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Making Smart Devices as Powerful as the Human Brain

When Atif Hashmi and Andrew Nere were electrical engineering Ph.D. students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, their research involved developing algorithms to mimic how the human brain processes sensory input. As their research progressed, they began to see opportunities to improve users’ experience with smart devices, which often collect sensory data and aspire to process it as efficiently and accurately as the human brain does. Along with their research advisor, engineering professor Mikko Lipasti, Hashmi and Nere founded Thalchemy, a Madison-based company whose technology enables more efficient and accurate processing of sensory data. Applications include smartphones and watches, fitness trackers, and applications in the gaming and lifestyle areas and beyond.

Toward Better Biometrics

Thalchemy recently licensed its technology to a company that will use the algorithms to monitor the audio environment for signs of danger—so, for example, in addition to public safety cameras capturing visual footage, the cameras might include audio sensors that alert first responders when gunshots are heard. Not only are Thalchemy’s algorithms more accurate than what’s already on the market, but they are also designed to use a low level of power—another reason they’ll appeal to consumers, since apps that use the company’s technology won’t drain a device’s battery. The company is also working to develop an algorithm that can recognize biometric identifiers such as an individual’s heartbeat rhythm. Thalchemy has benefited from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) funding as well as the SBIR Advance Program, funded by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and administered by the Center for Technology Commercialization. The company is also certified to attract investment through the Qualified New Business Venture Program.

(August 2016)

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