We had a pretty good 2016 in emerging tech! There were plenty of people in the industry who inspired the community to new heights. Dev Diner readers nominated their unsung heroes who they are incredibly grateful for — here are their heroes from the IoT and AI areas of emerging tech.

Profile photos from our inspirations below

Our nominated IoT/AI inspirations from 2016

The IoT and AI nominations were incredibly decisive for 2017 and both were claimed by one very inspirational dude! There’s some fantastic talent out there inspiring the masses!

Tanay Pant — our top IoT/AI hero for 2016!

Tanay Pant and the cover of his book on Building a Virtual Assistant for Raspberry Pi

Tanay Pant’s profile pic and the cover of his book on Building a Virtual Assistant for Raspberry Pi

Twitter: @tanay1337

Tanay Pant is our top Dev Diner Emerging Tech Inspiration for the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence in 2016. Tanay received more votes than anyone else in 2016 (including those in the VR/AR category!), which is a huge sign that he’s incredibly well respected and inspired a whole lot of people this year. One nomination even called him “the Godfather of IoT inventions”. The project that inspired people this year? His Jarvis-like AI system which he open sourced and explained in detail in his book entitled Building a Virtual Assistant for Raspberry Pi. That project has inspired a huge number of people to give building their own AI assistants a go, which is fantastic to see. Thank you Tanay, you’ve inspired a whole lot of people and this recognition as top IoT/AI hero of 2016 is well deserved! Here are a few excerpts from his anonymous nominations:

“Tanay Pant is the real life Tony Stark (Iron Man) and he has inspired thousands of people by teaching them how to build a Jarvis like system, open sourcing it as well as writing a book on how to port such systems to IoT devices such as Raspberry Pi. You have our love, respect and admiration.”

“I read his book on “Building Voice Controlled Virtual Assistants For Raspberry Pi” and that was one of the best books on IoT and RPi that I have ever read. I even contributed to the project later on. <3 for writing the book. Thanks a lot!”

“His writings, softwares and articles helped build my successful career. We are really thankful to him for being awesome and doing what he is doing!”

“His interview on Fossbytes inspired me to work on IoT and make their interaction with humans more natural. His invention, Melissa has helped the community a lot!”

“Never thanked him before, but love to now for he inspired me to start working on Raspberry Pi and IoT and I have a huge headaway with it. Thanks mate for all the wonderful things you do for the open source community. Much respect!”

“His software Melissa and Raspberry Pi made the students at our college realise the power of Virtual Assistants. We would like to thank him a lot for open sourcing his software. We read his interview and were inspired to know that there is a real life Tony Stark building something like Jarvis.”

Tanay, thank you for inspiring a whole heap of developers to get into the IoT and AI!

Justin Mclean

Justin speaking at IoT Sydney

Justin and an attentive crowd at IoT Sydney! (Credit: Craig Murphy)

Twitter: @JustinMclean

Justin is one of my personal heroes when it comes to the IoT, so I was so glad to see he was nominated — multiple times! Justin is the organiser of the IoT Sydney monthly meetup and shares his knowledge in talks and workshops around the world. His IoT Sydney events are fantastic and always run out of free tickets! As one nomination put it, “they are wonderful events that are really well put together and completely inspiring for anyone that has an interest in the Internet Of Things!” He’s a great guy, a friend and so deserving of so many thanks from the IoT community. I’ve lost track of the number of ideas he has sparked in my mind and the number of random tech bits and pieces he has introduced me to. Thank you Justin! Your contributions are immeasurable and incredible.

Here’s another nomination that just had to be shared in full:

“Justin has been instrumental in building up the Sydney IoT community via the Sydney IoT meetup group. Justin is also very generous with his time to share knowledge, provide support to the community, and just generally answer any crazy IoT related questions.”

Craig Murphy

Craig Murphy

Craig is often behind the camera, but I found a good shot on his LinkedIn!

Twitter: @gtmurph

Craig was already subtly mentioned in this article actually. He took that photo of Justin and the crowd at IoT Sydney! He works at IBM as a Cloud Specialist, helps run the Sydney IBM Bluemix meetup and is another active member of the IoT community in Sydney. He even jumps in to help run the IoT Sydney meetup when Justin is unavailable. He’s another friend who I was incredibly glad to see was nominated for 2016! This nomination speaks the truth,

“Craig is a great connector and is always out and about at events empowering and sharing his great knowledge”

Thank you Craig, for all your work in 2016. It hasn’t gone unnoticed!

Oskar Stålberg

Oskar presenting his work

Source: Oskar’s Twitter!

Twitter: @OskSta

Oskar was nominated in the AI category for his creations around procedurally generated games. His creations look really really neat! One nomination summarises it well —

“Oskar made many fantastic procedural generated games this year, including Brick Block and Polygonal Planet Project. If you haven’t seen them or played them before, check them out! They’re super inspirational.”

Thank you Oskar, for inspiring others to do great things and attracting crowds of developers to listen to you speak!

Parag Mittal

Parag and a screenshot from his online course

Parag and a shot from his online course

Twitter: @pkmital

Parag is director of machine intelligence at Kadenze and has a free online course on Creative Applications of Deep Learning with TensorFlow which inspired a nomination. One nomination called it “one of the most accessible Deep Learning for Artists online classes”. Accessible online content which helps people get into deep learning isn’t a small feat. Parag, thank you for a very valuable contribution to the AI community in 2016!

Suz Hinton

Suz's profile pic and her Meow Shoes

Suz and her musical Meow Shoes

Twitter: @noopkat

Suz is very deserving of a nomination in 2016! She has put together a whole bunch of neat IoT/maker projects that have inspired many out there to give it a go, built AVRGirl (a Node.js alternative to interacting with Arduinos and other boards) and has given talks about working with emerging tech and JavaScript (a topic near and dear to me!). I interviewed her after her keynote at YOW! Connected! Thank you Suz, for all you did to support the developer community in 2016. You did a lot! Here’s a nomination highlight:

“Suz spoke at YOW Connected and showed just how much she’d done to inspire people to explore new technology and use their JavaScript skills to create things they may have never known that they’re able to create. She has also contributed tools for developers as well.”

Alexey Moiseenkov

Alexey Moiseenkov at an event

Alexey Moiseenkov with his own Prisma photo from Instagram

Twitter: @Darkolorin

Alexey is the founder of Prisma, an app that transforms your photos and videos into works of art using the styles of famous artists using neural networks and artificial intelligence. He was nominated quite specifically because of the Prisma app and how inspirational it was. Even Neil Gaiman, a big name in graphic novels, posted a Prisma selfie on Instagram! It works super well and has encouraged developers to find similar uses for AI.

Thank you Alexey, your work has inspired the community and a new round of AI developers.

Simone Giertz

Simone Giertz

Some shots of Simone from her Twitter feed!

Twitter: @SimoneGiertz

Simone is super creative and has taken building random gadgets to a whole new level! She has made all sorts of things from applause machines to a uArm robot arm that feeds her Cheerios for breakfast. The creativity and entertainment level of her robots is super inspirational. Here’s a nomination highlight for Simone —

“Simone is hysterically funny. Thank you for brightening up a few moments of my 2016 and simultaneously inspiring me to build random robots in 2016.”

Thank you Simone, for inspiring makers to get out there and make their own brand of fun robots!

Thank you IoT and AI heroes of 2016!

Thank you to everyone who took time to anonymously nominate someone in the IoT and AI fields, there is so much that often goes unspoken and this article has only shone a light on a few of them. There are so many others out there who’ve inspired us in the IoT and AI field. Keep it up, let’s have some really cool robots and connected devices in 2017!

Do you have great stories about any of our heroes above? Or do you have others who you’d like to shout out and thank for their work too? Please do so in the comments below!

Also, if you’re into VR and AR, we revealed the nominations for those heroes yesterday!

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