The name InfoSense derives from a blending of the words “Information” and “Sensor” reflecting the company’s mission of creating new inspection technologies using acoustics and sophisticated signal processing technologies.
InfoSense is a technology-driven C-Corporation spun out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2007 to commercialize a promising acoustic inspection technology developed by Dr. Ivan Howitt, a faculty member in the electrical and computer engineering department.
The patented technology uses sound waves to non-invasively detect blockages in segments of sewer collection pipe by quickly inserting a portable transmitter and receiver into either end of the pipe or through a network of stationary devices that can maintain continuous assessment. The innovation of the underlying technology lies in the fact that it uses an ACTIVE transmit and receive process to assess pipe blockage conditions as compared to the reflective nature of similar applications such as SONAR or ultrasound. The active transmit and receive process works extremely well in gravity-fed sewers to detect abnormalities in a simple, low cost, and straightforward way.
|Ivan Howitt, PhD, Chairman, Chief Technology Officer and Founder: Actively engaged since 11/07. Electrical Engineering PhD UC Davis. Over 25 years engineering experience; 15 years university professor with research focused on applied solutions for industrial problems. His technical innovations provide the basis for all InfoSense products.|
|Alex Churchill, MBA, Chief Executive Officer: Actively engaged since 1/11. MBA Carnegie Mellon. Senior management experience building and optimizing operations and supply chains at firms such as Booz & Co., Blue Rhino, Republic Services and thru his own consulting firm, Magnus Investments.|
2005 – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities approaches UNC Charlotte engineering faculty about a variety of problems confronting wastewater utilities. Ivan Howitt, PhD, begins researching wave propagation properties in gravity-fed pipe segments and initiates a research program with UNC Charlotte in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities.
2007 – InfoSense, Inc. formed as a North Carolina corporation to focus on commercializing the technologies developed from Dr. Howitt’s research.
2009 – InfoSense wins National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation and Research funding to develop a stationary network of acoustic sensors to detect abnormalities and overflows in wastewater collection systems. This research becomes the genesis for the Sewer Line Continuous Assessment Tool or SL-CAT. A patent is applied for on the underlying active transmit and receive sensor technology.
2010 – Based on feedback from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities, Dr. Howitt develops a first generation mobile version of the SL-CAT. This new product is called the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool or SL-RAT. Charlotte-Mecklenburg becomes the first SL-RAT customer.
2011 – A second generation version of the SL-RAT is developed with an improved user interface, better power management, and ruggedized for field use. Charlotte-Mecklenburg purchases several units that successfully inspect over 1 million feet of pipe. Alex Churchill and George Selembo, PhD join InfoSense to begin commercializing Dr. Howitt’s invention.
2012 – Based on customer feedback, a third generation SL-RAT is developed. It is 40% lighter than version 2, GPS enabled, powered by a Li-Ion battery, and further ruggedized for continuous deployment in the field. InfoSense wins the WEF Innovative Technology Award as well as an NC IDEA grant, the Charlotte Venture Challenge High Tech category, and the Charlotte Chamber Power Up grant for promising technology companies. These funds are used to further market the technology and build out a network of Manufacturer’s Representatives. Patent issued in June 2012.
2013 – With the business platform in place and the technology gaining acceptance, customers around the globe have purchased SL-RAT’s – inspecting over 2.5 million feet of pipe and saving millions of dollars by better focusing their more expensive CCTV and cleaning resources.
We look forward to sharing our story with you in more detail and learning how our technology may benefit your organization