BOULDER — The University of Colorado Boulder announced this week that local startup gaugewear Inc. has licensed new sensor technology from the school that can be embedded in clothing for the control of electronic devices and other wearable technology.
The technology was developed by a pair of doctoral students — Dana Hughes and Halley Profita — working in the lab of CU-Boulder computer science professor Nikolaus Correll.
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Gaugewear, founded six months ago by technology entrepreneur Jeff Wallingford, is so far targeting a pair of uses for the technology that right now are in the prototype stage.
The first is a non-invasive core body temperature sensor that can be used by athletes, firefighters and a number of others to help monitor athletic performance and prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
The other application is for a zipper-sized, fabric-based touch sensor that can be sewn into clothing and controlled with one-handed taps, swipes and touches to control any number of devices. Uses could include things such as controlling the volume and playback of music on a smartphone while exercising without having to dig the device out of your pocket. But the sensors could also be used to control wearable technology in clothing that is used to monitor and measure a variety of metrics. In those cases, the sensors would replace smartphones and smartwatches as the user interface.
Gaugewear hasn’t set a price on the sensors yet, but Wallingford said the simplicity and inexpensiveness of them will be the major advantages of the technology.
“The market for smart apparel and wearable technology is taking off,” Wallingford said in a release from CU. “This invention has the potential to fill a big need in this space: a simple, inexpensive and robust input sensor that is actually part of your clothing.”
Terms of gaugewear’s licensing deal with CU were not disclosed. In an interview with BizWest, Wallingford said Hughes and Profita are still working on their Ph.D.s and not with gaugewear, though as co-inventors they will have rights to some of the royalties on gaugewear’s products.
Wallingford, who has a long history in manufacturing and product development with companies such as Flextronics and Crocs, is currently serving as an executive in residence at CU’s Leeds School of Business and does consulting work with various startups. He is the only employee of the company at this point, with product development happening on a contract basis. Wallingford has so far self-funded the company, but is also in the process of raising a seed round of capital.