Ann Arbor’s Voxel51, which offers advanced machine learning tools to analyze video, has just released a tool that looks at the social impact of physical distancing from the COVID-19 epidemic. They’re calling it PDI, or Physical Distancing Index. The data can be used in a number of ways to look at the results of social distancing orders and correlated with virus spread trends.
Sure, there are braille tablets these days that are pretty amazing. They translate several words or lines of text from websites into raised braille dots on a physical surface that scrolls through the web, opening up the world to those who can’t view the content of computers and the internet through traditional screens. But there are challenges. According to Alex Russomanno of new Ann Arbor startup NewHaptics, current braille tablets are limited to small quantities of text at a time, they’re incredibly expensive to manufacture, and they don’t have any way to translate images or graphs. This leaves the blind locked out of visual content, maps and graphs on computers.
It goes without saying that it has been a hard week globally and that includes in Michigan, for professionals and families scrambling to adjust to new circumstances hoping to curb the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, we will be highlighting a number of online and remote options for connecting with tech communities around the Great Lakes as we continue our reporting on news and networking opportunities in Midwest tech.
It’s already that time again, our monthly Cronicle tech events post for Ann Arbor, Detroit, and several notable tech events going on around the rest of the state of Michigan including Grand Rapids and Traverse City. We can’t cover them all, so this month we’re highlighting a few we haven’t before, such as Nerd Nite–science + beer! Also, coding + beer. We’ll get through the winter with beer.
Happy New Year, everyone! We are excited to kick off this new year with expanding interviews and test drives with the coolest new tech coming out of Michigan, but we need your help. Cronicle Press Tech News is supported through sponsorships of various kinds, and now you can become an individual or corporate Patron as well to help fund the work we are doing to cover the historic growth of tech in the Great Lakes area.
It’s New Years Eve, so we’re looking back at the most popular posts on Cronicle Press Tech News out of Ann Arbor-Detroit about the growing Great Lakes tech scene in 2019. Turns out, it was a banner year for Ann Arbor tech and Detroit startups in particular, so we just scratched the surface of all the latest news. First up, the most popular post by far, professor Austin Yarger’s master list of game development studios of Michigan. Also included at the end are some followup interviews with a few of those gaming studios that are either growing in Michigan or started here.
Sam Pierce Lolla’s Shuffleboard Hacks Product Development Collaboration From Ann Arbor To Silicon Valley
Sam Lolla is one of the creators of MadeinA2.com and the founder and director of Directed Works, a company focused on product development and user experience design for startups. Lolla taught product design at the University of Michigan, and these days works independently with clients from Ann Arbor to the San Francisco Bay area to create products using a new app he put together to make collaborative design more efficient, called Shuffleboard. Recently, Lolla put together a video series on his journey designing and building a startup and documenting every step on Youtube.
MVCA’s Executive Director Ara Topouzian Balances Economic Development with Award-Winning “Side Hobby” in Armenian Music
We met him at the TechCity Jam early this fall. The local jam session for tech workers who have music careers or hobbies on the side included everything from pop songs to electronica to incredible traditional Armenian music. We wanted to know who was playing in this award-winning band that came seemingly out of nowhere to the stage and played a brilliant set that would be inadequate to just call foot-tapping. Ara Topouzian, pictured right above, plays the qanun (kanoon), an Armenian 80-string harp that goes back to the 5th century and is still played today. The music sounds traditional, and yet it’s still extremely catchy.
Human Element, of Top 20 Fastest Growing Companies in Michigan, Creates The Kind of Culture They Want To Stay In
“We’ve been experiencing 3-4 years of 30% growth rate year over year,” Human Element’s Ben Lorenz tells us. “We’ve been an Inc 5000 company 3 years in a row and last year were named one of the Top 20 fastest growing companies in Michigan.” Ann Arbor is one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the Midwest, but what explains some companies like Human Element growing so much more quickly than others? To some extent, it’s positioning and the market they’re in. It’s no secret that AI companies are hot, as well as security. An e-commerce strategy company like Human Element has a lot of work to do catching up Midwest companies to digital business processes and online sales. But that’s not all it is.
BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole On The Tech Financing Process, Tech City Jam Friday
When new businesses start up, arranging financing can be fraught. When that process involves a bank loan, it’s hard to know where to go. Many banks have a reputation for turning away small or risky tech startup businesses. Good news for tech businesses in Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan. Bank of Ann Arbor, which according to DBusiness is now the 4th largest bank in Metro Detroit, has created an entire division specifically for financing and guiding tech businesses in the growing startup hub. BOAA Technology Industry Group President Michael Cole says this has been a long time in process. Cole has been working for the past 17 years to create business financing options specifically tailored to tech and life sciences businesses in Southeast Michigan.