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July 29, 2014
Going To Space Is Getting Easier
The earth will soon be able to take a daily selfie. So you might wanna get out of your PJs.
An Arlington startup is launching an 18-satellite constellation in two years to snap daily images of our planet. The plan is to sell analytics from those pics and other datasets to corporations and governments so they can track the effect of environmental changes. OmniEarth co-founder Lars Dyrud says agriculture and packaged food customers can predict yields and mange farms, insurance firms can compare pre-loss views, and banks and real estate firms can track changes in construction activity anywhere.
OmniEarth's satellites launch in 2016, so the one-year-old company hopes to acquire a geospatial analytics firm to build its information infrastructure; that'll get it ready to sell subscription services. OmniEarth is also marketing its predictive analytics and geospatial tools. To cut the launch price tag, the 12-person company is “ridesharing" with Spaceflight, a Seattle company that launches small satellites. (Think Uber for satellites.) Launching 18 would have cost billions years ago, but OmniEarth predicts its constellation will cost $250M.
This is one of the satellites OmniEarth will launch. Lars says there's been a grassroots movement to create standards for building smaller satellites with lower cost components. Current satellite imagery only covers 1% of the globe in one day, and getting an image involves calling brokers and satellite providers. OmniEarth's service will be more timely, says Lars.
The Med Tracker
Hospitals have hundreds of pharmacy kits scattered around, but only a small percentage of the meds inside are used. It's sent back to the pharmacist, who has to figure out what was used and what's about to expire. That's the headache DC-based Kit Check is trying to solve using cloud-based software and RFID technology. Over 80 hospital pharmacies are using the RFID tags on each vial to track medications, says co-founder/CEO Kevin McDonald (left), here with co-founder/CTO Tim Kress-Spatz.
The pharmacy scans the kit in a station about the size of a microwave—tracking what's left, expiration dates, and more. The 40-person company, whose first customer was the University of Maryland Medical Center in 2012, raised a $10.4M series A round last year and recently hired San Francisco entrepreneur Ted Ridgway as COO. They're hiring one person per week in product development and operations, says Kevin, whose RFID career includes tracking everything from weapons in Colombia to airplane parts in Europe to medical devices in the US.
The Citi Open!
The draw is now set for the incredible Citi Open tennis tournament; first official matches are today. It's a really strong field of all the top US players like John Isner, the Bryan Brothers, Sloane Stephens, and local stars Treat Huey and Francis Tiafoe. It runs through Aug. 3 at Carter Barron, and Bisnow is proud to be a sponsor. We'll be reporting on some of the action—and we don't mean just on the court—so let us know if you'll be there. There are also great special events: a chef challenge on Thursday emceed by Mike Isabella between Del Campo's Victor Albisu and Ripple's Marjorie Meek-Bradley; a Trivia Night on Tuesday hosted by 94.7 FM's Tommy McFly; a Grand Marnier Craft Cocktail Happy Hour on Friday; a reception and screening with the director of Queens at Court today; and lots more. Check out www.citiopentennis.com; we'll see you there.
Mars Rover's Long Drive
If you think your driving is out of this world, you might want to give NASA a call. Its Opportunity Mars rover just squashed the Soviet Union's record for off-Earth roving distance on Mars, driving 25 miles on the Red Planet. The rover has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world. NASA project manager John Callas says Opportunity Mars was only intended to drive about one kilometer, but on July 27, it had clocked 40.25 kilometers (25.01 miles). The Russian rover, which landed on the moon in 1973, drove about 24.2 miles in under five months.
It's almost time for our annual pets issue. Do you have a special pet you'd like to feature in Tech Bisnow? Send us their pic and a few words about them by Aug. 8.