YALE PROFESSOR MICHAEL CHOMA WINS $10,000 NUMENTA STARTUP PRIZE

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Michael Choma, assistant professor of Diagnostic Radiology, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physics and Pediatrics, won the $10,000 Numenta Startup Prize offered in partnership with Numenta and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute (YEI). The prize was designed to solicit ideas for new applications for Numenta’s Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) technology which is able to recognize sequences in streaming data and detect abnormalities. Choma has long been interested in the possibilities offered by wearable devices and the idea of developing software to help patients make sense of that data. “Disease is an anomaly,” Choma says. “The fact that Numenta’s technology can churn through a lot of data produced by these devices is medically important.”

Choma’s proposed startup—Good Day Bad Day—will utilize Numenta’s technology to track streaming data from the Apple Watch, iPhone and other wearable devices and use it to improve management of chronic respiratory disease. Other prize applications included startups related to managing hospital data, understanding patents and fixing inefficient event pricing.

Good Day Bad Day is built around the idea that if someone is breathing less, that will be captured by iPhones and other devices in data related to the person’s movement. Numenta’s technology will detect those anomalies and Choma’s app will alert the wearer that something is amiss. In addition, Choma says the app will “generate a model that may contain information about patterns of disease.” Zhilong Cong, a third year PhD student in biomedical engineering who is working in Choma’s lab, will assist in software design.

Donna Dubinsky (’77), CEO of Numenta and a member of the Yale Corporation, says that they selected Good Day Bad Day because the startup utilizes a clear data source, it seems highly likely that the HTM algorithms will detect patterns and because Choma and Chong have the knowledge and skills to create a successful application.

“We look forward to partnering with Good Day Bad Day in a few ways,” Dubinsky says.  “First, we will provide them with technical advice and support. Second, once they have a working prototype, we can give them feedback on the user experience to help build it out into a complete application. Finally, as the application nears launch, we can help with giving it visibility within our community as well as the broader tech industry.”

The Numenta Startup Prize was the first collaboration between Numenta and YEI—and the second prize YEI has offered in conjunction with a partner built around a specific industry or technology. The first was the $10,000 YEI IoT Prize given to two Yale student startups with a new Internet of Things-related venture, presented in partnership with YEI Advisory Council member Brian Miller. In both cases, the prizes were open to Yale students, faculty and alumni.

“We’re encouraged by the response to these targeted prizes and have seen tremendous value in partnering with alumni, friends and innovation-driven companies to reach new segments of the Yale community,” says Jim Boyle, Managing Director of YEI.

Dubinsky says she looks forward to seeing where this experiment leads, but add that “if all goes well, I could definitely imagine doing more of these contests, both at Yale and at other institutions.”

Brita Belli

Brita Belli is the Communications Officer for the Office of Cooperative Research and the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. Prior to joining OCR, Brita was an editor and freelance writer whose work has appeared on the websites of the New York Times, National Geographic, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Health News, MSN.com, Alternet.com, as well as in many print publications. She is the author of The Autism Puzzle: Connecting the Dots Between Environmental Toxins and Rising Autism Rates (Seven Stories Press).

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