Cool Tech in Pittsburgh
Much has been written about how the Pittsburgh area has reinvented itself from a steel city to a tech town, how the region has held up as the gleaming example of never-say-die renewal.
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The region’s technology sector is rich with diversity, from robotics to biomedicine to green endeavors. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh are deservedly two of the names that lead the way when talk turns to tech. But what are the others? Truth is, dozens of local companies and organizations make contributions, building Pittsburgh’s reputation bit by byte. We’ve collected just a handful, a showcase of some of the coolest tech companies in town. Prepare to be impressed.
Cardiorobotics has built several generations of snake robot platforms, which allow minimally invasive procedures to be performed in parts of the anatomy that were previously very difficult or even impossible to reach.
Math tutors can be exceptionally helpful to students, but they can be expensive, and arranging the logistics of where, when and how to meet can be troublesome. Apangea Learning says its Web-based SmartHelp tutoring solution helps students dramatically improve their achievement at a cost-effective price. Each student receives differentiated instruction, thanks to its intelligent tutoring technology system and its roster of certified teachers, who tutor students one-on-one online.
The system, designed to actively engage students and teach fundamental problem-solving skills, is based, says Apangea, on one of the world’s largest bodies of cognitive research, conducted by the U.S. Air Force. Apangea, based in downtown Pittsburgh, says that, to date, more than 150,000 middle- and high-school students have used its award-winning math-tutoring services.
One of the most innovative players in Pittsburgh’s biomedicine space is Cardiorobotics. The company has built several generations of snake robot platforms, which allow minimally invasive procedures to be performed in parts of the anatomy that were previously very difficult or even impossible to reach.
Picture the flexible “follow-the-leader” movement of a snake. The Cardiorobotics robots replicate that movement, allowing the operating physician to enter through a single point of the body then move along a variety of circuitous paths carrying instruments and a camera for constant visual monitoring along the way.
Dr. Howie Choset, associate professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University and one of the company’s founders, cites Pittsburgh’s unique combination of assets for making it a perfect home for his company. “Pittsburgh is the only place in the world that has world-class robotics at CMU, world-class medicine at UPMC and AGH [Allegheny General Hospital], and world-class enterprise development from organizations like the PLSG [Pittsburgh Life Science Greenhouse] and the Technology Collaborative,” he says.
Carnegie Speech Co.
Carnegie Speech Co. develops software for teaching and assessing spoken-language skills using state-of-the-art speech-recognition and artificial-intelligence technology licensed from CMU. With a worldwide student base in the fields of business, government, education, health care and education, downtown-based Carnegie Speech offers software that provides spoken-language instruction that is cost-effective and personalized. The downtown-based company’s specialized programs include Aviation English for international pilots, SpeakIraqi for defense personnel and NativeAccent, which helps international business people and immigrants to the U.S. learn English.
Type Less. Talk More!” is the idea behind Concert-oh, a free site that allows users to experience Web-based meetings with multiple attendees that can include audio, video (with a webcam) and sharing of photos, videos and documents. Powered by Chorus Call, a Monroeville-based company that for years has provided multimedia collaboration services to clients all over the world, Concert-oh is completely Web-based, so users do not need to download or install software, and the user interface is designed for elegance and simplicity.
According to the company, Concert-oh is attracting an audience of social-savvy users who want to virtually gather in a way that provides the richest possible experience. Users can upload photos and documents, download recordings of previous meetings, and the specialized Town Hall feature includes a Q & A window that allows political candidates to moderate sessions with potential voters and others.