NJ Tech Weekly 2015-01-09T10:07:58+00:00

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  • Upper Saddle River’s Cavallini Middle School Wins $150,000 in Prizes from Samsung for Concussion-Sensing Project
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

     [While we take a much-needed break, we are rerunning our most popular posts. This was originally published in April 2018.] Just as the students at Emil A. Cavallini Middle School, in Upper Saddle River, were beginning to consider what project to do for Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Contest, one of their friends suffered a concussion in a football game. The rest is history. Last week, the school learned that it was one of the three national winners of the contest. Solve for Tomorrow encourages students to use their skills in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) to solve real-world problems. For their project, the team of students at Cavallini Middle School built a sensor that can be placed inside a football helmet to detect concussions. They also built an app to work with the sensor. The students and their project won $150,000 worth of Samsung products for their school. Having emerged from thousands of public school entries from across the country to be selected as one of 255 state finalists (one of five in New Jersey), then selected as the winner for New Jersey, and then as one of 10 national finalists (from among all 50 states plus the District of Columbia), Cavallini Middle School ultimately advanced through all these phases of the contest to become a national winner. As part of the Samsung competition, each team was asked to identify a problem affecting its community. “I want to reiterate our pride in these students being able to identify a project very close to their heats, a relevant issue that affects their community. They used a lot of creativity and ingenuity to apply STEAM to solve this issue,” said Ann Woo, senior director of corporate citizenship at Samsung Electronics America (Ridgefield Park). The students used Bluetooth, open-source software and off-the-shelf materials to design their sensor-based project. Discussing the design issues they faced, student Joshua Chostaka said that fitting the sensor into the helmet was one of the easiest problems to solve. “We knew there were four main areas on the helmet where our sensor could possibly fit. Then we did some measurements and realized that all of those four could actually fit the sensor.” Student Jacob Carlin noted that, after the design of the sensor was finished, the students made an app to work with it. “It was tough figuring out software that both looked nice when making a finished product and was capable of using Bluetooth to detect the sensor.” The team used inputs from various sources in order to reach its goals. One of the students, Alex Fisherman, noted that they had received help from a number of community members, including a software engineer. Also, “One of our other teachers is a high school referee; our football coach is also a doctor.” The teacher who supervised the project, Jonathan D. Harvey, said that the software engineer had partnered with him on several previous projects over the last two or three years, “and he was kind enough to come over and share his experience with coding and working with a whole bunch of devices for the internet of things, like Arduino boards and Raspberry Pi.” It was a great connection for the students. “In the case of Cavallini Middle School, to use technology out there and use the combination of resources to create something impactful has been amazing to watch,” said Woo. “And that is why they are one of the national winners.” Noting that the team came up with the idea after a friend had been injured, she added, “We were impressed with their passion and desire for change to happen in a positive way and impact their community.” Chostaka said that he recalled hashing over some preliminary ideas with Harvey, but after their friend’s concussion, “we had to do a project that helps the community.” And designing something that would detect concussions would certainly benefit students in the community who play sports. Harvey noted that they had talked about developing a protocol to help players suffering from a concussion to get back to their normal lives, but “we struck out there.” Then the students went backwards, in a sense, looking for ways to detect concussions earlier, he said. “We saw that it was a big problem that so many go undiagnosed. That’s when we started thinking about pressor sensors,” as well as other sensors that could actually detect concussions. The Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest is now in its eighth year. &nbs […]

  • Startups from Community and Area Colleges Pitch at Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

    [While we take a much-needed break, we are rerunning our most popular posts. This was originally published in January 2018.] At the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge in November, community members and students competed for $3,000 and the chance to work at the NJIT School of Management’s Lean Startup Accelerator this summer. We heard pitches from a number of students and startups. Here are some of them: Photo1 Networkd: Darrell Fertakos, an inventor and serial entrepreneur who is studying for his MBA at NJIT, talked about Networkd, a search engine specifically for networking. “Meeting new people is easy, but finding the right people is hard,” he began his pitch. “There is a global market need for improved networking.” Some 85 percent of jobs are found by networking, he noted. “We’ve developed technology that is going to help you find the right people using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or GPS technology. You highlight in a profile what your skills and interests are,” Fertakos said. Users can be in a coffee shop or walking past someone, and the matching algorithm will help them find the right people to connect with,” he told the audience. The product brings a networking aspect to Internet searching. “You’ll be connected to people searching similar topics on the Web,” said Fertakos. For example, you might search for “outback” and find someone who likes camping, or when you are searching for something for your business, you might find an investor match. Relevant ads will pop up, or they can be saved for later, he said. Photo2 PeduL: Speaking for PeduL (Newark), Kayla Jackson said the company "operates between the difficult-to-navigate traditional process of applying for scholarships and the crippling process of applying for loans." She added, “We think we can help the 12.5 million students in the U.S. who actively seek the financial aid they need to pursue higher education" each year. Essentially, PeduL is a crowdfunding platform that lets students raise money for college. “We uniquely transfer funds from student campaigns to their university in the form of a third-party scholarship,” said Jackson. Students don't just fundraise from their friends and families. PeduL optimizes their crowdfunding campaigns in partnership with influencers, scholarship providers and corporations, who can award endowments to students on the platform through a common application. “Scholarship providers use us because it gives them access to a large applicant pool,” she said. “And corporations use us because it gives them an opportunity to cultivate a diverse workforce.” Institutions can have a page, and tax-deductible donations are distributed on that page to students who want to go to NJIT, for example. GoFundMe is PeduL’s fiercest competitor. Photo3 Blastchat: Jhamar D. Youngblood, the founder of Blastchat, described this social messaging app, which allows users to blast direct messages to friends, customers, fans and others in real time. The startup has “simplified the process of sharing real-time information." Youngblood talked about his background. “Three years ago, I was in graduate school at Dartmouth College, and I Googled an employer and then tweeted at them. In 24 hours, no one replied to me. I realized that this wasn't an effective way to communicate with people.” Youngblood was also part of a young startup in China that communicated with its team using WeChat. “I realized that the future of mass communications was social messaging.” He noted that Generation Z will comprise 40 percent of the population in 2020, and they do not subscribe to email newsletters. There are companies that rely on delivering information via email, but by 2020, 40 percent of their customers won't be there, he said. Just as chat boxes will become the new websites, he is “convinced that social messaging will be the new paradigm" for distributing real-time information. Blastchat is simple to use, he said. You create the message and you press “blast.” The content appears on every recipient's device. And you can chat individually with every recipient for 24 hours. This is by far the fastest way to communicate, he noted. Blastchat has also been used in an application for the City of Newark. In this case, a user sets up a trusted group of friends and family, and can send a Blastchat message to that list if he or she feels in danger, just by pressing a button. Photo4 TAGEE: Julius Richards, founder of TAGEE (Newark) spoke for the startup, which is developing kid-friendly social media. “Too many kids want to be grown up and experience the same things that their parents and older brothers and sisters do,” Richards said. TAGEE provides a safe social media experience for kids. After all, kids are very social, and they need to develop responsible social media habits, he said. With TAGEE, parents are given the ability to filter out anything they don’t want their children to see, said Richards. Also, TAGEE aggregates content from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to allow children to see age-appropriate content that’s not going to “hurt their eyes or get them in trouble,” he added. Parents choose from curated hashtags. The app includes real-time messaging and allows the children to earn prizes for the messages they send within the TAGEE app. There’s also a dashboard that aggregates all the content from all related media, including videos. It allows the kids to select a great image and connect with other kids who are also viewing these same media. Once they get permission from their parents, kids are also able to talk to one another through direct messaging. Photo5 TOMO! Frank Ozoria, cofounder of TOMO! (Teaneck), pitched a version of the app that has been enhanced by a partnership with an artificial-intelligence company. It’s no secret that social media is a big part of our lives, he said. Essentially, what is happening is that it’s difficult for users to connect through all the platforms. Ozoria explained that TOMO! is a platform that allows users to connect instantly across multiple platforms and increase their social visibility. “If I was networking with you earlier today, I wouldn’t necessarily know where you were on social media. What TOMO! does is allow you to link everything into one central hub and show you an entire social footprint.” Why TOMO!? Ozoria answered that people want to connect. You go to the platform, register as a TOMO! user and get a code. You then link your account  to TOMO! and  invite people to be friends. TOMO! built in a viral loop because a social-media platform is only successful if your friends are on it. “So, we created a hook where you can invite your friends and see their social media” platforms, Ozoria said. TOMO! does not plan to sell ad space. “What we are looking to do is sell audiences. Users will link their social media accounts to TOMO! and that will help us produce first-party insights. All of those insights will be dumped into a data link which will be analyzed by an artificial-intelligence company, which we partnered with recently. That will help us create audience segments that we can sell to ad tech partners.&rdquo […]

  • “Standby Virtual Desktops” Give TetherView a Competitive Edge, CEO Michael Abboud Says
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      [While we take a much-needed break, we are rerunning our most popular posts. This was originally published in April 2018.] TetherView, a custom private-cloud company that moved into the Oceanport section of the former Fort Monmouth in 2015, has introduced a new service to help companies continue operating after being hacked, software failures, laptop mishaps or natural disasters. The offering, called “Standby Virtual Desktops,” is a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution. When a user’s laptop is stolen or dropped, or is knocked out of service by a natural disaster, Standby Virtual Desktops enable the individual to resume working. It eliminates the concept of “disaster recovery. It allows you to transition into a business-as-usual mode,” said CEO Michael Abboud in an interview. Abboud noted that the idea for the service came when TetherView was invited to bid on a large bank’s standby “cold site” for regular virtual desktops. The small company was competing against larger players. “We realized we needed to do something to give ourselves a real competitive edge. And that competitive edge was this idea of a standby virtual desktop.” Cold sites, created for disaster-recovery operations, are often located in a facility that could be quite a distance away from the user. They are usually preconfigured and built for a client company seeking protection against business disruptions. In contrast, Standby Virtual Desktop applications are delivered via TetherView’s private cloud for businesses, and they look and act like part of each customer’s corporate IT environment, though they are actually operating from ultra-secure data centers accessible via a Personal-Computer-over-Internet-Protocol (PCoIP) application or standard Web browsers, the company said in a release. The entire infrastructure, including the servers, software, network and storage, is maintained by TetherView, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain a redundant system. Abboud said that, as the DaaS service can be accessed from any device anywhere, it is a simple way to keep a business or an individual worker going in times of crisis. In the meantime, the business has breathing room and time to assess its IT situation and find a good solution to its problem. “We are not charging you extra when you use the standby mode. We recommend you do the sail over to Standby Virtual Desktops and do the right fix to your production environment.” Even a small medical facility with redundant servers probably doesn’t have a good solution for individual employees who have to work after they’ve lost their laptops or the facility has been attacked by a hacker, he noted. TetherView specializes in custom solutions for the cloud, and this offering is no exception, said Abboud. “We don’t have an out-of-the-box offering. We pride ourselves on doing a very thorough assessment on a per-client basis and making sure that the solution, at the end of the day, meets their needs. “ The new DaaS  solution is a “gateway to the cloud” for a lot of businesses that are struggling to figure out how to take their first steps into the cloud. “By using the Standby Virtual Desktops from TetherView, they can dip their toes in the water, with something they might not feel is so mission critical,” Abboud said. When TetherView starts a conversation with clients about employing Standby Virtual Desktops, this often leads to further conversations about backing up local production data, he noted. “We build this to be competitive and reduce the cost of these cold sites that clients are building.” The real benefit for clients is that it helps them with compliance and security at a reasonable price. “Everything we do is for a flat fee, so it’s extremely affordable.” TetherView’s client base is multinational, and includes companies and organizations of all different sectors and sizes in almost every industry, such as accounting, banking, law and healthcare, Abboud said. And he added that the company is growing rapidly. For more on TetherView see: Catching Up with Michael Abboud, CEO of Oceanport-based TetherView […]

  • A Tale of Two Cities: Newark and New Brunswick Further Their Goals to Become Tech and Innovation Centers
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      [While we take a much-needed break, we are rerunning our most popular posts. This was originally published in March 2018.] Last week Newark and New Brunswick took major steps toward their stated goals of becoming tech hubs in New Jersey. Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced in his State of the City address that the city had been selected as the site of the “Voice” natural language processing summit, to be held in July. Governor Phil Murphy said that the state, through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), would be supporting the construction of The Hub @ New Brunswick Station, a commercial development adjacent to New Brunswick’s train station that’s intended to be a destination for tech companies and innovators. Baraka: Newark as Silicon Valley of the East Coast In his State of the City address, Baraka said that Newark has a “conscious strategy of making Newark a center of the new high-tech economy, the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.” He said that the strategy is already proving successful. Mentioning the bidding for Amazon HQ2, in which Newark came out in the top 20, he said, “We prepare for Amazon, whether we agree with them or not, and if they don’t come, we prepare anyway for a new tech economy.” He noted that the city has put NAN centers in every ward. NAN Newark Tech World is the brainchild of the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network. Tech World is focused on basic digital literacy; intermediate and advanced computer skills; and the IT skills of coding, routing, switching and networking. Tech World community members will also learn about the ways in which technology can be helpful in their lives. He added, “We built a smart city by leveraging our 27 miles of fiber. We use it to reduce crime, create jobs, solve problems and make our city more accessible.” Newark Fiber is a program that offers speeds of 1 gig (1,000 megabits) and 10 gigs (10,000 megabits) per second for buildings, parks, streets and, eventually, homes. According to the Newark Fiber website, the fiber is available in five commercial buildings so far, including 2 Gateway Center, One Washington Park, Hahne & Company, 494 Broad and the Clinton Street Lofts. Baraka also announced what he called “another milestone” in Newark’s growing importance as a technology hub. “We learned over the weekend that Newark has been chosen to host ‘Voice,’ a three-day summit at the forefront of natural language processing sponsored by Amazon’s Alexa. This is big. Voice technology will soon be the way the entire world communicates with computers, machines, cars, home appliances and more; and it will be the way these devices communicate with us.” In addition, there will be more than 1,500 developers, designers, leading brands and agencies descending on Newark “to discuss and plan for how natural language processing and artificial intelligence will transform our world,” he said. “And they are coming together in Newark, New Jersey.” The conference will be hosted by Modev (McLean, Va.), a tech-oriented event-planning company, and will be sponsored by Amazon, the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau, Audible, Newark Community Economic Development Corporation and MEDINA=CITI. Murphy: Creating a Site Where High-Growth Industry Can Thrive In New Brunswick, Gov. Murphy outlined his vision for The Hub @ New Brunswick, which a state press release called “a pivotal redevelopment site in downtown New Brunswick that will support New Jersey’s economic future as the state’s home for research and start-up incubation.” Murphy said, “For too long, New Jersey has been left out of the growing national innovation economy. By creating a site where high-growth industry can thrive, New Jersey will begin to foster new ideas and take advantage of the once-in-a-generation chance to remake the state as an engine of economic opportunity.” The Hub @ New Brunswick will include about 1.7 million square feet of mixed-use space on a four-acre site being redeveloped by DEVCO, the New Brunswick development corporation. The project website says, “The Hub’s location offers direct access to Rutgers University, one of the nation's premier public research universities, a highly educated, skilled workforce, and mass transit options. This mixed-use project will be a hot bed for innovation.” According to the state press release on this topic, Murphy directed the EDA to immediately begin a planning and implementation study. He also stated that there will be plans for the EDA to identify potential partners for the Hub. Also last week, NJ Biz reported that Johnson & Johnson “hopes to construct a 35,000- to 40,000-square-foot incubation space in the new facility, to be built on a site in New Brunswick by 2019,” according to multiple unnamed sources. “J&J, which is headquartered in New Brunswick, would make the business incubator part of its JLabs, a collection of eight incubators across the U.S., Europe and Asia. JLabs has produced more than 200 startup companies and was designed to create ‘economic ecosystems’ in communities by encouraging entrepreneurship, employment and economic growth,” NJBiz said. No discussion of New Brunswick would be complete without determining how Rutgers will fit into the picture. According to the state press release, “‘Innovation is at the heart of what Rutgers does,’ said Robert Barchi, President of Rutgers University. ‘The university is excited about exploring the ways that the Hub could complement our strategic plan and fit into a vibrant partnership going forward.’&rdquo […]

  • Point Pleasant Beach-based Hammer Fiber Offers Blockchain Mining in the Cloud
    on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 am

      [While we take a much-needed break, we are rerunning our most popular posts. This was originally published in April 2018.] Businesses that are hosting their own blockchains or that are mining blockchain cryptocurrencies have an alternative in the cloud, said Mark G. Stogdill, president and CEO of Hammer Fiber (Point Pleasant Beach).   Discussing the explosive industry of cryptocurrencies, Stogdill explained that there are a lot of people who are trying to host their own blockchains. “It seems to us that the big hurdle for blockchain is that it really requires value to be driven to it. You have to create a market. You have to get it out to the world.   “How you market your blockchain isn’t necessarily our business, but how you host the blockchain is. …What we are trying to do is extend the data center to include blockchain. Right now, people who are trying to use blockchain to mine cryptocurrencies are doing this in ‘over-the-counter’ ways.”   They are setting up “what they call ‘mining rigs,’ which are basically a lot of server processing that they use in unsecured facilities or that they run out of their houses. They search the Internet and try to find these coins. They collect them and they provide trading for them. There are a lot of coins out there that haven’t been found because of the way blockchain works,” he said.   A blockchain is a very secure, distributed ledger that keeps transactional records of where these coins are, but many coins haven’t been found and are presumably lying fallow. “The best place to host a blockchain is in a data center. The biggest cost of running a blockchain is power. It requires a high level of power density, and the cost of running these mining rigs is very, very expensive,” said Stogdill. “And the operational costs, depending on how successful you are in the blockchain world, whether you are making your own currency or are trying to find other people’s currencies, can sometimes outstrip the reward.”   Hammer Fiber has a very deep data-center presence, with highly secure facilities, static power costs and infrastructure in place to support blockchains, he said. “We’re saying, if you work with us, we can put all your systems on our network, and we can do it much cheaper than you can do it yourself. There is a low entry cost.” The data centers also have high-capacity fiber links to the Internet, and this is another part of Hammer Fiber’s offerings.   Stogdill noted that Hammer Fiber began experimenting with blockchains for internal projects, and developed the architecture to support the technology.   Besides its new blockchain business, Hammer Fiber is a unique blend of an Internet service provider (ISP), a fiber company, and a triple-play content provider. Traded publicly over the counter, the company was formed in 2014 and began offering Internet service in 2017. Its triple-play television offering is unique.   “Essentially, we are a network operator that offers Internet phone and television services both through wired applications and wireless applications. Our big claim to fame has been the use of our wireless radio system, which essentially is a point-to-multipoint radio that runs DOCSIS [Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification] over the air, which is a cable TV type of architecture,” Stogdill said.   Hammer Fiber is not a cable company, he emphasized. “We use wireless technology to shoot from a base station to a home. So, it’s extremely advanced, and we see it being positioned as a very important part of what’s going to become the 5G revolution going forward, in terms of to-the-home content and Internet distribution.”   The triple-play service offered by Hammer Fiber is distributed on Absecon Island: in Ventnor, Margate, Longport and Atlantic City.   The company also has fiber. “We have some direct fiber feeds to buildings and businesses, and we backhaul all of our wireless technology using fiber optics. The wireless piece is an extension play. As part of our business model, we created a very dense network presence throughout New York, Philadelphia and all thorough New Jersey, which has a lot of backend infrastructure, some of which is used for our Internet service product.”   Hammer Fiber is moving into supporting other types of services that it can sell to a broader range of customers, such as businesses, web hosting firms and large enterprise customers. “All of these products grew out of being your local Internet company,” Stogdill said. “They all sort of center around the cloud architecture. It’s about servers and it’s about data storage. It’s about wholesaling enterprise phone systems. And these are new markets we just started to enter into over the last few months.”   “We are focusing very heavily on our cloud offering, which does everything from hosting your website to running your Dropbox-type data storage, backing up structured data backups that large enterprise companies need. All of the infrastructure is in place, and we are starting to sell these now as a service.” Stogdill added that the blockchain offering grew out of all this. […]