Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden and Nordstrom’s chief digital officer, Ken Worzel, share a laugh during the 2019 State of Technology Luncheon, presented by the Technology Alliance. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) There was a heavy aerospace spin to this year’s presented today by the Technology Alliance at the Seattle Sheraton. Alaska Airlines CEO was the keynote speaker for what’s been billed as “the premier annual event of Washington’s innovation community.” Three other aerospace executives had their time in the spotlight as well, and hundreds of representatives from the tech industry, academia and government were in attendance. Here are a few highlights from the event: We’re all tech companies now: During an onstage fireside chat, Nordstrom chief digital officer Ken Worzel asked Tilden whether he classified Alaska Airlines as a technology company. “Absolutely,” Tilden replied. “I bet every single person in this room thinks of where they work as a technology company. It’s hugely, hugely important to us.” What about my Wi-Fi? One of the biggest applause lines came when Tilden responded to a question about the slowness of in-flight Wi-Fi. he said. “We have 225 airplanes with Wi-Fi, 25 of them have satellite [connectivity]. Satellite is 20 times faster than ground-based Wi-Fi. All the airplanes will be done 12 months from now. … It’s not going to be as fast as your 1-gigabit home computer, but it will be as fast as your mobile phone, and you’ll be able to download and stream.” A vote of support for Boeing: Tilden said Alaska Airlines is remaining “hugely loyal to Boeing” as the airplane manufacturer works through issues that have arisen in the wake of two catastrophic crashes. Software updates are soon expected to address problems with an automated flight control system on the 737 MAX. “Our team has looked at them,” Tilden said of the updates, “and we’re satisfied that they’re the right changes.” Debut for Digital Winglets: CEO Tom Gibbons showed off his company’s app, which monitors and analyzes an airplane’s vital statistics and crowdsourced situational data in real time to optimize the plane’s fuel usage and route during a flight. “It’s Waze for your airplane,” Gibbons said, referring to the . Today the company that it was partnering with Alaska Airlines to develop NASA’s technology and deploy it across Alaska’s entire fleet. also makes sure airplanes are serviced in a timely manner during on-the-ground turnarounds, and keeps track of an airplane’s operational health. Electric aviation on the horizon: CEO Roei Ganzarski recapped his electric propulsion company’s recent deals to with electric motors, and . Ganzarski said that Harbour Air’s first converted all-electric plane would make its first test flight in November, and that Eviation’s Alice airplane would have its first flight by the end of the year. “The one thing I would love to see this state do is take the lead in the United States,” he said. Ganzarski suggested that Washington state could encourage short-haul airlines to go all-electric by, say, 2050. The space gold rush: CEO Curt Blake talked up his company’s logistical role in , this year’s launch that , and other satellite missions. “I was downtown in Pioneer Square not long ago, and I went by that ,” Blake said. “And I thought, that’s not really unlike what we’re doing. The people in Seattle were selling tickets to get up to Alaska, they were selling picks and shovels. … We’re basically doing the same thing: We’re providing the means for people to get to outer space and really fulfill their dreams, commercializing what’s up there — hopefully to make what’s down here a little better.”
Cyemptive CEO Rob Pike. (Cyemptive Photo) Seattle-area cybersecurity startup today announced the acquisition of (ATG), a 14-year-old IT consulting service company also based in the Seattle region. The ten employees working for ATG will join Cyemptive, whose headcount is now north of 65 people. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cyemptive came out of stealth mode , announcing a $3.5 million investment round from undisclosed investors. The company describes its cybersecurity software as an “automatic self-repairing reliable platform.” It sells products including an endpoint protection service and advanced perimeter firewalls, among others. Cyemptive’s executive team includes founder , who was previously an executive at Hitachi; , who was formerly chief information officer at Microsoft; and , who spent 30 years at the NSA, most recently as chief computer architect. The company plans to use ATG’s expertise in customer service and support to help serve its growing customer base of businesses and government clients. ATG founder and CEO Bryan Greene will join the Cyemptive management team. “Incorporating ATG’s already-established infrastructure of customer focus, service and support with our groundbreaking failsafe, pre-emptive cyber protection technologies is a natural next step in providing the best in cyber security solutions and support to them,” DuBois said in a statement.
(Tasso Photo) , the maker of a product that lets patients collect their own blood at home, raised $6.1 million in a round led by Vertical Ventures Partners. Startup accelerator Techstars and Los Angeles-based hospital Cedars-Sinai also invested in the round. The Seattle-based startup said the blood sample device, called Tasso OnDemand, should be available by the middle of this year. The idea is that people can take their own blood at home and mail it to a lab directly rather than go to a clinic. This allows for more frequent testing to monitor a drug’s effects on the blood, providing regular feedback for researchers and doctors while making the process easier for patients. The company developed the platform using $13.1 million of from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the National Institute of Health (NIH). Tasso was started by and , who both received doctorates in biomedical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “We are excited to work with VVP on furthering our mission of patient-centric blood collection,” said Casavant, who serves as Tasso’s CEO. “With the additional support of Techstars and Cedars-Sinai, we are well positioned to transform clinical blood testing by making it painless and convenient.” Tasso has pilot programs with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Cedars-Sinai and others. Vertical Ventures invests in early-stage tech companies across a range of industries. The VC firm’s other healthcare investments include health data company Roam and GE Ventures spinout Menlo Micro. Vertical Ventures partner Brad Corona said the company was looking to sell the product to labs and pharmaceutical companies. “Blood collection hasn’t changed in decades, and judging from the strong early interest from commercial partners, it’s time,” he said. Quest and LabCorp dominate the diagnostics industry, which a number of startups have tried to disrupt through at-home or direct-to-consumer testing. EverlyWell, a startup that received funding through “Shark Tank” and offers a menu of health tests based on samples collected at home, has over its accuracy.
That’s actually just one display, reflected in an array of mirrors. This photo from technology startup Misapplied Sciences Inc. uses mirrors to show how a single “parallel reality” display looks from many different vantage points. The single screen is behind the photographer. (Misapplied Sciences Photo) , the Seattle-area company behind a screen that can show different displays to multiple people at the same time, has raised more cash. A new regulatory filing shows that the startup has reeled in a $7 million investment. The company did not respond when contacted by GeekWire. It previously raised a $3.4 million equity investment, and landed a $900,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Small Business Innovation Research program. Misapplied’s tech is — one that can send different colors of light in tens of thousands of directions. Put those pixels together into a display, and it means that a bunch of people standing in a room, each looking at the same screen, see different images. Combine that with location sensors, and the company says it’s possible for a display to follow a person through space. Misapplied Sciences co-founders: Chairman and CTO Paul Dietz, CEO Albert Ng, and Chief Creative and Operating Officer Dave Thompson. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota) The Redmond, Wash.-based company was started in 2014 and is led by CTO Paul Dietz, CEO Albert Ng and chief creative and operating officer Dave Thompson. The team operated in stealth mode for several years before unveiling their technology last year. Misapplied Sciences won the Innovation of the Year award at the this past May. Dietz, the company’s CTO and chairman, is known in the engineering world for pioneering work on multi-touch screens at Microsoft Research. He also spent time at Disney, working on the “Pal Mickey” interactive toy. Ng also worked at Microsoft Research during Dietz’s tenure. Thompson was a show producer at Walt Disney Imagineering while Dietz was working in that division. Other startups have tried to find ways to show different things to people using a single display. is a startup that uses projectors to display different content to multiple people on the same screen. At first, Misapplied’s screen sounds strange, like what would happen if Willy Wonka designed a jumbotron. But its overall vision aligns with the goals of modern advertising. Delivering unique advertising to people based on data is, after all, the magic sauce that built Google and Facebook. Beyond ads, Misapplied says the technology could eventually be used on roadways to show drivers individualized signs. In airports, information screens could display personalized flight information. Misapplied investor and board member Carl Ledbetter of Pelion Venture Partners was among those listed on the filing. So was Mike Edelhart, who is managing partner at startup investor Social Starts, .
CTRL-labs connects the human brain to a machine via a wrist-worn device. (CTRL-labs Photo) , the New York-based startup that is reimagining how the human brain can connect with machines, has closed another big funding round, with Amazon’s Alexa Fund pitching in on the $28 million haul. The round was led by GV, according to a news release on Friday, and Amazon was joined by Lux Capital, Spark Capital, Matrix Partners, Breyer Capital, and Fuel Capital. A also raised $28 million and included the late Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital among investors. The company was co-founded by Thomas Reardon, who helped develop Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser, and Patrick Kaifosh, a theoretical neuroscientist. CTRL-labs has raised $67 million to date and the latest round will help with, among other things, the building and distribution of its developer kit, , currently in preview for select partners. With a wristband that picks up signals from the brain and allows users to control a digital device without moving a finger, CTRL-labs’ long-term vision is to pave the way for mass consumer adoption of non-invasive neural interface technology. The new kind of universal controller is meant to “empower humans to harness their machines as natural extensions of thought and movement,” according to the company. “Like the developers and creators we hear from, we feel fundamentally dissatisfied with the pervading technologies of the last century,” Reardon said in a statement. “Our objective with CTRL-kit is to give the industry’s most ambitious minds the tools they need to reimagine the relationship between humans and machines.” Check out some of these videos, demonstrating CTRL-labs technology in action: And here’s Reardon introducing CTRL-kit at the startup event Slush 2018 in December:
Tectonic Audio Labs CEO Craig Hubbell. (Tectonic Audio Labs Photo) Seattle-area startup has raised $6 million to further develop its audio technology used in smart speakers, TVs, cars, and other products. WestRiver Group and Delafield Hambrecht led the Series B round. Founded in 2011, Tectonic uses to provide more immersive sound across varying environments. The company’s product uses composite panel tech instead of pistonic vibrations from a traditional cone diaphragm design. Its customers across North America work in a wide spectrum of industries — Tectonic is used inside the ballroom at Treasure Island in Las Vegas; at the lobby and bar at the W Bellevue; and inside . Tectonic aims to ride the growth of the smart speaker market, which is to reach nearly $40 billion worldwide by 2025. CIRP last week an installed smart speaker base of 66 million units in the U.S., up from 36 million a year ago. “We believe the market will continue to shift toward audio products that provide higher voice intelligibility and full range, natural sound,” said , Tectonic’s CEO who joined in November after a 16-year career at PlayNetwork. “We expect that our products will be used in a broad range of consumer products across several industries that want to make voice interaction and audio playback more enjoyable for consumers.” Tectonic employs 25 people.