Variable Technologies wins Early Innovator Award

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Variable Technologies, creator of the NODE smart sensor device, has received the eighth annual Early Innovator Award from the Chattanooga Technology Council. The prestigious community recognition kicked off today’s Spirit of Innovation Awards luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center.

This year’s judging panel selected the lean startup from a field of four impressive finalists, citing it as a “case study in game-changing innovation and smarter-planet thinking.”

Visionary founder Dr. George Yu was in California today for meetings with investors. The Early innovator Award was accepted on his behalf by his surprised spouse, Dr. Mina Sartipi, a professor of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

With bursts of funding from Kickstarter and Chattanooga Renaissance Fund, the Variable Technologies team of “gadgeteers” launched its first product: NODE. The KORE platform technology enables users to sense and measure the world around them, displaying the readings in real time on Bluetooth 4.0-enabled smart phones. Featuring a simple product design, appealing graphics and a powerhouse of interchangeable modules (CLIMA, LUMA, THERMA and CHROMA) on both ends, the handheld device can function as a remote flashlight, monitor the immediate climate, measure motion, and detect temperature at a distance.

Dr. George Yu has applied his electrical engineering knowledge and prior R&D experience with NASA and the Department of Homeland Security to launch NODE. By pivoting to the consumer market and adopting an open API (application programming interface), he has created a “Swiss Army Knife” of seemingly infinite smart sensor applications. Ultimately, multiple NODES could work in tandem to form intelligent networks of live sensor data.

Variable Technologies’ research and fabrication operations at the newly restored INCubator are profiled at www.variabletech.com, where the product and apps can be purchased directly.

Finalists:

Metal Surface Technologies has designed a Portable Test Kit to detect and analyze concentration levels of sodium dimethyldithiocarbamate (DTC), an EPA-regulated toxic chemical used in treating industrial wastewater streams from metal finishing, plating and circuit board manufacturing. The field test kit consists of a color indicator, a titration reagent and the appropriate direct-reading glassware. Competing methods for volumetric analysis require a trained operator, sensitive laboratory instruments costing thousands of dollars and several days to produce quantitative results; the new test kit will cost about $50 and produce results within minutes, yielding a quantitative accuracy down to 1.4 milligrams per liter. See www.metsurtech.com for more on the established Cleveland, Tennessee company and its founder, industrial chemist Randy Fowler.

Mobile Box Seats promises to enhance outdoor seating and the culinary experience created by the popular food truck industry. Its award-winning architectural design features a 20 x 20 inch central cube and bench seats for eight adults that fold out from its four vertical sides. A versatile top accommodates modular shading, power generation, trash collection and a flexible workspace. Closed cubes are easily stacked, transported and stored. The same design can be scaled to serve the needs of emergency shelters, sports events and urban public parks. The co-founders of this “portable infrastructure solution for modern street cuisine” are brothers Brad and Trevor McAllister. See their prototype at www.mobileboxseats.com.

Nudge is a new workplace wellness app that engages users in subscribing companies through team competition, gaming elements and peer pressure. Its proprietary NudgeFactor™ algorithm computes an objective measure of an individual’s preventive health score from 1 to 110, based on self-reported diet, hydration, activity level, sleep and indulgences. Pilot tests of its user-friendly web interface with collaborating companies show high levels of employee adoption and sustained engagement – behavior patterns that when aggregated can yield healthcare cost reductions over time. The B2B startup founded by entrepreneurs Phil Beene and Mac Gambill is at http://nudgeyourself.com.

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The Chattanooga Technology Council is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting the growth of technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, and education throughout the greater Chattanooga area. Members and sponsors of the Council gain access to a wide variety of resources and tools, including networking with local business peers, opportunities to broaden their knowledge base, and the ability to support local innovators and entrepreneurs. See www.chatc.org.


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Jon is a Digital Marketing Strategist and Creative Media Specialist who has helped companies of all sizes with their marketing efforts. As a board member of the Chattanooga Technology Council, and is actively involved in covering the emerging business tech scene. Find him on Twitter @jonfmoss