Technology Alliance Showcases Four New Companies in Biotech and Cleantech, and Revisits One Past Presenter
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founded in August 2009, is developing electrochromic glass. This technology, also known as “smart glass,” is designed to allow windows to change rapidly from transparent to varying degrees of opaqueness through the application of an electrical charge. Though this technology can be harnessed for multiple purposes—car windows, skylights, residential homes, etc.—Vitriosic aims to first use it to significantly reduce the amount of energy and money—some $14 billion annually—that is used to cool commercial buildings.
Although smart glass is already available on the market, co-founder and chief executive Todd Ostrander says Vitriosic’s product is the only one in development that does not require constant power to work. Instead, the system uses an organic polymer technology, developed by UW College of Engineering professor Minoru Taya and licensed out to Vitriosic, which allows customers to change the state by applying a tiny amount of energy without any electric infrastructure requirements.
“Because of the small amount of power required to change the state, we can use solar power, and can store that power and transfer it wirelessly,” Ostrander said. “By doing this we can potentially change the heat gain for a commercial building by 28 percent,” amounting to an estimated $3.9 billion a year in energy cost savings.
Once installed, Ostrander says the glass could be managed centrally or by wireless remote, would eliminate the need for blinds or shades, and would have multiple color options. Vitriosic also plans to beat out competitors by making the product available for less than $50 a square-foot, hoping to keep its price just a few percentage points above conventional commercial glass on the market. Ostrander also added that the U.S. Department of Energy’s efforts to see new buildings use 50 percent less energy by 2015 than those built in 2005, and the availability of energy credits and rebates for those who make energy improvements to their homes and businesses, strengthens the market for smart glass.
The company is currently working with Cardinal Glass, a large glass manufacturer, to test the longevity and weather readiness of its smart glass, which has been successfully tested at more than 100,000 state changes so far. The company is looking to raise $100,000 to conduct testing through the third quarter, and hopes to raise another $500,000 to get it through production and to market after that.
When asked about the potential dangers of a building’s heat being stored inside its glass windows, Ostrander joked, “It’s a bad day when you see the side of a building blow out because the inside of the window has taken in so much heat that it literally explodes.”
4. MobiSante (Redmond)
In a cross between biotech and mobile, MobiSante presented a handheld ultrasound imaging system built into a smart phone that would allow health care providers to run ultrasounds for various primary care, obstetrics, emergency medicine, and vascular needs easily, remotely, and for much cheaper than a traditional cart-based imaging system.
The system, which connects an ultrasound imaging probe to existing smart phone hardware, would project high-quality, affordable images, according to CEO Sailesh Chutani. By getting those images on a smartphone, MobiSante also seeks to take advantage of other mobile capabilities, such as data archival, and medical record transfer. Chutani, a former senior director of mobile technologies at Microsoft, also added that the product, which is currently in beta testing, is not looking to replace larger and more comprehensive ultrasound machines. Instead, he said that MobiSante wants to bring the price down enough “to the point that it’s practically free,” and more readily available for those in markets that currently don’t have access to the technology, such as rural areas and army stations.
MobiSante estimates that the system will be priced at less than $5,000, which would make it the first commercial ultrasound system available at such a low cost. The company is currently looking to raise between $1-2 million in seed money, followed by another $4-5 million in Series A financing. Chutani expects that once the product hits the market, it will bring in between $50-95 million in the first five years.
“When people have a device that they can carry with them, and they don’t have to worry about how much it costs, I think we will reach a lot more customers than we can see today.”
5. Enravel (Seattle)
Enravel, which presented at the April Innovation Showcase, followed up the presentations with an update and product demo. The company, led by UW mechanical engineer Brian Schowengerdt, has developed a laser-based “pico projector” that could be built into mobile electronics like cell phones, digital cameras, and even eye glasses. The 1 mm x 9 mm projector—about the size of a grain of rice—uses “scanning fiber” technology to then scan an image from the device, and project an enlarged image back onto a larger surface, like a wall. The company, which has put most of its resources into developing the projection technology so far, plans to now turn its focus to streamlining the light source modulator to improve image quality.