IoT solutions. Its scalable network service and platform uses Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technology to build enterprise-grade solutions for businesses and municipal organizations. The IoT network service is built upon the globally adopted LoRaWAN™ protocol.

Joe Reilly of enAbleGames

  • Joe spoke about the many benefits of video games for people with disabilities. In the next few years, he predicts that VR and AR will become a more mainstream therapeutic as new hardware is introduced, and that these solutions also will be used by companies and hospitals for employee training purposes. 
    • enAbleGames is creating customizable Active Video Games (AVG) to promote health and activity in people with disabilities. enAbleGames is a game design and platform development company composed of physical therapists, biomedical engineers and computer scientists to provide affordable, effective gaming solutions for use in clinic and home-based health and rehabilitation services.

Dr. Jichen Zhu of Drexel University

  • Dr. Zhu is a professor at Drexel who is applying AI and machine learning in her Procedural eXpression Lab (PXL). She explained that she’s not working in AI for automation, but rather in AI for personalization – how to create individual, customized technology experiences. Her particular focus is on interactive narrative, experimental and serious games and AI-based interaction design.
    • Dr. Zhu conducts innovative research into the use of artificial intelligence in computer games and interactive storytelling, collaborating with colleagues from a variety of Drexel Schools and Colleges to build games that can be applied for educational and health purposes. Professor Zhu is currently at work on a number of diverse projects that push this research forward and which have received major funding.

Ed Zabar of Verif-y

  • Ed discussed the benefits and issues related to blockchain, and debated the use, monetization, ownership and anonymity of social data versus personally identifiable information (PII).
    • Verif-y is a blockchain digital identity platform that provides its users the ability to control and share their personal data, such as educational credentials and more.  For the financial services industry, Verif-y offers a fully integrated and secure Know Your Customer (KYC) solution, leveraging blockchain technology.  The platform meets an important need for many areas of business including HR, facilities access management, education, and healthcare.

Doug Park of Park & Dibadj

  • Doug explained that many of his clients are in the blockchain, cryptocurrency, AI and IoT spaces, serving industries such as energy, education and financial services. Doug explained he’s been working with early-stage companies for more than 20 years, and that the most successful startups typically have an application in mind that solves a problem rather than simply a cool technology. 
    • Park & Dibadj is a Silicon Valley-based boutique legal and business consultancy with specialization in ICOs and blockchain.

Following the panel discussion and a round of audience Q&A, participants broke into small groups for more in-depth conversations with each panelist, followed by refreshments and networking.