Mass Innovation Nights 121: IoT, Robotics, and AI

Armored Things presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Mass Innovation Nights 121

April 11, 2019

On Thursday, April 11th, Mass Innovation Nights returned to the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, fourteen months after its previous visit to this location; you can read my summary of that event, Mass Innovation Nights 107, by clicking here.

Every month, Mass Innovation Nights features startups from around Massachusetts. On this particular night, the theme was Internet of Things, Robotics, and Artificial Intelligence.

I always enjoy Mass Innovation Nights’ events, and this one was a little special. It was Mass Inno’s 10th anniversary event. (Do the math: Month 121 is 10 years after Month 1.) So, at the end of the night, this month’s MIN included cake.

Mass Innovation Nights 121: UMass Lowell Innovation Hub in Lowell, MA

Mass Innovation Nights begins with networking and food – tonight, pizza – during the opening hour, during which attendees also chat with exhibiting startups to learn more about them. During this first hour, attendees each cast one vote for their favorite showcasing company; the top four vote-getters, who are announced after the presentations, receive prizes.

photo by Geoff Wilbur

After the networking/voting ends, the presentations begin, featuring the four companies that received the most votes in pre-event voting on the Mass Innovation Nights website.

So, after a brief welcome and quick introductions to sponsors and Mass Innovation Nights “Expert Corner” experts, the four presenting startups take the stage.

This evening’s “experts” were Tom O’Donnell, representing the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub; Andrew Shapiro, the City of Lowell’s Director of Economic Development; and Nick Bliamptis, founder and CEO of Facet Executive Search.

The presenting startups were Armored Things, WritingAssistant, Awayr, and Fonative. At-event voting winners were Operation250, Nonspec, Tertill, and CAIDE Systems.

WritingAssistant presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Below are brief summaries of the startups that were featured at MIN121. I based these overviews on information at the website, handouts, discussions, and presentations. If you’re interested in more information, please contact the company directly; they’ll be able to tell you more about their products and services. And, though I strive for accuracy, I’d trust their word over anything I write below.

Armored Things, in its presentation, described itself as “Google maps, but for people.” Via analytics and an easy-to-follow dashboard program, Armored Things allows its clients to provide improved physical security by being aware of the location of people so they can respond accordingly. Responses could range from security-related to simply moving refreshment stand employees from less-busy parts of the stadium/campus to the areas showing a heavier concentration of people.

Operation250 is an interactive educational program that helps provide students, teachers, and parents with the knowledge to navigate the dangers of being online. It educates them about the online and real-world risks as well as the methods to remain safe, notably from those espousing radical and violent ideologies.

Awayr presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Fonative‘s Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) allows enterprise application providers to integrate calls and messaging into their service offerings. Designed for contact centers, the product is notable, as I discovered during the presentation, in part because it’s HIPAA secure and PCI compliant, making it a favored solution among regulated customers for whom such security and compliance are requirements. The company and its leadership have a long, deep history in the VoIP industry.

DSPW was showcasing its latest product, the RCB-W24A-RHD32 WiFi recording system for electrophysiology research labs. I recall chatting with DSPW at MIN107 last year, but I ran out of time before getting back to talk with them again this year. This year’s product appears to be an advancement from last year’s; per its Mass Innovation Nights description, DSPW is currently taking orders and plans to ship in the summer of 2019.

WritingAssistant is a product that instantly analyzes writing material for accuracy (grammar) and quality. The basic version is free, while for $1.99 per month additional features are unlocked. This looks like it could be a very cool AI-driven product offering.

Nonspec makes affordable, adjustable prosthetic limbs for amputees around the world. Specifically showcased at MIN121, Nonspec’s Saarthi Limb is a vastly improved ankle.

Fonative presentation; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Awayr is an AI system that evaluates human-machine interaction. It is used by human machine interface (HMI) design teams in the automotive and defense industries. The AI builds a model user to predict human behavior in order to improve the HMI design. Oh, just watch the 40-second video for a better explanation.

Evisort is an AI product designed for contract management. It uses algorithms to understand contract language and allows attorneys, financial professionals, and other management professionals to more easily find and manage their contracts. I think the “Using Evisort” tab on the company’s website does a nice job of describing how it might be used. The example I recall is of finding and staying on top of expiring contracts, though clearly that’s just one of the many uses for this product.

Franklin Robotics‘ Tertill is an autonomous, self-sufficient, solar-powered robot that finds and kills weeds. If this weatherproof weeding robot takes off, I may decide to start gardening again. (My initial impression when seeing it in action: “It’s like a Roomba that’ll weed my garden!”)

CAIDE Systems, who I also recall from last year’s Lowell event, has a product that could require less than two minutes to detect and diagnose a stroke via the analysis of a CT scan image. It reduces human error and saves critical minutes in brain stroke detection. This is some cool, life-saving stuff here.

At-event voting winners; photo by Geoff Wilbur


In addition to the links I provided, you can find more information about the exhibiting companies by following this link and then clicking on the “Vote Here” tab of the MIN121 web page.

Next month’s event, MIN122, is scheduled for April 9 at the Thelma D. Burns Building in Boston’s Greater Grove Hall neighborhood. It will feature startups with African and African American founders. If you can get to it, it should be another terrific showcase of innovative Massachusetts startups.

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