Investing in Bumblebee Spaces

We’re investing in Bumblebee Spaces as a play on AI and robotics helping to solve the problem of escalating housing costs. The company has a modular ceiling system to address storage needs. Bumblebee users can store a desk, bed, closet, clothes and everyday items in the ceiling, which multiplies the usability of living space. For example, a small room can be a workout room in the morning, office during the day, a living room in the evening, and a bedroom at night.

Today, housing is defined in square feet. In the future, it will be defined in cubic feet.

 

The Bumblebee platform offers three core competencies:

  1. Modular: The hoist robot can be extended to add additional storage modules or furniture. The exterior skin of the robot and lighting can be customized.
  2. Safe: Safety is built in via software, electrical, and mechanical redundancies.
  3. Intelligent: Sensor fusion and AI systems enable users to store, search, and retrieve items contextually and on-demand through an intuitive on-board UX.

Bumblebee is led by CEO Sankarshan Murthy (Tesla, Apple, DeWalt) and co-founders Garrett Rayner (Tesla, Raytheon) and Prahlad Athreya (CVS, AVIS). The team is passionate about getting our stuff out of the way to help us make space for what matters most in life.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make. 

009 – Dr. Ramses Alcaide

Dr. Ramses Alcaide is the CEO and Founder of Neurable, a Loup Ventures portfolio company focused on non-invasive BCI. Ramses earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington in Electrical and Electronics Engineering and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan.

Top 3 Takeaways.

  1. Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) allow for human intent to act as an new input to computers. With knowledge of intent, information is only given to a user when it is wanted and actions of a computer only happen when desired.
  2. Hardware for non-invasive BCI will continue to have better performance and decrease in physical size, improving BCI experiences in the future.
  3. Applying the technology to non-invasive BCI solutions is arguably harder than invasive solutions given challenges around processing noisy, limited signal, but the opportunity to impact live sooner is worth the challenge.

Show Notes.

  • [1:08] Ramses shares his background and how he became interested in Neurotech.
  • [2:46] Ramses talks about Neurable’s early prototype and where the product is today.
  • [3:33] Neurable (and Loup Ventures) sees augmented and virtual reality as the next frontier for human interaction.
  • [4:12] Ramses shares the long-term picture for Neurable and the importance for natural interfaces on tomorrow’s devices.
  • [5:34] Human intent as an input.
  • [6:10] Ramses walks through the differences he sees in input technologies for BCI.
  • [7:50] How BCI hardware will change over the next few years.
  • [8:53] The future of BCI in consumer hardware and where the next major growth opportunities are.
  • [10:07] Pathway for hardware integration for current device manufacturers.
  • [11:11] Invasive vs non-invasive BCI systems.
  • [15:36] Data privacy and it’s relationship with BCI.
  • [17:23] Ramses’ favorite book – Pattern Master by Octavia Butler.

Selected Links.

Related Podcasts.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

Investing in Paradromics

Neurotechnology has long been a passion for Loup Ventures because we think it represents a vast and open opportunity to improve human life via both restoration and augmentation. Brain-computer interfaces are one of the most compelling areas in the neurotech space and we’re excited to invest in Paradromics as they work to capitalize on that opportunity.

To date, many of the BCI solutions have been relatively low bandwidth, leveraging surface electrodes or other non-invasive methods to collect signals from the brain. Paradromics, along with Neuralink (Elon Musk), is one of only a few companies that are attacking an emerging theme around high-bandwidth, invasive brain-computer interfaces.

We’re investing in Paradromics as a play on two of our thematic focus areas: AI and experience.

AI. Paradromics is a hardware and software company. The company creates a device that consists of an implantable microwire array that allows for the high-density collection of neuronal data. The brain has ~100 billion neurons. The current standard in implantable BCI devices, the Utah Array, has about 100 channels (connection points to the brain) and each channel connects with a handful of neurons. Paradromics’ solution currently has over 65,000 channels, and the company’s goal is to connect with over a million neurons.

The collection of such a large array of data presents a unique challenge in that tens of thousands of connection points with the brain yields massive amounts of data to process (tens of GB/sec). To put that in perspective, average high-speed Internet connections are around 20 MB/sec or more than 1,000 times slower. To address this, Paradromics has developed a proprietary tool that allows them to more efficiently process certain elements of the signal to allow for high-resolution analysis of a neuronal signal while compressing the data transferred to more manageable levels.

Experience. In our Manifesto, we outlined the future of computer interfaces moving from phones, to wearables, to implants. Paradromics is also a bet on the last of the three stages. To the extent that we can read (and eventually write to) the brain, we can achieve our long-term vision of a world where it’s possible to create life-like experiences directly via brain-computer interface. This augmentative future is far away, and initial use cases will center on therapeutic outcomes, but we believe the groundwork will be established now to achieve this goal.

Paradromics is attacking the true frontier of frontier technology. Their service has the potential to change human lives near-term for those afflicted with disorders of the brain, as well as long-term as an augmentative tool. We believe the therapeutic market is likely several billion dollars in opportunity, while the augmentative opportunity may be significantly larger.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and robotics. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio.  Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make. 

Investing in Enjoy

We’re investing in Enjoy as a counter-automation play on the future of retail. Read our thesis on retail’s future here. In short: retailers must either embrace full automation or compete on experience by focusing on uniquely human capabilities: creativity, community, and experience. We call it “empathic retail.” Enjoy delivers the future of retail by focusing squarely on empathic retail. Enjoy hand delivers products bought online from the world’s premier companies and delivers them with an experience. The service comes at no additional cost to consumers and it’s fast, with nearly 50% being delivered the same day.

Amazon is changing consumer expectations related to the price, availability, and delivery of products and services. But the in-person retail experience is outside of Amazon’s core competencies. Enjoy offers its premier companies (including AT&T, Sonos, DJI, and others) a high-touch, personalized delivery and setup service. Enjoy optimizes the customer experience, reduces returns, and increases customer satisfaction.

At the same time, automation technologies are already replacing retail jobs. Enjoy offers its team of Experts (delivery and setup employees) flexible work, salaried, with benefits – a transformative employment model for the new retail workforce. In our view, Enjoy is creating the optimal go-to-market channel for premium brands in the automation age.

Enjoy’s CEO, Ron Johnson, has spent his career innovating in retail. His experience as VP of Merchandising at Target, SVP and head of retail at Apple, and as CEO of JCPenney, along with his network of leaders at consumer electronics and luxury goods brands, uniquely positions Enjoy for success in these markets and beyond.

We’re excited to be a part of delivering retail’s future with the team at Enjoy.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.

Announcing the World’s First Brain-Computer Interface for Virtual Reality

A version of this article was originally published on Medium by Michael Thompson.

Neurable’s BCI headset for HTC Vive®

Today Neurable is offering a first look at a product that is without precedent in modern tech: a brain-computer interface for virtual reality. Our integrated platform is built for one purpose: to enable developers to create brain-controlled content for virtual reality.

Imagine the power of your mind in VR. You awake hanging upside down in a snowy cave to discover you’ve been captured by a hungry Wampa. Sighting your light saber laying just out of reach, you calm yourself, concentrate, and summon the power of the force to grab your weapon. You cut yourself free just in time to slay the fearsome predator.

This dramatic close encounter is, of course, a famous scene from Star Wars. Popular fiction has explored themes like magic, telekinesis, and other super-human powers for as long as we can remember. As a society, we’re fascinated by fantasy: our imagination yearns to explore the impossible, the forbidden, the otherworldly.

The advent of immersive computing promises to bring those fantasies closer to sensory reality than we’ve ever known. Virtual and augmented reality are redrawing the boundaries of human experience. Both mediums force us to rethink how users should experience and interact with the digital world. The old rules of point-and-click no longer apply. Immersive computing demands a new approach to human-computer interaction.

The Ultimate Platform

We foresee an ecosystem of control inputs that will combine to make AR/VR environments incredibly responsive and adaptive to user behavior. Great strides have already been made with motion capture, haptics, eye-tracking, and natural language processing. What has been missing is a serious effort to link mixed reality to the ultimate computing platform — the human brain.

Neurable develops brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) for next-generation computing platforms. Our revolutionary technology allows people to interact with AR/VR environments using only their brain activity.

The benefits of a BCI in mixed reality are many and unique. BCIs analyze patterns of brain activity to determine user intent. This tech is already capable of typing on virtual keyboards and controlling prosthetic limbs, entirely from brain activity. Such intent-driven interactions hold tremendous promise for mixed reality environments, where current problems with user interaction constitute a significant barrier to more widespread adoption.

The best solution is a brain-computer interface that allows users to scroll menus, select items, launch applications, manipulate objects, and even input text using only their brain activity. Imagine the productivity revolution that a high-performance, non-invasive, intuitive BCI would unleash in mixed reality.

Combining Neurotech with VR

An illustration of Neurable’s BCI in VR

This weekend, Neurable is debuting Awakening, a VR game preview made in partnership with eStudiofuture, at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles. Awakening is a futuristic story reminiscent of Stranger Things: you are a child held prisoner in a government science laboratory. You discover that experiments have endowed you with telekinetic powers. You must use those powers to escape your cell, defeat the robotic prison guards, and free yourself from the lab. The game allows you to manipulate objects and battle foes with your mind, and is played entirely without handheld controllers.

This incredible experience is made possible by Neurable’s machine learning platform, which interprets your brain activity in real time to afford virtual powers of telekinesis. Our complex machine learning pipeline has been distilled into an SDK compatible with Unity®. With the Neurable SDK, Unity developers can easily integrate brain-activity as a control input into any game.

Brain signal acquisition is accomplished through our upgraded headband for the HTC Vive. Simply remove the elastic straps in the back and replace them with our straps. Our solution is a demonstration prototype of how brain sensors and neurotechnology can be integrated with AR/VR devices.

Future Applications

Gaming is an exciting forum for experimenting with new technology, but the applications for BCIs extend far beyond entertainment. As AR/VR devices move from early adopters to broader use cases in health, education, industry and more, interfaces will evolve to support more complex tasks.

In the long run, we expect that AR/VR headset companies will integrate brain sensors directly into their products. They will do this because BCI systems radically empower users in mixed reality. Recent announcements and other publicly-available information confirm that major tech companies are actively developing BCI technology for commercial applications. What the touch interface became to smart phones, BCIs will become to mixed reality headsets.

How do I Build With Neurable?

We are working with content creators and location-based VR companies to bring our technology to consumers. We welcome additional partners. If you are interested in creating an experience with Neurable, please visit our Developer page at neurable.com/developers.

Disclaimer: We actively write about the themes in which we invest: artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality, and augmented reality. From time to time, we will write about companies that are in our portfolio. Content on this site including opinions on specific themes in technology, market estimates, and estimates and commentary regarding publicly traded or private companies is not intended for use in making investment decisions. We hold no obligation to update any of our projections. We express no warranties about any estimates or opinions we make.