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University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships
University of Michigan Innovation Partnerships

U-M Wireless Integrated Circuits and Systems Group: Making the Internet-of-Things Possible


Experts agree that the next evolutionary phase in computing technology will be the Internet of Things (IoT): tiny, self-powered, edge-of-the-cloud devices that connect people and systems. It is predicted that within 10 years as many as 1 trillion IoT connected devices will be in use—comprising a $14 trillion market.

Ultimately, the future of IoT will depend on the ability of researchers to create incredibly small, wireless, self- powered sensors known as “complete” computers. Since 2008, U-M Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science David Wentzloff and his Wireless Integrated Circuits and Systems Group have been addressing that challenge, making impressive advances in system on a chip (SoC) technology.

David-Wentzloff-photo-600x600One example of their achievements is PsiKick, a startup founded in 2012 by Wentzloff and Professor Benton Calhoun of the University of Virginia. Building on their breakthrough work in low-power integrated circuits, the two used their self-powered SoC technology to develop a battery-less physiological sensor that can function as a wearable EKG device.

PsiKick, according to CEO Brendan Richardson, benefited greatly from connections made possible through the U-M Innovation Partnerships Venture Center. “The Venture Center,” said Richardson, “not only helped with the syndication of our Series A round, but also introduced us to strategic partners that have provided invaluable insight into our technology strategy.”

Earlier this year, Wentzloff, along with fellow U-M faculty members David Blaauw, Prabal Dutta, Dennis Sylvester and several graduate students, made history with the Michigan Micro Mote (M3). At one cubic millimeter, roughly the size of a grain of rice, M3 is the smallest complete computer in the world—a self-powered sensor capable of data input, processing, storage and output. In 2014, members of the team, working with Innovation Partnerships Mentor-in-Residence David Hartmann, launched CubeWorks Inc. to commercialize M3’s potential for medical and military applications.

Most recently, Wentzloff’s research group has created technology that vastly accelerates the design of Phased Lock Loops (PLL), control systems used in a multitude of devices. This resulted in a new startup, Movellus Circuits, which is developing a tool for rapid production of customized PLLs to optimize the performance of microprocessors.

[source: U-M Innovation Partnerships 2015 Impact Report]