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Mister Beacon Episode #67

Nanotechnology and Things that Sense

February 26, 2018

If your pipes could speak, what would they tell you? If your bottle of whiskey could ask questions, what would it ask you? FeelIt’s advancements in sensor technology are enabling objects to become “smarter” - reaching new levels of self-awareness. CEO and co-founder, Gady Konvalina describes the Nanotechnology-based sensors they have created with the ability to sense structural formation, movement, and weight. With the help of beacons and cloud services, these sensors can give pipes the ability to tell manufacturers when they are going to leak or can send a smartphone alert when the whiskey is low, asking if you would like to reorder. Catch a full discussion about this disruptive technology and a demo of the sensors on this week’s episode of Mr. Beacon.


  • Narration 0:00

    The Mr. Beacon podcast presents nanotechnology and things that sense with guest, Dr. Gady Konvalina, CEO of Feel It. The Mr. Beacon podcast is brought to you by Wiliot, scaling IoT with battery free Bluetooth.

    Steve Statler 0:22

    So Gady, thanks so much for coming on the Mr. Beacon podcast, I'm really excited about what your company Feel It is doing, you're the CEO. And so in this conversation, what I wanted to do is just get a insight to this incredible technology you're developing, can you describe what your company does?

    Gady Konvalina 0:41

    Yes, we developed nanotechnology based sensors, that's basically can turn any objects into kind of a self aware object, being able to sense structural deformation, structural movements, how it works, if there's a buildup in pressure inside, it's basically gives objects, the ability to sense like we sense in our sense of touch has really cool properties, because it's based on nanomaterials. So it's very, very sensitive, like the sensitivity of our fingertips. It's very, it's low cost, because it's printable, it's low power consumption, because it's technology is based on the scan of resistors. That they sense when they're being deformed. So it's very, very low power consumption, consumption and very flexible. So it's kind of like artificial skin.

    Steve Statler 1:45

    Incredible. So it's not a technology, and is enabling objects to feel things. And that can be a kind of a stretching and distortion on the object tension. Or it could be lightweight, I guess.

    Gady Konvalina 2:04

    Yeah, it could be weight, it could be the way it's, it's bends up if he if you cover an object with it, so you'll be able to the object will be able to feel how it deforms. And of course, this is very interesting information and can give really knowledgeable insight on a lot of, well, you think of product sets can this technology can be implemented into the product. And by that give, basically manufacturers of the product, a way to stay links to the objects and to the product, and to understand how it is being used, how it moves, how it deforms. And there's like a vast amount of applications for this kind of concept.

    Steve Statler 2:57

    It's a conductive material, isn't it?

    Gady Konvalina 3:00

    Yeah, it's a it's kind of semiconductor material. Okay. So it has high resistance, right? Therefore a low low, low current low power consumption.

    Steve Statler 3:11

    Okay. And so we're at the Wiliot, our offices in Israel. And it's kind of noisy around here, but it's also a real working office. And it's also beautiful, in my opinion. So we thought it would be a good backdrop. And I'm fascinated because of the applications combined with our product. But of course, your product could be integrated with all sorts of radios, not not just not just ours. But tell me about some of the applications. Let's talk about the enterprise. But let's talk about the consumer applications first.

    Gady Konvalina 3:48

    Basically, this can be applied because of its very low costs, principles. Sensors, is one of the samples of the sensor, you can feel it.

    Steve Statler 3:59

    Okay. Oh, man, this is absolutely tiny.

    Gady Konvalina 4:03

    Tiny and very flexible.

    Steve Statler 4:05

    Super flexible. So you've printed this on on a particular substrate. But this could be printed on a on a bottle. bottle of scotch, maybe on the bottom? Exactly. And you could weigh see the difference in the weight of the Scotch as it gets drunk. Yeah. And so essentially, if this is talking to a radio, then a Bluetooth beacon, for instance, then that could communicate with your phone. And essentially, the Scotch could reorder itself as you consume it.

    Gady Konvalina 4:36

    That's that's one of the concepts that is basically possible. And we are now engaged in developing similar concepts of different devices in the industrial production lines that can alert when something goes wrong with them when something like if there's a leak somewhere. So we apply these sensors On components inside industrial equipment, it's to it's called predictive maintenance. It's to enable optimization of the maintenance of all the production line. This cuts down on material costs and energy costs and human resources. Now we're looking towards more large scale applications. As you mentioned, this is why we're now working on large scale printing of these sensors, either directly on the product or on a sheet like that, which you can like use a stickers, right?

    Steve Statler 5:35

    So you could stick this on something or it could actually be printed on the object. So how, what makes it printable? And what is the sensor made out of?

    Gady Konvalina 5:43

    It's made out of nano material that is basically semi conductive. That means if you put a potential difference on the material, current will flow. And it is very, very sensitive to the formation of this layer. It just basically changes distances between the nanomaterials and the really changes the the resistance sensor.

    Steve Statler 6:11

    I think you mentioned, it's essentially ink and gold is you have gold particles.

    Gady Konvalina 6:16

    And yeah, this is one of the materials that we use is gold.

    Steve Statler 6:20

    And doesn't that make it super expensive?

    Gady Konvalina 6:23

    Well, that's like, that's the initial thought about it. But no, we're printing really, really money quantities of this special ink. And therefore if like your ring is made out of gold, yeah. So yeah, this is.

    Steve Statler 6:43

    How many years stickers could you make out of it?

    Gady Konvalina 6:45

    I guess, millions.

    Steve Statler 6:47

    Okay. Clickers. All right. Yeah. From one ring. So then maybe it's not so expensive. So let's talk about price. What? How much does this cost at the moment? And where do you think it'll end up?

    Gady Konvalina 7:00

    I believe that's eventually, we will be able to offer sensors and sensing technology to be applicable for commodity products. So yeah, we really want to try and use this technology to improve prove things in the world we're living in and sense of, you know, cutting down on energy consumption, material waste.

    Steve Statler 7:25

    How can it be used to cut down on energy consumption?

    Gady Konvalina 7:29

    Example of the industrial application, industrial internet of things, to help do a better maintenance of equipment, so there's huge amounts of material and energy going down the drain, because there are malfunctions that are either not detected, and then you realize at the end of the production line, that something is goes wrong, because of the quality analysis of the product, and then you need to figure out what has gone wrong. And if you'd have some way of detecting a malfunction on the spot, or when it is about to occur, then you would really save a lot of energy and a lot of materials. And this is one example. Think of the savings you would have if as you mentioned above with order sell itself or so that a lot of efforts and energy goes on all the on the way you now realize you need a new bottle, for instance, not necessarily in like Coke bottles, maybe something that is related more to places where you need the bottles to work or it's a drug that you need to consume and and you need to take it on time.

    Steve Statler 8:53 

      But potentially, we're gonna have leanness supply chains if we can more efficient supply chains if we're ordering just in time. And it's kind of taking the Amazon model of getting the right product to the right place at the right time. But instrumenting it so that consumer packaged goods companies can kind of take control of that and retailers can take control of that as well. Do you have a demo to show us? I know you guys were working on something if the demo gods come together.

    Gady Konvalina 9:23

    So yeah, here's a demo of a sensor that is monitoring pressure changes inside a pipeline a very simple concept. If you want to monitor if there is a pressure increase, for some reason, there is a blockage in the pipeline, right? If there is a leakage, you would have a drop in pressure. So this monitors the pressure inside the tube non intrusively from the just figuring out how the tube deforms expands or shrinks. So and this is of course hooked up to a wireless module in this case, B Li, low energy. Okay, let's have a look, we see a demonstration of self aware pipe that is aware of pressure changes within the pipe, I increase the pressure with this piston and after five seconds there is a blockage alert that alerts of this abnormal, increasing the pressure. And then when I release this and pressure drops, then eventually there will be an alert of leakage indicating that the pressure has gone down. So the way that this works is simply Bluetooth. Sending out transmitting the information from the sensors, the self aware pipe to the smartphone as a gateway and upload it to a cloud and he will see the dashboard showing these pressure changes within the pipe. So yeah, needs need self-aware pipe.

    Steve Statler 10:55

    And so how accurate. You said it's accurate, but how accurate what kind of sensitivity is there in terms of pressure or weight? Can you quantify it?

    Gady Konvalina 11:07

    Basically can sense down to milligrams has a milligram resolution in terms of the weight? So what does that relate to? It's related to even drugs like pills, pills. And of course, feeling the weight of a small pill bottle.

    Steve Statler 11:31

    Perfume bottles. Yeah, so that's sensitive. Is that? Mind blowing. How did you guys so who are you guys? Okay, so did you come from? How did you?

    Gady Konvalina 11:43

    It's, it's the laboratory of Professor Sam hike. Staff member in the chemical engineering department in the Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

    Steve Statler 11:55

    Which is just this legendary academic research organization.

    Gady Konvalina 12:00

    Yes. Well, it's Israel's, I guess, most famous or most, I guess, the first Technological Institute. And there's a lot of research going on there. And it's has a lot of orientation towards technology and implement implementing technology applied technology. And specifically in the laboratory of the professor, me and my partner, Dr. Matthias Xigbar. We did our master's degree in PhDs in nanotechnology. we finalize the I finalize about two and a half years ago when our research was around the flexible sensors based on nano materials. And we kind of I have with me telling me, we met over when we were working in Tower semiconductor, Israeli fabrication line company that manufactures CMOS based chips. And so we kind of already knew each other. So when we were in the academic studies, we started working together and found out there's a lot of neat stuff to develop based on these nanomaterials. And this was our main research was developing these flexible sensors, which are good for what I just described, sensing the formation and very strange.

    Steve Statler 13:31

    If you got to in the development of the product.

    Gady Konvalina 13:36

    Right now, we already engaged in development of products in together with leading equipment manufacturer of industrial components, we're working on Smarter fIying really existing products or the next generation of their products. To enable the new feature of predictive maintenance for these products. We only pass POC stage, we're now under the development process together with this OEM. And we are looking for additional strategic partners to develop additional products that would be for this aim for us is larger, large scale large volumes, meaning like he described perfume bottles, pill bottles and so on.

    Steve Statler 14:33

    Amazing. Well this is fascinating. Thanks so much for coming to Willie up headquarters here in Israel and telling us about what you're doing it feel it, I think this is going to be everywhere.

    Gady Konvalina 14:45

    Yeah, it's really fascinating. And there's this trend, it's an it's going to really change a lot of the way things are being controlled and monitored and supply chains. It's really, really fascinating.

    Steve Statler 15:00

    Very disruptive if people want to find out more where do they go?

    Gady Konvalina 15:05

    To our website, www.feelit.tech. Okay. And yeah and this podcast that we just talked about

    Steve Statler 15:16

    Yeah, another Mr. Beacon milestone. Thanks so much.

    Gady Konvalina 15:19

    Thank you

    Steve Statler 15:31

    So did you have a chance to think about the songs that you would take to Mars?

    Gady Konvalina 15:35


    Steve Statler 15:37

    What are they?

    Gady Konvalina 15:38

    So first song when we are the world, all right. Kind of kind of thought about it that if I go to Mars, I like some song to, you know, to be related to my maybe childhood something that can give me a link to Yeah. So I used to live in the US when I was a child, and there was this program of USA for Africa. They did this song. Yeah, it's a class. I was in a public school. Second grade. So no, these microphones and they took like a video of each of the students in the classroom singing a phrase like one of the one of the singers.

    Steve Statler 16:31

    Who was I watched the same thing. I knew there was a British version at Wembley, and they had, like, Freddie Mercury is maybe his best performance. They were just it was unforgettable.

    Gady Konvalina 16:45

    Really, I really, as a child, it was like, wow, oh, yeah. singers coming together. And yeah, for a good cause. So to the left, I didn't question.

    Steve Statler 16:54

    What a wonderful choice so that's number one.

    Gady Konvalina 16:56

    So that's what number one and the second one is, wish you were here. Pink Floyd. It's like I would say if I'm on Mars, we'd have these the wished for you know a little bit something I don't have right now is back home maybe Yeah. Some metal a little bit mellow song.

    Steve Statler 17:19

    Yeah. Which is that of Dark Side of the Moon.

    Gady Konvalina 17:25

    That's the album will show you where he is actually here. So like it's also really very familiar song for me and I really relate to it. And the third one it's like a more happy and more this last year's mega Jain. It's like a pop song. Really cool. Talking about also well, the how people connect and it's like condensed to it. So it's like you.

    Steve Statler 18:03

    Have something downstairs. Yeah. Very good.

    Gady Konvalina 18:07

    She is cheerful.

    Steve Statler 18:08

    Excellent choice. Thank you very much.

    Narration 18:10

    The Mr. Beacon podcast is brought to you by Wiliot, scaling IoT with battery free Bluetooth.