EvoNexus Startups show off their wares at Demo Day in San Diego

EvoNexus startups show off a deep-sea camera, wireless streaming via touch

San Diego, California / The San Diego Union Tribune / June 30th, 2023 / After a 3-year pandemic hiatus, EvoNexus Demo Day highlights young firms working on cutting-edge tech as show returns.

Deepwater Exploration rolled out a compact, rugged camera last year capable of delivering non-distorted imagery from depths of 400 meters or more — hopeful but uncertain that enough customers would want to buy them.

“It turned out, there was demand, and often from unexpected places. Hundreds of its artificial intelligence-equipped cameras have been deployed, enough to allow DeepWater Exploration to bootstrap its operations to date without raising outside capital,” said CEO Jiajer Ho.

Customers include not only researchers but also a robotics firm working to clean and monitor fish farms to prevent die-offs; a company involved in precision underwater lithium mining in a way that minimizes damage on the ocean floor; and even an aerial drone maker that’s automating window and roof cleaning. “It’s high pressure, and their previous cameras are not able to survive all the spray,” said Ho.

DeepWater Exploration joined a dozen other startups this week for EvoNexus Demo Day — where young companies that are part of the region’s most veteran startup incubator show off their technologies.

The annual event wasn’t held in person for the past three years due to the pandemic. Its return, hosted by Qualcomm at its Sorrento Mesa headquarters, was attended by roughly 400 people earlier this week.

Founded in 2009, EvoNexus has hosted more than 260 startups over the years, with a survival rate of 85 percent, according to Rory Moore, head of the nonprofit organization. Companies in the incubator have raised a combined $1.6 billion over the years.

A dozen startups at Demo Day held a pitch fest competition at the end, with wearable medication monitoring startup CARI Health named the winner of the honorary prize.

A wide range of technologies were on display, from software to semiconductors to medical technologies. At Ixana’s booth, Chief Executive Angik Sarkar. handed out headphones to demonstrate the company’s Wi-R technology developed at Purdue University.

No music plays until users place their hand a few inches above Sarkar’s smartphone. Then Wi-R chip taps into an electro-quasistatic field around the body to deliver private, ultra-low power sound and other digital data to wearable devices.“The (power use) is 100 times less than Bluetooth and 1,000 times less than Wi-Fi,” said Sarkar.

The company sees the technology as applicable for low-power data to wearable sensors and devices, including augmented reality glasses/headsets. Ixana has raised more than $3 million in funding to date.

At DeepWater Exploration, the company has gotten traction in part because its cameras are easy to deploy and relatively inexpensive, said Ho. While it has bootstrapped its operations to date, the startup is now seeking to raise money to further develop software for its cameras for things like stereo vision, distance sensing, the ability to reconstruct the ocean floor using just two cameras and other functions.

“We proved demand for our hardware, and our goal is to develop the software. There are a lot of different applications for that, so that is our focus.” said Ho.

About EvoNexus

EvoNexus is California’s leading nonprofit technology startup incubator located in San Diego. EvoNexus has successfully incubated over 260 startups with a survival rate of over 85%. Since the incubator’s formation in 2010, EvoNexus companies have secured over $1.6B in venture funding, $10B in pre-exit valuation, and had 50 acquisitions valued at over $2.1B. EvoNexus is supported by corporate partners, including some of the largest multinational corporations in the world. Learn more at evonexus.org.

About Qualcomm

Qualcomm enables a world where everyone and everything can be intelligently connected. As the world’s leading wireless tech innovator, they push the boundaries of what’s possible — enabling next-generation experiences and driving the digital transformation of industries everywhere. Learn more at qualcomm.com.