The name InfoSense derives from a blending of the words “Information” and “Sensor” reflecting the company’s mission of creating new technologies using acoustics and sophisticated signal processing techniques.
InfoSense is a technology-driven C-Corporation spun out of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2007 to commercialize a promising acoustic pipe inspection technology developed by Dr. Ivan Howitt, a faculty member in the electrical and computer engineering department.
Dr. Howitt focused on a problem that all wastewater collection system department’s face. How to effectively deploy cleaning and CCTV resources to proactively identify blockage conditions and reduce Sanitary Sewer Overflows. What he developed was a product called the Sewer Line Rapid Assessment Tool or SL-RAT. The SL-RAT provides utilities with the capability to very quickly screen their collection system for blockage conditions at very low cost. This allows the collection system operator to focus their cleaning resources on the right pipe at the right time. Thus avoiding “cleaning clean pipe” and saving time, water, and money.
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. 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.
|Alex Churchill, Chief Executive Officer and Corporate Secretary/Treasurer|
Alex has worked with InfoSense since early 2011 and has been active in all aspects of the business’ evolution and growth since that time. He is focused on building an efficient, scalable, customer-focused company that attracts and retains top talent. Alex has presented on the SL-RAT technology at over 50 conferences and spends the majority of his time supporting customers and the sales team. Prior to joining InfoSense, Alex ran a number of operationally complex business units in the Waste and Direct Store Delivery industries, as well as worked as consultant for Booz & Company. Alex has an MBA from the Tepper School at Carnegie Mellon and an BS in Physics Engineering and Economics from Washington & Lee.
|Dr. Ivan Howitt, Chairman, Chief Technology Officer and Founder|
Ivan founded InfoSense in late 2007 to commercialize the technical innovations that provide the basis for all InfoSense products. He began working full time in the business in late 2008 and has been fully engaged since. Ivan focuses his time on new product development and R&D. Prior to starting InfoSense, Ivan was a full-time tenured faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He holds a PhD in electrical engineering from UC Davis and a MS and BS in electrical engineering from Georgia Tech.
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.
2014 – The Sewer Line Data OrGanizer www.sl-dog.com– cloud-based tool for downloading, archiving, analyzing, and visualizing the acoustic data developed for the SL-RAT is released. Over 5 million feet of pipe inspected and 58 customers
2015 – Numerous enhancements to the SL-RAT device and the SL-DOG portal are released including an improved transmitter, enhanced GPS performance, safety yellow frame cushions, and the ability to export SL-RAT data in a Google Earth format. Over 150 units in the field with more than 120 utility customers around the world. is named the #1 Fastest Growing Private Company in Charlotte.
2016 – InfoSense moves to a 50% larger production and support facility in Charlotte’s Steele Creek neighborhood. SL-DOG platform supports export of SHP formatted files for import into GIS systems. “Technology Based on Sound Science” advertising and branding campaign initiated.
2017 – ASTM Standard F3320-17 released “Standard Practice for Prioritizing Sewer Pipe Cleaning Operations by Using Transmissive Acoustic Inspection https://www.astm.org/Standards/F3220.htm – based on the SL-RAT technology. InfoSense joins the Charlotte Business Journal’s Fast 50 List of fastest growing private companies in the Charlotte region for the 3rd time in a row.
2018 – 400th SL-RAT sold. Over 250 unique municipal customers. SL-DOG Android and iOS App released to help streamline the input of asset ID’s and field notes. Over 100 million feet of pipe inspected – of which over 70% did not need cleaning – saving InfoSense customers millions of dollars.
We look forward to sharing our story with you in more detail and learning how our technology may benefit your organization