The National Science Foundation has awarded University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa researchers a $750,000 grant to develop a low-cost sensor capable of detecting human presence and monitoring occupants for energy-savings and smart-building applications. The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II grant was awarded to UH Mānoa in partnership with technology company Adnoviv.
Olga Borić-Lubecke, professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and a co-principal investigator on the grant, co-founded Adnoviv in 2013 with electrical engineering Professor Victor Lubecke. The company focuses on research-driven technology, developing innovative sensors and systems for industrial, medical and security applications, including its centerpiece product, True Presence Occupancy Detection Sensors (TruePODS). Adnoviv is a Phase I graduate of the XLR8UH start-up program and has already hired four UH graduates.
The technology that Adnoviv is commercializing is based on Doppler radar physiological monitoring research pioneered by Borić-Lubecke and Lubecke.
“Adnoviv has served not only to move UH technology out of the lab and toward the market, but also to provide job opportunities for our graduates in Hawaiʻi, and inspire some of our students to successfully pursue their own start-ups,” said Borić-Lubecke. “While commercialization has not been an easy path, it has been a rewarding experience to witness our students growing into entrepreneurs and the University of Hawaiʻi developing means to support such endeavors.”
During Phase I of the STTR, the UH/Adnoviv team carried out TruePODS testing in the Flexible Response to Ongoing Growth classrooms on the UH Mānoa campus, in collaboration with James Maskrey from the Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute. The test results demonstrated superior performance for TruePODS compared to commercially available occupancy sensors, eliminating false triggering. Phase II will include research and development of advanced system architectures and algorithms for occupant count.
The duration of the new National Science Foundation grant is two years.