Can you please provide a background of Sensera and Nanotron Technologies?
Sensera is based in Boston. We listed in December of 2016 as a micro-devices group. We had already been manufacturing and carrying out development applications for customers in MEMS based foundry applications before this, as part of a different company, so had a couple of those at a steady state moving towards production phases.
In 2017, due to our continuing organic growth, Sensera began to look for acquisitions. Nanotron was identified as a good partner, having a similar style of technology and opportunities to have integrated products. Nanotron was purchased and became part of the Sensera group, but we maintained the identities of both.
Nanotron focuses on location awareness. The company is not new - it has been around for quite some time. In recent years the technology has really evolved and the markets have evolved, in particular things like mining and agriculture. It is really about identifying what you want to track, as well as getting some information about it and then tying it to that location.
At the simplest level you can look at collision avoidance geolocation and examine a 'what if' scenario. It provides an autonomous system where these things are moving around, signalling to each other, working out how far apart they are then letting them know if they are too close.
This is used in industrial applications where you have dangerous equipment and you want to make sure that a worker does not move into a zone where he is in danger. For example, in mines you have got some nasty equipment, so you will have a tag on the equipment and a tag on the miner. When the distance between the two gets less than the pre-determined limit, there will be alerts. That basically works by itself and there is no need to have an external review of the data - it is what is called an autonomous system.
If you want to go to the next step which is, "I need to know exactly where things are at all times", that is what is called an RTLS system - a real time location system. You have fixed anchors on the walls or around the site and these tags communicate. There is some software that takes that information.
For example in mining, they are looking at what is called dynamic ventilation. If all the miners are working at one end of the mine, then you do not need to pump the air to the other end of the mine. If you can save money by slowing down the air flow in a particular area of the mine then you can save a lot of money.
The tags have ports that allow you to connect other devices. You can have a miner with a gas sensor for example, on his tag. You can then tie this into the ventilation system so that if there was a gas alert, the ventilation system then starts up in that area. The whole thing becomes much more dynamic at a much higher level.
Is there anything in particular that you are showcasing this year?
This is actually the first opportunity that we have been able to demonstrate the capabilities of Sensera and Nanotron together. So we are partnering up together to find customer opportunities. Also, we would like to get some additional name recognition for both providing business.
We are in the micro devices division. Sensera Micro-Devices are currently working on developing sensor technologies which will integrate with the Nanotron tags and thus add to the location awareness.
Do you think that makes you unique?
It does make us very unique. There is lots of these real world applications for the small to medium volume clients. The applications are just as importan and the value that it brings in terms of saving lives is huge.
Another big area for us is explorations into the states for monitoring glucose levels, so there is a big interest in that area. We are working actively with the Wyss Institute out of Boston, making their membrane masters for them. They are very small, 7 microns in diameter, and so thinner than a human hair, but they are used to create membranes. These membranes are mimicking the human organ functions - it is commonly known as organ on a chip. They are doing it for drug development and it eliminates the use of animals for drug testing.