The Most Interesting Tech in Silicon Alley: June 2018 NY Tech Meetup

Photo by Craig Williston / qoolfoto.com

Photo by Craig Williston / qoolfoto.com

The NY Tech Meetup has a long history of highlighting the best emerging technology in the Silicon Alley. Each month, we will bring you the highlights straight from the event. At June’s event at the SVA Theatre, presenters demoed technology that ranged from helping people with visual impairments navigate the world, to teaching kids about engineering through race cars.

1. WearWorks

What if you could navigate the world through touch? That’s the mission of WearWorks, to use haptic communication — nonverbal cues through touch — to help blind and visually impaired people lead more independent lives.

Co-Founder and CEO Keith Kirkland demoed the company’s first product, a wearable device called Wayband. The bracelet-like device syncs to a mobile app where a user can enter their destination. The Wayband vibrates until the user is facing the right direction, so the user knows which way to go.

While the company is still tackling challenges like the unreliability of GPS in big cities and waterproofing the wearable, the technology did help one user become the first blind marathon runner to complete the NYC Marathon unassisted. WearWorks will release their beta version on August 1.

2. Wethos

When Wethos Co-Founder and CEO Rachel Renock worked for an advertising agency, she found herself craving more meaningful work. To fill the gap in purpose, she freelanced for nonprofits she cared about. In 2016, she and her co-founders decided to devote their day-jobs to the nonprofit sector.

Wethos is a platform that connects freelancers to nonprofits, and cuts out the guessing games on both sides. Free for nonprofits, Wethos monetizes by taking a small cut of its freelancers’ payments.

The company developed a tool that helps nonprofits understand the time commitment and cost associated with the work they need, and only matches them to freelancers in their spending range.

On the freelance side, Renock said they see Wethos as “a movement toward more meaningful work,” and that they hope to add in features, like a healthcare fund, to make freelancing more sustainable.

3. Sana Health

“This is how I solved my own pain problem completely,” Sana Health CEO and Founder Richard Hanbury said to introduce his product. In 1992, he said, he crashed a Jeep off a bridge in Yemen, breaking his back and ripping his aorta. When he came out of his coma, he experienced intense pain.

To solve his own pain problems, Hanbury invented Sana, a smart sleep mask that helps reduce pain to help users go to sleep. The mask measures heart rate variability through a sensor that rests on a users’ forehead. That data is utilized to inform the light and sound stimulation to help users enter a natural sleep cycle.

In a 75-person study with East Bay Chronic Bay Group, Stanford, and SOCOM, Sana users had a 3x reduction in pain levels compared to the control, Hanbury said. The company is now raising funds to complete an FDA trial and launch.

4. Raceya

“I, like you, want [my kids] to survive the coming robot apocalypse,” said Raceya Founder Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson. She thought the solution would be to give her kids toys with an educational slant. Instead, they collected dust.

“Ed tech has this tendency to feel like homework,” Edgecliffe-Johnson said. So she set out to create a product that felt like playing with a toy before kids realized they were learning at the same time.

Enter: Raceya. It’s a racecar toy that works right out of the box, but lets kids customize it by changing different parts like wheels and gears. Raceya also advises kids on how to create custom parts that they can 3-D print at home or from one of Raceya’s partners.

5. Cardiapp

The Cardiapp founders were the youngest demo team, consisting of three high school seniors. Along with two of their advisers, these Riverdale Country School students debuted their heart health tracking app, which they created as part of a school program. Cardiapp is an iPhone app that connects to biometric stats from the Apple Watch.

One of the students on the founding team had been diagnosed with an arrhythmia and cited the app as a sleeker alternative to the clunky EKG he had to wear. The app also includes a tagging feature, so users can understand how their heart rate is affected by activities like dancing or eating.

In workout mode, the Apple Watch will vibrate if your heart is beating too fast, and the screen tells you whether you are in fat-burning mode. Cardiapp is now available in beta.

6. Memria

This startup is seizing on the wave of audio enthusiasm by introducing a platform that helps organizations harness the power of voice. Memria Founder and CEO Louis Bickford said he created the platform “to respond to the massive demand for stories.”

The two sides of the Memria marketplace include requesters and storytellers. Requesters are organizations seeking to collect stories — like an alumni organization seeking to solicit alumni stories to use for fundraising efforts, or NGOs seeking to drive support through narratives about their cause.

In the future, the platform’s creators hope to use the power of voice and storytelling to bridge gaps in communication. Bickford said they are collecting stories from police and communities from several cities in the U.S., for example, with the hope of facilitating empathy and understanding between both groups.

7. ASME

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers is on a mission to bring an engineering perspective to the world’s biggest problems. In addition to hosting two events with this goal in mind — Impact Engineered and ISHOW Innovation Showcase — the presenters also shared the organization’s Solutions Library.

The library brings together information about various solutions to global problems so that engineers don’t need to “reinvent the wheel” each time they try to design a new solution. The library is available to all ASME members.

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