SEATTLE, Nov. 16, 2021 —IP Group Inc. and CoMotion at the University of Washington today announced the launch of nanotechnology startup Somalytics Inc., which is promising to bring better “sense” to the digital world. The new company is focused on developing and mass producing a first-of-its-kind miniature, paper carbon nanotube capacitive sensor that is flexible and highly sensitive to the human body, enabling new consumer and industrial applications. Somalytics’ skin, eye and gesture monitoring sensors, which are being made in the U.S., will change the world by improving the human experience through innovations in areas such as consumer electronics, the Internet of Things, transportation, and health and wellness.
“Our collaboration with UW’s CoMotion team to bring this game-changing innovation to the world is exactly what IP Group is all about,” said John Fijol, director of systems technology at IP Group Inc. “Somalytics’ pioneering nanotechnology will drive the transformation of seemingly endless applications for B2C and B2B markets with the creation of tiny high sensitivity sensors that can be mass produced at extremely low cost.”
Eye-tracking industry leader Barbara Barclay was appointed by IP Group as Somalytics’ CEO. She is a proven leader who brings to the company more than 12 years of experience building new markets for eye tracking and sensor technology in areas including automotive, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, defense, healthcare, industrial manufacturing and sports performance. Barclay is the former president of eye-tracking healthcare company RightEye. Earlier, she was North America general manager of global eye-tracking manufacturing leader Tobii Technology.
“This technology could be as transformational for the human experience as the mobile phone,” said Barclay. “The uses are limitless and highly beneficial to improving the human condition and our interactions with the digital world. We look forward to building partnerships with major influencers in global markets to rapidly bring this disruptive technology to market, the potential of which is estimated at over $15 billion.”
Somalytics’ patent-pending products are a new class of ultra-high sensitivity, fast response, capacitive sensors built using substrate filled with carbon nanotubes developed at the University of Washington in the laboratory of Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jae-Hyun Chung, Somalytics’ co-founder, and the laboratory of Assistant Professor of Environmental and Forest Sciences Anthony Dichiara. Sensitive to the human presence at up to 20 centimeters, the new technology enables more effective touch-free digital interactions, which has become increasingly important in public spaces during COVID. The company is using the sensors, which are covered by four patent families filed and managed by CoMotion, to develop proximity-sensing body, eye and gesture monitoring products that improve the efficiency of every-day consumer devices, support health and wellness, improve safety in automated environments, and enable assistive devices. The development of this technology was supported by one of CoMotion’s highly competitive Innovation Gap Fund awards, as well as innovation training initiatives from the NSF I-Corps and CoMotion’s own Idea to Plan Workshop.
Somalytics’ capacitive sensors have a flexible and ultrathin form factor, which could be 100 times or more smaller than a conventional sensor. The sensors are comprised of carbon nanotubes embedded in paper, which are 10 thousandth the size of a human hair. Despite its small size, Somalytics’ sensors provide an especially strong detection signal while requiring an extremely low power consumption footprint. They also provide an exceptional and cost-effective alternative to current eye tracking technologies because they can detect movement of the cornea relative to spherical curvature of the eye.
“Through the power of this new patent-pending nanotechnology and our ability to mass manufacture it in the U.S., we will be pioneering the evolution of capacitive engineering and opening a new era for human-computer interface,” said Chung. “Our technology will be able to replace and surpass the capabilities of earlier human-computer interaction technology such as eye tracking as well as assistive devices. The potential is incredible, and we look forward to making it a reality.”
For more information go to www.somalytics.com.
Somalytics is bringing better sense to the digital world. The nanotechnology start-up was launched by IP Group Inc. to commercialize technology developed by University of Washington researchers in collaboration with CoMotion. Somalytics has developed a patent-pending miniature paper carbon nanotube capacitive sensor that is highly sensitive to the human body, enabling new consumer and industrial applications. Somalytics’ skin, eye and gesture monitoring sensors are developed and manufactured in the U.S. and are anticipated to change the world by improving the human experience through innovations in areas such as consumer electronics, Internet of Things, transportation, and health and wellness. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter. www.somalytics.com
About IP Group Inc.
IP Group Inc. is a returns-driven hard science investment firm that discovers and builds early-stage companies with extraordinary commercial potential emerging from some of the most productive university research and national laboratories in North America. Its team of investment professionals are deeply technical, company building experts in the life and physical sciences who provide critical support to founders in scaling commercially viable businesses based on their innovation. www.ipgroup-inc.com
About the University of Washington and CoMotion
Ranked by Reuters as the #1 most innovative public university in the world for the last five years, the University of Washington is a leading recipient of federal funding research, producing innovations that have the power to change the world. CoMotion at the University of Washington partners with the UW community on their innovation journey, providing tools, connections, and acumen to transform ideas into economic and societal impact. Find more information at comotion.uw.edu.