Vote for Innovation of the Year: Cashier-less store, synthetic biology, ‘parallel reality,’ and more

Amazon Go: Amazon caught the attention of shoppers everywhere when it opened the doors to its cashier-less grocery and convenience store in January.

Dilip Kumar, Amazon Go vice president of technology, scans the QR code on his Amazon Go app to gain entry to the store. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon Go is the online retail pioneer’s attempt to reinvent the physical store with the same mindset that brought one-click shopping to the internet. Any person with an Amazon account, the Amazon Go app and a willingness to give up more of their personal privacy than usual can simply grab anything they want and walk out, without going through a checkout line.

After shoppers check in by scanning their unique QR code, overhead cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them. When they leave, they just leave. Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.

Amazon reportedly plans to open as many as six additional Amazon Go locations, in addition to the one in its hometown of Seattle.

KenSci: “We are really on a mission to fight death with data science,” Samir Manjure told GeekWire last year.

KenSci co-founders Ankur Teredesai (left) and Samir Manjure. (KenSci Photo)

This University of Washington spinout is using machine learning and data science to predict when patients will get sick and help lower healthcare costs.

Founded by two childhood friends — Manjure, a longtime Microsoft exec, and UW professor Ankur Teredesai — KenSci’s software aggregates patient data from a number of existing sources, including data collected from patient devices, electronic medical records, and public records. The platform then assembles the data so its machine learning systems can use it to predict clinical, operational and financial risks. KenSci’s customers include Fullerton Health, St. Luke’s Health Partners, Evergreen Health, and others. The company’s investors include Ignition Partners, Osage University Partners and Mindset Ventures.

Misapplied Sciences: What if display technology was personalized for individual users who are simultaneously looking at the same screen but seeing content customized to them?

Misapplied Sciences co-founders: Chairman and CTO Paul Dietz, CEO Albert Ng, and Chief Creative and Operating Officer Dave Thompson. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

This is the the future that Misapplied Sciences envisions with its “parallel reality” display technology. It’s a new type of display, enabled by a “multi-view” pixel. Unlike traditional pixels, each of which emit one color of light in all directions, Misapplied Sciences says its pixel can send different colors of light in tens of thousands or even millions of directions. They call it a “magic pixel.”

The impact could be massive. Misapplied Sciences will face a series of technical, economic and even societal challenges as it works to achieve widespread adoption for the technology. But with seemingly endless potential to create new forms of entertainment and information, the company’s long-term ambition is nothing less than to change the way people experience the world. The Redmond, Wash.-based startup, which came out of stealth mode earlier this month, was founded by a small team of Microsoft and Walt Disney Imagineering veterans.

Pivotal Commware: “Holographic beam-forming technology” may sound far-fetched, but the idea has caught the attention of Bill Gates.

Pivotal Commware beamsPivotal Commware beams
An artist’s conception illustrates different applications for Pivotal Commware’s software-defined antenna system. (Pivotal Commware Illustration)

This Bellevue, Wash.-based startup takes advantage of the beam-bending properties of metamaterials. The company’s software-defined antenna system facilitates easier communication with moving targets ranging from ships and planes to trains and connected cars.Pivotal is one of four metamaterials-based ventures that have been spun out from Intellectual Ventures, a technology incubator that’s also based in Bellevue. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, is an investor. Other backers include DIG Investment, Lux Capital, the family office of private equity investor Barry Sternlicht, and The Thermo Companies. The company raised $17 million last year. Pivotal is led by CEO Brian Deutsch, who headed up the metamaterials commercialization team at Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Science Fund before taking on Pivotal’s top job in 2016.

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