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June 24, 2018

BROWSE NEWS RESULTS

48 Results | Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Last | Next
 
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
February 7, 2018

Arundo: pushing data analytics to the edge

After many years leading the global technology practice for asset-heavy industries, MIT alumnus Tor Jakob Ramsøy launched Arundo two and a half years ago to provide large-scale analytics and increased asset utilization.
The declining costs of data acquisition, data storage, and cloud computing have transformed the economics of numerous industries, from consumer products to retail to financial services. However, fields such as energy, maritime, chemical, and manufacturing haven’t experienced the benefits at the same rate. These sectors face unique challenges with their capital-intensive physical assets and related information technology investments. MIT alumnus Tor Jakob Ramsøy (S.M. ‘95) understood these dynamics, and launched Arundo two and a half years ago to provide large-scale analytics. The company’s technology enables machine learning for performance insights and automates processes for equipment monitoring, safety, logistics, and scheduling, helping its clients to minimize unplanned downtime and increase profitability, because as Ramsøy says, “It’s all about increased asset utilization.” Tor Jakob Ramsøy, CEO of Arundo Analytics

Reviving data science
Arundo was founded in 2015; the inspiration came a couple of years earlier. Ramsøy had been a senior partner at McKinsey & Company, leading the global technology practice for asset-heavy industries. In that role, he saw a recurring theme. Big companies with old assets had lots of data, but they weren’t storing or using it in any systematic or accessible way. Even if they tried to use the latest machine learning tools, he says, “A lot of data science was dying in PowerPoint.”

More than merely rescuing information, Ramsøy says that he wanted to apply consumer business algorithms, such as how Netflix makes recommendations based on past viewing, to industrial companies. The intent, he says, was to be dynamic and to anticipate and predict issues in real time, such as equipment or operation failures and points of improvement. Three offices were then opened: Silicon Valley for technology innovation; Oslo, by the North Sea, for shipping and renewables; and Houston for oil and gas. A Boston office was added in January 2018 to take advantage of MIT’s talents and the ILP’s partnerships with large industrial companies that could benefit from Arundo’s capabilities.

While oil and gas was the initial focus – the field basically invented big data 30-40 years ago, Ramsøy says – Arundo’s industry targets share common ground. They have advanced equipment with sensors, making data harvesting and sharing that much easier. There’s also the need to minimize downtime without a compromise in safety. For example, with an oil rig in the North Sea, the average utilization is 84 percent, but the planned utilization is 95. As Ramsøy says, if a company produced 50,000 barrels a day at $45 per barrel, that 11 percent gap could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. With 50 oil rigs in play, it’s a multi-billion dollar opportunity. “The magnitude of the business case is enormous,” he says.

Going to the edge
Arundo’s initial customer was Statoil. For the Norwegian multinational energy company, Arundo built algorithms and developed the ability to not only capture data, but also compare it to performance history and be able to offer predictive maintenance, either with a specific recommendation or even by implementing something like a controlled stop, Ramsøy says.

That’s one part, the ability to pinpoint the cause of downtime, Ramsøy says, and fix it. What sets the company apart is being able to easily introduce machine learning at scale into daily operations, and it’s due to leveraging the cloud, which he says is accessible, safe and inexpensive. Because of the abundance of sensors, Arundo can tap into heavy industrial equipment, stream data, build and train machine learning models, and then publish those models into a business process, with “one click,” he says. Additionally, Arundo provides “edge” analytics, which involves a few things. The company can sample and intelligently stream data from rugged or remote industrial sites, which may not always have internet connectivity, into the cloud. It can provide edge compute capabilities to compress data with local calculations and stream just the results back to the cloud. And, most uniquely, it can push trained machine learning models down to the edge, enabling them to interact with local operators and decision processes and sync with a cloud-based model management framework when connectivity is available. “So then you have the wisdom of the crowd. All machine learning models are learning from each other,” he says.

All this wouldn’t mean much without speed. For one client, a manufacturing company with 35 plants around the world, Arundo was able to pull streaming machine data from a plant in China in just one day, and deploy real-time cloud analytics in just a couple of weeks, once the right hardware was in place. Ramsøy says that at minimum every customer is guaranteed delivered business value in less than 90 days.

Being ready for changes
Ramsøy says that he’s happy with the state of his company, but he’s not satisfied, as untapped opportunities remain. One is MIT. Arundo recently joined the STEX25, and while the relationship is still taking shape, Ramsøy knows that high expectations and optimism aren’t unrealistic in being part of the ecosystem. What’s often said is true, he adds. MIT offers expertise and talent with its faculty, researchers and students, who can help improve Arundo’s technology, along with being the current and future generations of employees. “We see MIT as a great meeting place between industrial companies, research, and start-ups like ourselves,” he says. “We hope to take an active and leading role in this with our IoT products.”

All that will certainly assist in the other great potential that Ramsøy sees. No industry wants to merely buy a pump anymore. It wants to buy pumping. This industrial shift from product to service economy hinges on readily having usable data. For both a company and its equipment manufacturers, data analytics would let them know exactly what they’re delivering, and, rather than trying to sell an input, businesses could guarantee an outcome. That ability hasn’t existed and it’s one area that Ramsøy says gives Arundo an advantage. “Think of us as the Android of the industrial internet,” he says. “That is what really makes me excited.”

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
December 11, 2017

Humatics: Microlocation tech aims to improve human/robot interaction

David Mindell, MIT Professor in Aerospace Engineering and the History of Technology, is the author of five books, including the recent “Our Robots, Ourselves.” He’s also a pilot and an expert on automated underwater subs who has collaborated with Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard and others in more than 25 underwater explorations. In 2015, he launched a Cambridge, Mass. startup called Humatics that is developing a microlocation system for positioning people and objects down to the millimeter scale.
“Our mission is to revolutionize the way we locate, navigate, and collaborate between people and machines,” says Mindell, CEO of the 25-person company. The Humatics technology was not developed at MIT, but “we build on work from MIT,” says Mindell. The company has also benefited from MIT’s various venture startup services, and has been selected as member of MIT ILP’s elite STEX25 (Startup Exchange 25) accelerator program.

Humatics, which counts Ballard and Apollo 15 astronaut and MIT graduate Dave Scott among its scientific advisors, is initially targeting its technology at industrial automation. The primary mission is to streamline the choreography of robots and humans working together in factories. The application has more in common with deep-sea exploration than you might expect.



David Mindell
Founder & CEO
Humatics

“Humatics incorporates lessons we have learned in robotics and automation in extreme environments, such as the deep ocean, outer space, aviation, and some military environments,” explains Mindell. “Our microlocation technology is based on work I did in the 1990s on sonar for high precision navigation of robots in deep ocean. From a navigation standpoint, factories have a lot in common with the deep ocean. There’s no GPS, a lot of noise, and only a few fixed beacons to work from.”

For years, Mindell has sought to translate sonar technologies into new terrestrial applications, but only in the last few years has it become feasible, driven in part by developments in automotive radar. “We’re driving the Moore’s Law for radar,” says Mindell. “Costs are coming down to the point where small, short-range radar can be brought to bear on robotics and autonomous systems.”

The RF-based Humatics technology is unlike traditional sonar, radar, or LIDAR, in that it doesn’t do “blobology on reflective echoes,” says Mindell. “However, it uses a lot of the same core technologies. Unlike GPS, it can work indoors, and is not limited to an uncertainty range of three to nine meters,” says Mindell. “Almost all robotics and human work happens within a much smaller circle.”

Humatics technology won’t replace all the sensor systems in a factory, says Mindell. Yet, he adds that “Right now there’s no solution for millimeter scale precise positioning in the harsh environment of manufacturing where there are strange lighting conditions and lots of stuff moving around.”

The Humatics technology, differs from most sensor and machine vision solutions used with robotics in that it doesn’t perform blobology, which Mindell describes as “looking at a big dot cloud of echoes and try to apply different algorithms to get 80 percent certainty.” Instead, the microlocation system can pinpoint multiple transponders within a 30-meter range, each of which has a unique digital tag.

“You might wear a wristband, or have safety equipment with built-in transponders, or they can be attached to robots, workpieces, or engine parts,” says Mindell. “We know exactly what and where each transponder is and how far it is from other transponders -- not just how far an object is from your hand, but how far it is from a particularly point on your hand.”




Uncaging the robots
Millimeter-scale precision is essential for the growing efforts to free robots from their cages and let them work with people. “The robotics industry is transitioning,” says Mindell. “Now the innovations are not so much in the robots as in the applications, use cases, and environments that allow them to work in human settings. Most robots are still inflexible clockwork mechanisms doing repetitive tasks. We’re interested in making robots more flexible and collaborative, and less walled off from humans. Right now, we still have a very stand-off relationship with most robots, and for good reason – they can kill you. That’s changing, but we have a long way to go in improving communications, mutual awareness, and safety.”

To improve safety and productivity in a mixed workspace, Humatics has developed spatial technology algorithms that work with the microlocation network to track mobile humans and robots. “Our Spatial Intelligence Platform ™ tracks and analyzes how people and machines and parts move through the factory,” says Mindell. “We can then gather the tremendously rich information from those motion paths, and compare it to a larger database.”

Customers can augment the Humatics platform with visualization, machine learning and analytics tools to help compare daily motion paths against historical patterns. The resulting lessons can be used to provide feedback to workers to enable continuous improvement by emulating the motions of the best workers. “Our system helps to explore the choreography of people working with machines,” says Mindell.

Beyond the factory: automobiles and drones
Humatics is already looking to other applications, including driverless cars. The microlocation technology could be used to identify the location of other vehicles, pedestrians, and infrastructure more precisely than what is capable with GPS, LIDAR, or vision systems.

“Our technology enables relative positioning info with a greater reliability and accuracy than is possible now with blobology based sensors,” says Mindell. “For example, bicycles are very hard to recognize at night or in the snow and rain, but our system is immune to those conditions.”

The catch is that all the other cars, bicycles, pedestrians, and traffic infrastructure would also need transponders. Yet, the hardware is simple enough that it should be able to affordably scale to the level of today’s RFID technology.

Drones are another possibility, especially when operating in tight urban environments or interior spaces where precise positioning is crucial. “To be active in populated areas, drones need to be in very precise relationships to the people and things around them,” says Mindell.

Mindell says that when he pilots a plane, he uses GPS about 99.99 percent of the time. However, the FAA requires a ground-based navigation system backup. “It’s crazy to think we won’t have drones flying through airspace that don’t have a similar requirement,” he says. “When you’re close to buildings, you still want to be operating in direct relationship with things. Our microlocation technology can provide short-lived, very precise navigational interactions.”

The myth of full autonomy
Some of the guiding principles behind Humatics were laid out by Mindell in his 2015 book, “Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy,” which argued that the drive to create fully autonomous robots risks missing out on the greater potential of robotics. “For autonomous systems to be useful, they need to situate themselves in human environments,” says Mindell. “The highest form of technology is that which gives you exactly the right level of automation you need at the time.”

“The more sophisticated companies are designing cars that are your collaborator and friend, that can learn from your driving habits, work with the environment, and draw answers from the cloud,” he says. “These robots bring new levels of decision making embedded within human context. Those relationships should be built into the core of autonomous systems.”

Even if the automobile industry moves to a fully self-driving experience instead of an ADAS interaction, the cars won’t be as autonomous as advertised, says Mindell. “The driver will still pick the destination and possibly change it en route.”

People also tend to overlook the hidden human inputs baked into a car’s programming. “Autonomous car projects draw on huge databases of human drivers,” says Mindell. “There are thousands of human inputs and assumptions from programmers about what constitutes a pedestrian and how fast the car is moving. Even in a driverless car, there’s always a wrapper of human control. All these systems are networks of people and machines.”

The Humatics technology may well provide one essential piece of the puzzle for connecting the robot and human worlds. “The boundaries of autonomous, remote, and manual control are blurring,” says Mindell. “We’re building the navigational envelopes that allow those robots to work with precision, safety, and collaboration in human environments. The integration is where the action is.”



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.