Digital sensor start-up aims to be ‘disruptive’ - Embedded.com

Digital sensor start-up aims to be ‘disruptive’

LONDON — A North Wales-based start-up officially launched by Welsh Assembly Government First Minister Rhodri Morgan on Friday (September 24) has developed cost-effective miniaturised 3D digital sensors.

DeepStream Technologies embedded technology can be designed in to new or existing devices to replaces less accurate analogue systems. The company’s manufacturing processes mean that sensors can be manufactured from as little as $2 each.

Based in Bangor, DeepStream has already secured two contracts within the European switchgear industry and has established a concept study with a well-known appliance manufacturer. It recently won its first full contract valued at $5.8million.

The company aims to employ 120 people and has sourced £10million in start-up funding with £2.8million from its founders and venture capitalists Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures.

A Regional Selective Assistance grant from the Welsh Assembly Government has contributed £1.2million, and additional bank finance will bring the total to £10million over five years.

End products containing the DeepStream technology are at least one year away from market and the sensors can be as small as a thumbnail and claim to process ‘real world’ measurement data with more accuracy and more flexibility than has been previously possible.

DeepStream will volume manufacture the finished products in-house as well as design sensor modules to manufacturers’ specifications and produce fully working prototypes. Full production will start in early 2005. The company founders spent 10 months working unpaid to get the company established. DeepStream achieved the venture capital funding in March 2004 and started operations with eight employees. After a strong initial round of recruiting the company had reached 23 employees by August. It plans to reach 65 employees by the end of the 2005/6 and 120 employees by 2008.

Chief Executive Mark Crosier, 40, was technical manager at the former Delta MEM switchgear plant in Holyhead, Wales, where he headed up the research and development department. Crosier said, ”This is disruptive technology. It’s difficult for companies to get their heads round it and they will either embrace it or fall behind. No one else makes intelligent sensors of this nature and we expect to change the business model for quite a few businesses.”

The company intends to float on the stock exchange in five years and ICON Corporate Finance, the specialist adviser to technology companies that worked with DeepStream to secure funding, described it as “one of the most significant venture-capital backed manufacturing start-ups in the UK in recent years.”

The technology can be used in domestic appliances, with for example a sensor could make minute adjustments for best energy-efficient settings. Equally, wireless technology would enable service providers to spot potential future problems from a remote location.

Domestic appliance manufacturers could use the technology to provide feature upgrades – activated via wireless communication – and collect usage data. For the first time, appliance manufacturers can promote brand loyalty using these features.

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