Article Co-authored by Bob Sopko and Neil Singh
For the past 7 years CWRU Sears Thinkbox and Bob Sopko’s team have supported nearly a dozen startup businesses every year and their entrepreneurs, to participate in #CES the world’s largest technology show held in Las Vegas.
My first time around at CES was about 3 years ago when I joined Bob’s team and operated the Mixed Reality booth showing off demos with the HoloLens. Since then year-on-year Bob has helped me attend the conference and I have supported his work in a marketing effort to promote the startups and entrepreneurs who have showcased their innovation as part of the CWRU Sears thinkbox booth.
“This show is important at so many different levels for different presenters, helping in some cases with customer validation, for example”. “So this is not only a show and a demo of what we’re accomplishing, but also a learning experience for entrepreneurs, some who are just starting out.
Case Western Reserve once again had the largest CES contingent from a single university, giving his team a better chance to get noticed in the hubbub of a sprawling high-energy, high-tech show.
“For us, it’s about continually building an ecosystem here at CWRU and also in Northeast Ohio, which is why we have students and faculty and alumni and community folks all together”.
For Northeast Ohio technology entrepreneurship and startups, the ability for young companies to show their innovations at the worlds most significant tech expo is a big deal.
Each company over the past 7 years who has attended the show thanks to CWRU Sears thinkbox has come back with important contacts to help grow their businesses.
This is why I have been so passionate and a big supporter of this effort, as it puts the best of our young entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio on the world stage.
Case Western Reserve produces a significant amount of innovation and intellectual property from the efforts of its students, and staff and their innovative research.
This means that the future looks bright to help these entrepreneurs develop into the Northeast Ohio business community and build great companies.
This year the companies and organizations that attended as part of CWRU Sears thinkbox group were:
- CWRU Interactive Commons
- BioFlight VR
- Bounce Innovation Hub
- AntX Technologies
- Lumen Polymers
- Re-powered Robotics
- Everyone Makes Progress
- Fitness Axuall
- Tauon LLC
- 3D Music LLC
- Delta Sound Labs
- Blockland Cleveland
The United States Patent and Trademark Office USPTO, had a large presence at the entry of the Eureka Park area of CES. They are there to help companies “Get in the Game” of innovation.
The Midwest regional Director Damion Porcari visited the CWRU area and was extremely interested to listen and provide input to the innovators. He met with many of them and took his time with each. It was greatly appreciated and one of the highlights of the event.
Booth at Eureka Park Sands Expo: CES2020
Everykey, is a startup company specializing in consolidating and protecting passwords using electronic keys. Winning various awards such as the TechOhio award for startup culture, Founder Chris Wentz in June 2019 also won the Morganthaler-Pavey Startup Competition.
Everykey, is now located near the CWRU, campus in Cleveland with nearly a dozen employees, has returned to CES2020 to show off a market ready product, said founder and CWRU alum Chris Wentz.
Austin Wilson, a sophomore computer science major and winner of multiple hackathons and competitions for Alexa (Alexa Champion in 2017) and at Hyland Software, where he’s interning for a fourth year; Love My Echo will be a demo of his other project, a website offering “hacks and helps,” or insights for operating the Alexa Echo.
At CES, Austin Wilson focused on Tauon, a company that he said aims to “give games a voice” — that is, to help video-game developers incorporate voice-activated commands into gaming to expose players to a whole new level of immersion.
Outside the floor hours, Austin met with a CWRU alum who had experience at Nokia, Apple and Samsung Health. They discussed new endeavors where voice technology could be used.
At a special dinner, Austin was delighted to have had the privilege to sit next to a NASA astronaut and have a discussion on where technology may be heading.
“We strive to allow games to live alongside advances in human-computer interaction with players in mind, especially through voice,”
Founders Robert Steward, and Adam Cordingley, are “working on creating mechanical and electrical components for making high-quality robotics more accessible to consumers.”
At CES2020, they unveiled their ultra-wide-band localization modules meant for autonomous robotics — the robot “Sopko referred to as the “tricked out Roomba.”
The devices do not require GPS, allowing them to work indoors and in space exploration. Re-powered Robotics returned to CES after two years with Enabled Robotics, a startup working on an exoskeleton for rehabilitation for people with degenerative muscular disorders.
Donghui Li and Zhe Ren, both doctoral candidates in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, are working on perfecting a bandage that can be removed easily after exposing its adhesive to ultraviolet light.
They hope to market the yet-to-be developed product to those caring for elderly patients or newborn infants, whose skin tears more easily when a standard adhesive is removed.
“Last year, we learned a lot about product development, but this year, the goals of Lumen Polymer for CES2020 are simple; to talk with product development people in polymer industry and look for potential funding,”
Judy” Feng, displayed Ant-x, a “smart” food scale that can tell the user not only the weight of his or her meal, but the nutritional value (or lack of) and send that detailed information to a phone or any electronic device.
“This started out as a product that would be really helpful to food-service companies to be more precise in measuring and billing for different foods,” said Feng, a 2016 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
“But we really look at this product as being able to help millions of people who need to monitor calories or sugar or sodium or anything at all.”
A commercial virtual reality (VR) company, which is working with the CWRU School of Medicine’s Medicaid Equity Simulation Project, presented two of the project’s VR training platforms :
1. Neighborhood Immersion for Compassion
2. Empathy and Families Living in Poverty,
Both funded by Ohio Medicaid Technical Assistance Policy Program.
The purpose of the CWRU MES Project is to advance health equity for Ohio’s Medicaid population by increasing health care providers and their teams’ cultural competence and awareness of implicit bias through VR and augmented reality training.
The VR platforms educate health care teams to better understand and serve the needs of their patients.
BioflightVR also is bringing its Surgical Skills Trainer, a procedural-learning program that “walks health-care practitioners through a shoulder surgery in VR.”
Interactive Commons showed their work with HoloAnatomy and received a very positive response from attendees at CES who tried it out.
Everyone makes Progress
A service that collects data from fitness apps, wearable equipment, free weights, group exercise, more and stores it on a secure blockchain. Users then have control of who they allow access.
Axuall is a next-generation digital network for verifying identity, credentials, and authenticity in real-time through the use of blockchain technology. They were unanimously approved as a Sovrin Steward by the Sovrin Foundation Board of Trustees.
RooSense, an entry from the University of Akron and Bounce Innovation Hub also participated at CES. RooSense is supported by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, a vital supporter of CWRU’s efforts.
RooSense is “developing flexible, durable, fabric sensors that can easily be integrated into clothing and gear already worn by athletes.”
In addition from #Ohio companies such as MOEN were also exhibiting in the Smart Homes section of CES, and while I could not hunt down each and every company or person who attended from Northeast Ohio, I know several hundreds of people attend CES from our area and there was also a strong presence by economic development organisations from Ohio, such as JobsOhio and their partners like Team NEO, REDI Cincinnati, and One Columbus.
Cleveland Whiskey has been supportive of the CWRU effort for many years, also at CES.
By having this level of visibility in global technology events like CES what it shows is the determined nature of our entrepreneurs and startups in Northeast Ohio and also how their surrounding ecosystem which includes colleges such as CWRU are supporting an innovative culture.