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SandBox Moving AI Tools Beyond IC Design — to Manufacturing

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake: 
The chip industry’s trajectory changed forever when a wave of EDA companies sprang up in the 1980s and offered commercial tools to accelerate complex IC design. Traditionally reliant on internal expertise to improve process engineering at fabs, chipmakers might now be ready to embrace commercial tools developed for semiconductor production. 

Manufacturing is the new black in the chip industry.

Read More »SandBox Moving AI Tools Beyond IC Design — to Manufacturing
Neuroscientists vs. Data Scientists

Numenta Steps into AI-Neuroscience Rift

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The human brain is known for its efficiency, storing and processing information as sparse representations. At any moment, only a small fraction of neurons are active. Neuroscientists believe they can map brain-inspired logic into algorithms, data structures and architecture running AI models so that they offer a recipe to put “AI power hog” on a diet. Undetermined is whether data scientists are willing to alter their brute-force compute-based AI practice, which appears increasingly unsustainable.

It’s not often you meet a mostly self-funded startup, much less one that, for 18 years, has played a long game in neuroscience research, before suddenly unveiling a commercial software product.

More significantly, the startup’s new product poses a direct challenge to the red-hot Large Language Model (LLM) AI market.

Read More »Numenta Steps into AI-Neuroscience Rift
Silicon Box Build

MeetKai Eyes on AI-Driven Digital Twin for Industrial Market

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Digital Twin is not a new concept. But by combining it with a new generation of AI models, MeetKai, a startup, is committing resources to creating effective interactive tools to be used by factories, for example – for optimizing the production process and training engineers remotely and virtually.

Meet MeetKai, an AI-Metaverse tool company. Also, meet James Kaplan, MeetKai’s CEO, who dropped out of Harvey Mudd College in 2014 to run a private equity fund for Michael Milken, once a junk-bond villain.

Kaplan co-founded MeetKai in 2018 in L.A. with Weili Dai, Marvell Technology’s co-founder.

Read More »MeetKai Eyes on AI-Driven Digital Twin for Industrial Market
Useful Sensors

From ‘Smart’ to ‘Useful’ Sensors

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
Talk of edge AI, particularly machine learning, has captivated the IoT market. Yet, actual consumer products with local machine learning capabilities, are rare. Who’s ready to pull that off? Will it be a traditional MCU supplier or an upstart — like Useful Sensors?

Tech jargons like “smart home” and “smart sensor” have been overused to the point where real value that might be delivered by the related technologies reaches most non-techie consumers largely as fog.

Why, for instance, would any sensible person fiddle with apps, options and swipes on a smartphone to turn off the light when there’s a simple switch within reach?

Read More »From ‘Smart’ to ‘Useful’ Sensors
Lokwon Kim, a founder of DeepX

DeepX Founder Aspires to Be ‘Morris Chang of Korea’

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
Specsmanship – power efficiency, performance efficiency and support for a variety of algorithms – absolutely matters in assessing AI hardware. But what about accuracy loss that occurs when system companies port AI models, developed on GPU, to other types of hardware? This is DeepX’s niche.

Last week, Lokwon Kim, a founder of AI chip startup DeepX, entered a conference in Santa Clara, Calif. with swagger and audacity, fittingly — because DeepX was rolling out a family of AI accelerator chips that, Kim claimed, will deliver “AI everywhere, AI for everyone.”

Kim chose the Embedded Vision Summit for his coming-out party. DeepX grabbed the role of lead sponsor and secured a premium spot on the show floor — a marketing coup usually too expensive for startups.

Read More »DeepX Founder Aspires to Be ‘Morris Chang of Korea’
Driver is uing her phone, not payint attention to roads

Nauto Driven to Fuse Data from ADAS and DMS

What’s at stake?
With broader adoption of Driver Monitoring Systems imminent, Nauto, a late-stage startup focused on safer commercial fleets and drivers, sees an opportunity to sell OEMs on its AI algorithms by fusing data derived from outward and inward cameras. Is Nauto hitting the market with the right technology (ADAS + DMS) at the right time?

Many automotive companies have embraced Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), whose outward cameras monitors the street. Meanwhile, carmakers are adding Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS), with cameras watching human drivers’ behavior inside vehicles.

Neither system is designed to work together. ADAS and DMS are developed and supplied by disparate technology companies, forestalling the design of vehicles that can correlate data coming from outward and inward cameras.

Read More »Nauto Driven to Fuse Data from ADAS and DMS

Cellular IoT: Can a Startup Revive a Stagnant Market?

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The growth of the cellular IoT market did not stall for lack of trying. But repeated failures to launch have left system designers and users in the lurch, leaving the segment ignored, even discredited. At stake are billions of “things” left unconnected, unable to self-report their status. That makes it impossible to monitor the devices, intervene or fix them, when needed. Who will step up to the plate?

Starting from the top, what exactly is cellular IoT? Who wants it? If there is demand for it, then why does cellular connectivity rarely make the headlines? What issues, if any, prevent the scaling—and commercial viability—of cellular IoT?

Meet Blues Wireless.

Read More »Cellular IoT: Can a Startup Revive a Stagnant Market?
Omnitron Sensors’ test structure for process verification of its step-scanning MEMS actuator

Claiming a New MEMS Topology, Startup Promises ‘Disruption’

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
The performance of MEMS devices has stagnated because MEMS manufacturing process technologies have failed to advance significantly. An Los Angeles-based startup believes it can fix that. Omnitron Sensors claims to have proven its new process technology through development of an optical subsystem for MEMS lidar. Industry experts want to see Omnitron’s patents before judging whether “disruptive” is the word that applies to the new manufacturing process technology.

The semiconductor industry has Moore’s Law and process nodes. Both help chip developers gauge progress and advance chip designs.

But what about micro-mechanical systems, or MEMS?

Read More »Claiming a New MEMS Topology, Startup Promises ‘Disruption’
Eliyan founders (from left): Syrus Ziai, Ramin Farjadrad, Patrick Soheili

Eliyan Goes Do-or-Die with Die-to-Die Interface Technology

By Junko Yoshida.

What’s at stake?
Chiplets are emerging as the go-to technology for advanced SoCs designed for AI accelerator, data center and cloud computing applications. Despite years of implementation, these chiplets still face many challenges, including interconnect interfaces and protocols, packaging and quality control. Startup Eliyan is confident it has a technology that helps chipmakers overcome those hurdles.

Read More »Eliyan Goes Do-or-Die with Die-to-Die Interface Technology
smart glasses for augmented reality

Kelly Peng Sees Smart Glasses in Your Future

By Rebecca Day

What’s at stake:
While augmented-reality smart glasses have found adopters in industry, thus far consumers have largely failed to see the appeal. Kura Technologies asserts that its Gallium glasses overcome the performance, comfort and privacy hurdles that earlier entries failed to clear, and it is confident that the expanding metaverse will enable applications that will convince the public of smart glasses’ utility. Whether consumers will find smart glasses as indispensable as they now view their phones by the end of the decade, as Kura’s CEO predicts, remains to be seen. But they will get an early glimpse of the Gallium glasses in limited public demonstrations over the next couple of years.

Read More »Kelly Peng Sees Smart Glasses in Your Future