Health monitor biosensors are a topic in tech right now, but most of them are physical sensors, says Girish Kulkarni, founder of Arborsense. What if instead of using optics or sensors that measure blood pressure and flow through the skin, you could measure chemicals? We’ve been hearing for years now that graphene was supposed to take over the world, and maybe that world is finally arriving. Arborsense uses graphene electronic transdermal nano-sensors to test for chemicals and biomolecules through biomonitors. What does that mean? Here’s one example: Arborsense is partnering in clinical trials with Ann Arbor-based clinical psychiatrist Mark Ilgen at the Med School to use their graphene sensors to monitor drug addict patient alcohol blood levels through what molecules are excreted through the skin. That’s right. Instead of a breathalyzer one-time analysis of blood alcohol levels or other periodic tests for drug use, these graphene nano-sensors continuously monitor blood alcohol levels to track patient sobriety, health, and more.
We often hear about the tech startups of Ann Arbor, which have experienced quite a bit of long-anticipated growth since recent successes of a number of local infosec and software development firms, but there’s a side to Ann Arbor tech that not many people see: the life sciences. Case in point, fifty companies give or take now reside in the Mi-HQ startup campus west of Ann Arbor, where founder Mark Smith hosts all kinds of life science and tech-enabled startups. A third building is in the process of opening now, keeping Smith busy dealing with HVAC contractors and new companies moving into custom renovated spaces. The original buildings 1 & 2, which sit next to the 2:24 community center and church on Wagner Road, are comprised of 140,000 square feet of specialized lab and office spaces, always expanding and shifting. Smith takes us down the hallways, many blocked off as private labs and office suites for companies doing everything from business development to molecular diagnostics and genetics research.
It’s been a while since we played a scavenger hunt, but these days augmented reality seems just the thing to make these old-fashioned games fresh again. Plus, on our phones we don’t have to get in trouble deciding if we should follow a clue like “find the oldest bones around” by taking forbidden photos in the dinosaur museum or asking an old guy crossing the street to take a selfie with us…. Closing out our summer series on Michigan-based gaming studios is Scavenger, another student launched out of the University of Michigan OptiMize program that has continued as the co-founders Kyle Zappitell (CEO) and Harry Stephens (CPO) and other team members moved to LA, New York, and Chicago. Co-founder Kyle Zappitell tells us his startup Scavenger is an augmented reality scavenger game app that allows users to combine augmented reality and real-world gaming to win cash prizes. For now, the testing zone for the game is based in Chicago, but other cities are coming soon.
Ann Arbor-based supply chain software development consultancy Llamasoft yesterday announced an expansion that will bring another 70 jobs to the company’s Ann Arbor headquarters, paired with a $10.7 million expansion. Job listings are already on the company’s website, including positions in machine learning, development, customer service, marketing, legal, and sales.
Chris Karounos is the co-founder and creative director of Abaca Games, a new startup out of Ann Arbor that is based in his masters research in sustainability, in which he focused on tropical agroforestation. He says he had the opportunity to launch a new video game called 10 Degrees (coming September 3rd) that helps support reforestation through game play when his startup was accepted into the University of Michigan Optimize incubator program.
In 2013, a group of University of Michigan students wanted to support each other’s startup ventures. Some were tech focused, others social impact-oriented startups that needed time and financial backing to give them a chance to grow. “We spent time taking tests, writing papers, but hadn’t tried our hand at solving problems,” says Jeff Pituch, Associate Director for Social Innovation at Optimize. “We started Optimize as a program for early-stage ventures.”
Cronicle Press is you, the Ann Arbor tech community. We don’t talk enough. We don’t follow each other on Twitter. We come to occasional meetups, but maybe we don’t have time for every group we’d like to keep up with, and it’s getting harder by the year to follow how many new startups are out there in town.