Innovation Awards: Utah technology that’s spearheading worldwide advancements
Presented by Stoel Rives, LLP, and Utah Technology Council
The Beehive State prides itself on its work ethic and being on the cutting edge of business and technology. Few things encapsulate that better than the Utah Innovation Awards, now in its 14th year. From systems to make cleaner diesel fuel to a device to help ranchers round up cattle faster to a tool for highly sensitive forensic DNA collection, this year’s pool of finalists run the gamut of innovation.
Clean Technology and Energy
Planetary Rotor Expander by Helidyne, LLC
In a world filled with energy-saving buzzwords, Washington-based Helidyne’s idea is simple: save energy in-engine by expanding gas, not compressing it.
The planetary rotor expander has a pressure rating twice that of its nearest competitor and is able to operate on “wet” gas, as well as having self-cleaning capability. The device gets its name from its design, featuring four rotors that move about a fixed central output shaft with the same circle diameter—sort of like four planets revolving around a sun. The rotors are synchronized using a drive train that protects against backlash.
The energy-saving aspects of the rotor come from its ability to process gas with much higher pressure than is available with other devices. The process starts at 1,200 psi and ends at 300 psi, while the closest competitor starts processing gas at 500 psi, meaning the pressure must be reduced by more than half of the planetary rotor’s capability before it can start being processed and is thus far less efficient.
Ship Fuel Desulfurization Technology by Ceramatec, Inc.
Shipping goods is one of the most environmentally friendly means of transportation, but Ceramatec has sought to make it even greener with its ship fuel desulfurization technology. The type of fuel usually used in freighters is very heavy, but has gotten a little lighter in recent years due to efforts to make it more environmentally friendly—the maximum percentage of sulfur in the fuel was dropped from 4.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2012 and will have to drop to .5 percent to meet environmental specifications.
Ceramatec’s desulfurization technology helps to reduce the sulfur in fuels more efficiently and reliably than other methods. Most methods are able to desulfurize the light fraction in oil, but Ceramatec’s process can effectively desulfurize the heavy fraction in oil, which is the desirable portion for use in ships. Currently, low-sulfur fuels cost $25 to $30 more per barrel than regular fuel, but barrels of low-sulfur fuel processed with Ceramatec’s desulfurization technology would cost just $10 more per barrel.
Honorable Mention: Biological Supercapacitor by 32Atps
Computer Hardware/Electrical Devices
RangeTAG by TAGSMYTH
As if ranching weren’t a hard enough gig, lost and stolen cattle can cost an operation thousands. The makers of RangeTAG aim to drive that number down with their radio frequency tracking technology that can pinpoint the location of an animal from up to four miles away.
The RangeTAG, attached to a cow’s ear, can be located by a handheld RangeTRACKER, as well as free desktop and mobile apps to help further tracking capabilities for ranchers. The RangeTAGs charge themselves through a solar cell and are maintenance-free for five years.
During a field test using the device, 1,400 head of cattle was rounded up in less than a week—a drastic change from the previous year, when ranchers took five weeks to round up the same size herd. Even if cattle wander off past the range of the tag, the last-known location can help give searchers a starting point. For ranchers, the time and resources saved by shortening these operations with the RangeTAG way can be used elsewhere.
Honorable Mention: The Huny B Speaker by Hive; PicoCluster by PicoCluster, LLC
OwnerCare by AutoPoint
In the struggle for auto dealerships to get and keep the business and trust of customers, OwnerCare aims to help dealers and customers communicate better about the needs of the customer and what services the dealer offers.
When customers bring their cars in for inspection, service advisors from the dealership review the results from the inspection and send the customer an OwnerCare report app. The advisor can also pair each recommendation from the inspection with articles, videos and photos to help the customer become educated on each issue or potential problem. Armed with that knowledge, the customer can be in a better position to decide which services are best for them and approve them through the app.
In this way, AutoPoint hopes customers feel less pressured than if they were at an auto service department, helping them feel more comfortable with the experience—translating into increased customer satisfaction and retention for the service provider, and also more income. OwnerCare is currently the only app of its kind on the market.
Smartbeat by Photorithm, Inc.
Check your pocket—you could be carrying the next big thing in medical devices right in your pocket.
SmartBeat uses the front-facing optics in computers, phones and tablets to record a patient’s face and measure their heart rate by measuring small changes in their face color. The mobile and computer app is the first of its kind to help give doctors data via telemedicine without requiring a device to touch the patient; currently, long-distance examinations are limited to conversations between doctor and patient.
Developers at Logan-based Photorithm, Inc. say the app is also useful on a large scale because unlike those devices or other consumer health gadgets like Fitbits, Smartbeat doesn’t require patient compliance for it to work correctly.
In addition, developers at Photorithm are hoping to expand Smartbeat’s capabilities to include measuring blood pressure and skin temperature to further help patients keep tabs on basic markers of health using equipment they already use daily.
Honorable Mention: UDOT SNAP Walking School Bus App by UDOT
Enterprise Software, Cloud & Big Data
Blyncsy by Blyncsy
Ever sat at a traffic light, waiting forever for the light to change, while there are no other cars even in sight? That’s the problem that Blyncsy was originally developed to solve.
Blyncsy was created to enhance traffic flow by synchronizing traffic lights through a city-wide system of sensors. But the company quickly realized Blyncsy’s robust sensor network, paired with state-of-the-art analytics, offers a myriad of applications: determining how many tourists visit a city each day, pinpointing the best location for opening a new business, where large crowds might be gathering, and where people are throughout the city.
Blyncsy partners with local governments to create its ecosystem of sensors, which can show where people are traveling, from origination to final destination. The company helps municipalities better understand and control traffic flow, which also impacts problems like air quality and traffic safety.
DataSphere by Primary Data
Primary Data is the latest venture of David Flynn and Rick White, the previous co-founders of enterprise flash memory company Fusion-io. Primary Data is dedicated to solving problems of data storage, and it does just that with DataSphere.
The DataSphere platform is storage agnostic, meaning it enables data mobility across different storage tiers without application or data disruption. It unifies “islands of storage” into a single, global dataspace.
The need for this type of solution is great, with evolving innovations like Big Data analytics and the Internet of Things making data storage a costly challenge for companies. DataSphere allows companies to move data across different storage types as business demands change—an innovation that helps them maximize their existing storage resources without needing to invest in more storage space.
The company has already received $60 million in investment funding and has more than a dozen patents pending.
EyeDetect by Converus
A team of scientists at the University of Utah spent 13 year researching and developing a new lie detection technology based on monitoring subtle changes in the eye. In fact, it was the same world-renowned team that invented the computerized polygraph in 1991.
In 2013 a group of investors acquired the eye-monitoring technology from the university, spinning it out into a company called Converus. According to the company, lying causes subtle changes in the eyes, because lying increases the brain’s cognitive load. EyeDetect tracks and measures those subtle changes. The test can be used in conjunction with a traditional polygraph or as an alternative to it.
Converus says the EyeDetect is five times faster than a polygraph, but equally accurate and less expensive. It can be used to screen potential employees, law enforcement personnel, or parolees and probationers. Early customers of EyeDetect include the FBI of Mexico, the military academy of Columbia and the drug enforcement agency of Peru, along with numerous private sector employers throughout the world.
Honorable Mention: ClinCapture by Clinovo; MX Platform by MX; PurePredictive by PurePredictive, Inc.
Life Science – BioTech
Lineagen FirstStepDx PLUS by Lineagen
Autism is truly a spectrum disorder, with dozens of genetic variants leading to different behavioral and physical symptoms. In fact, some of those variants can involve serious, unsuspected health complications. Being able to pinpoint the exact genetic cause of a child’s autism makes it possible for them to receive the right treatments and therapies as early as possible. And when it comes to autism and other conditions of childhood development, the earlier therapies begin, the better.
That’s where the Lineagen FirstStepDx PLUS genetic test comes in. The test is a fully customized, whole-genome chromosomal microarray that goes beyond what any other genetic test for autism can provide. In addition to the test itself, parents receive highly detailed, personalized reports that offer understandable, plain-language explanations. They also receive pre- and post-test genetic counseling to, among other things, help them understand their risk for having another child with the same genetic condition.
PreTRM Test by Sera Prognostics, Inc.
When infants are born prematurely, they can suffer major complications that can last a lifetime—complications like learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizures, vision and hearing loss, and more. And in the United States, one in nine babies are born prematurely. Despite that, physicians, who look at prior history and other symptoms, are unable to predict 85 percent of the cases of preterm delivery in the United States.
The PreTRM Test by Sera Prognostics is the only commercial test validated through clinical studies to predict the risk of preterm birth early in pregnancy. The company analyzed the behavior of hundreds of proteins in the blood during critical periods in a pregnancy. The analysis revealed two proteins with high performance in predicting preterm delivery.
Now, with the PreTRM Test, physicians can identify, as early as 19 weeks of pregnancy, which women are at higher risk for preterm delivery, enabling them to begin interventions to reduce the likelihood of early delivery.
Sera Prognostics is currently working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to make the PreTRM Test available in formats that can benefit women and their babies in underserved countries around the world.
Honorable Mention: NOXA Priming by Tolero Pharmaceuticals
Life Science – BioTech
LIGHT LINE Catheter by Veritas Medical
Approximately one out of every 25 patients in U.S. hospitals contracts a hospital-acquired infection. One of the most common of those infections is a catheter-associated urinary tract infection, which occurs most often from bacteria colonizing on devices while they reside inside the body, partly from biofilm formation and antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.
The LIGHT LINE Catheter by Veritas Medical uses high-intensity visible light sterilization (VLS) to sterilize catheters in vivo and prevent infections. Studies of the product’s efficacy show a 99.99 percent reduction against various common infectious agents. The catheter retains the same dimensions and maintenance protocols as current catheters—to exclude unnecessary protocol revision or additional training—and its VLS technology works by dispersing a specific wavelength and dose of light throughout the entire catheter, which is channeled via embedded fiber optics. The catheter and VLS system is sold separately or as a package.
Honorable Mention: NOXA Priming by Tolero Pharmaceuticals
Mechanical Systems / Chemical / Manufacturing
ClearShield by Turner Innovations
Radiation shielding in hospital settings has long been accomplished by using lead—lead vests, or when a clear shield is necessary, leaded glass or lead acrylic. But this solution hasn’t been perfect. Leaded glass is heavy, brittle and fragile. And lead itself is a toxic element. When old shields are replaced, that lead gets returned to the environment.
ClearShield, on the other hand, is a lead-free plastic sheet that contains 30 percent by weight bismuth, providing x-ray shielding properties comparable to lead, but without the environmental impact or specialty disposal requirements that lead has. It is optically clear, which allows usage in medical settings, like operating or radiology rooms.
Its benefits go beyond the hospital setting, as well—architects, x-ray equipment designers, mobile barrier suppliers, military, government and others who work in the medical, industrial, nuclear and scientific industries can also benefit from the lead-free radiation-shielding technology of ClearShield.
M-Vac Forensic DNA Collection Device by M-Vac Systems, Inc.
In solving crimes, the collection of DNA evidence has become crucial in pinpointing a suspect. The traditional method of DNA collection is the swab—but that method does not always gather a complete enough range of DNA to find what detectives are looking for. Currently, there are over 200,000 cold case homicides in the United States, but M-Vac Systems is hoping their new innovation will help solve many of those.
The M-Vac Forensis DNA Collection Device is a sterile wet-vacuum. It works by spraying a collection solution onto a surface to loosen DNA material while simultaneously vacuuming it off and transferring the material into a bottle. The gathered DNA is then concentrated onto a filter. M-Vac collection is scalable to large surfaces, increasing the probability of discovering DNA material randomly located on the surface.
The vacuum is already being used in multiple cases and has helped solve an 18-year-old cold homicide case by successfully gathering DNA evidence off of the murder weapon—a rock—and allowing detectives to match a suspect’s DNA against it.
Honorable Mention: Green Rubber Manufacturing Technology by Technology Holding, LLC;
Rocket Motor Thrust Termination by Orbital ATK
Outdoor and Consumer Products
ageLOC Me by Nu Skin
Everyone’s skin is different. Taking optimal care of your skin as you age isn’t as easy as going out and buying a generic moisturizer and calling it a day. Nu Skin is looking to help take the guesswork out of skin care with ageLOC Me—a customized skin care device that provides individuals with a personalized skin care regimen based on their individual needs.
Drawing from a desire to facilitate product customization and use innovative technology for anti-aging skin care products, ageLOC Me first starts with an app-based assessment that takes into account the user’s personal preferences, skin care needs and environmental factors. The results of the assessment lead the device to select a customized regimen from over 2,000 possible combinations. The device will then dispense a dose of mixed serums and moisturizers daily and nightly. The device keeps track of product usage, which saves time, ensures no product is wasted through overuse, and will remind the user if they miss their morning or evening amount, or if product amounts are getting low. It also has a travel mode, allowing users to take product with them in smaller, convenient containers.
SnapPower Guidelight by SnapPower
In place of the standard nightlight—which can be bulky and energy draining—SnapPower developed a nightlight that’s sleek and efficient. SnapPower Guidelights are a replaced electrical outlet faceplate with LED lighting on the bottom. It is easily self-installed, as the user just has to remove their previous electrical faceplate and snap the SnapPower Guidelights on, using its unique, patented prong technology. The lights require no batteries or wires.
The nightlight has an on/off sensor, and the lights’ sleek design shine toward the floor, allowing them to gently illuminate pathways, bathrooms or children’s rooms. Since it isn’t manually plugged in the same way a traditional nightlight is, children can’t unplug the Guidelights, either.
According to Jesse Leishman, SnapPower’s CEO, SnapPower Guidelight was released to the market in mid 2014, and the company has already sold more than $5 million worth of Guidelights.
Razik Epitome & Vortex by Razik Bicycles
For the best in road cycling, the gold standard is a carbon bicycle, which is both lightweight and strong. The carbon bike market is quite crowded, with hundreds of carbon bike brands worldwide. Razik Bicycles—made of carbon fiber using technology licensed from Brigham Young University—has distinguished itself by solving a problem most carbon bicycles have. Their Vortex and Epitome models both do not sacrifice strength for weight.
Both models are built with Isotruss technology, a patented structure developed at BYU. Razik has adapted and modified Isotruss to meet the unique requirements of bicycles. Isotruss has fantastic strength and, coupled with its low weight, outpaces solid carbon structures. Furthermore, while other designs have a limited rider weight, the Vortex can support a 300 lb. rider as easily and comfortably as it can one that weighs less than 100 lbs.
In addition, Razik says that the Isotruss gives its bikes a better ride—while carbon frames can feel “dead” to the rider, Razik says, their two models are lively and exciting.
Honorable Mention: Jaybird Freedom by Jaybird