Eureka Park was a new concept for CES this year designed to give cutting-edge, early stage companies and entrepreneurs exposure to potential investors and B2B industry partners, including those interested in joint ventures or licensing deals. There was plenty of innovation as well as a strong entrepreneurial spirit in Eureka Park which mushroomed to about 100 companies and was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Startup America Partnership, CNET, and UK Trade and Investment.
Many of the exhibitors have NSF grants like KWJ Engineering, which is developing solutions for gas detection by integrating sensors into smartphones, medical devices and other safety and military applications.
“Eureka Park was good for us, and the biggest tradeshow we’ve done,” according to Edward Stetter, vice president and CFO. We’ve made some really good contacts at major companies who are looking to add capabilities into their wireless platforms.”
Modular Robotics, a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon showcased Cubelets — the equivalent of a robotic Legos construction kit for kids. Sold as a six-block starter kit, the Cubelets are pre-programmed 1.5-inch blocks, each able to move, sense nearby objects and display light. The way they are stacked determines what the final robot will do. Snapping a battery block on top of a motion-sensing roller block, for instance, will create a robot that automatically moves when the lights go on/off. “It’s about changing the way children learn and see the world,” says Eric Lundby, a software developer.
Another company, Emota.net of Mountain View, Calif., an NSF grantee, showcased gesture controls embedded in a stuffed penguin to demonstrate how social networking technology can become more emotionally engaging. The ambient technology allows everyday objects to be used as a communications tool. For instance, it can help to keep isolated seniors active or grand kids connected with their grandparents using simple interfaces including the TV. “Our product has broad emotional appeal to anyone, and Eureka Park has been fantastic,” according to Paul To, CEO and founder. “As a startup, we made connections with prospective investors and potential corporate partners who can help us go to market,” he says.
Uncle Oswals Is My Hero is a two-man design team giving new life to discarded telephone handsets by transforming them into an ingeniously simple, external speaker system for iPods and MP3 players. Kim Justin and Lee Jinsop, the two founders, say they hope to license their design, and had conversations with other audio vendors. “The number of people that we’ve met at Eureka Park and elsewhere at CES has been fabulous. It’s great for us because that means when the product finally comes out in commercial quantities, we know it will be popular,” says Justin.
PerSuede Audio’s Rebel Tower all-in-one iPhone/iPod speaker is a stylish, fashion-forward speaker covered in synthetic cowhide in various patterns including zebra. Brad Pfeiffer, co-founder says, “The speakers smooth out the high-frequencies for a subdued sound sans tinny high notes.”
These speakers, launched at CES, were under development for four-years, and this ‘single-point’ audio system comes with some impressive specs. Inside the triangular-shaped tower cabinet design is a compact, ultra-high performance 2.1 speaker system including AstoundSound DSP technology, and a 120 Watt Class-D Amplifer. The engineering team was headed by an alum design engineer and musician who previously worked at Samsung and Sony.
Startup, Scrible of Redwood City, Calif., showcased a program to turn a browser into an editor that can digitally annotate, save, organize and share information from the Web as well as a version for the iPad.
Health and Power Innovations
Eureka Park companies working in the health and medical arena included Energetic Health and Research Center; HMicro; Marista Wellness Network; Med-ken; Rehabtek; and SpringActive with its robotic prosthesis. For example, Innovega repurposed traditional contact lenses, creating iOptik, special lenses that integrate personal media, social networking and mobile computing into our everyday reality ala Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Minority Report.
Putting motion sensing technology to work in the health sector, the Institute for Disabilities and Research Training Inc. showed the AcceleGlove, equipped with accelerometers to track hand movements. Also a slew of companies are working on power management, charging and more efficient battery solutions, such as Anthem Grand, Current Werks, MiserWare, nVolution, Perpetua Power Source and QM Power.