It’s that time of year when the world comes together for the sake of consumer electronics. That’s right, the Consumer Electronics Show (better known as CES) is underway in Las Vegas, and, as always, this year’s crop of companies is nothing short of impressive.
As I began to comb through the list of Mass.-based companies presenting at CES this year, a pattern became apparent: There are a whole lot of them that were founded by MIT alumni.
I spoke with Dulcie Madden, co-founder of Mimo and (of course) an MIT alumna who has now been at CES three years in a row. According to her, this isn’t a phenomenon, but rather a given.
“MIT has such a strong blend of robotics, electrical engineering and software, which are big for consumer electronics,” she told me over the phone at CES. “So a ton of alumni end up starting or wanting to work at companies in this space. There are so many gadgets, games and cool things you can make, and that appeals to the average MIT grad.”
Given that insight, it seems that right off the bat, MIT has the consumer electronic space covered. But why do they all flock to CES? Although part of it is a pull to check out all of the amazing gadgets, Ecovent’s Founder and CEO Dipul Patel told me there’s more to it than that. It’s all about meetings.
“The show is massive,” Patel started to explain. “To me, just being able to walk around and see the show is cool. But I’m excited about the meetings we have lined up. I get to talk to people who can take a look at our business and help out.”
“Our name gets out there as well…Ecovent isn’t this cute little startup anymore,” he added. “We have something going that could be big.”
In addition to Mimo and Ecovent, there are loads of MIT-linked companies congregating at CES as you read. While I’d love to give you the lowdown on every, single one, that list would look like War and Peace. But here are all of the ones coming from Massachusetts.
Analog Devices: This company does semiconductors right. Its different devices can harness the potential of anything energetic – from light to motion – and transform it into electricity to power all kinds of equipment.
BrainCo: Bringing us the closest thing to telekinetics is BrainCo. With the wearable technology they’ve developed, people can use their thoughts to control everyday gadgets, in addition to measuring their personal health (i.e. how well their sleeping).
E Ink: These folks make your eReader experience more authentic. Thanks to the company’s unique paper-like displays, it almost seems like you were reading from the pages of a real book.
Ecovent: One room in your house might have frost on the inside of its windows, while the rest feel like a tropical paradise. Ecovent lets you control your home’s temperature on a room-by-room basis, allowing you to monitor temps and redirect airflow for top-tier comfort.
Formlabs: 3D printing: All the cool people are doing it. And Formlabs is making it accessible to the masses with its desktop, high-resolution 3D printers. On top of being compact, this company’s devices are also financially friendly.
Holosonics: It’s not always necessary to have an entire room bumpin’ with music (or any other kind of audio, for that matter). So Holosonics created a line of innovative speakers that concentrate sound only a specific area. They’re aptly called “Audio Spotlights.”
Luminus Devices: One of the biggest sources of wasted energy (and with that, wasted money) comes from inefficient lighting. Combating that problem is Luminus Devices, which produces LED solutions for any type of illumination you can think of.
MarkForged: This company’s desktop 3D printer is the first of its kind in that it can continuously print composite fiber. It can also print pretty awesome materials, including Kevlar.
MC10: In the past, patients and medical study subjects have had to put up with some bulky wearables that allow health care professionals to collect data. However, MC10 is changing that. With its various, slim and comfortable wearables, people to obtain data crucial to assess patient health and treatment success.
Mimo: Nifty sensors from Mimo allow parents to monitor how their babies are sleeping. Its devices will give parents a breakdown of what goes down during the night, including how a baby is breathing and whether they’re asleep.
NeuroMetrix: This wearable medical device company specializes in – as you can gather from the name – anything relating to neurology. Its gadgets allow medical care providers to assess and manage patients’ sleep and neurological disorders, as well as chronic pain.
QD Vision: Using quantum dots, QD Vision has developed highly vivid but uber efficient displays. So if you’re in the market for color-rich visual displays that offer low operating costs, these are your guys.
Rise Robotics: This company has big plans. Its ultimate goal is to create a wearable, robotic “ExoSUIT.” However, it will be offering a running list of robotic products, including its current one: a handheld air compressor called Bacon.
Solos by Kopin: Hardcore athletes need hardcore hardware with which they can train. Solos (brought to you by Kopin) offers eyewear that allows people to monitor data as they train, so they’re pushing themselves to their greatest potential in an intelligent manner.
VirZoom: There’s more to virtual reality than wearing those goofy goggles. VirZoom has developed sensors (and yes, goggles) that transform your bike into a portal to personal VR experiences. Ultimately, you can get in a good workout – all while feeling like you’re playing a videogame.
WiTricity: The promise of wireless power seems like it would involve magic. In reality, it requires magnetic fields, which is exactly what WiTricity has harnessed to let different companies power their creations – from medical devices to cars – without wires.
Image on file.