Publisher and reporter with Silicon Hills News
The latest presentations at the Innovation Center’s monthly StARTup Studio at the University of Texas at Austin show the variety of problems professor led startups are tackling.
They included an acoustic monitoring technology to improve coffee roasting, a handheld laser device to shape bones and a wireless communications company with technology that doubles the world’s available frequency spectrum.
The innovation Center hosts the monthly invitation-only meetings at the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall in the Cockrell School of Engineering to showcase the latest professor led startups commercializing technology at UT Austin. The Austin Chamber of Commerce sponsors the events along with the UT Office of Technology Commercialization, the Innovation Center and WeWork.
At the event, Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet, professor of Innovation at UT Austin and director of the Innovation Center, mentioned that there are two UT Austin teams entered in Elon Musk’s Hyperloop competition.
“Unlike any other university in the country, we have two teams in this competition,” Metcalfe said.
Musk created the competition to get teams to create pods to transport people on a hyperloop at speeds of more than 700 miles per hour. The pods levitate on the track and travel using magnetic technology and kinetic energy through a high compression tube.
Next Wednesday, the UT Cockrell School of Engineering and the Innovation Center will host an event featuring presentations from the two student led engineering teams: 512Hyperloop and TexasGuadaloop. The competition is this summer in California.
The Innovation Center also supports the Longhorn Startup Demo Day which takes place next Thursday, May 4th from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.at the LBJ Auditorium, Metcalfe said. It features student-led startups pitching their companies before a live audience.
The Innovation Center also runs an entrepreneurial advisory program in which it matches experienced professionals with professors to help them with their startups, said Louise Epstein, managing director of the Innovation Center.
“We’re always looking for new, experienced entrepreneurs who want to help our companies,” she said.
At the latest StARTup Studio, Mechanical Engineering Professor Adela Ben-Yakar presented FemtoMedical, which created a platform for making laser based surgical tools. At the event, she showed a medical device for arthroscopic bone reshaping using lasers to remove tissue.
“Ultrashort laser pulses have been shown to ablate both hard and soft tissues precisely, with no or minimal thermal damage to the surrounding tissue,” according to her presentation.
Next up, Mechanical Engineering Professor Preston Wilson presented technology for the acoustic monitoring of coffee roasting by analyzing the sound profile produced by the beans.
“During the roast, beans produce two audible cracks that determine the roast flavor and intensity,” according to the presentation. “A microphone records the cracks, and the control system software changes the roasting chamber temperature accordingly. Improved quality control leads to increased customer satisfaction and less wasted batches from over-roasting. Monitoring the roast using time or temperature is the current industry practice, but these methods are not true indications of the roast intensity.”
The last company to present was GenXComm, led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Sriram Vishwawath. He was not able to attend the event, but his cofounders Hardik Jain and Stephen Gartside did. Founded in 2016, GenXComm is “bringing to market reliable, scalable full duplex or the ability to simultaneously transmit and receive in the same channel. This new powerful technology doubles the usage of the world’s available frequency spectrum,” according to the presentation.
GenXComm, earlier in April, closed on its first round of venture capital financing. It did not disclosed details of the funding.