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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YinzCam’s apps give fans exclusive access to replays and live stats while they’re in their seats, or at the concession stand.
What kid (or cool adult) doesn’t like robots? Robomatter is an online robotics store that provides easy-to-use robotics educational learning resources. The products sold were created under the license of CMU, and much of it is based around the LEGO Mindstorms series of robotics systems.
Robotics integrates math, science, engineering and technology in ways that motivate and excite students. The array of Robomatter goods are designed to demonstrate fundamental math and science, promote technological literacy and use a “hands-on, minds-on” context that appeals to students.
Robin Shoop, director of the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy, says the current focus is “to integrate artificial intelligence and gaming into robotic virtual worlds where kids learn to program robots and other animated characters as they play an online game.”
It’s undeniably cool when one of your products is named by TIME magazine as a “Top 10 Toy of the Year.” South Side-based Schell Games describes itself as a full-service game-design and -development studio that specializes in creating innovative interactive experiences.
CEO Jesse Schell, a former creative director at Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio and a faculty member of CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center, founded the company in 2004. Since then it has added an office in Austin, Texas, and most recently its Toy Story Mania was named by TIME as “Fourth-Best Toy of the Year. “ Based on a popular Disney theme park ride that shares its name, Toy Story Mania is a 3D gaming system that plugs directly into a TV without the need for a console. Schell Games also is known for its work on the Nintendo DSi system and other platforms.
Shadyside-based ShowClix is a full-service online ticketing company that is successfully taking on long-established goliaths like Ticketmaster by appealing to venues, promoters, artists and fans around the world. The ShowClix site combines an open, live-music database with an easy-to-use ticketing solution. Tickets are delivered exclusively by electronic means, which saves overhead and money for sellers and buyers.
ShowClix even developed a way to deliver tickets via MMS (text messages with images) in order to reach the broadest audience quickly. Co-founders Lynsie Camuso, president, and Joshua Dziabiak, CEO, have created a work environment at ShowClix that fosters innovation through fun, which is reflected by the office’s free cereal bar.
Songwhale is an interactive media company with headquarters in Lawrenceville and sales offices around the world. Songwhale allows companies to reach consumers with marketing campaigns on multiple platforms, including mobile devices and tablets, via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and direct-to-device.
The company works with NFL teams, major league baseball, fast-food chains and many others to reach consumers with special offers that they can act upon immediately, directly from their mobile phones or from other devices. At sporting events, for example, the Songwhale team helps clients reach guests with coupons for promotional merchandise or seating upgrades.
Dana Monaco, who works in business development for Songwhale, says the company has an international flair. “Even though we’re a startup, we have influence from so many cultures. With offices in China and Indonesia, and half the Pittsburgh office being from outside of Pittsburgh, we are a diverse and crazy group.”
YinzCam is a company built by sports fans, for sports fans,” says Priya Narasimhan, CEO and founder. “We love technology and we love sports, and we get to put them together for a living!”
YinzCam develops applications for mobile devices, including iPhones, iPads and Android devices, that give fans access to live video replays, stats and news. YinzCam’s first partner was the Pittsburgh Penguins, and since then it has added the NHL’s Washington Capitals, the NFL’s Steelers, Patriots, Falcons and 49ers, and the NBA’s Wizards. The company’s Penguins app even lets users isolate video on a particular player, like Sidney Crosby, while they’re at the game.
Along the way, YinzCam has received rave press from both the tech and sports media. “Being a Carnegie Mellon spinoff, we pride ourselves on creating more intellectual property and more breakthrough, unprecedented technologies in the sports landscape,” says Narasimhan. “We hope to leverage more platforms than just mobile devices. We want the name YinzCam to become synonymous with the ultimate fan experience.”
LifeVest is the world’s first and only wearable defibrillator, and it was invented and is manufactured and sold here by ZOLL’s Pittsburgh facility. The Blawnox company is a subsidiary of ZOLL Medical Corp., based in Massachusetts.
The amazing device is non-invasive and is worn by patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It allows patients to return to their daily activities while having the peace of mind that they are protected from SCA.
The life vest does not require bystander intervention and continually monitors a patient’s heart. If it detects a life-threatening rhythm, a gel is automatically released over the defibrillation pads, and the device delivers a treatment shock to restore normal heart rhythm.
Just one more in a long list of astounding medical advances to be born in the ’Burgh.