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August 19, 2018

BROWSE NEWS RESULTS

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StartupExchange
May 29, 2018

TVision Insights: The leader in eyes on screen attention measurement

Yan Liu, cofounder and CEO of TVision Insights, is pioneering the way brands, agencies, TV networks, and OTT platforms determine the true value of their video content and advertising.
TVision Insights is the data analytics company redefining audience measurement. They were recently named to the Advertising Research Foundation’s Innovation A-List, the ARF’s top award to innovative startups in advertising. But when they started in 2014, while cofounder and CEO Yan Liu was pursuing his MBA at MIT Sloan, it was just Liu and a few PowerPoints, as he tells it. In four short years they’ve grown into a sizable company of 45 full-time employees serving top brands and agencies in the TV and media industries, including ABC/Disney, NBC, and The Weather Channel. While Liu is proud of the rapid growth, he is well aware that innovation is a constant process. “Last year, we improved how we operate to leverage the latest deep learning computation technology,” he says. Integrating cutting-edge approaches to AI and machine learning into their core technology goes hand-in-hand with TVision’s mission: “The end goal is to offer the highest quality, unique data to every stakeholder to help them make better decisions so the entire ecosystem will be more effective. Using our platform is a win for content providers, brands, agencies and ultimately, the consumer.” Yan Liu,
Cofounder and CEO,
TVision Insights In 2017, television advertisement spending totaled $205B, with the U.S. market alone accounting for $72B or 38% of global TV ad expenditures. But in an increasingly fractured media landscape, where the advent of digital is just one aspect of the equation informing media consumption, deeper insight into ad placement is essential. Yet, despite the size of the market and the shifting nature of consumer habits, our tools for gauging these behaviors haven’t changed much in close to 40 years.

Liu is well aware of the disparity: “The only data widely available are traditional TV ratings,” he says, “which are used to determine the pricing for ad slots, which ads to run and when—basically, all the important decisions in a massive industry are largely being made using an outdated model.” Namely, the Nielsen ratings, which capture whether or not a television is on and what show or ad is on the channel but not actual user engagement. Nielsen’s traditional people-meter technology does a fantastic job of collecting what is on the TV screen, but it isn’t capable of understanding if people are actually paying attention and what in particular they are engaging with. TVision takes audience measurement several steps further, introducing state-of-the-art technology that collects exactly what is going on in front of the screen.

Their computation software can be easily integrated into the graphic processing unit of any web camera. Once installed, their AI technique tracks how many people are watching, their attention level, even their emotions, all in real time. This is what Liu refers to as the special ingredient of TVision Insight’s technology: eyes-on-screen, passive data collection that accurately identifies viewing patterns in a way the world has never seen before. But what about privacy concerns? “Being transparent and maintaining audience privacy is an essential part of how we operate,” says Liu. Every TVision user voluntarily opts in and is compensated on a monthly basis. “We tell all panelists how the data will be used, do not store any images or videos, and all of the information gathered is processed on the local device in the living room.” In other words, the process is anonymous and personally identifiable information never leaves the home device.


TVision’s second-by-second innovations are targeted at three client segments. For the brand marketer, TVision delivers the ability to understand which commercial is the most effective in terms of audience engagement, without the cost and hassle of traditional focus groups. Media planners also benefit from TVision’s endeavors, as Liu explains: “At the end of the day, media planners and buyers are really buying audience attention,” says Liu. “We can overlay that information on top of Nielsen ratings to help them make better decisions to increase their ROI.” Finally, TV networks and OTT content providers like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon can utilize TVision’s data to sell commercials at higher prices because the quality and accuracy of the data provided by Liu and his team allows them to justify the value of the inventory. For example, while a late-night show might have a low rating, attention level may be quite high, which means the inventory can be sold at a higher price. Additionally, that second-by-second data that pinpoints increased attention level could be used by networks to understand what causes viewers to pay attention and how to maintain high-attention viewership or replicate the success of a particular show by implementing similar strategies into another show.

While Tvision is a relatively small-scale startup at this stage, their continued success and overwhelmingly positive feedback from consumers means that Liu and his team are looking to build on the breadth of their current partnerships. He identifies three industry categories for collaboration. Brands and agencies interested in purchasing data fall into the first group. But in addition to being a media measurement company, TVision is also a deep learning AI company, which means they are interested in collaborations with hardware companies or anyone with a significant interest in AI and its unique applications.

Finally, Liu mentions his interest in connecting with international media research firms who want to bring TVision technology abroad. “Today there are 76 countries around the world, all using the same technology to measure TV ratings. We want to build on our success and expand beyond the U.S. market into Europe, Asia and the rest of the world.” As consumer behavior continues to change, Liu and TVision are confident we’ve reached a point where the industry must embrace a new set of standards for understanding audience engagement. “We want to innovate the entire field,” says Liu. “As a relatively small MIT startup we might not be able to change everything, but we’re confident we can play a critical role by offering unique high-quality data to help inform better decision making, thereby making the entire ecosystem more effective.”

About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.
StartupExchange
May 16, 2018

figur8: Digitizing 3-D body movements for everyone

Nan-Wei Gong and figur8 are spurring the growth of wearable technology within the sports medicine and digital health sectors, where they aim to commercialize digitized 3-D body movement technologies.
Nan-Wei Gong is an MIT research affiliate and engineer with a penchant for turning wearable technologies into viable tech startups. Her most recent venture, figur8, Inc., is an MIT E14 company that straddles the sports medicine and digital health sectors with the aim of taking digitized 3-D body movement technologies out of the lab and into the hands of everyday users. She holds a PhD and MS in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and a MS in Materials Science and Engineering from National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. During her time at the MIT Media Lab, she co-founded and was hardware engineering lead at her first startup, 3dim Tech Inc., an MIT spinoff that designed and developed gesture control and 3-D sensing software. Nan-Wei Gong,
Cofounder and CEO,
figur8, Inc. In 2013, 3dim won the grand prize at the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, followed by a successful exit in 2014. She is also the founder and CEO of Circular2, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in wearable computing, hardware system design and manufacturing. Other notable successes include her stint as R&D Lead of Project Jacquard, which saw Google partnering with Levis to develop everyday wearable textile technologies. Her fluency in both the engineering and industry aspects of wearable sensor technologies means she knows what she’s talking about when she says of her latest venture: “We’re certain that figur8 is uniquely positioned to become the low-cost, easy to use, hardware platform capable of democratizing 3-D body movements for everyone.”

The growth of the wearable technology market shows no sign of slowing down, though it is evolving beyond the typical wrist-worn devices most consumers are familiar with. Nan-Wei Gong and figur8 are at the forefront of this transition. “We go beyond the one point of measurement utilized by products like Fitbit and translate that into a modular platform allowing users to take measurements from any part of the body.” One might recall the brightly colored strips of kinesiology tape that first came to prominence during the 2008 Olympics and have since become ubiquitous in the realm of professional sports. “It’s a form factor that is widely accepted in sports medicine,” says Gong. “At figur8, we take that form factor and make it smart through our movement platform, or what we call a Kit.”

To do form analysis, existing platforms rely heavily on a room full of cameras. Gong’s unique vision, actualized in the form of figur8, minimizes the technology so it’s wearable and tracks the movement and 3-D contour of the human body. The individual sensors used to track the movement of a user’s back muscles or the laxity of their knees, for example, are composed into a network of sensors which then transmit signals through Bluetooth or a smartphone, allowing users to receive specific suggestions for improving their body movements. Whether you’re interested in improving your golf swing or your gait as a runner, figur8 would help you reach your goal.


They’ve been working with hospitals and sports science doctors since the early stages of development—including their Director of Sports Science Donna Scarborough, former Director of Sports and Analytics Lab at MGH—and the entire system is built to be HIPAA compliant, meaning that data gathered is treated as medical records, with all the requisite privacy protocols that entails. This year they’ll be rolling out their developer SDK’s and KPI’s and they already have several early adopters, primarily research groups, interested in using the figur8 hardware platform for analysis and studies in computer interaction design, gaming design and sports training. “We want to be the platform that is focused on content management to allow everyone to create, download and upload content using our kits,” she says. “We see the potential for movement data to become something interesting, exciting and valuable, potentially even to be traded as a commodity.”

As Gong and her team engage new clients, they are particularly interested in working with industry partners that rely on camera-based models for movement analyzation and want to take this outside of the lab. They’re also looking to partner with groups that have may have never used this type of technology but have a part of their system or business that relies on the movements of people. “Imagine you have a factory with workers of different skill sets. Our platform can be used to analyze and improve craftsmanship or even the fatigue and stress levels of workers.” The implications are fascinating. figur8’s platform could, in theory, be used to help determine who is best fit to do a particular type of job or how much break time is necessary for the body to recover and function at an optimal level.

She credits much of the figur8 ethos of innovation and experimentation to her ties with the Media Lab. “I’m interested in bringing my expertise to other fields,” says Gong, echoing the Institute’s emphasis on eliminating silos and effectively engaging specialists with disparate backgrounds to solve the pressing challenges of our time. “At figur8, we are not just about engineering ideas and engineering solutions,” she says. Rather, they’ve collaborated with doctors, physical therapists, sports scientists and athletes to create a product based on specific needs. Her choice of team members reflects a similar mindset. figur8 boasts a group of top engineers who also have experience bringing products from prototype to production, including co-founder and CTO Tim Ren, Hardware Lead Marius Gailius and Software Lead Keith Desrosiers. “I want figur8 to be driven by collaboration between experts,” says Gong. “This includes bringing people like our Business Specialist, Yi-Yun Chao and our Design Lead Mian Wei together to ensure that figur8 is peerless, not just in terms of hardware, devices and engineering, but in every aspect of what we do.”

About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.
StartupExchange
April 27, 2018

MIT Corporate Relations and MIT Startup Exchange announce STEX25 additions

MIT Startup Exchange is pleased to announce the addition of seven companies to its roster of STEX25 startups. New additions to the program include: Asimov, Feature Labs, Form Energy, Formlabs, Legit, Liquid Piston, and PathAI.
MIT Startup Exchange is pleased to announce the addition of seven companies to its roster of STEX25 startups. New additions to the program include: Asimov (programmable living cells), Feature Labs (data science automation), Form Energy (renewable energy storage solution), Formlabs (3D printing of polymers), Legit (AI to improve R&D process), Liquid Piston (high efficiency combustion engine), and PathAI (pathology AI).

“STEX25 startups exhibit the high-caliber talent and cutting-edge technology that are hallmarks of MIT, and feedback from industry partners is that MIT Startup Exchange is one of the most effective filters for emerging tech startups,” said Executive Director of MIT Corporate Relations Karl Koster. “We continue to see strong interest from our corporate ILP members resulting in advanced discussions and multiple partnerships.”


STEX25 is a startup accelerator
within MIT Startup Exchange
featuring 25 "industry-ready" startups.

MIT Startup Exchange is adding startups to STEX25 on a roughly quarterly basis, from among more than 1,600 startups in the database. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support and are prioritized for meetings by the MIT Industrial Liaison Program’s (ILP) industry liaisons.

“STEX25 is playing a formative role in accelerating MIT-connected startups by enabling founders to have high level conversations with the right corporate people at the right time,” said MIT Startup Exchange Program Director Marcus Dahllöf. “Even those startups that are relatively advanced, with well-defined product markets and established sales processes, are finding tremendous value in our program, and are very actively involved. This speaks to the quality of our corporate ILP connections and the quality of our events.”

STEX25 is adding tailored services to further collaboration with ILP corporate members, including targeted Startup Exchange workshops and showcases, exhibits at ILP conferences, and other events tailored towards industry.

The broad group of STEX25 startups represent a number of important fields, including artificial intelligence, automation, data analytics, energy, healthcare, internet of things (IoT), life science, advanced manufacturing, machine learning, materials, nanotech, sensors, and more.

To learn more about STEX25 and MIT Startup Exchange, visit http://ilp.mit.edu/stex25.jsp.




About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

StartupExchange
April 23, 2018

Catalia Health: Innovation at the intersection of healthcare and technology

Aging is fast becoming one the most significant social transformations of the 21st century and Cory Kidd, founder and CEO of Catalia Health, is motivated to face the challenges that are bound to come.
Cory Kidd has been working at the intersection of healthcare and technology for more than 20 years, including his time as a masters and PhD student at the MIT Media Lab. It’s a period he refers to as the basis of his current work as founder and CEO of Catalia Health. He’s spent significant time working to solve one of the big healthcare issues of our time: With a rapidly aging population, the extent of chronic conditions has become more and more prevalent. According to the United Nations, aging is fast becoming one the most significant social transformations of the 21st century. In fact, it’s estimated that there are more than 960 million people, or 13 percent of the population, aged 60 or older around the globe, with a growth rate of 3 percent per year, making this age group the fastest growing of all. By 2030 the projected number of older persons is expected to reach 1.4 billion. The fact that we are living longer, in part due to improved healthcare, means that people are dealing with healthcare issues we simply didn’t have to face in years prior. Cory Kidd and Catalia Health are facing these challenges head on. Cory Kidd,
Founder and CEO of Catalia Health

With far-reaching implications across social sectors and industries, Kidd says it’s no surprise that much of what we hear and read on the subject is focused on the economic and delivery aspects of healthcare. But on an individual level, one of the key challenges that patients face is simply how to properly manage illnesses on their own on a day-to-day basis. Kidd addresses the issue: “At Catalia Health, one of our main concerns is really trying to understand the challenges patients are facing when it comes to sticking with therapy.” Kidd has found that the greatest personal issues for patients aren’t about remembering or forgetting to do something—taking medication, for example. “Rather, the challenges tend to focus around symptoms, side effect management, and psychological issues that are common for people dealing with a chronic disease,” says Kidd. The advent of new technologies, including Catalia’s robot healthcare coach that has garnered significant media attention, may just solve these problems.

With Kidd at the helm, Catalia Health is delivering a care management system to patients. “We’re not selling a piece of hardware or software. Rather, we are providing a service to help engage patients,” says Kidd. To understand what he means, we have to first understand the status quo. At present, healthcare facilities either send someone to a patient’s home or, much more commonly, a nurse calls a patient a few times a month. And of course, these days there are more devices and apps on the market than ever before; most of them involve glowing, beeping devices that serve as reminders and have screens that patients must navigate, as with any other application.

At Catalia Health, however, the interface is unique: each patient is provided with a small robot named Mabu that can be sat on the kitchen counter or coffee table. “There are very specific reasons we use this type of interface,” says Kidd. “And the reason we use Mabu the robot has a little to do with technology but quite a bit more to do with psychology.” While most people spend an inordinate amount of time communicating via phone and computer screens, the simple fact is that human beings are more engaged during face-to-face conversations. Not only do we pay more attention and find ourselves more involved, but it turns out that in-person conversations function to provide an essential sense of credibility. In fact, Kidd, during his time as a researcher at MIT, explored this very phenomenon and found that the importance of credibility and trustworthiness provided by face-to-face interactions carried over into the world of technology. “In other words, when we put a robot in front of a patient that can literally make eye contact with them,” this leads to the aforementioned psychological effects of credibility associated with a person-to-person, or in this case person-to-robot, interaction.


In terms of technology, Kidd points out that Mabu, the interactive voice-enabled robot interface, functions in much the same way as many of the devices that we are familiar with today—it allows for back-and-forth conversation in a similar way to Amazon Echo, Siri or Google Home. What’s really happening behind the scenes is that Catalia Health’s proprietary machine learning algorithms are generating conversations tailored to each individual patient. “We’re building models in the background,” says Kidd, “medically, psychologically and biographically about each patient, and we’re using our AI algorithms to create a conversation for that patient instantaneously.” Catalia Health then gathers the data, maintaining HIPAA compliance throughout, and reports to the doctor, care manager nurse, or pharmacist. “While the technology that makes Mabu tick is complex, the interface to the patients is as simple as a conversation,” Kidd assures us.

It’s an exciting time for the San Francisco-based startup with deep MIT roots. Catalia Health is currently in the process of launching Mabu to hundreds of patients in early 2018. And they’re going out at scale. Most of their partners are hospital systems and large pharmaceutical companies delivering healthcare management programs. “Right now, we are rolling out our heart failure product with Kaiser Permanente in California, which is particularly exciting,” says Kidd. And while Catalia Health’s current clients are based in the U.S., they are in talks with customers and partners around the world. Though he’s understandably hesitant to share details at this time, we can expect public announcements over the course of 2018, as Catalia Health starts rolling out to patients and clients at scale. And the world is taking notice. Kidd was recently named Entrepreneur of the Week by Longevity Network, and the traction gained by Catalia Health is evidenced by spotlights from media heavyweights including Wired and the New York Times.

For Kidd, becoming a part of STEX25 is particularly gratifying. “It’s been a lot of fun for me as an MIT alum to witness the evolution of an already robust Institute ecosystem develop around entrepreneurialism and innovation. I experienced it during my time at MIT, and it’s grown tremendously, so to be invited to participate in STEX25 is amazing.” While Catalia already has a host of important commercial clients in the healthcare domain, teaming up with MIT ILP provides an opportunity for greater outreach to even more potential industry partners.

As we move through 2018 propelled by the latest innovations, Kidd takes time to reflect: “I’ve been in this field for more than 20 years. The practical applications coming to the fore in just the past two to three years have been astounding. It’s an incredibly exciting time as the crossover between technology companies and healthcare companies becomes more prominent.” Given that these are Kidd’s fields of interest, the cross-pollination occurring is particularly intriguing. “For Catalia Health,” says Kidd, “we’re inspired by the prospect of helping more people around the world than ever before.”

About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.
StartupExchange
March 26, 2018

TetraScience: research modernization for the digital age

Siping “Spin” Wang is co-founder and CTO of TetraScience, the data focused startup that connects existing lab instruments to a single cloud platform where researchers can manage experiments and easily access data.
Despite the myriad number of scientific advances that have occurred in the past decade alone, many laboratory processes, particularly as they apply to data collection and sharing, remain outdated to the point of archaic, often stifling collaboration and potentially delaying scientific advances. Researchers spend an inordinate amount of time observing experiments in person, taking measurements on their instruments before copying the information by hand into lab notebooks and entering it into spreadsheets and electronic notebooks to share with other scientists. Compounding the tedium and potential for human error is the fact that access to data is hindered by a lack of uniformity among a wide range of manufacturers and instruments using disparate languages, formats and systems. Spin Wang recognized these laboratory pain points while working as a researcher at the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Siping Wang,
Cofounder and CTO,
TetraScience, Inc. His collaborators at the time, former Harvard post-docs and now TetraScience co-founders Alok Tayi (CEO) and Salvatore Savo (COO), were experiencing the same frustrations. If you ask Spin for his definition of innovation, he’ll tell you it’s not about creating something new for the sake of it. Rather, for Spin Wang and his TetraScience colleagues, innovation means identifying a particular industry need and solving that problem. It sounds simple, but it forms the basis for the TetraScience vision and their success: “My co-founders and I recognized a need for research modernization, did the necessary market research and set about applying current technologies—Internet-of-Things, cloud computing, containerization, virtualization—into building this data integration platform to improve the lives of scientists.”

The TetraScience data integration platform features three main components. The first aspect is what they refer to as a TetraScience Link, or the modules and integrations to which researchers connect their equipment, which in turn connects to the cloud. “We’re providing a single repository for your data—not the raw data or a screenshot of your instrument—actual clean, well structured, searchable data and metadata,” says Spin. The second component is a pipeline that facilitates data transfer from one system to another. Spin touches on the fact that such a transfer requires the researcher to facilitate the data flow and most likely perform some type of customized logic. “Our data pipeline allows researchers to orchestrate a sequence of steps and logic to perform data integration in a flexible and configurable way.” Finally, Spin Wang and TetraScience are revolutionizing the field with data integration that is instrument and manufacturer agnostic: “There are a tremendous number of vendors in this ecosystem,” says Spin. These vendors use a variety of interfaces, formats, and even philosophies that inform their software and hardware design. TetraScience data integration gets everyone on the same page, so to speak, allowing any software to communicate with any system in a consistent and vendor agnostic manner.

In addition to their recent induction into MIT’s STEX25 accelerator, TetraScience are recipients of the prestigious Digital Science Catalyst Grant Program Award, former participants in the much-lauded Y Combinator accelerator (2015) as well as counting Founder Collective, Dorm Room Fund, First Round and Floodgate as investors. They’re already partnered with industry leaders in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields as well as counting several of the most well-respected research and academic institutions and scientific instrument manufacturers as clients. Spin points out that while their current focus is on enterprise pharmaceutical industry and growth stage biotechnology companies, the ideal partner has less to do with size or scale than mindset: “The 21st century is about data, regardless of industry,” says Spin. “However, life science industries are facing data challenges sooner than many others, simply based on the amount of data being generated.” He continues, “Our ideal clients care about data quality, data hygiene, compliance and traceability. They want to focus on visualization and analytics.” The TetraScience team know first-hand the frustrations of wasted time and inaccessibility of important data. They’re eliminating these headaches and are intent on working with organizations looking for flexible, scalable solutions to their problems and inefficiencies.


A recent study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development revealed that the sheer volume of data collected in clinical trials is not only posing technical and integration challenges to data management staff but is also leading to longer development times. On average it takes more than a decade and costs over $2B to develop and gain market approval for new drugs. Wang and TetraScience are looking to make a major dent in those numbers. Spin’s message to ILP member companies and the world at large: “TetraScience provides a product-driven, scalable, commercially supported data integration platform helping its partners to acquire data from a variety of data sources in the floor above or on the other side of the world, regardless of instruments (HPLC, protein purification and etc.), your contract organizations (CRO/CMO/CDMO) or your software systems (ELN/LIMS).”

The founders and current team are deeply involved in the life sciences and drug discovery. They truly understand the domain and are capable of leveraging data and technology to modernize research and ease the path to scientific discovery. By remaining vendor agnostic, with the ability to connect anyone’s system to the cloud, monitoring and sharing data from anywhere will soon become the new norm if TetraScience have anything to say about it. Call it the newest great advancement in research modernization or the great equalizer for data sharing. Regardless, with Alok Tayi, Salvatore Savo and Spin Wang driving the TetraScience data integration platform, lab research is finally entering the modern age, and the future of research collaboration and drug discovery looks very bright as a result.

About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.
StartupExchange
January 31, 2018

MIT Corporate Relations and MIT Startup Exchange announce STEX25 additions

MIT Startup Exchange is pleased to announce the addition of six companies to its roster of STEX25 startups. New additions to the program include: Advanced Potash Technologies, Arundo, Catalia Health, Figur8, Tetrascience, and TVision Insights.
MIT Startup Exchange is pleased to announce the addition of six companies to its roster of STEX25 startups. New additions to the program include: Advanced Potash Technologies (agricultural technology), Arundo (big data), Catalia Health (digital health), Figur8 (sports sensors), Tetrascience (data analytics), and TVision Insights (TV advertising).

“As STEX25 enters its second year we continue to be impressed by the innovative technologies STEX25 startups are creating, as well as the strength of their founding teams,” said MIT Startup Exchange Program Director Marcus Dahllof.
STEX25 is a startup accelerator
within MIT Startup Exchange
featuring 25 "industry-ready" startups.

Since its launch in September 2016, STEX25 has added startups on a roughly quarterly basis, STEX25 startups are among the over 1,200 startups in the MIT Startup Exchange database. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support and are prioritized for meetings by the MIT Industrial Liaison Program’s (ILP) 30 industry liaisons.

“For startups, the benefits of being invited to join STEX25 are very real,” continued Dahllof. “Access to potential customers is a key challenge startups face. For decades, the ILP has connected industry to MIT. Startup Exchange is able to exploit that deep knowledge and expertise to make targeted introductions with high success rates.”

In addition, STEX25 is adding tailored services to further collaboration with ILP corporate members including targeted Startup Exchange workshops, ILP Conferences, startup showcases, and other tailored events.

The broad group of STEX25 startups represent a number of important fields including artificial intelligence, automation, data analytics, energy, healthcare, internet of things (IoT), life science, advanced manufacturing, machine learning, materials, nanotech, sensors, and more. For a full list visit:

“These startups exhibit the high-caliber talent and cutting-edge technology that are hallmarks of MIT, and industry partners find them especially effective in pioneering solutions for complicated, hard-to-understand technologies,” said Executive Director of MIT Corporate Relations Karl Koster. “We continue to see strong interest from our corporate ILP members resulting in advanced discussions and multiple partnerships.”

To learn more about STEX25 and MIT Startup Exchange visit http://ilp.mit.edu/stex25.jsp



About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

StartupExchange
July 28, 2017

Akselos: Maintaining Assets for an Energy Leader

MIT Startup Exchange helps advanced simulation software firm partner with one of the world's biggest oil and gas companies.


David Knezevic
CTO
Akselos
In June of 2015, Akselos had under 20 employees. But it also had simulation algorithms developed at MIT that it had turned into a core product for engineering modeling. Today, the MIT spin-off is growing beyond 20 employees and is working on a two-year digital twin initiative with Royal Dutch Shell.

The union came about through the MIT Startup Exchange and MIT Industrial Liaison programs. Before that introduction, Thomas Leurent, Akselos CEO, says that his company had long-range plans to work in the energy field, but, at the time, its experience was in power systems and was focused on breaking into the mining industry. Shell executives came to campus for two days in July 2015, with the intent to find disruptive technologies for the future of construction and engaged with a select set of MIT experts and spin-offs.

Akselos had one hour to make its pitch, Leurent says. In December, the two companies signed their first contract, with Akselos testing its technology on an extensive use case. The findings were delivered in January 2017, and Lourens Post, Shell Global Fluid Flow & Reactor Engineering manager, says that they were “great results” adding that what the company offers “is a great fit for our strategy.”

In February 2017, the two-year project started, with an initial focus on assessing a Shell asset in the Southern North Sea. In the first year, Akselos’ technology will produce a condition-based model, analyzing the structural integrity with more accuracy and detail than was previously capable, Leurent says. In the second year, Akselos will combine this information with sensor data to allow operators to monitor the asset’s health in real-time. Ultimately, the technology will be able to identify looming mechanical problems, estimate the remaining life, determine when parts need to repaired, without having to inspect and test on a scheduled basis. All of this, Leurent says, can mean extending the life of equipment by 20 years and prevent downtime, which in the oil and gas industry can cost $25 million per day.

Leurent says that the jump to such large scale work wasn’t a worry. Oil and gas is an engineering-based industry, and it is common for large companies to outsource projects to smaller ones, but, he adds that the strong start is due in large part to the ILP. MIT is a good credential. It drew Shell to campus in the first place, but the right connection still has to be made. ILP officers know what’s happening throughout the MIT landscape, have decades of industry experience, and are skilled at pairing up a start-up’s innovation with an established company’s need, so momentum is already established. “You know if you get called for a meeting, there’s a good chance there’s a match,” Leurent says.

About Akselos
Akselos enables your engineers to design and assess critical infrastructure via advanced simulation software. We focus on making powerful, highly-customized simulation tools that can be widely used within your company.

The company was founded after 12 years of research at MIT. We license proprietary technology issued from research conducted in Prof. A.T. Patera's group(*) at MIT and supported primarily by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research/Office of Secretary of Defense and the Office of Naval Research. The research led to the award of the largest Deshpande Innovation grant at MIT in 2011 and the company was subsequently founded and secured major industrial firms as customers within a year.



About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

StartupExchange
July 25, 2017

MIT Startup Exchange names top 25 startups

MIT Startup Exchange is pleased to announce the complete roster of STEX25 companies. STEX25 is a startup accelerator focused on fostering startup and industry collaboration.


STEX25 companies participated in a startup exhibit during the 2017 MIT Startup Ecosystem Conference.


MIT Startup Exchange is pleased to announce a complete roster of STEX25 companies, with the addition of six MIT-connected startups in June 2017. Recently named to STEX25 are 24m, Affectiva, Cogito, C2Sense, Ginkgo Bioworks, and Neuromesh.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange focused on an elite group of startups deemed “industry-ready,” having proved themselves with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships. Since its launch in September 2016, STEX25 has added startups on a roughly quarterly basis, culled from the over 1200 startups in the MIT Startup Exchange database. The list includes startups from a number of important fields including artificial intelligence, automation, energy, healthcare, internet of things (IoT), life science, manufacturing, materials, nanotech, sensors, and more. MIT Startup Exchange and the Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

According to MIT Startup Exchange Program Director, Trond Undheim, “MIT Startup Exchange was launched to help top corporations and MIT-connected startups bring new technology to the world through creative partnerships and collaboration. The inaugural group of STEX25 companies have strong roots in MIT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and are infused with high-caliber talent and cutting-edge technology, key assets for industry partners searching for innovation.”

Karl Koster, executive director of the ILP, pointed out that helping MIT-connected startups get traction with large corporate players is a crucial step in technology commercialization. “Our corporate members are very interested in meeting with the MIT Startup Exchange company founders, and these kinds of connections are vital to growing MIT’s innovation ecosystem.”

View the full list of STEX25 startups.

StartupExchange
July 16, 2017

Luminoso Joins with Leading Carmaker to Drive Automated Analysis of Buyer Complaints

MIT Startup Exchange helps deep learning analytics firm partner with an Industrial Liaison Program member and break into the Japanese market.


Catherine Havasi
Cofounder & CEO
Luminoso

Customers offer their opinions and complaints in informal and disorganized ways, which makes these responses famously difficult to analyze. Conventional analytic software tools need considerable expert attention, and all too often, they sort customer responses into the wrong categories or unwieldy “uncategorized” buckets.

Luminoso Technologies, a startup from MIT, targets these problems with software that combines deep learning and natural language processing to help companies rapidly and accurately understand the concepts within their unstructured, text-based data—without requiring massive sets of training data.

During a pilot project for a Japanese carmaker, and Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) member, Luminoso used its software-as-a-service analytics system to examine a database of customer complaints to car dealers, where the carmaker’s existing tools struggled to properly sort out the complaints. “We found buckets that should be created, buckets that should be merged, and buckets related to problems in specific types of cars,” says Catherine Havasi, Luminoso co-founder and chief executive officer. “We helped them figure out how they could minimize the number of uncharacterized complaints and maximize the number of things that could be dealt with automatically.”

Luminoso software detected two concepts about one car model. One concept described the car smell in colorful language (such as an “attic” or a “dog in the car”) while the other concept mentioned finding dew inside the car. After reviewing these two concepts, it was discovered that the complaints reflected the same problem. The automaker then tracked down the common defect: a disconnected air-conditioning hose that allowed mold to develop. Conventional software with preset taxonomies would never have found this connection, because they would not have thought to write a taxonomy around mold inside a car, or known that there were so many ways to discuss a musty smell.

Given the success of this project, Luminoso has continued its relationship with the automaker and is talking with other Japanese car manufacturers. “Being in this market with this experience became really valuable to us,” Havasi says.

Getting into the Japanese market at all is very challenging for small U.S. companies, she notes. Luminoso made its initial connection through the MIT Startup Exchange.

Initially, MIT Startup Exchange chose Luminoso to participate in a 2015 Tokyo conference partly because the company’s software works natively in Japanese, among many other languages.

“We talked a lot with ILP before we headed over to Tokyo,” Havasi says. “We wanted to find people who had business questions we could help answer and were looking to get something done with relative speed.” ILP staff helped to target the car company and get to know key individuals within it. After meetings at the conference and the company’s headquarters, the project kicked off.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP have continued to lend assistance as a matchmaker for Luminoso, “not just with companies that become customers but with companies that help us formulate our strategies for particular vertical markets,” Havasi says. “For the average startup company coming out of MIT, there’s a lot to learn about how to work with a Fortunate 1000 company, and ILP also is great for that.

About Luminoso
Luminoso Technologies is a leading natural language understanding company that allows clients to rapidly discover value in their unstructured text data. With roots at the MIT Media Lab, Luminoso’s artificial intelligence-based software uniquely produces the most accurate and unbiased, real-time understanding of what people are saying, including insights that were not anticipated. These insights are used to increase marketing performance and build better customer experiences. Luminoso provides multilingual, flexible software that can be deployed to meet client needs in either a standalone Cloud or On Premise solution or integrated into an end-to-end client platform via an API solution. Luminoso serves clients such as Staples, Sprint, and Scotts Miracle-Gro, as well as a growing set of channel partners such as Publicis.Sapient and Basis Technologies. Luminoso is privately held with headquarters in Cambridge, MA.


About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

StartupExchange
July 14, 2017

24m: Re-Imagining Lithium Ion Batteries

At 24M, Yet-Ming Chiang has revamped the way lithium ion batteries are designed and manufactured, making them a viable low-cost, highly-efficient green energy option.


Yet-Ming Chiang
Cofounder and
Chief Scientist, 24m (L)
Rick Feldt
President, 24m (R)

For nearly 25 years, Yet-Ming Chiang has been designing and building new battery technologies in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. Hand-in-hand with his research endeavors, he has always been active moving that science from the lab to industry having co-founded several companies, including American Superconductor Corporation, A123Systems, SpringLeaf Therapeutics, and his latest, 24M, which is in the business of designing highly-efficient, lower-cost lithium ion batteries.

Developed in the late 1980s in Japan, lithium ion batteries are today’s most advanced battery technology dominating battery applications from hand-held devices to electric vehicles, and increasingly, grid energy storage. But Dr. Chiang believes the technology is being held back due to quarter century-old methods of battery design and manufacturing that persist today.

Chiang and colleagues formed 24M in 2010 to remedy those deficiencies. They have developed a cell design that makes much more efficient use of the materials that go into a lithium ion battery. Specifically, their designs decrease the amount of material that does not store energy by 40% or more. By maximizing the amount of active, energy storage material and decreasing all other materials, 24M reduces the bill of materials by 25-30% compared to conventional lithium ion batteries.


“24M is the culmination of a lot of things that we’ve learned both in research and through the industrialization of new battery technologies,” says Chiang. “Having earlier developed a battery technology that was a new chemistry and was put into commercialization but manufactured the conventional way, I had learned a lot about what the weaknesses of the conventional manufacturing were.”

Novel Manufacturing Method

“Our vision for the company is that the way that we manufacture lithium ion batteries will become the preferred way for making batteries around the world,” Chiang says. 24M’s manufacturing method strips out about 1/3 of the steps, or unit operations, of previous manufacturing methods. It also eliminates the need for any organic solvents which are used in conventional lithium ion manufacturing that have to be evaporated and re-condensed. “By avoiding these steps that were used earlier, we’ve also decreased the energy consumption of our manufacturing method.” Chiang estimates 24M’s battery design and manufacturing methods provide a 25% reduction in cost of goods versus conventional lithium ion batteries.

“What impresses me about what Yet has done is that he hasn’t come up with a radically new chemistry for the battery, but he has modified its design and radically changed the manufacturing process,” says Rick Feldt, 24M President. “We use a lot less stuff and it takes us half as many steps to actually produce the cell. When you have less materials, fewer steps, smaller building, fewer people, less equipment, a faster process – it all adds up to creating a lot of savings.”

Partnerships, not Plants
24M’s business model is to partner with those that want to produce their own batteries. “In a sense we are trying to democratize the production of lithium ion batteries so that any company can do it – not just a few select companies around the world,” Chiang explains. Companies can license 24M’s technology without having to invest in gigawatt hour sized plants. Companies can more accurately match supply with demand as their business grows, rather than investing significant capital for capacity in advance of demand. As an additional benefit, the licensing agreements allow 24M’s partners to modify the battery design to more specifically suit their applications.

24M sees three main applications for LI batteries today – portable devices, transportation, and energy storage for the grid or to smooth renewable energy. They are avoiding the hand-held market at this point, and targeting the large-scale applications.

Their first product, now ready for manufacturing, is a battery for grid energy storage. 24M signed its first partnership agreement with Thailand’s GPSC, part of the country’s largest oil and gas company, PTT. They are in discussions with a large industrial Japanese company now for a similar type of deal.

Some of their potential partners in this space are other countries concerned about grid energy storage solutions. They see it as a national resource, a national priority, to be in the position of producing their own batteries for energy storage. “We offer them an alternative way, a lower cost battery, a manufacturing method that we think is the future,” Chiang says, that removes reliance on other countries and companies for their battery supply.

24M is also very close to marketing a higher energy density lithium ion battery for transportation. “The goals for battery technology are to get the costs of batteries down and the driving range up to where it’s easy for anyone to use an electric vehicle with minimal limitations on user behavior,” Chiang says, who adds that getting the cost of a lithium ion battery pack down to about $100 per kilowatt hour is what is required. “What we are aiming to do is accelerate the adoption of electric transportation by providing the lowest cost lithium ion batteries that anyone can produce because of the greater design and efficiency of our manufacturing method.”

The company is in discussion with a number of global organizations for electric vehicle applications. “In all cases, these partners will rely on our technology and we will be the technology provider,” says Feldt. “They will build the factories, buy the equipment, and operate those factories with our help and we will share in the economics of those factories.”

Chiang emphasizes that lithium ion technology is not a single technology, though lithium is the key chemical component. “There is a lot of effort today, and we’re involved in that effort ourselves, in developing a lithium-metal electrode based rechargeable battery.” Lithium ion currently does not use lithium metal, but Chiang explains that using lithium metal as one of the battery’s electrodes would allow a 2-3-fold increase in the energy density of today’s batteries.

“There are certainly a lot of different chemistries being explored all the time,” he says. “What we are focused on is the fact that as other chemistries get developed, if the chemistries prove to be useful and successful and low cost, we will have a way of dropping them into 24M’s approach.”


About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

StartupExchange
July 6, 2017

Affectiva: Humanizing Technology with Emotion AI

Rana el Kaliouby envisions a future where all our digital devices have a chip that senses and reacts to our every emotion in real time. As CEO and cofounder of Affectiva, one of the leading developers of emotion AI technologies, she is well positioned to help make this a reality.


Rana el Kaliouby
CEO & Cofounder
Affectiva

Rana el Kaliouby envisions a future where all our digital devices have a chip that senses and reacts to our every emotion in real time. As CEO and cofounder of Affectiva, one of the leading developers of emotion AI technologies, she is well positioned to help make this a reality. She has been recognized by Entrepreneur as one of the “7 Most Powerful Women to Watch In 2014,” inducted into the “Women in Engineering” Hall of Fame and is a recipient of Technology Review’s “Top 35 Innovators Under 35” award. The seed for the venture was planted while el Kaliouby was pursuing her PhD in computer science at Cambridge University. “I realized I was spending more time with my laptop than with other human beings,” she says. Yet despite the intimacy she shared with this machine, it had no idea how she was feeling. She began to wonder, “What if computers could understand our emotions?”

Before long el Kaliouby was doing postdoctoral work at the MIT Media Lab alongside founder and director of the Affective Computing Group and eventual Affectiva co-founder Rosalind Picard. Picard’s publication, Affective Computing, which gave name to a new field of research, proposed that in the future computers will need to understand human emotion. “If you look at human intelligence,” says el Kaliouby, “people who have higher emotional intelligence tend to be more likeable, they’re more persuasive and more effective in their lives. We at Affectiva think this is true of artificial intelligence as well.” She continues, “As more and more of our interactions with technology become conversational, perceptual, relational, the social and emotional awareness of these interfaces will become critical.”



Today Affectiva is backed by leading investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Horizon Ventures, Fenox Venture Capital, and WPP. The MIT spinout whose mission is to humanize technology also boasts one third of Fortune Global 100 and more than 1,400 brands as users of their technology. For three years at MIT Media Lab, el Kaliouby and Picard worked to develop what she calls an “emotional hearing aid” for those with autism spectrum disorder. It was called MindReader, and it involved reading glasses with a camera connected to a device that analyzed facial expressions and provided real time feedback to the user. The pilot program at a Rhode Island school for children with autism was extremely successful. El Kaliouby recalls seeing the subjects reacting to the feedback, making eye contact, engaging in meaningful human interactions and generally becoming more curious about the expression of emotion.

When exhibiting their work to Media Lab member companies, corporations like Proctor & Gamble, Toyota, and Samsung recognized the genius of the technology but wondered whether it might be applied to various use cases outside the realm of autism and mental health. The initial thought, according to el Kaliouby, was to hire more researchers. But it was Frank Moss, the Media Lab’s director at the time, who suggested this was no longer a research problem but rather a commercial opportunity. “I was intrigued by this idea of taking emotion recognition technology in new directions, applying it to different industries and ultimately fulfilling my vision of an emotional digital world,” says el Kaliouby.

In the realm of deep learning, effective algorithms are only part of the puzzle. The data powering these networks is essential. To date, Affectiva has collected 5.5 million face videos from 75 different countries, which amounts to approximately 2.5 billion facial frames. These frames are used to train Affectiva’s machine learning and deep learning algorithms to understand human emotions, and the sheer volume of data is part of what separates Affectiva from their competitors. Thus far, their emotion recognition technology has garnered significant attention in the media and advertising industries. Their product, Affdex for Market Research, is a cloud-based solution that allows advertisers to measure unfiltered and unbiased consumer emotional responses to digital content from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to Affectiva, traditional focus groups are quickly becoming a thing of the past. “Affdex captures the emotional journeys of thousands of viewers as they unfold,” says el Kaliouby. The data is then aggregated, compiled, and presented in a dashboard provided for clients. Currently fourteen different market research partners, including leading firms like Millward Brown and Nielsen, all use the technology to measure consumer emotion responses to digital content. A powerful outcome of these partnerships is that the data collected allows Affectiva to fundamentally improve the technology and advance the state of the art with their proprietary machine learning algorithms.

Affectiva’s core emotion engine analyzes any video stream and maps it to an emotional state. And for the benefit of application developers, they’ve packaged it as software development kits (SDKs) and cloud-based APIs. “Our own device SDKs run in real time and don’t send any videos to the cloud, which is important for privacy reasons,” explains el Kaliouby. “It allows any developer to very quickly emotion-able their very own digital experience.” With the idea of ubiquitous emotion technology in mind, they’ve shrunk the machine learning models to enable them to run on any device, including iOS, Linux, mac OS, Windows, Unity and even Raspberry Pi. A large part of why el Kaliouby and her team built the SDKs was to allow them to diversify and explore new verticals.

The automotive industry is a perfect example. “As we transition into semi-autonomous and fully-autonomous vehicles, it is going to be imperative that cars understand the mental state of their drivers,” explains el Kaliouby. “As cars redefine themselves as conversational, infotainment interfaces that want to understand the emotional engagement of the user to personalize the experience—the lighting in the car, the music—this has the potential to be a big market for Affectiva.” They have just finished a proof of concept with a large Japanese car manufacturer, which involved installing cameras and Affectiva’s Emotion AI in cars in Tokyo and Boston, and collecting driver data. El Kaliouby also mentions that Affectiva’s tech is used in a number of social robots.

Throughout this diversification process, MIT ILP has played a substantial role in connecting Affectiva to new industry partners. El Kaliouby says, “One of the reasons that we are so excited to join the STEX25 program is that we are constantly looking to diversify into new markets. And this is where we can tap into the MIT ILP network.” She is also in the process of organizing the first ever Emotion AI Summit at the MIT Media Lab (September 13, 2017). “Emotion AI is a core capability that is growing into a multibillion dollar industry, and it is transformative to many different verticals. We at Affectiva are excited to bringing together business and thought leaders who are interested in exploring artificial emotional intelligence for their own data platforms, devices, and technologies. And we’re very much looking forward to the opportunity to expose ILP members to this type of technology.” Consider it another step towards Rana el Kaliouby’s vision of ubiquitous emotion AI.


About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.

StartupExchange
July 6, 2017

C2Sense: Bringing a sense of smell to the digital world

Jan Schnorr has seen sensor technologies come and go through the years. But despite promising ideas backed by solid tech, there is a common theme among them: a struggle to transition from the lab to the real world where fluctuating temperatures, humidity, the presence of new compounds and a host of other unforeseeable variables wreak havoc on a sensor’s ability to function properly.

Jan Marcus Schnorr
CEO
C2Sense

Jan Schnorr has seen sensor technologies come and go through the years. But despite promising ideas backed by solid tech, there is a common theme among them: a struggle to transition from the lab to the real world where fluctuating temperatures, humidity, the presence of new compounds and a host of other unforeseeable variables wreak havoc on a sensor’s ability to function properly. Schnorr explains this as a problem of specificity. “For example, you have a sensor that is supposed to pick up one part per million ethylene gas in a fruit storage facility in the presence of 10,000 parts per million of water. It needs to be incredibly specific for the compounds you care about. That is the main challenge we set out to solve with our patented chemiresistive technologies.” C2Sense achieves this by combining their carbon nanotube-based network with what they refer to as a selector. “Think of it as a simplified version of an enzyme that is designed to interact specifically with the compounds you care about,” says Schnorr, “thereby eliminating false positives.” In the case of C2Sense, they are interested in detecting gases that can be destructive to our food and harmful to our health.

Schnorr moved from Germany to complete both his PhD and postdoctoral work in the MIT Chemistry department with Tim Swager, who has been working on sensing technologies for over 30 years. When he arrived, the group was hard at work developing the next generation of the technology. The aim was to create a small, relatively simple and affordable product, all while maintaining specificity. “I was fortunate enough to join the Swager Laboratory at a time when we were working on a product for ethylene detection,” says Schnorr. The results, published in a 2012 paper, were very promising and led to their initial funding from MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, with whom Schnorr and C2Sense maintain a close relationship. This was followed by a significant government grant from the National Science Foundation in 2014. And while C2Sense has moved out of MIT into their own Cambridge offices, Schnorr says they very much remain a part of the MIT startup ecosystem and rely on the institution for advice and industry contacts among other things: “The quality of contacts we’ve reached through MIT ILP has been amazing,” he says. “Due to their extensive knowledge of what is useful for their member companies it has been very important for us.”



It’s an exciting time for the young startup that spun out of MIT just three years ago. They’re on the verge of completing their Series A financing and are preparing to launch their first product. It’s a small, lightweight and cost-effective sensor that detects ethylene in even trace amounts, thereby ensuring optimal storage conditions for produce. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted every year, which amounts to roughly one trillion dollars. Not to mention the resulting negative social and environmental impacts. C2Sense aims to make a massive dent in those numbers.

Schnorr stresses that the team at C2Sense has prioritized industry partnerships since the beginning. “We sought to work with industry partners very early on to avoid the fate of so many groups and individuals who spend years developing a technology only to discover there is not enough customer interest.” One such partner is AgroFresh, an industry leader that provides innovative food storage solutions to enable growers and packers of fresh produce to preserve and enhance the freshness, quality and value of their produce. “We started with lab experiments and preliminary tests before launching our big pilot project last year,” says Schnorr. At this point C2Sense, in conjunction with AgroFresh, has tested their ethylene sensor in a wide variety of facilities spanning 12 different countries across the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The success of the pilot is evident in the fact that a global, industry giant is now C2Sense’s first client.

“The first step, where we can have the biggest impact, is in the food supply chain,” says Schnorr. With that in mind, C2Sense has also applied their technology to develop ammonia sensors. According to a recent study, the poultry industry loses approximately half a billion dollars per year due to high ammonia concentrations in chicken grow-out houses. Schnorr says, “It just so happens, we’ve been working on our ammonia sensors, and they work really well in that type of environment.” C2Sense is also exploring options to apply their technology to meat and fish, further impacting the food supply chain. This expansion into new arenas proves how far reaching the technology has the potential to be.

Aside from the food and agriculture industries, environmental monitoring and industrial safety are application areas with huge potential. C2Sense is currently working with the Department of Energy to develop wearable sensors that detect toxic compounds to protect workers on site. “Imagine a wearable sensor that can smell hazardous gases and alert workers if a toxic compound is spiking, to what degree and whether or not it is time to put on a respirator and evacuate the area,” says Schnorr. This alert system highlights an aspect of what makes C2Sense so special: the dual-purpose nature of their applications. “In the food industry we help avoid waste, which is beneficial for people and also saves money. In industrial safety we reduce liabilities for an employer while protecting workers simultaneously.”

As every facet of the human experience becomes digitized, from audio sensing and voice recognition to physical sensors like accelerometers, Schnorr and C2Sense insist that instilling our computers with a sense of smell is essential. “It’s far from trivial and it’s an aspect that has yet to be fully explored or embraced,” says Schnorr. “Step by step we are creating more and more capabilities, and once we have a suite of different capabilities we can bring it into your home in the form of smart, simple gas sensors built into our everyday devices.” Imagine the advantage of a sensor built in to your refrigerator that can not only tell you when it is time to use your produce but also sends a message to an integrated application on your phone with recipe suggestions. In other words, C2Sense intends to build convenience into our everyday lives in the not-too-distant future.



About MIT Startup Exchange, STEX25, and MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP)
MIT Startup Exchange actively promotes collaboration and partnerships between MIT-connected startups and industry. Qualified startups are those founded and/or led by MIT faculty, staff, or alumni, or are based on MIT-licensed technology. Industry participants are principally members of MIT’s Industrial Liaison Program (ILP).

MIT Startup Exchange maintains a propriety database of over 1,500 MIT-connected startups with roots across MIT departments, labs and centers; it hosts a robust schedule of startup workshops and showcases, and facilitates networking and introductions between startups and corporate executives.

STEX25 is a startup accelerator within MIT Startup Exchange, featuring 25 “industry ready” startups that have proven to be exceptional with early use cases, clients, demos, or partnerships, and are poised for significant growth. STEX25 startups receive promotion, travel, and advisory support, and are prioritized for meetings with ILP’s 230 member companies.

MIT Startup Exchange and ILP are integrated programs of MIT Corporate Relations.