The Hitchhiker's Guide to Dayton Tech & Startups

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Dayton Tech & Startups

Propeller aims to turn Hoboken's Pier A into the 'SXSW of the Northeast'

This article, written by Anthony Noto, first appeared in Upstart Business Journal on 05/09/2016. You can read the original post here.


NEW YORK—Aaron Price, the founder of NJ Tech Meetup, has been busy orchestrating an event he's billing as "the SXSW of the Northeast."

Propeller, which kicks off May 20, has an attendee list currently hovering 5,000. Tech luminaries, investors, fund managers, billion-dollar unicorns and startups will convene at Pier A Park in Hoboken, New Jersey. The lineup includes a startup competition, VC speed dating, guest speakers and a grand finale concert featuring Beatie Wolfe(with Bell Labs Human Digital Orchestra) and electronic band The Naked and Famous.

Among the speakers slated to take the stage include City of New York CTO Minerva Tantoco, angel investor and founder of Gotham Gal Ventures Joanne Wilson and Techstars managing director Jenny Fielding. The list was updated today.

Propeller is rooted in the fact that "ideas are a dime a dozen," Price told me. "What you propel forward is what matters — it's really about action and not ideas." Read on to hear more about what Propeller has to offer N.Y.C.'s startup and VC community.

How has your background led to creating Propeller?

I patented a weightlifting device in high school. When I was 19, I started a food delivery service called DeliveryU, a company similar to Seamless. That was in 1999, a time when flip phones were the main mode of communication. The world was very different. I also started NJ Tech Meetup at a time when we were the only one tech meetup in New Jersey. I've really grown to appreciate the challenging career choice of launching a startup. I also don't believe there are many overnight successes. And these kinds of events that bring together thought leaders are essential because it's not a process that one can do alone. By learning from other experienced entrepreneurs, you can save money, time and heartache. It makes the entire process a lot more meaningful and successful.

TechDay has also been recognized for its massive scale. Is Propeller planning to be different?

We just think it's time to unify the Northeast startup and innovation community in a much bigger way. I've been an entrepreneur my whole life. I know the struggle and I wanted to bring together something that's inspiring, educational, fun and, hopefully, festive. I think TechDay is great. We were one of the exhibitors there. The environment is different. It's an open expo with lots of networking. What we'd like to do is take the best of what's being offered and create a unique experience overall. New York is massively overdue for something of this scale.

What are some of the highlights that are planned?

We have about 100 plus speakers, a Techstars co-hosted startup competition, several interactive events — virtual reality, drone training — a recruiting bar and lounge from, plus the many exhibitors throughout the day. I see elements of what we want to do at much smaller events around New York and the rest of the country, but very few bring it together in a very engaging and inspirational way. Now we're at a point in our regional ecosystem that justifies something at a much larger scale, built to unify all these other communities. We're not trying to compete with all of those organized events. We want one that unifies everyone and is really epic.

Was it challenging to get so many speakers on board?

It was easy by the time I had made the actual connection. Years of networking have paid off. The feedback has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. They've all recognized the need to do something like this in the area and say they are thrilled to be a part of it. The reaction has been strong. We've gotten some impressive names in our speaker lineup and we're expecting to add more. I'm humbled by the positive response.

How did you come to scheduling the event in Hoboken?

We looked at venues in New York City, Brooklyn and New Jersey. But we saw Pier A as the perfect place to bring together the entire region. The venue is outdoors with a beautiful skyline that lends itself nicely to be a unique event, and fits up to 15,000 people. It's also next to mass transit and easily accessible. Therefore, it made a lot of sense for something at this scale. And even though it's certainly on the New Jersey side, we're not billing it as a Jersey focused event. In many ways, this is like having the quintessential New York tech and music event.

General admission for Propeller costs between $99.99 to $329.99, though the lowest priced tickets are sold out and prices rise as event day approaches. Pricing options for exhibitors are anywhere from $1000 to $20,000. 

The New Way to Office: Envoy offers a look into the coolest 'office hacks' at tech startups

This article, written by Anne Gaus, first appeared in Upstart Business Journals on May 2, 2016. You can read the original post here.

SAN FRANCISCO—If you’ve visited a startup office recently, you’ve almost certainly used Envoy’s products without realizing it. San Francisco-based Envoy makes the visitor registration systems – typically an iPad, an interface that companies can customize to their needs, and a printer that spits out badges – that have quickly come to replace the paper guestbooks of the past.

Larry Gadea is CEO at SF-based Envoy

Larry Gadea is CEO at SF-based Envoy

Envoy’s CEO Larry Gadea, who worked previously at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) in systems engineering, was inspired to create the product after using the modern sign-in systems that larger tech companies had adopted earlier on.

“Google, Facebook and Apple had made the systems themselves, and it seemed odd to me that these companies would build it themselves when it’s so useful to everyone,” he says.

The benefits of digital registration systems are obvious: better office security, easier record-keeping, and the potential to sync calendars, email and a host of other apps. So Gadea built Envoy himself in February 2013 and put it on the app store – and at first, “no one downloaded it,” he remembers.

Soon thereafter, he ran into someone from Airbnb at a party.

“They told me, ‘we’ve been trying to work on something like Envoy, but never finished it,” Gadea says.

With that, Airbnb became one of Envoy's earliest customers – and the “network effects” snowballed from there. Visitors from other local companies like Pandora (NYSE: P) or GoPro (NASDAQ: GPRO) would use the system, and suggest it to their own employers in turn. Much like at Airbnb, some had been meaning to develop their own similar systems; but often, such lower-priority projects are left to interns who come and go, Gadea notes. Thus, Envoy became the solution.

“We’re kind of unique in that you can try Envoy out, like it, and bring it back to your own company,” he adds.

Three years later, Envoy has a diverse slate of more than 2,000 paying customers that include big tech companies like Box ( NYSE: BOX), Pixar, Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), and GitHub, along with schools, gyms, law offices, and even oil rigs – basically "any business with a sign-in system" is a potential customer, Gadea says.

It has raised more than $16 million in funding, with most of that coming in a Series A round last summer led by Andreessen Horowitz.

The product's organic success has also meant that resources otherwise used on sales and marketing have allowed Envoy to collaborate closely with customers to build out feature requests: “We take feature requests very seriously, and a lot of the functionality has been built because a customer really wanted it,” he adds.

That’s resulted in integrations with Slack, Eventbrite, Google and Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) apps, among many other special features like the ability to notify the office when food arrives, to incorporate training videos and NDAs, and pre-registration of visitors.

As a bonus, Envoy has found that spirit of collaboration has opened a unique window into company culture: particularly at tech companies brimming with engineering talent, workers might whip up DIY solutions to everyday issues like coffee, music or conference room availability – for efficiency's sake, or in some cases, just for fun.

“When they use a product like Envoy, chances are they’re doing cool things internally, too,” he says.

An engineer at Envoy, for example, used a stray Raspberry Pi to build a celebratory gong that goes off every time the company makes a new sale.

Another SF-based startup, the data streaming network PubNub, hacked together a digital scale, a microcontroller, and the office coffee maker to remotely monitor when coffee is running low.

Developers at Mozilla created an in-house music streaming system out of a record player, some software and a pile of vinyl that colleagues found at flea markets and thrift stores. Another, Social Print Studio, made a strategically placed “microwave of shame” to resolve an ongoing debate about microwaves, and to foster healthy eating through a bit of social experimentation.

The creativity in solving everyday issues inspired Envoy to start a podcast called “Office Hacks” spotlighting the do-it-yourself projects that companies like Slack, Mozilla, and Hootsuite, among others, have engineered to make their work environments more efficient and fun.

“The office doesn’t have to be a boring place where all the software there was provisioned by facilities,” Gadea adds: “That’s kind of what our company has been about all along.”

Check out a few of the best office hacks below, and at Envoy’s blog.

Google wants staffers to follow their startup dreams — without leaving Google

This article written by Gina Hall, first appeared in the Upstart Business Journal on April 25, 2016.

google area 120.JPG

SILICON VALLEY—Google, which last year separated itself from its "moonshot" projects when it reorganized as Alphabet, is now building a startup incubator called “Area 120” to foster ideas from in-house talent.

It will apparently be part of the core business that is now known as Google and is named “Area 120,” a reference to Google’s “20 percent” policy which allows employees to use one-fifth of their work time on interesting side projects.

The incubator will be located in one of Google’s new San Francisco-based buildings, according to The Information. The goal is to keep staffers at the company instead of watching them exit Google to follow their startup dreams.

The company will place Google executives Don Harrison and Bradley Horowitz in charge of the operation. Harrison has worked on Google’s corporate development team, while Horowitz oversaw Google+ and has recently been running products such as “Photos and Streams.”

Teams within Google can submit a business plan as an application to join Area 120. If the company likes an idea, the team can work on the project full time for a short period. The teams will then be able to pitch for additional funding to build a Google-funded company. Google has Google Ventures and Google Capital, but it is unknown if the funds will work with Area 120, which will be funded out of Google's corporate development budget, per the report.

The incubator comes at a time when Google is pulling back on hiring and spending, according to the Wall Street Journal. Last July, the company started conducting an internal audit, taking a hard look at costs, revenue and accounting. Employees reportedly noticed expenditures for travel, supplies and events required more justification, adding more friction to the approval process.

Some investors are also concerned that the company is spreading itself too thin and spending too much on “moonshot” projects at the expense of Google’s core businesses. The company is looking into such ventures as Internet access from high-altitude balloons, delivering its own wireless service and self-driving cars.

The incubator is one way Google can retain innovative employees who may be concerned that fiscal frugality could limit their potential. When Google debuted Alphabet in 2015, part of its mission statement was to empower “great entrepreneurs and companies to flourish” and invest “at the scale of the opportunities and resources we see.”

This Home Security Device Creates A Sound Fingerprint To Protect Your Home

This article, written by Jennifer Hicks, first appeared on on 04/11/2016. You can read the original post here.

If you’re looking for home security you’re generally faced with two options: line of sight camera-based solutions that require you to connect multiple devices around your home or customized and serviced security systems installed in your home activated or deactivated by a code.

What if you had one device that was able to learn your habits as you move around your home and then build a digital sound signature of your movements of what’s considered normal and send you a notification when that sound was different? 

A UK company has come up with a connected device called Cocoon which does just that.

The tech inside Cocoon is a combination of infrasound (low frequency sound) detection, machine learning and geolocation that builds a sound picture of your home. Instead of a heat map, think sound map. Infrasound is below normal human hearing range of  20Hz – this level of sound is where scientists, by example, monitor earthquakes or listen for rock and petroleum formations below the earth.

Cocoon, which fits into the palm of your hand, is connected to your smartphone and uses geolocation to know who’s home or who isn’t home. Cocoon is aware and builds a schedule around your movements in the home. It can know everything from the time your noisy neighbors upstairs arrive home to the sounds your house makes in storm and it can also differentiate unusual events or sounds outside of your pattern of normalcy. From this it creates a fingerprint or map of the sounds that correspond with your movements.

If you aren’t at home and there’s a sound in your house of someone walking or opening a window, Cocoon would detect that based on the pattern of knowledge it heard and notify you.

Cocoon identifies these sound fingerprints and determines the worry level of the event which is a measurement of how likely it is to occur in your particular home when it’s in an empty state. That worry score takes into account the recent history of activity in the household to determine how worried Cocoon is that there may be an unexpected presence. If this reaches a threshold unique to your home, Cocoon will notify you and allow you to take action.

“If something’s not right at home, Cocoon instantly sends an intelligent notification to your phone in seconds,” said Colin Richardson, Co-founder, Cocoon. “If you’re busy at the time, Cocoon will send the notification to whoever else you have given permission to.”

“We think Cocoon completely dismantles the complexity of home security and helps everyone feel safe at home. You don’t need to buy and set up multiple units, work out line of sight or vulnerable points to fit sensors. You don’t need a professional to come fit it or conduct annual check-ups. There’s no need to arm it or disarm it when you walk through the door,” added Richardson. “You simply put it down and it works out the rest – the simplest way to feel safe at home.”

Helping BigCos Work with Startups – P&G Purchaser Immersion Day

This article, written by Patrick Veturella, first appeared on on 4/1/2016. You can read the original here. Cintrifuse, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, acts as a connector and a supporter to the Cincinnati region's backable startups by leveraging its network of local Fortune 500 companies to provide startups with the opportunity to find potential first customers.

Union Hall was packed with P&Ger’s yesterday. The folks from Procter & Gamble’s purchasing department came to Cincinnati’s innovation hub to hear from startups and to learn how to incorporate a “startup mentality” into their current roles.

The audience heard from six startups, Healthy NationBaloonrChoreMonsterConnXusBateriiand Ahalogy, that each shared their own experience working with P&G, specifically their purchasing department. The startups all had great advice for BigCos on how to make it easier to work with high-growth potential startups.

For instance, Chris Bergman, CEO at Choremonster, had a poignant message applicable to all large corporations looking to work with startups – talk to them like humans and don’t look at risk, instead look at opportunity. Director of Sales at Batterii, Shaun Chokreff, emphasized the importance of the Innovation Champion that was able to help them navigate the 18 month long procurement process.

But some of the most direct advice came for Bob Gilbreath, CEO of Ahalogy. As an ex-P&Ger himself, he outlined four ways large corporations can get more value from working with startups.

  • Teach brands that technology startups are the new creative agencies.
  • Embrace big brand experiments with new models.
  • Drive big decisions about tech solutions
  • Learn how the technology sausage is made and teach that to brands.

After we heard from the startups the audience got to hear from representatives from two innovation firms.

Andrew Backs, founder of Pilot 44, talked to the group about the benefits of startup driven innovation. He outlined 5 ways brands benefit from startup-driven innovation.

  • Gain early insights into trends and technology that impacts consumer behavior.
  • Hands-on experience and learning about technologies informs strategy.
  • It builds early strategic partnerships.
  • Decreases the time to market for new initiatives.
  • Helps find real solutions to real problems.

Following Andrew was  Ann Thompson, Co-Founder of The Garage Group. She had a similar message for the audience. But she outlined five truths about the current business environment that make it essential for BigCos to innovate and grow like a startup.

  • A “what has to be true” mentality breaks through existing paradigms and models.
  • The same inputs over time lead to deteriorating results.
  • Faster, more meaningful progress comes from pursuing multiple paths simultaneously.
  • Shifting from knowing to learning drives us to create the right solutions, faster and with greater confidence.
  • We can move much, much faster than we think we can.

Thanks to all the presenters and all the purchasers from P&G that came out for the event. It was a morning packed with tons of information so if you missed it or want to look at the presenter’s slide decks check out the Ving we put together for the event.


This article, written by Patrick Linton, first appeared on the Startup Grind blog. You can read the original post here.

"Silicon Valley's Reality: The party is over" – CNBC

"For Silicon Valley, the Hangover Begins" - Wall Street Journal

"Tech Funding Slowdown Hits Venture Capital Firms" - Bloomberg


You’ve seen the headlines and you read the news. You also probably looked at these headlines with skepticism, because you know how bad the hype can be.

While there may be some significant truth here (according to PitchBook, VC investing in U.S. companies has declined rapidly over Q4 2015 and Q1 2016) there is also opportunity. Instead of obsessing over the macro trends, focus on the practical steps you’re taking today to adapt and prepare.

Here’s the thing: clever, efficient companies who are smart with their finances shouldn’t necessarily be worried. This may seem novel, but wasting money is never a good idea, regardless of the availability of funding.

"Having that much cash on hand can make you sloppy. I like having a little bit of pressure — a little bit of pressure is good for creativity.” - Baiju Prafulkumar Bhatt, cofounder of $50M-funded Robinhood.

There are things you can do today to get creative, especially when it comes to most companies’ #1 expense: payroll. These 3 things will make you more efficient, profitable, nimble, and prepared for whatever comes your way—good and bad.

Look Beyond the “Skills Gap” Hype

"If a company can't attract, or retain, the people it needs to grow or execute its strategic goals, it falls into a skills gap and withers away to irrelevancy." - Gary Beach, author of The U.S.Technology Skills Gap.

Right now, the U.S. has a record number of job openings—a whopping 5.6 million. Companies are finding it increasingly hard to find the right people to fill their vacancies.

In addition, recent data tells us we are in a “candidate’s market,” with employers complaining about a growing “skills gap” — saying they couldn’t find enough qualified applicants to fill current job openings.

Unless you’re setting government policy, or hiring thousands of people this month, this doesn’t have to impact you. But, to keep that impact low you may have to be more flexible on location, and as a startup or small business, you are uniquely positioned to take advantage of a wider world of talent. Qualified employees are out there, and they might even be looking for what you’re offering. The only thing is, they may not be living in your neighborhood.

An Oxford Economics report called Global Talent 2021, says that companies will need to think more broadly about talent. Managers will “need to recruit for talent in new and sometimes unexpected geographies, as talent surpluses develop in some fast-growing markets while mature markets face talent deficits."

Understanding these surpluses and deficits means that you don’t need to worry about the skills gap.  In a slowdown, your focus should be on remaining competitive and growing, especially in the face of uncertain funding. You can survive—even thrive—when you ignore the hype and stop worrying about the skills gap.

Follow the Fortune 500 - Become Micro-multinational

Gone are the days of “multinational” being a tag restricted to large companies. Enter the age of the micro-multinational-- "small, self-starting companies that are either ‘born global’ or else leverage online business platforms and the increased openness of the global economy to enter global markets" according to Raj Subramaniam, EVP of Global Marketing and Communications for FedEx.

The most successful companies understand that the answer is not black and white. The lines between what is “international business” and “local business” are blurred. Is any business really completely out of touch with anything international?

"Any entrepreneur or CEO faces a world that is more interconnected and more competitive than ever," says U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker. All businesses, regardless of size, need to think and operate on a global scale. "To succeed in the 21st century, any smart enterprise knows that its customer base is not just around the corner, but around the world."

If 100% local is no longer a viable option, the other extreme doesn’t have to be true either - a 100% remote-first approach that many tech startups embrace is not feasible for many organizations. You probably need a bit of both.

“I think hiring locally is important, but at the end of the day we are building businesses. And businesses stay alive by being efficient with their capital.” - Tyson Quick, CEO of Instapage.

Looking to find, attract, and retain good people outside of the morning commute and outside of the borders of your city, state, and country is a step in the right direction. But, it is important to see that it may present challenges. Recognize which positions can be done remotely, how many should (or have to) remain local, and what you need to do to keep your remote team productive.

Hire based on your startup’s lifecycle

At game developer Pocket Gem, Carrie Simonds broke down their hiring needs by phase. She explains that the “ideal employee for a 3-person unfunded incubation may not be the best fit for a 50-person company looking to expand overseas."

And it’s not just about watching headcount. “Keep a close eye on your burn rate as you consider expanding staff or benefits,” says Tim Goetz, CEO and co-founder of Aplos. More than ever, employers are called to reassess their business decisions, especially when it comes to hiring.

Define unique triggers right for you that tell your team it's time to bring in a new person, fill a new role, or expand a team. Setting triggers or milestones will tell you that it's the right time to open a specific role.

So, it’s time to prepare. “You’ve got to make a quick decision now,” urges Rory O’Driscoll, a partner with venture firm Scale Venture Partners.  

And, start with what powers your business: the best people.


Patrick Linton is an entrepreneur, writer and advisor to fast growing organizations looking to expand their talent footprint in developing Asia. He is the Co-Founder & CEO of Bolton Remote, an offshore teambuilding service whose mission is to connect incredible emerging market talent with world-class businesses - all remotely - and in turn, help these companies become more competitive, profitable, and nimble. Patrick runs Bolton Remote from Singapore, the Philippines and the United States, serving companies across North America, Australiasia and Europe.


'Skyscraper' Chips Could Make Computers 1,000 Times Faster

This article, written by Jay Bennett, first appeared on on December 10, 2015. You can read the original post here

For years, computer systems have been made of silicon processors and memory chips arranged so they sit next to each other on a single layer. Intricate wiring connects the components so data can be computed on the processors and then stored on the memory chips.

The problem is that this configuration sends digital signals on a longer route than is ideal, and there are common problems with bottlenecking—too much data trying to travel the same circuits simultaneously. Both of these problems can be mitigated by stacking processors and memory chips on top of each other. Stacking chips is how Samsung managed to produce a 16-terabyte hard drive.

It's hard though. To fabricate a silicon chip, you need to heat it up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, a process that torches the chip below if you attempt it directly on a 3D configuration. To avoid this, computer manufacturers have had to construct silicon chips separately and then stack them and connect the thousands of required wires.

But researchers from Stanford and three other universities have developed a new method of stacking chips into 3D configurations called Nano-Engineered Computing Systems Technology, or N3XT. Thanks to a new material for chip fabrication and improved electrical pathways, N3XT high-rise chip designs are 1,000 times more efficient than conventional chip configurations.

The research team has solve stacking problems by using newly developed nano-materials that can be fabricated at lower temperatures so they won't run the risk of frying lower layers. To further improve the performance of their 3D chip structure, the team developed electric "ladders" or "elevators" that can move more data over a short distance than traditional wiring, all while using less energy. To keep the structure from overheating, the team incorporated a cooling system for the chip that is analogous to air conditioning in a real skyscraper.

"There are huge volumes of data that sit within our reach and are relevant to some of society's most pressing problems from health care to climate change, but we lack the computational horsepower to bring this data to light and use it," says Stanford computer scientist and N3XT researcher Chris Ré. "As we all hope in the N3XT project, we may have to boost horsepower to solve some of these pressing challenges." As with all intense microchip tech, it will take years before this makes it to your laptop if it ever even does. But unless we figure out how to get quantum computers into homes first, this could come in handy even a decade from now. 

How Oculus cracked the impossible design of VR (Wired)

This story, written by Peter Ruben, first appeared on on 3/27/2016.  You can read the original post here.

PALMER LUCKEY HAS never used an Oculus Rift.

That’s what the founder of Oculus keeps telling himself as he unboxes the commercial version of the virtual reality system he invented. Opens the package. Takes out the few elements—the headset, the single cable that connects it to a computer, the small cylindrical infrared camera that tracks it in space. Runs through the setup. And finally puts on the headset and takes stock of his surroundings.

Luckey has been doing this same thing over and over and over again, on different computers in different rooms on Facebook’s campus. He’s spent days repeating the sequence, putting himself in the shoes of a customer who has just received a Rift.

That customer could be anyone. Maybe it’s one of the hundreds of thousands of people who bought a developer-only iteration—the Kickstarted version in 2012 or maybe the more refined one that followed two years later. Maybe it’s someone who has spent the last few years with their nose pressed against the digital glass, following every wrinkle of the Rift’s progress on Reddit or podcasts or YouTube or in WIRED or even Oculus’ own lengthy, surprisingly transparent blog posts. Maybe it’s someone who experienced VR only recently, at SXSW or Sundance, and felt in their very marrow that the world was about to change.

Really, though, it doesn’t matter. After nearly four years of work, Luckey and his colleagues are about to share their long-gestating dream with the world. The Oculus Rift arrives tomorrow, and anyone who finds one on their doorstep must have an absolutely seamless experience. With all the momentum that VR has right now—the millions of people who are aware of it, the billions of dollars poured into it—Luckey would hate to see it stall because of something as pedestrian as a long wait for a driver update. So he opens a box, and he sets up a headset, and then he does it all over again. Because Palmer Luckey has never used an Oculus Rift.




Panasonic shows how its robotic suits ease your burden

This article, written by Jon Fingas, first appeared on on March 21, 2016. You can read the original here.

If you ask Panasonic, the future is full of wearable robotic assistants... lots of them. The Japanese tech giant has posted a video highlighting all the exoskeletons and service robots it's working on, and it's clear that the company wants to bring bionics to just about every facet of life. The Assist Suit (shown above) and Ninja respectively boost your lower back and legs, helping you lift heavy warehouse boxes or climb steep mountains. The Power Loader (directly inspired by Aliens), meanwhile, should help during construction work and disasters.

Some of what's in the video is more about restoring lost mobility than improving what you already have. The Self-Reliance Support Robot helps the elderly move from bed to other tasks, like going to the restroom. Resyone, meanwhile, transforms from a bed into a reclining wheelchair.

Is Panasonic's clip optimistic? Probably. These machines still tend to be expensive and limited (Assist Suit lasts for a maximum 8 hours, for example), so you probably won't see them very often in warehouses or retirement homes. Having said this, the sheer range of devices suggests that they could be widespread before too long.

This is what it could look like to ride in a hyperloop

This story, written by Richard Nieva, first appeared on on March 13, 2016. You can read the original here.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies says it's developing "augmented windows" so you don't have to miss what's going on outside while you're riding through a tube.

If zipping around in a small pod through a confined tube at around 760 miles per hour sounds a bit claustrophobic, one hyperloop company is hoping it has a remedy.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies said Sunday it is working on "augmented windows," so passengers in the futuristic high-speed transportation system have something to look at while traveling.

The hyperloop, for the uninitiated, is billionaire Elon Musk's vision for the future of travel. It involves pods hovering on a cushion of air moving through a narrow tube at the speed of sound. Musk unveiled the plans in 2013, but the CEO of Tesla and rocket company SpaceX said he couldn't build it because he did not have the time. The hope for the hyperloop is that it could revolutionize transportation by cutting down travel time and reducing traffic.

But tubular travel doesn't leave much room for many other things people are used to when traveling, like windows. So HTT said it's developing interactive screens you can control with your phone that would let passengers see a realistic landscape outside. The company said it would do that by using motion-capture technology but didn't elaborate further. The "windows" would let you do things like pull up the time, speed you're going, or a map. The company said it is also working on a way for people to be able to see the same things on a screen at the same time.

The idea is to create an experience that's vastly better than what passengers are used to, but not too foreign.

"That's what we're working on besides moving a capsule through a tube," Dirk Ahlborn, chief executive of HTT, said at the South by Southwest tech, music and film festival in Austin, Texas. "Our goal is to make travel suck less."

The company is working with a German augmented reality company called Re'flekt to develop the windows.

HTT is working on a hyperloop track in Quay Valley, California, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The company hopes to have the project up and running there in three years. And last week, HTT announced plans to build a track in Europe connecting Slovakia, Austria and Hungary, with the first section to be completed by 2020.

This Robotic Dining Companion could enhance the lives of millions

Last Friday, while attending the free workday at Nucleus CoShare, we were fortunate enough to cross paths with Scott Stone of Desin--a tech startup that is currently hanging its hat at Tech Town. Friday just so happened to be a big day for Scott and his team, as it was the official launch date for their robotic dining companion known as Obi.

We think Obi is pretty cool. Check out this video to see just what Obi does and how it could help people all over the world who are suffering from debilitating diseases:

You can get more details about Obi by visiting their website.  While you're at it, why not connect with them on Social Media? You can Follow them on Twitter and Like them on Facebook to stay up to date on Obi's latest news.

Cool new wearables unveiled at CES 2016

Last week I shared about some of the new computers that were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month. I have to admit, though, that some of these new wearables have me a lot more excited. 

As entrepreneurs, I think we're a breed that is generally fascinated by ideas and the realm of possibilities that new ideas present. These new wearables certainly present a whole new scope of possibilities for everything from how we monitor our personal health to how we improve our overall performance.

And so, without further ado...

Check out this year's new wearables:

Just about everyone I know sports their immediately recognizable Fitbit on a daily basis to track their health and keep them on target to reach their fitness goals. But what about those who would love to utilize the benefits of a sleep and activity tracker but want something more stylish? The Misfit Ray seems to be the answer. The Ray offers both bracelet and necklace options that look more like designer jewelry than activity trackers. The Ray is powered by button cell batteries, so no charging is required, but you'll have to remember to change them every six months.

Another take on mixing fashion with fitness enhancement, is Samsung's Welt (the name comes from a mashup of its description: wellness belt). Aside from the name, which seems like a misstep, the concept is cool. Most men I know wear a belt on a daily basis, so Samsung was right on when they decided to use this fashion staple as a means of helping people understand their overall health. It tracks waist size, eating habits, and steps taken and works in tandem with an app to create a customized health and diet plan.

Other fitness trackers that were noteworthy were Under Armour's smart shoe, the SpeedForm Gemini 2, and its HealthBox, which comes with a multitude of devices that help the user track his or her lifestyle choices. OMSignal introduced a smart bra that measures biometrics and makes performance-enhancing suggestions via an app.



Wearable Experiments and NAS Holdings unveiled smart tights that are designed to help yoga practitioners perfect their form. Nadi uses haptic vibrations to alert its wearer when they need to adjust their hold in order to perfect their form. 




The only infant wearable introduced was Temp Traq. This soft disposable patch sticks on baby's torso for 24 hours and allows caregivers to have a constant measurement of temperature during that time. Like most of the other wearables, it works with smart phones, so not only can caregivers monitor their child's temperature remotely, but also they can receive alerts when the child's temperature spikes to an alarming level.


This last batch of wearables is especially exciting to me, being that not only am I a woman but also I'm a mother of three. Wisewear introduced a series of smart jewelry that does the typical activity tracking that is trending currently, but the coolest thing about Wisewear is its distress messaging function. In the event of an urgent situation, wearers can send a distress signal to the people they choose (including the authorities), along with their geolocation and sound/video recording of their surroundings.



Top Trends in Product Design from Kaleidoscope

Written by Jessica Sams for Kaleidoscope's Innovation Igniter column. You can read the original post here.

Innovation Igniter: Top Trends in Product Design

As a leading product design firm, we highlight the latest trends in UX design, automotive design, emerging technology, medical device design, and virtual reality to help you fuel up for the week and ignite innovative thinking.

Wearable Sweat Sensor Paves Way for Real-Time Analysis of Body Chemistry

A small, wearable sensor developed at UC Berkeley can read the molecular composition of sweat and send it’s results in real time to a smartphone. “The idea is to have this thumbs-up or thumbs-down device that will give real-time information: it could provide an alarm that you need to take some medication, or that you’re getting dehydrated and need to drink some water”  –  Ali Javey, at the University of California, Berkeley

Flood-Proof Hydraulic House Lifts Itself Off The Ground

A hydraulic house? Yes, two residents of Wrasbury, a town 18 miles west of London, looked to an architectural solution to combat water damage. The residents collaborated with the London firm BAT Studio to design a greenhouse that can rise two feet taller than normal—safely out of harm’s way—thanks to four hydraulic legs.

Passenger Health Displays and Other Design Trends from 2016 Detroit Auto Show

Check out the highlights from this year’s Detroit Auto Show. Automakers have been on similar product-planning schedules for some time with everyone racing to introduce full-size SUVs when that market was hot then the CUVs then crossovers. The end result has been multiple years of the same ole thing. However, there may be a break in the cycle as this year there was refreshing variety represented at Detroit this year.

IBM Design Thinking Human-centered outcomes at speed and scale

As the notion of ‘design thinking’ continues to gain attention like the new kid in school, IBM shares it’s approach to design thinking and how it’s a framework for teaming and action. “It helps our teams not only form intent, but deliver outcomes—outcomes that advance the state of the art and improve the lives of the people they serve.” – IBM Design


Software Suite for Identifying Suspicious Individuals

The US Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate seeks a partner to license and commercialize an advanced tool for identifying and analyzing social groups and communities from complicated data sources where explicit relationships are not yet known.

The Technology: 

Traditional data mining has focused on known relationships between people and transactions. However, such methodologies fail when trying to identify key associates in situations such as advanced money laundering schemes and terrorist organizations.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate (AFRL/RI) has introduced a new paradigm called Uni-Parity Data Community Generation (UDCG) and developed Link Discovery based on Correlation Analysis (LDCA), a new methodology to discover social groups. The purpose is to greatly reduce the time required for analysts to discover and analyze communities of interest and key figures where explicit relationships are not obvious.

AFRL/RI has developed and tested a suite of mathematical models and software to extract pertinent data from large data sets (paper, electronic, and online), analyze complex data sets, determine key groups within those datasets, and provide visualization tools. Key developments include a name resolution system for data extraction and a mathematical approach that is insensitive to transaction errors. The AFRL/RI system has successfully validated using actual data from two large financial frauds: 1) A $45 million money laundering and Ponzi scheme based in the US, and 2) the Enron scandal.


  • Robust: Core algorithms are simple and insensitive to errors
  • Efficient: Suite of tools and algorithms greatly reduces the time and energy required by analysts to focus in on core data and identify potential key members of a target group
  • Proven on Real World Data: AFRL/RI’s system was honed with complex information from two massive financial fraud cases using paper, electronic, and online datasets

The Opportunity: 

  • Software code plus the following issued US Patents are available for license:
  • Potential for collaboration with US Air Force Research Laboratory Information Directorate inventors


Sean Patten, CLP

Senior Technology Manager, Leader for Software Licensing