Analog, MEMS and sensor startups to follow in 2018

Analog, MEMS and sensor startups to follow in 2018
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We have renewed our list of analog, MEMS and sensor startups to follow, the fourth iteration of our list, by increasing the number of companies referenced to 20.
By Peter Clarke

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As we said last year, the number of candidate startups is increasing. Analog, MEMS and sensor companies are gaining in number and significance alongside the Internet of Things, and it has become limiting to stick to just 16 companies. So, we welcome 9 newcomers and hail 11 companies who remained from last year (see Analog, MEMS and sensor startups to follow in 2017).

The newcomers include companies active in energy harvesting. Hall effect magnetic, gas and vital signs sensors, hyperspectral imaging and spectrometry, analog EDA, ultrawideband RF sensing and imaging and low power wireless SoCs for the IoT.

Below are 20 startup companies we feel are worth keeping track of during 2018 listed in alphabetical order. New entries are highlighted in italic.

Next: From Cambridge to Berkeley


8power Ltd. (Cambridge, England), co-founded in January 2015 by Ashwin Seshia, professor of microsystems technology at the University of Cambridge and others, to exploit vibration energy harvesting based on parametric resonance which is harvested via MEMS technology. www.8power.com

(see Energy harvest startup appoints Ubisense founder to chair).

 

Advanced Hall Sensors Ltd. (Manchester, England) founded by Professor Mohammed Missous to exploit quantum well Hall effect magnetic sensing in gallium arsenide. Company claims to have shipped 15 million sensors. www.ahsltd.com

(see UK invests in quantum well, 2D magnetic sensors)

 

AerNos Inc. (San Diego, Calif.), founded in 2016, uses doped materials and nanotechnology to detect multiple airborne gases and volatile organic compounds simultaneously at parts per billion levels. The sensors include carbon nanotubes, nanowires and polymers. www.aernos.com

(see Startup offers multi-gas sensing, machine learning and AerNos partners with Rogue Valley foundry for gas sensor).

 

AnDapt Inc. (San Jose, Calif.) – a fabless company founded in 2014 – has launched a range of configurable ICs that combine power MOSFETs, analog and digital circuitry and that can be used to create a wide variety of power circuits www.andapt.com

(see Startup launches configurable power management ICs).

 

Chirp Microsystems Inc. (Berkeley, Calif.) was founded in 2013 to commercialize a low-power ultrasonic gesture recognition technology intended for use in mobile and wearable devices. Developed by a team of researchers from BSAC (Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center) and SwarmLAB at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, Chirp uses MEMS ultrasound transducers to detect and track a user’s gestures in 3D space. www.chirpmicro.com

(see Chirp launches ultrasonic ToF sensors).

 

Next: From Paris and back to California


Chronocam AS (Paris, France), founded in 2014, develops machine vision sensors based on asynchronous pixel sensor technology and biologically-inspired computer vision. Such systems can be optimized for low power, high dynamic range and low data rate rather than for resolution and a superior human-viewable image. Chronocam has entered into a strategic relationship with Nissan-Renault Group that will focus on bringing Chronocam’s approach to Renault’s Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving developments. www.chronocam.com 

(see Eye-catching Chronocam grabs $15 million Series B and Report: Chronocam winning in automotive)

 

E-peas Semiconductors (Mont-Saint-Guibert, Belgium) has announced its first chip in energy management IC for use with photovoltaic and thermoelectric energy harvesting. The company was founded in 2014 with a vision to address Internet of Things applications on two fronts; by increasing harvested energy and by reducing the energy consumption of circuit blocks. www.e-peas.com

(see E-Peas broadens power saving portfolio and Energy harvest startup raises €3.5 million)

 

Leman Micro Devices SA (Lausanne, Switzerland) is a 2011 startup working on a sensor module and software that measures five vital signs of health to medical accuracy. The module is designed to be small enough and low enough cost to fit inside a smartphone and LMD has pursued medical regulatory approval for the module. The five vital signs are temperature, pulse and respiration rates, blood oxygen levels and blood pressure and give rise to the name of the module; the V sensor. www.leman-micro.com

(see Vital signs sensor could transform smartphones and MediaTek offers biosensor module for smartphones)

 

MEMS Drive Inc. (Pasadena, Calif.), founded in 2014, develops, manufactures and markets MEMS actuators with a particular target application in mobile imaging where its fast responding devices can be used for optical image stabilization (OIS) for smartphone cameras. In 2016 the company raised $11 million in a Series B funding round led by Walden International. www.memsdrive.com

(see Walden backs MEMS actuator startup).

 

Menlo Micro Inc. (Irvine, Calif.) was formed in 2016 to bring General Electric’s power handling MEMS microswitch technology to market. The ability to handle up to kilowatts of power enables applications in battery management, home-automation, electric vehicles, medical instrumentation, and wireless base stations, the company claims. www.menlomicro.com

(See GE spins out MEMS startup: wants cheaper power switches and MEMS-based RF switch delivers over 10X performance gain).

 

Next: From Milpitas to Cwmbran


NuVolta Technologies Inc. (Milpitas, CA), a wireless power chip company startup that already has a number of chip designs under its belt, is now working with smartphone companies for the launch of custom chips. The company was founded in 2014 by a team of six engineers, of which many came from Texas Instruments. www.nuvoltatech.com

 

(see Wireless power startup preps smartphone entry).

 

 

Sensifree Ltd. (Petah-Tikva, Israel and Cupertino, Calif.) is a developer of an RF-based low power biomedical sensor, The RF sensor detects movement in the arterial wall to detect pulse and blood volume and can collect a range of continuous biometric data without the need to touch the human body. Sensifree was founded in 2012 and completed a $5 million round of Series A financing in 2016. www.sensifree.com

(see RF sensor startup teams with Switzerland’s CSEM Biometric sensor startup raises $5 million).

 

Spectral Engines Oy (Helsinki, Finland) was founded in 2014 and develops and produces hyperspectral sensors for the process spectroscopy, agriculture, food and beverage, and gas sensing fields. It offers OEM sensors, application development kits, gas sensors, portable instruments, and SW development kits. The company serves applicationsin the detection of moisture, polymers, hydrocarbons, CO2, APIs in pharma, beverages, and food composition applications. www.spectralengines.com

(see Spectral Engines funded to develop drug sensor and VTT to spin-off MEMS-based spectrometer startup)

 

Telink Semiconductor Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China) – founded in 2010 – is a fabless chip company that focuses on RF and mixed-signal circuits for IoT and smart home applications. The company received venture capital backing from Intel in 2015. www.telink-semi.com

(see China’s Telink partners with Ixys for IoT)

 

Thalia Design Automation Ltd. (Cwmbran, Wales), founded in 2011 by a former CAD engineering manager for Micrel, is developing EDA tools that use behavior algorithms from nature for the rapid optimization of analog and mixed-signal performance and power consumption. The company has developed the Amalia analog circuit design optimizer and the Emera power device design optimizer. www.thalia-da.com

(see NXP’s Catena Group selects Thalia for analog reuse and Insect-inspired EDA firm raises funds)

 

Next: from Israel to San Diego


Unispectral Ltd. (Ramat Gan, Israel) is a company founded in 2016 to commercialize image sensor technology developed at Tel Aviv University. Its hyperspectral technology can distinguish material properties in solids, liquids and gases and allows spectrometric analysis of materials such as food stuffs and can also capture images in low-light. Jerusalem Venture Partners  (JVP), Robert Bosch Venture Capital (RBVC), Samsung Catalyst Fund and The Tel Aviv University Technology Innovation Momentum Fund contributed to a $7.5 million Series A round of funding in 2016. www.unispectral.com

(see Hyperspectral startup raises $7.5 million).

 

USound GmbH (Graz, Austria), formed in 2014, has developed a piezoelectric MEMS platform for the creation of MEMS microspeakers. The intent is get this micro-speakers designed on to smartphone motherboards and in next-generation in-ear headphones. www.usound.com

(see ST is USound’s piezoMEMS partner and Austria hosts MEMS speaker startup).

 

Vayyar Imaging Ltd. (Tel Aviv, Israel) develops RF-based 3D imaging sensors, that see through and inside materials and enable monitoring of people and objects. Vayyar provides sensors for various applications ranging from breast cancer screening to detecting water leakage, safety monitoring including automotive applications. Founded in 2010. www.vayyar.com

(see UWB imaging startup raises $45 million and Startup utilizes ultra-wide band radar for 3D sensing)

 

Vesper Technologies Inc. (Boston, Mass), founded in 2009, is a developer of piezoelectric MEMS microphones. The company closed a Series A round of funding of $15 million in 2016. Investors included Amazon’s Alexa Fund and AAC Technologies a microphone vendor based in Shenzhen, China. Earlier in 2016 Vesper announced a partnership with AAC to commercialize piezoelectric MEMS microphones for consumer products such as smartphones. www.vespermems.com

(see Vesper offers “drop-in” piezo MEMS mic for arrays and Vesper, AAC partner to push piezoelectric MEMS microphones)

 

Wiliot Inc. (San Diego, Calif.) is a fabless semiconductor company formed by a group of engineers whose previous company, Wi-Fi pioneer Wilocity, was acquired by Qualcomm in 2014. Wiliot is setting out to develop a Bluetooth chip powered by energy harvested from radio waves and thereby passive SoC platforms for the IoT market. Founded in 2017 www.wiliot.com

(see Qualcomm, Merck back battery-free IoT startup)

 

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