Israeli sensor technology understands time differently

Nexense’s super-sensors can be tacked on to products to measure sounds, movement and pressure that are thousands of time more accurately than any other sensor on the market.Raindrops trickling down a windshield, a baby’s heart beat, and snoring grandfathers are …

Nexense’s super-sensors can be tacked on to products to measure sounds, movement and pressure that are thousands of time more accurately than any other sensor on the market.Raindrops trickling down a windshield, a baby’s heart beat, and snoring grandfathers are facts of life which one Israeli company finds very important to measure.

So important that it has designed a special silicon chip to interpret the physical processes of everything from how fuel flows through a car to how blood flows through our bodies. The results are machines that can help make life better for everyone.

Nexense, has taken its ‘sensor’ chip and helped customize unique products in collaboration with manufacturers such as Timex, General Electric and most recently, Sealy Corporation of the Posturepedic mattress fame.

The results are new super-sensors, which can be tacked on to existing and new products to measure sounds, movement and pressure that are thousands of time more accurately than any other sensor on the market. The implications are enormous: adding revenues in the billion-dollar markets of medical and healthcare, and the multimillion dollar automotive, communication and aerospace markets.

“You name it, we can measure it,” is the mantra of Nexense’s founder and CEO Arik Ariav. The hardest task the company has at the moment is keeping track of all the products its sensor is being applied to. Many developments are still confidential, but those the company can divulge include a health watch for Timex, which monitors heart rate and blood pressure, and most recently an anti-snore device, ‘SleepCare’ being built with Sealy, expected to be in US stores by this January.

For an additional payment, a new mattress equipped with Nexense’s SleepCare anti-snore device promises to be the ultimate anti-snore device. A thin tray sits under the mattress and through a non-radiative process picks up on all the physiological cues a snorer emits throughout the sleep cycle. SleepCare studies the way a snorer breathes and can calculate the moment a person is likely to snore.

“We cheat the brain,” Ariav told ISRAEL21c, explaining that SleepCare gives the snorer a gentle nudge before the snoring starts and eventually trains the body to forgo snoring altogether. He emphasizes that the product, which was developed and fine-tuned by both engineers and doctors, will benefit both men and women. “They might deny it, but women also snore,” says Ariav.

Although the device will be marketed as a preventative device for snoring, Ariav claims that it will also benefit people with sleep apnea. “Every person with sleep apnea snores,” he says. A version of the device will be intended for children and may prove useful for decreasing SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – as well as monitoring asthma and preventing child sleep apnea.

Based on similar principles of the snoring device, hospital patients who need to be connected to monitoring devices will eventually be able to ‘go wireless’ and be able to roam hospital corridors without getting tangled in wires.

An American pharmaceutical company is working with Nexense on the tool which the company hopes will lead to better homecare devices for everyone and anyone with health risks.

Also embedded under the mattress, “like a smart pea,” says Ariav, the homecare device will allow a partner, a child or a doctor to monitor an elderly person during the sleeping hours. Any unusual activity such as an increase in heart rate will set off an alarm in the room or remotely, so that medical help can be sent.

And of course, with cellular technology, messages can be sent through a cell phone, SMS or email. The range of applications is endless, as sensors are now becoming a ubiquitous part of our lives. Sensors can be found almost everywhere, from the fridge to bank machines.

In the very near future, Nexense hopes to tap into the luxury car market where the company expects its raindrop sensor to be a big hit. When measured, the pressure of raindrops on the windshield can tell the wipers via the car computer to adjust wiper speed or to turn off entirely.

A contract with one of America’s top three car manufacturers is bound to position Nexense in the big league. A torque sensor is being built to help reduce fuel consumption, whereby benefits such as cleaner air and savings on gas is a win-win situation.

Additional add-ons in the automotive industry are sensors installed on the passenger seat, which during a collision can tell the air bag mechanism if it should be inflated.

Air bags are costly to replace, and according to the US National Center for Injury Prevention and Control can actually kill children. Nexense’s technology may be able to let kids ride in the front seat again, as sensors will measure weight and physiological cues to determine if a child or an inanimate object like a bag of groceries is on the seat – if so, the airbag will get a message to stay intact.

Sensors can also alert a parent if a child or pet is alone in the car, and detect if a stranger has been stowed away -a great concern for women drivers or anyone who has seen the movie Cape Fear.

Nexense has made such attractive business propositions that companies like General Electric have decided to invest. In 2001 Nexense received $3.5 million, and further funding has been supplied by private donors and grants.

Today, Nexense employs about 20 people, half of whom are engineers who work out of the company’s R&D facility in Yavne, Israel. Business development is based in Saddle Brook, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1990 and its current valuation is $38 million. About 80 percent of the company is privately owned, 9 percent owned by GE and the remaining owned by Emmes, a group of US angel investors who supplied $3 million in 2004.

Nexense claims that their secret to success is understanding time a little differently than anyone else. By emitting a steady wave of energy from a source, the company’s sensors pick up on disturbances, such as those made by the various sounds produced in a heartbeat, and translates those disturbances into a language which machines can understand.

The bottom line: by helping notify a family member if a loved one is in distress, giving snorers and their spouses a better night’s rest and in a countless other number of ways – this better way of measuring will lead to a better quality of life.

About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman is an award-winning environment news publisher who founded Green Prophet (www.greenprophet.com) to connect North Americans to issues that matter in the Middle East. She is the CEO of the Internet of Things startup flux, a company that is making social grow tools for urban farmers everywhere (www.fluxiot.com). Karin can be reached at karin (at) fluxiot.com.