Technologies That Will Change the World

By Brandy Woods Snow
March 30, 2012
There’s just something about Greenville. Maybe it’s the Liberty Bridge that affords passers-by an eagle-eye view of Reedy Falls; maybe it’s a sampling of the foodie-lovers’ fare in one of downtown’s upscale dining establishments; maybe it’s a stroll down Main Street where visitors receive more than one nod of the head and friendly “hello.” Yes, Greenville has a distinct vibe not only in the lives we lead but in the very way we go about living. With vigor. With determination. With passion. But, most importantly, with the desire to see beyond the physical, to imagine what could be, and to see it through to fruition. 

Greenville is turning heads nationally and internationally with innovative products, niche industry technologies and a new way of doing things that has put us on the map. Indeed, the entrepreneurial minds of Greenville are hard at work, and these six innovative developments, born right here in Greenville, stand ready to change the world as we know it.


Cerevellum - Evan Solida

They say true success never comes without hurdles – “no pain, no gain.” But Evan Solida never thought he would literally have to go through pain before bringing life to his original concept. In 1999, as a junior at Purdue University, Solida combined his love of cycling and design by creating a digital bicycle mirror using a silicon eye in a contest sponsored by RCA. 

“The silicon eye was cutting-edge at the time, and I continued to work on the prototype as a hobby even after graduation,” he says. As a veteran racer of road bikes with some notable championships under his belt, Solida realized the potential of his product but never so much as in late 2007 when he was hit by a car while training. “I decided that it was finally the right time to change my focus from racing to bringing the product to life. The technology had finally caught up, and I knew it was an idea that could really work,” says Solida. 

He started Cerevellum in 2009, and its first product, Hindsight 35, is the world’s first cyclometer with a built-in rearview camera. In addition to a nine-function computer that measures everything from speed to heart-rate, it continuously records video of what is approaching the cyclist from behind, automatically stopping the recording in the event of an accident. Says Solida, “It’s essentially the black box for bicycles.” 

Named “Product of the Show” by Interbike TV, the Hindsight 35 makes cyclists safer and more comfortable on public roads by allowing them a clear view of what’s approaching from behind without ever having to take their eyes off the road ahead. In competition, it can be used to gauge physical effort or operate as a tactical aid during a sprint finish. 

Solida says he is currently in negotiations with several international distributors and plans to also sell through retailers and an online store.

For more information, go online to www.cerevellum.com.


Comfe Hands - David Williams

David Williams was at home reading a book when he found himself constantly being disrupted to reposition his hands to thwart discomfort and was struck by an extraordinary concept. True to his family’s engineering roots and his love of technology and invention, Williams spent that weekend gluing together a prototype made of scrap cardboard – a product to give all iPad2 owners a “better grip” on technology. 

Specifically designed for the iPad 2, Comfe Hands gives users a firm, no-slip hold on their tablet and alleviates strain on the fingers caused by the “pinch grip” required to hold the unaided device. Instead, Comfe Hands’ push-on construction has a gently rounded design, providing an ergonomic shape suited to the hand’s natural contours. Additionally, Comfe Hands can be utilized as an incline or vertical stand and a protective bumper. 

“Every technology has definite benefits but can also have drawbacks. With the speed in development of new technology, sometimes the desire for functionality and performance can overshadow the need for physiological considerations,” says Williams. “Comfe Hands is human physiology meeting technology. We aren’t interested in just designing products but in designing experiences for consumers to enhance their use.” 

He adds that at the time he invented Comfe Hands, there were no ergonomic studies on tablet computers available, though Harvard University recently released one in January of this year. The “pinch grip” required to use such technology has been linked to carpal-tunnel syndrome, numbness of the hands, and wrist aches. Such aches and pains are commonly cited as a prime reason for absenteeism from work. 

Williams says that there are around 50 million iPads in use across the nation and projected to reach over 70 million by year’s end. With these numbers, it’s clear to see this is an emerging market sector in electronic accessories. Comfe Hands has been on the market since January 2012, and Williams is looking ahead to design concepts for future iPad versions as well as broadening his scope to include other tablets and consumer electronics. 

“You always hear ‘protect your investment,’ but consumers don't always remember what's really making them money--their hands” says Williams.

For more information, go online to www.comfehands.com.


Eleos Technologies - Kevin Survance

For those working in the trucking industry, it is a known protocol that signed freight documents are needed back in-house in record time – a feat not easily accomplished by OTR drivers with long hauls. Hand delivered documents to corporate could take several days to arrive, and, when time is money, this is unacceptable. 

When Kevin Survance saw this need first-hand as well as the industry’s non-practical attempts at a resolution, he knew he’d found a niche to create an easy, convenient solution employing smartphone technology. Survance discovered trucking companies were having drivers submit proof of delivery documents via prepaid mailing envelopes or fax machines, a practice that was both costly for the company and tedious for drivers. After talking with industry executives, Survance found companies were spending up to $500 million in direct costs through mail/fax submissions. Survance had a thought, 

“Why not use smartphone technology to remedy the problem?” and, from there, Eleos Technologies was formed in May 2011 with a line of Internet and smartphone products tailored to the requirements of the transportation industry. “My goal was to help trucking companies and their drivers operate more efficiently with convenient and easily accessible cloud-based mobile systems,” says Survance. 

Drive Axle is a mobile document capture technology that eliminates hassle for drivers by providing on-the-spot document scanning as well as enabling both small and large fleets to have document images transmitted directly to the existing document management system via a one-stop operation. A platform product also gives companies cloud-based document capture capabilities that are seamlessly integrated into in-house and commercial products where freight documents can be stored securely online. 

Drive Axle uses proprietary technology to produce fax-quality images that trump the quality of other smartphone scans that often look unprofessional and are hard to decipher. Apps for iPhone and Android are currently available, allowing truck drivers to scan and send unlimited documents free of charge. 

System integration, cloud storage, and document management are available for trucking fleets. Looking ahead, Survance plans to expand offerings beyond the transportation industry to serve mobile workers in a variety of industries.

For more information, go online to www.eleostech.com.


Sabai Technology - William Haynes

It may be an Army wife who simply wants to put on Dora the Explorer for her kids; the writer in Belize who needs to connect with his family back home; the expatriate who needs to place an online purchase. For Americans abroad, accessing anything through the Internet can pose significant hurdles and even security risks, but William Haynes is bringing this capability to his customers through custom-developed routers that eliminate international barriers. 

Haynes’ background in education and programming along with his many relevant Microsoft and Cisco certifications led him to begin custom programming wireless routers while he and his wife worked in the mission field in Thailand from 2004 to 2008. When he was laid off in 2009, he began to reflect on his overseas work and how to grow it into a profitable business. 

He began by taking standard routers, wiping them clean and installing his proprietary software. The new router enables location shifting, where all information being transmitted via the web from an international-based home is encrypted to a point within the United States from where it is then allowed to hit the open Internet. 

“Our customer base is 80% international including military, expats, and even state department personnel. When you are transitioning to life in another country, there is already enough time and energy required figuring out everything else, but our routers make all Internet transactions easy and this one important aspect of life familiar,” says Haynes. 

Sabai Technology is also producing some specialized VPN routers for various industries, including the agriculture sector, where dozens are being installed in grain elevators that will communicate back to a main home computer responsible for maintaining optimum grain conditions. 

“Our motto is ‘technology for the people,’” says Haynes. “We have taken a complicated solution and made it easy for all.” Sabai has been nationally recognized through Fed Ex’s application for the E-Star Award where they were one of three companies profiled for their growth in exports.

Looking ahead, Haynes plans to develop an “own your own cloud” module that will enable customers to connect back to an at-home router and have full access to files, security systems, television services and more.

For more information, go online to www.sabaitechnology.com. 


The Next Big Thing - Peter Barth

With an entrepreneurial resume that includes Singlepoint, Intromojo and NEXT, Peter Barth is well-attuned to recognizing “the next big thing.” When the opportunity presented itself to bring an accelerator program to the Greenville area as part of the TechStars Network, the premier accelerator program in the world, Barth and a group of local entrepreneurs knew they couldn’t miss the chance. 

The 13-week program was announced in 2011 and begins this summer. It assists the growth and development of teams with highly marketable ideas, typically, but not limited to, the web and mobile software sectors. The Next Big Thing invests $18,000 per company in exchange for a 6% ownership stake. Start-ups have the opportunity to receive seed funding from early-stage venture capitalists and angel investors, access to world-class mentorship from 80 locally and nationally-recognized business leaders, assistance from an in-house design team, free legal and accounting services, office space and an opportunity to present at Demo Day. 

“The Southeast has other traditional business incubators but The Next Big Thing is a unique accelerator in the region,” says Barth. “In the first four weeks of the program, we bring in around 100 people to connect with the start-ups. Our goal is for each team to connect with four to five mentors and build a relationship that will lead to some form of continued dialogue. The process is about building these connections and expanding their realm and visibility. Even if the venture doesn’t take off, these entrepreneurs are richer for the relationships built with such high-caliber business leaders.” 

Each annual session accepts 10 start-up applicants, and Barth says that though the current application window for 2012 doesn’t end until April 20, he’s already received approximately 200 applications from 13 countries. Looking ahead, Barth plans to develop an educational component to the program, geared toward area adolescents and college interns, designed to create a pipeline of future developers and designers. He also hopes to expand Greenville’s visibility as a prime location for further investment in an effort to attract and retain talent in the area.

For more information, go online to www.thenextbig.co.


CoWork Greenville - Matthew Smith

CoWork: It’s more than a word; it’s an attitude. And its promise – independent collaboration – might seem like a paradox in terms, but it all makes perfect sense. Matthew Smith, Creative Director at Zaarly, says CoWork is redefining the way Greenville (and the world) does business, breaking through the divisive cubicle generation to embrace a newer way of thinking that touts collaboration, openness, community and accessibility. Within the walls of CoWork’s West Washington home is a collection of independent professionals, start-ups, non-profits and small teams – designers, developers, writers, entrepreneurs, architects, and more – who have discovered that working amidst others has provided a sounding board and level of support not commonly found in the home office. 

“With 18 full-time CoWork tenants, we have all formed connections through our shared space and projects,” says Smith. “CoWork’s space in the Crescent Studios is a major hub of culture, design-thinking and world-class work within the community.” The space itself is inspired, offering 1,900-square-feet of common space with a large conference area, kitchen, lounge, and onsite organic garden as well as 1,850-square-feet of coworking space with a brainstorming area, fully furnished full-time workspaces, two stations of part-time desks and two meeting “pods” that allow for privacy while still retaining the unique atmosphere. Rates vary from $20 a day to $350 a month. 

But it’s the people inside CoWork that truly make the difference. “There are other coworking sites across the nation, but we’ve differentiated ourselves by conducting interviews for full-time members, always conscious that we are creating a culture here,” says Smith. “I believe CoWork Greenville is one of the best spaces of its kind in the country.” Collaboration is at its best with “Zero Days,” hiking terminology meaning to stop, look around and get your bearings, where CoWork tenants gather to discuss ideas or problems and garner feedback. 

From this came Grok, a small conference that promises teaching and learning for everyone where participants can converse and bounce ideas back and forth. Going forward, Smith would like to see the creation of a campus around CoWork that reaches out and incorporates the neighborhood and creates value for the community.

For more information, go online to www.coworkgreenville.com. 

For more information on Greenville Grok, go online to www.grok.cc.



Comments (1)

Technologies that will change the World.
Are you serious?. Change the world? An iPad holder, office space, fax app and a small time investor? Weak
4/20/2012 7:46 PM
Gary johnson