Rev Welcomes Stretchable Sensor Startup

Ilayda Samilgil and Rob Shepherd of Organic Robotics Corporation

Rev Welcomes Stretchable Sensor Startup

Organic Robotics Corporation (ORC) is the latest Ithaca-based startup to join the Rev community. Utilizing technology developed at the Cornell University Organic Robotics Lab, which is led by ORC co-founder Rob Shepherd, the startup has developed a patented, optically based deformation sensor that can stretch with the human form for motion capture and pressure sensing.

“Currently, stretchable sensors are based on electronics, so they’re not machine washable and are subject to electromagnetic interference” explains Ilayada Samilgil, Chief Executive Officer of Organic Robotics Corporation. Using its patented technology, ORC has increased the sensibility, elasticity, and washability of its very responsive sensors making it ideal for smart garments that can optimize athletic performance and express body movement and awareness in a virtual environment.

Launched just over a year ago, the small team—comprised of Shepherd, Samilgil, and Ryan Bayne, ORC’s Chief Product Officer—behind the startup is working hard to establish itself in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and disrupt the wearable tech industry with its innovative stretchable sensors.

These sensors open up possibilities for a variety of industries. In fact, one of the main challenges ORC faced as a startup was deciding which market to target and introduce their first product to. Currently, the startup is focused on promoting Light Lace, stretchable sensors based on fiber-optic technology

Potential implementations of this technology range from use in garments to monitor muscle fatigue and prevent exercise-related injuries, to the use in car seats to monitor driver attentiveness or prevent pediatric deaths due to children being left alone in a vehicle. These sensors even have the potential to be used in hospitals and medical schools, giving healthcare professionals the ability to monitor patient movement to prevent pressure ulcers, or giving students the chance to use AR and VR to understand the levels of pressure to apply when operating on a patient.

The possibilities don’t end there. Organic Robotics Corporation is hoping to maintain a business-to-business model to allow for maximum use of its products and to keep the focus on the manufacturing of the sensors themselves rather than the products they will be used in. Already forging partnerships, ORC recently worked with another startup which is using its sensors to measure pressure in shoe soles.

Working with other startups has allowed the company to grow. According to Samilgil, “Being able to talk to people who can mentor and give advice, has been pretty helpful. Whether that’s law or finance or engineering, the networking has been great.” The startup is excited to continue to connect and learn from other entrepreneurs—one of the primary reasons the startup joined Rev as a member company. Previously, Organic Robotics Corporation participated in Rev’s Napkin-to-Prototype Hardware Accelerator as part of the program’s 2019 cohort. Read their #HardwareAccelerator19 team spotlight here.

“Having access to the Entrepreneurs in Residence at Rev is going to help us a lot because they hail from a variety of fields, and as a team of engineers, it will be good to learn non-engineering things from them,” stated Samilgil. “Also, connecting with other startups and seeing potential collaboration opportunities, learning about all of the funding opportunities, and the networking sessions that happen are also going to be helpful.”