CAMBRIDGE, MA, May 16, 2013—3dim, a startup behind the creation of new sensor-level software that recognizes three-dimensional gestures on small, battery-powered mobile devices, was awarded the Robert P. Goldberg $100,000 grand prize Wednesday night after beating out seven other finalist teams during the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition finale held on the MIT campus.
This year’s teams of finalists in the business launch competition—whose offerings included, among others, a nuclear generator to be used in regions off power grids and sensors on a microchip for the measurement and detection of chemical substances—emerged from a pool of 215 teams. A panel of judges made up of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, scientists, and industry professionals chose 3dim based on the strength of their technology, business plan, and presentation.
The award was presented by MIT Police Chief John DiFava who paid tribute to Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who was slain in the line of duty last month by the Boston Marathon terror bombing suspects. 3dim team members said they’d had the privilege of speaking with Office Collier at length about their technology and that he shared their excitement about entrepreneurship and smartphone programming.
3dim’s signal processing software algorithms have enabled the startup to create the first ever mobile 3D camera that can be integrated into 2014 smartphone releases. Its patented sensor-level software identifies and tracks a user’s gestures around a mobile device, creating interface possibilities in a larger, more natural volume without consuming a portion of the screen or causing the view of the screen to be blocked by fingers. To view 3dim’s technology in action, please visit:
“The need for specialized hardware and high power has, to date, prevented 3D gesture capture in mobile devices, leaving users to poke at their small screens,” says Andrea Colaço, 27, a Media Arts and Sciences PhD student at MIT and co-founder of 3dim. “Unlike existing 3D sensing methods which require high power illumination, sophisticated sensors and complex processing, the 3dim solution exploits the compressibility of 3D signals to reduce power, cost and complexity of 3D acquisition. We also provide a natural user interface for wearable devices that have no touchscreens, such as Google Glass.”
According to Colaço, mobile manufacturers have expressed excitement about 3dim because of its low power, accurate performance, and lack of a hardware footprint.
Colaço’s fellow co-founders are:
Ahmed Kirmani, 28, an MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science PhD student who was a finalist for the 2013 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize along with the 2009 David Marr Prize Honorable Mention for his work on a camera that looks around corners;
Nan-Wei Gong, 29, an MIT Media Arts and Sciences PhD student who has extensive experience developing low-power sensing systems and wearable electronics;
Vivek Goyal, 41, a research scientist in MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and author of an MIT signal processing textbook;
Nathaniel Stewart, 27, MBA Class of 2013 at MIT Sloan School of Management who previously served as a lead software developer with Bloomberg LP where he led the worldwide release of BSA, their fixed-income scenario analysis product; and
Rahul Tejwani, 29, an MIT Sloan MBA Class of 2013 who is the former COO of Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that has built more than 100 schools worldwide.
“Our vision is to become the leading provider of embedded software for 3D capture, enabling applications in mobile productivity, mobile gaming, smart wearables, and smart home appliances,” said Kirmani. “By winning the $100K, we are even better positioned to improve the way millions of users interact with their smart devices.”
A $2,000 Audience Choice Award was also presented to NoMos, a startup offering a natural, non-toxic technology designed to prevent mosquito-human contact. The startup’s goal is to stop the spread of malaria.
The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition remains an economic barometer on what new ideas are being funded by venture capitalists. Since its debut in 1989, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition has facilitated the birth of more than 160 companies, which have gone on to raise $1.3 billion in venture capital and build $16 billion in market cap. More than 30 MIT $100K startups have been acquired by major companies such as Oracle and Merck. Over 4,600 people are currently employed by MIT $100K companies.