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July 18, 2013

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Three startups use Chattanooga’s Gig speed to the max

What do falling seniors, failing industrial machines and frustrated shoppers have in common? As far as three companies in this summer's Gig Tank startup accelerator are concerned, the answer is better prevention through Big Data.

Sensevery: Monitoring for the Elderly

Sensevery's product manages the health of elderly people using a wrist monitor that collects data to detect and predict health risks.

Sensevery's smart wrist band collects data 24/7 on a senior's movement, sleep activity, body temperature, and heart rate, then applies predictive algorithms and uses a mobile app to alert caregivers when unusual behavioral data indicates immediate danger like a fall or suggests a pattern of deteriorating health. The payoff, founders say, is in timelier health care, reduced hospital admissions, and reduced stress on caregivers.

The company's two cofounders, Bentley Cook and Parth Suthar, came to the Gig Tank as "specialists," individual participants who can attach to a team or float among teams, and then formed a team during the summer.

"Parth came to me with an idea, and we decided to put our brains together and make a run of it," said Cook, who graduated from Sewanee in 2011 with degrees in computer science and Russian.  

"Our focus now is building the cloud-based monitoring service," said Suthar, a veteran of two previous startups, with 12 years experience designing connective devices. "We're still aiming for the same Demo Day. We're going to present what the data looks like when someone is moving, sleeping, or experiencing a fall."

Hutgrip: Predicting Machinery Failure

Hutgrip, cofounded by a pair of Bulgarians with connections to Chattanooga through another startup program in Silicon Valley, adds a layer of cloud-based software processing on top of a manufacturer's existing equipment and sensors to manage equipment failures.

 "We use artificial intelligence to analyze the data, to identify normal parameters [for temperature and humidity, for example], identify anomalies, and predict when the machine will fail," said cofounder Ivan Dragoev. "Once we apply our magic to the data, we can send you a text message that says 'Hey, you need to check your temperature on this bearing,’ for example."

Mira: Bringing Data to the Storefront

Anyone shopping online has access to a wealth of information, like reviews, recommendations, and social media conversations. Likewise, online retailers have abundant metrics like time spent on the site, what is bought, what is looked at, and the conversion rate at which browsers become buyers.

"In a physical store, all this information is lacking, for both sides," said Sunny Feng, CEO and cofounder of Mira. "We are a retail tech company that is focused on changing the in-store shopping experience by connecting all the online information from web, mobile, and social media into the physical storefront."

Mira will do that by placing large monitors equipped with motion sensing software —users don't even need to touch the screen—in key locations in stores and pulling existing online content along with flash specials just for in-store customers. The company will also provide brick-and-mortar retailers with the kind of metrics now available only with online shopping. 

Big Data

What all three of these startups have in common is that capturing and processing massive amounts of data is at the heart of their services. Processing happens in the cloud, and the raw and crunched numbers go back and forth via high-bandwidth Internet connection. These services would not even be possible without a big data pipe like Chattanooga's Gig. 

Dragoev explained why Big Data is a must for Hutgrip: "Imagine you have one machine with 10 sensors, sending data once per second. We have predictive analytics running in the cloud each second, analyzing data from the last six seconds. If you want to be real time, if you want to accurately predict failure, you have to have reliable infrastructure. Chattanooga has this fiber network, which is big and reliable."

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July 18, 2013

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