Startup talks breakthrough in search for ‘wearable brain’ – GeekWire

Ixana’s three co-founders, LR: Shovan Maity, head of research; Angik Sarkar, CEO; and Shreyas Sen, a Purdue university professor who invented the new chip.

A previously unknown Seattle startup founded by semiconductor and tech industry veterans says it has developed an energy-efficient chip that can run advanced AI applications in lightweight, wireless augmented reality headsets that will run all day without recharging.

The company says devices containing its chip, Ixana, will give users the equivalent of a “wearable brain”—sensing and analyzing a person’s surroundings and providing real-time information about everything from inventory on a warehouse shelf to previously forgotten acquaintances. a party.

Providing all-day battery life in lightweight wearables, Ixana says its proprietary YR11 chip represents a significant advance that larger companies like Apple, Microsoft and Meta have yet to achieve (or at least have not publicly) yet achieved in their own work on augmented reality. , AI and wearable technology.

Ixana has raised $3 million in funding from angel investors including Uncorrelation Ventures, Samsung Next, Evonexus, Hack VC, and Tom Chi, who led the early development of the Google Glass AR headset. The chip has also received more than $3.5 million in government grants from the National Science Foundation and others.

The company declined to reveal details of the fundamental physics of its chip, which it says results in a 100-fold improvement in energy efficiency, but said it generally has to do with the way the chip distributes the computing load beyond one location to distribute it. warm up and reduce battery consumption.

An Ixana graphic describes the YR11 chip’s specifications and reference hardware design.

Ixana promises to provide more information and showcase the chip at the CES trade show in Las Vegas in early January, including an augmented reality reference hardware design to be showcased at its booth.

The company was founded in late 2020. It has a team of 17 people with past experience at companies such as Intel, Qualcomm, Silicon Labs, Ford, Goodix, Rambus and Texas Instruments.

The chip was designed by Shreyas Sen, a former Intel Labs research scientist and co-founder of Ixana, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering.

“The main problem we’re trying to solve is to get our brains and machines to interact faster so we can get real-time feedback from the machines,” said Angik Sarkar, the company’s CEO and co-founder. “Basically, the machine becomes an extension of you. Sometimes we call it the wearable brain.”

A former Intel senior software engineer, Sarkar previously founded and ran hotel price prediction company Waylo, a machine learning travel startup that was acquired by European online travel company eDreams Odigeo in 2020.

Shovan Maity, Ixana’s co-founder and head of research, was previously an engineer at Intel and Qualcomm.

Now in its fourth generation, the chip was developed by Ixana’s team and manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). While some components of the headset are sourced from China, the company says all customer-facing components are sourced and assembled in the USA.

Ixana says industrial customers are already testing headphones with the chip in warehouse settings. The company says it plans to launch more extensive testing and validation next year for its chip and reference headphone design.

The company also plans to release an Android software development kit (SDK) that developers can use to run their own machine learning models on the headset to collect data for real-time feedback.

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