In this world of boundless information, we still don’t really know where anything is. Yes, GPS is a miracle and can locate you on the face of the earth, but only within a box several meters large — about the size of a two-car garage. Even so, GPS created its own reality and a host of applications that were inconceivable before it — from personalized weather reports to catching rides via Uber. The catch? It doesn’t work indoors and often can’t tell which side of the street you’re on.
What I’m talking about is knowing where people and things really are — down to millimeters — microlocation. This is something I’ve been working on for years, and something I’ve wanted to do for decades. In the 1990s I built precision sonars to locate robots in the deep ocean; we used them to map the wreck of the Lusitania and shipwrecks from ancient Rome. For twenty years I asked myself: Why can’t we make a similar system, based on radio instead of sound waves to do the same thing in air? In 2015 I founded a company, began assembling a team, and hitched our star to the coming “Moore’s law for radar,” driven by the advent of small radars for automobiles.
Today I’m thrilled to announce that the company I founded, Humatics, has achieved millimeter-scale microlocation with inexpensive, scalable hardware and software. We are poised to offer our first products based on this technology, a Spatial Intelligence Platform, starting next year.
Just as GPS opened a new world of data at the scale of our cities, microlocation is about to open new worlds of position-based services and analytics at the scale of our robots and our bodies.
Imagine tracing the movements of a conductor to capture the subtlety of her motions as she conducts Beethoven.
We’ve done that.
Imagine tracing the work of an assembly line worker to see the knowledge embedded in the flow of skilled hands.
We’ve done that too.
Imagine a robot collaborating with a person using exquisitely precise knowledge of what the person is doing.
We’ve done that too.
Imagine a tool that will only drill a hole at the exact right spot, a large format robotic 3D printer with unprecedented precision, a drone that hovers precisely indoors, and augmented reality glasses that project ultra-precise images onto the world you see. Now imagine AI and machine learning creating tools for every conductor, every factory worker, every robotic collaboration: technology placing our work within a broad human context. That’s where Humatics is going.
“You can do all that with cameras,” some people may say. Cameras may work great in research labs and other tightly controlled environments, at short ranges. But they don’t work well on factory floors, or outdoors, or in the dark. Our systems are radio-based, like cell phones — inexpensive and independent of lighting, tiny yet scalable.
We’ve just closed our Series A funding round with some of the best known names in technology — Fontinalis Partners, Lockheed Martin Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Ray Stata (founder of Analog Devices) and others. Our extended network of investors and partners have shared the vision of microlocation from the beginning. Now we are driving the Moore’s law for radar, engineering a world where radio-based microlocation becomes the glue that connects us to our world, the ultimate bridge between the physical and the digital. Imagine the possibilities…