Plan to improve hearing aids, prosthetics wins IU business grad $100,000 BEST prize

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New corporation relies on technologies developed by IU, IUPUI professors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An Indiana University Kelley School of Business MBA graduate has been named the winner of IU Bloomington’s third annual Building Entrepreneurs in Software and Technology competition. He will receive $100,000 in start-up funding for the new company -- Analog Computing Solutions -- that will focus on technological improvements for hearing aids and prosthetic devices.

Gregory Mattes, a 2014 graduate of the Kelley MBA program and a past president of the Kelley MBA Association, used technologies licensed by IU’s Research and Technology Corp. and originally developed by faculty members at both IU Bloomington and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to create a business plan to improve the quality, speed and longevity of hearing aids and myoelectric prosthetics.

Using extended analog computer technology developed by IUPUI associate professor of bioengineering Ken Yoshida and based on an invention by IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing professor Jonathan Mills, Mattes’ company will seek to improve the computing capabilities for the advanced sound filtering algorithms being used in hearing aid research. The low-power, high-speed architecture of extended analog computers can also be used to improve the signal processing functionality of the latest myoelectric prosthetics, Mattes said.

“It has been great to receive validation from an external group that we had a strong business case, and it’s also nice to see the hard work start to pay off,” said Mattes, who will serve as president and CEO of Analog Computing Solutions operating out of Kelley’s Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation student business incubator, the Hoosier Hatchery. “BEST was a fun experience for me. It was a clear and transparent process, and I was able to put my Kelley MBA skills to work.”

He specifically recognized four people with IU affiliations, three of whom will serve within the Analog Computing Solutions corporate structure, for support and assistance:

  • Bryce Himebaugh, a computer engineering specialist at the IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing, will serve as chief technology officer, driving technical development and prototype development.
  • Yoshida will serve as Analog Computing Solutions' technology advisor and play a role influencing the technical direction of the extended analog computer.
  • John Hill, former accounting professor and associate dean at IU’s Kelley School, will serve as business adviser.

Lastly, Mattes recognized Mills, who was responsible for developing the initial hardware for extended analog computers nearly two decades ago. “Without him, neither the extended analog computer nor ACS would exist,” Mattes said.

In 2012, six corporations sold greater than 90 percent of the $5.4 billion in hearing aids purchased worldwide, representing more than 10.8 million devices. Analog Computing Solutions is seeking to replace the digital signal processing hardware of those devices with an extended analog computer.

Hearing aids work by using advanced sound filtering algorithms to make soft noises louder and loud noises softer; monitor for feedback and then cancel or filter out sound; reduce amplification of steady state sounds; identify and enhance speech; and focus on conversations.

“But because of the power limitations of hearing aid electronics, digital signal processing restricts the ability to perform complex algorithms to improve hearing,” Mattes said. “The low-power computing architecture of the extended analog computer allows for improved sound processing, longer battery life and improved hearing.”

A similar argument can be made for improving the function of myoelectric prosthetics, a small but growing part of the $950 million-a-year global prosthetics market, he added. These prosthetic devices allow residual muscles to transmit signals through the skin to control movements of the prosthetic arm and hand.

Specifically, in work funded by the National Science Foundation, Analog Computing Solutions is addressing the computing challenge presented by targeted muscle reinnervation.

“The dramatic increase in the number and density of electrode sites, and need to implant multi-electrode structures into targeted muscles, will increase the signal processing requirements beyond the power and speed capabilities of the traditional mobile digital signal processing used in these devices,” Mattes said.

The Building Entrepreneurs in Software and Technology fund was created in 2011 with $1.2 million from 10 individual investors and IU’s Research and Technology Corp. The fund supports an outlay of up to $250,000 in annual prize money, with the first-place winner guaranteed $100,000. A call for proposals for the 2014-15 competition is expected to go out in September.

“Supporting our students in entrepreneurship is a major objective of the School of Informatics and Computing,” Dean Bobby Schnabel said. “We are very grateful for the support of nearly 20 BEST investors, almost all of whom are IU alumni and major business leaders themselves, the leadership of the investor group by CareerBuilder CEO and IU alum Matt Ferguson, and our close partnership with the Kelley School of Business, which have made BEST possible.”

A complete list of the 2014 BEST competition’s investors is available online.

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