Turning Science into Product: Cambridge Consultants #TG2009

by on July 15, 2009 at 7:11 pm

One of our stops on the tour of Cambridge innovation centers included a trip to Cambridge Consultants. This “consultancy” takes new discoveries in science and technology, helps with patents, and envisioning and creating products for companies around the world. The show and tell was intriguing and here are some of the devices showcased:

Holographic Radar

Holographic Radar

Conventional radar sensors scan the field of view by mechanically rotating a narrow-beam antenaa. You’ve seen them in a million movies. New active phased arrays still capture information from a small area of the wider view. Now, holographic radar covers a whole field of view using many beams simultaneously. This data requires Teraflops of processing, but what it lets you do is actually “see” through solid walls and track multiple moving items. This is an excellent application for SWAT teams to see humans inside buildings in a hostage situation.

This radar was actually created to help air transportation spot the new windpower generators, which look like other airplanes to traditional radar.

Here’s what the device looks like:

Holographic Radar Device

Holographic Radar Device

We also saw some wireless medical devices of the future incuding devices that connect to the web and record you taking medicine from an inhaler, activity monitors and prescription dosing tracking systems.  As we age and become more connected, there’s a burgeoning area of technology supporting proactive disease management.

Here are some examples of devices created for Cambridge Consultants’ clients:

Web Connected Medical Devices

Web Connected Medical Devices

Satellite Internet connectivity was another big area for CC. Iridium is their client and they are working on phones and plug in devices for remote locations that allow you to jack into the web.

Iridium Satellite Phone

Iridium Satellite Phone

When we launched @Home Network’s broadband cable modem service here in the Silicon Valley in the late 90’s, we used to create a “Home of the Future” every year in New York and invite our advertisers, the press and our partners in to see what a broadband connected home might be like. Everything we used to show is now in my house, from a celestial jukebox, to WiFi to computers in many rooms. The only thing still missing is the refridgerator that keeps a shopping list. Now at Cambridge Consultants, the focus is on energy management and conservation.

Energy Management Devices from Cambridge Consultants

Energy Management Devices from Cambridge Consultants

Another company with whom we met that has a terrific range (see how British I’m sounding?) of home energy management systems is AlertMe.com by founder Pilgrim Beart. After six years working in Silicon Valley in the 1990’s for the likes of Atari and Chromatic Research (now AMD), in 1999 Pilgrim headed back to his home town of Cambridge. Here he founded two companies:activeRF Ltd., an early implementer of asset-location systems, using a variety of short range RF technologies and antenova Ltd., a manufacturer of innovative mass market antenna technology that provides WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity to mobiles and laptops. Now he’s on to saving energy with this terrific bundle of products:

AlertMe.com Home Energy Mangement Systems

AlertMe.com Home Energy Mangement Systems

Meeting with Cambridge Consultants on the tour helped me see another facet of the Cambridge infrastructure for bringing the innovation from the colleges (did you know there are 31 colleges that make up University of Cambridge and that Trinity, the college noted for science, computer science and technology has had more Nobel Prize winners than any other college in the world?) to the marketplace.

Cambridge is strong in the sciences and computer technology. They have a Angel and VC infrastructure. They have consulting companies to patent and develop products. But what they consistently said they are lacking is “commercialization” skills: PR, marketing and sales. If I didn’t have my own early stage company with Personal Life Media, I would love to move to Cambridge and set up a launch services business. After launching so many companies in Silicon Valley, it would be a delight to bring some of Cambridge’s innovation to market.

Here are two final pics of our time at CC. Thanks to Patrick, Gordon, Duncan, Alastair, Ray and Steven for their gracious hosting of the Traveling Geeks.

Geeks Hanging with Cambridge Consultants

Geeks Hanging with Cambridge Consultants

Suz at Cambridge Consultants

Suz at Cambridge Consultants

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