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Innovation Shines at CES on the Hill

CES on the Hill is an invitation-only event for members of Congress, Hill staff, press and invited guests to see the latest technology innovations and learn about how tech is fueling growth in the U.S. economy. Last week on Capitol Hill, attendees experienced these innovations firsthand, learning how tech can make our roads safer, improve our health, or even teach us guitar. Here’s a look at a few of the innovations that were showcased at the event.

Advanced TeleSensors

Looking to make health care easier, Advanced TeleSensors developed Cardi/o, a “wearable-less” cardio sensor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a $6 million program. “We can detect your heart rate, respiratory rate and heart rate variability from up to 10 feet,” explained Advanced TeleSensors’ Stephanie Probasco. After first debuting the sensor at CES 2018, Advanced TeleSensors brought the technology to CES on the Hill to show policymakers the sensor. “We’d like to contribute to reducing the looming health care gap that’s happening not just in the U.S. but across the world,” said Probasco. “By giving information to start doing preventive medicine and having some support from Congress through either grants or policy initiatives, we can start to empower people to take on more responsibility and reduce costs for everybody.”


My Special Aflac Duck, a special plush animal designed for children with cancer, is more than a cute toy, it also allows kids to communicate with doctors and better understand their feelings. Designed by Aaron J. Horowitz of Sproutel, the toy not only coos and quacks when you pet it, but comes with a handful of emoji-like discs children can press to the duck to make it react, as well as a tile resembling chemo medicine. The duck even offers the relaxing beating of a heart when hugged. “For example, if you’re nauseous, your duck can be nauseous as well and share in that feeling with you,” Horowitz said. After testing the duck with 100 families and in a study at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, the duck will be ready to ship in September.

Beauty and the Bolt

Beauty and the Bolt is creating a community full of resources that make learning engineering easy and engaging for anyone – especially young girls and minorities. As part of Case Western Reserve University’s Launchnet entrepreneur program, students Xyla Foxlin and Andrew Dupuis started the project, setting out to make DIY (Do It Yourself) engineering videos on Youtube teaching kids how to solder, laser cut or use an Arduino. They also offer kits with all the materials needed to make certain projects, like a wood ring or an LED Rose stand. “One of my big frustrations as a female engineer is that there are very few, and I think that the education we are feeding our kids doesn’t really cater to girls the way it could,” said Foxlin, who stars in the videos and often visits classrooms to teach children about engineering. “It may be really difficult to kill the ‘pink aisle,’ but we can infiltrate it.”


From tiny recreational drones to full-sized professional machines, DJI showcased the drone industry’s amazing variety. While DJI’s newest drone, the Mavic Air, is small enough to fold up and fit into a bag the size of a water bottle, it boasts a 4K camera, a 21 minute flight time and top-tier stability. DJI also sells many high-end models, like the Inspire 2. Jon Resnick, policy lead at DJI said it packs quite a punch, professional photo quality, top speeds above 90 KM per hour, and dual cameras with separate controls. Each DJI drone also comes with obstacle avoidance, allowing the drone to recognize a wall or tree and stop itself from crashing and in some cases, navigate around it. With so many advances in drones, DJI hopes Congress helps the industry to continue to thrive. “FAA reauthorization is just about to hit the floor and hobbyist operators are trying to find some compromises about how current operators are flying to make sure the national air space is as safe as possible,” he said.

Edge Tech Labs

Edge Tech Labs CEO Shaun Masavage and CTO John Tolly tried to learn the guitar before, but never got the hang of it. “We found it easier to invent a new product than learn the traditional way,” Tolly said. They weren’t joking. The two serial entrepreneurs created Fret Zealot, a series of LED Bluetooth lights guitarists attach to their fretboards so learning chords becomes “painting by numbers,” Masavage said. As you play, Fret Zealot uses different colored lights to show certain chords, notes and scales. It can also be connected with your phone so you can follow along with a song or a video lesson. Masavage and Tolly already raised almost $250,000 in their Kickstarter and are now focused on selling more units, becoming more well known in the music industry, and starting a Kickstarter for a bass version of Fret Zealot soon.

HERE Technologies

The connected vehicle was another major theme at CES on the Hill, and mapping and location data company HERE Technologies brought a demo of its connected vehicle service. A fleet of vehicles equipped with the service can automatically sense road conditions and hazards, such as flooding or ice, and upload this data to the cloud to be disseminated to other connected vehicles. “We aggregate that information and return it to the fleet in near real-time within seconds,” explained HERE Technologies’ Leo Fitzsimon. No driver input is required in HERE’s system, freeing the driver from distractions while also informing them of potential hazards.


Originally created as a safeguard against prescription drug theft and abuse, and in response to the opioid epidemic, the iKeyp connected safe has grown into something larger, explained iKeyp’s Jeffrey Padilla. For example, by tracking when and how often the iKeyp connected safe is opened, users can track prescription pill dosage schedules of their loved ones remotely, giving caregivers an extra tool to monitor patients. In addition, reminders can be set in the iKeyp app. The iKeyp connected safe can be opened remotely, or in person via the safe’s code combination. As an extra layer of security, notifications are sent to the app if an incorrect code is entered or the safe is tampered with.

Sensible Innovations

Sensible Innovations brought its smart wayfinding technology to CES on the Hill. The technology is based on Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity, explained Sensible Innovations Founder Rasha Said, and provides indoor and outdoor navigation for the sighted, visually impaired and the blind. The AWARE app communicates with SmartLandmarks, or “iBeacons” which are either pre-programmed or customizable, and are placed around a building or neighborhood. The AWARE app then provides audible navigational instructions to the user. “In a site that’s tagged with iBeacons, any blind person that walks in with the AWARE app on will be told what they are near in real-time, audibly, just like a GPS,” explained Said. The iBeacons can be placed at an exit, for example, or an elevator or conference room, to provide a description of the user’s surroundings.


Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) speaks with Toyota's Doug Moore

Toyota’s Human Support Robot (HSR) is a lightweight, easily-maneuverable personal robot with one arm and a screen for a face. It performs simple tasks, but can also do many everyday things difficult for those with disabilities, such as opening the curtains or a door. The arm even has a small vacuum to pick up smaller items, like a piece of paper. According to Doug Moore of Toyota Motor North America's Partner Robot Division, the HSR is a perfect way for those with disabilities to gain more independence and ease their caretaker’s work. “The two pillars [of Toyota] are respect for people and continuous improvement,” he said. “Out of that context and our respect for people came the idea about how to actually think how we can help all people.” Toyota already performed a successful pilot test of the HSR with Romy Camargo, a quadriplegic U.S. veteran who used it to help him accomplish many of the tasks he depends on his wife for.

Find a video recap of the event below:

Mark Chisholm and Jeremy Snow