ByteLight Awarded Funded Services through U-Launch Program

October 11th, 2011 in Uncategorized

ByteLight one of seven innovative cleantech companies selected for technical development, entrepreneurial advisory and incubation services

BOSTON, MA – October 5th, 2011: ByteLight has been selected for funded services through U-Launch, a US Department of Energy-funded grant-based award program that provides funded services to promising clean energy start-ups. These grant awards were offered as part of the Cleantech Open Northeast business competition. The grants will be used to assist seven Boston-area companies, including ByteLight in validating, developing and deploying innovative cleantech solutions.

ByteLight is a young BU spinoff that is developing indoor navigation, location based advertising, and interactive shopping experiences for retail spaces. GPS has played a huge role in the recent mobile device revolution, spawning many companies including FourSquare, ShopKick, SCVNGR, and Gowalla. There are a variety of competing technologies that are trying to solve the indoor positioning problem including Wi-Fi triangulation, dead reckoning, and ultrasound, however these solutions have struggled to reliably achieve sub-meter accuracies. In response, ByteLight is developing a system to turn overhead LED lights into positioning beacons used for locating smartphones indoors.

“Earlier this year, U-Launch committed to providing a minimum of $20,000 in funded services to Cleantech Open Northeast Region semifinalists,” said Eric Graham, Director of Fraunhofer CSE’s TechBridge program and administrator of U-Launch.  “But given the strong field of competitors participating in this year’s competition, we felt compelled to exceed our commitment and have awarded $89,000 in total services to seven highly qualified companies.”

“As a partner in U-Launch the MassCEC is extremely pleased with the level of competition in this year’s Cleantech Open Northeast competition,” added Patrick Cloney, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. “It’s exciting for us to support innovative cleantech companies with U-Launch funded service awards.”

“The partnership between U-Launch and the Cleantech Open is a perfect example of the kind of collaborations necessary to further innovation in clean energy,” said Peter Rothstein, President of the New England Clean Energy Council. “New England’s cleantech cluster is rich and diverse, and connecting divergent programs and resources is a top priority.”

The U-Launch program provides grants that are comprised of funded services tailored to enhance the future market and funding potential of the individual awardee, and can include:

  • Technical services provided by Fraunhofer TechBridge, including prototype development assistance, technology validation and technology feasibility studies,
  • Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) services provided by the New England Clean Energy Council, including business plan development, go-to-market strategy creation, capital requirements planning, and fund-support.
  • Incubation services supplied through the ACTIONetwork, including subsidized space and access to incubator business support services.

These awards were made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as part of its Innovation Ecosystem Development Initiative, administered by the Commercialization and Deployment Team. The purpose of the Innovation Ecosystems is to accelerate the commercialization of clean energy technologies from US university laboratories into the marketplace.

About the Cleantech Open

The Cleantech Open runs the world’s largest cleantech accelerator. Its mission is to find, fund and foster entrepreneurs with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental and economic challenges. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the Cleantech Open provides the infrastructure, expertise and strategic relationships that turn clever ideas into successful global cleantech companies. Since 2006, through its one-of-a-kind annual business competition and mentorship program, the Cleantech Open has enabled hundreds of clean-technology startups to bring their breakthrough ideas to fruition, helped alumni contestants raise over $300M, and created an estimated 2,500 green-collar jobs. Fueled by a global network of more than 1,000 volunteers and sponsors, the Cleantech Open unites the public and private sectors in a shared vision for making America’s cleantech sector a thriving economic engine. For more information, visit, or follow Cleantech Open on Twitter and Facebook.

About U-Launch

U-Launch was founded in 2010 with the aim of supporting clean energy technologies in their transition from the laboratory to the market, and is partially funded by a three-year, $1.1M award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Innovation Ecosystem Development Initiative. The program is administered by four leading New England cleantech organizations: the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE), the New England Clean Energy Foundation (NECEF), the Association of CleanTech Incubators of New England (ACTION) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). Each member of the U-Launch team provides critical early-stage resources for start-ups and spinouts. U-Launch grants are awarded to high-potential technologies, many of which are spun out of New England-based research universities. Grants are comprised of funded services tailored to enhance the future market and funding potential of the individual awardee, and can include business model review or development, market analysis, technical feasibility studies, prototype development assistance, technology validation, executive-in-residence guidance, and incubation space.

For more information on the U-Launch partners, visit:

MassCEC – www.masscec.comTwitter

NECEF – | Twitter

Fraunhofer CSE – www.cse.fraunhofer.orgTwitter


Bytelight accepted to Startup Leadership Program

September 9th, 2011 in Uncategorized

Aaron Gannick of Bytelight was accepted to  Startup Leadership Program for 2011, and has also made it to the semi finals for IBM’s Smartcamp taking place in Istanbul, Turkey.

Altug to Give Invited Talk at Oct ’11 IEEE Photonics Society Annual Meeting

June 2nd, 2011 in Uncategorized

Hatice Altug, Assistant Professor, department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is giving an Invited Talk at the  IEEE Photonics Society Annual Meeting to be held 9-13 October in Arlington, Virginia. Her talk title is ” Plasmonic-enhanced Detectors and their Applications in Smart Lighting ”  For more information about the conference please visit IEEE Photonics Society.

Professor Altug is affiliated with the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center.

BU’s ByteLight Team Selected for Highland Capital Summer Entrepreneurship Program

May 2nd, 2011 in Uncategorized

The BU ByteLight team of Aaron Ganick, Daniel Ryan, Travis Rich, Schuyler Eldridge & Simon Zhang were selected from a large group of applicants to participate in the Summer@Highland 2011 program! ByteLight was one of the semifinalists in BU’s $50K New Venture Competition, showing great promise for their creation of intelligent, energy efficient lighting and networking solutions. Based out of Boston University’s Photonics Center, and with the support of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center, ByteLight has developed an optical communications system embedded within LED lighting. By simultaneously providing energy efficient smart lighting and high speed mobile data access, ByteLight seeks to revolutionize both the lighting and telecommunications industries.

Traditional radio frequency (RF) based cellular networks are not equipped to handle the bandwidth demands of today’s mobile consumers. To address this challenge, ByteLight’s LED based general purpose lighting solution doubles as a high speed data access point. In their vision of the world, every light is a potential source of rich media content for mobile devices. This will provide high performance mobile data access to indoor environments, an area where RF providers have struggled to penetrate and a primary medium where mobile consumers access the Internet. In addition to providing lighting and data access, LED based lighting systems offer considerable advantages in energy savings and controllability. By simple bulb replacement, LEDs can offer over 2x energy savings over traditional bulbs.

In its fourth year, the Summer@Highland program is designed for university-affiliated entrepreneurs with an early business startup interested in rapid acceleration. Some of the criteria for the program include a leadership team with vision, passion, and drive, an initiative built around a breakthrough idea that is scalable with a large addressable market opportunity and a product/service that has the potential to be highly-disruptive in its area. The BU team will receive a $15,000 stipend and be provided with a complimentary space in a Highland-affiliated office.  They will work full time on their initiative over the summer beginning in June.

BU Team Wins First Annual Smart Lighting Challenge

April 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized


Winners Felipe Spinel, Ahmad Nawasrah, Connor McEwen, and Parker Fox, left to right.

Ten teams of students from several colleges came together on Saturday to compete in the first annual Smart Lighting Challenge, held at the Boston University School of Management. The winners of the competition were BU students Connor McEwen (EE’14), Felipe Spinel (SMG’12), Parker Fox (SMG’12) and Ahmad Nawasrah (SMG’12), who showcased their ideas for utilizing smart lighting for grocery store cart analytics and communication.

The competition’s challenge was to present the most compelling argument for the development, improvement or deployment of the GreenLight Concept, an LED lighting device developed by the National Science Foundation Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) at BU. GreenLight Concept is not only more energy-efficient than conventional lighting, but also features bulbs with IP addresses that can be controlled over the internet as part of a building-wide lighting system.

The winning team’s idea was to install touchscreens on the shopping carts of large-scale grocery stores such as Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Upon entering the store, a customer would swipe his loyalty card into the touchscreen, which would then recognize that customer and his unique shopping habits. As the customer moved through the store, the touchscreen would interact with the smart lighting technology to pinpoint the customer’s exact location and offer tailored promotions and sales based on his buying preferences and which items he was viewing at that moment.

“Throughout the challenge, I gained experience by taking an exciting piece of technology and applying it to something marketable,” said Connor McEwen, member of the first place team. “I was familiar with the technology and had a good understanding of its capabilities. The creative ideas of my teammates combined with my engineering background allowed our team to develop a real world solution unique to smart lighting, and come up with a business plan to implement it.”

Other finalists in the competition included the second runners-up, a group from Tufts University’s Fletcher School that described how smart lighting could be used to benefit the hospitality sector by increasing energy efficiency and decreasing labor costs. The first runners-up were a team from BU consisting of Darash Desai (BME’14), Brede Wegener (ME’11), Anne Morelli (SMG’11) and Will Yoon (LAW’11), that devised a plan to use smart lighting in casinos to help employees locate empty drinks, help management control the light intensity to draw attention to certain sections of the casino floor, and improve the customer experience by making it easier to locate restrooms and other areas of interest.

The panel of judges for the final round included keynote speaker Robert F. Karlicek, Jr., director of the ERC and ECE Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Professor Thomas Little (ECE), associate director of the ERC; Tracey Estabrook (ENG’86,GSM’98), global product manager for Philips Color Kinetics; and John Dotson, vice president and general counsel at Chevron Energy Solutions. Representatives from corporations such as Raytheon, Pfizer and New England Clean Energy Council were also in attendance.

By Kathrin Havrilla

Systems Engineering Adds Energy, Environment Option to Graduate Degrees

April 5th, 2011 in Uncategorized

petri_webBoston University’s Division of Systems Engineering has added an Energy and Environmental Systems concentration option to its Master of Science (MS) and Master of Engineering (MEng) programs.

As part of the concentration, students have the option to focus their learning through a selection of courses such as Sustainable Power Systems, Solar Energy Systems, Clean Technology Business Models, and Energy and Environmental Economics. Systems master’s degree students may also choose one of the existing concentrations, including: Computational and Systems Biology; Control Systems; Network Systems; Financial Engineering; Production and Service Systems; and Operations Research.

“The new Energy and Environmental Systems concentration gives students an edge in a critically important global societal, business and technology arena. Combined with the tools and techniques of a systems engineer, these skills are a strategic combination for a student to have,” says Hua Wang (ME), associate head of the Division of Systems Engineering.

“This new concentration leverages exciting research and industry projects here at BU – smart grid, fuel cells, photo-voltaics, ocean wave energy, and smart lighting, to name just a few,” says Michael Caramanis (ME/SE), co-director of the BU Clean Energy Initiative and principle investigator of a $2 Million National Science Foundation grant in area of smart grid. “But moreover, it combines key engineering skills with access to interrelated disciplines in management, policy, environmental science and economics, giving students a holistic education that uniquely positions them to address critical challenges of the 21st century.”

This new concentration is another step forward in the College’s efforts to provide customizable degree options which meet the varied interests and career aspirations of students. The College has been steadily increasing the robustness of its graduate programs. For example, six new MEng degrees in computer, electrical, manufacturing and mechanical engineering; materials science and engineering; and photonics were added in fall 2011 to complement the existing MEng programs in biomedical and systems engineering.

Students Compete to Bring Innovation from BU Lab to the Marketplace on April 9

April 5th, 2011 in Uncategorized


BOSTON (4-4-11) — Engineering and business students from Boston University and two other area colleges will compete in an April 9 contest to devise product strategy for an emerging lighting technology being developed at BU. A panel of judges drawn largely from industry will decide who gets the prize money.

The Smart Lighting Challenge will pit teams comprised of engineering, management, international relations and science students against each other to sell potential investors on technology created at the NSF Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center. Researchers at BU and Smart Lighting partner institutions are developing LED lights that can function as light sources, communications media, and even detect the presence of harmful biological or chemical agents.

This innovative controllable lighting technology leverages all of the capabilities of solid-state light and could transform how we use light. In addition to providing comfortable illumination, these LEDs can transmit information between enabled devices such as computers and thermostats without a perceptible change in room light, and with greater speed, security and energy efficiency than current radio-wave technology. Built-in optical sensors could also warn of environmental hazards.

But, like all new technology, it requires capital investment to break into the marketplace. Therein lies the Smart Lighting Challenge.

Nine teams – seven from BU and one each from Tufts University and Babson College – are made up of undergraduate and graduate students. Each team will pitch its ideas to the panel of judges as if it were presenting them to potential investors. The judges will include executives from Chevron, Osram Sylvania, Philips Color Kinetics, and other companies, as well as representatives from the center. The winning team will get a $1,000 cash prize; second and third place finishers will also receive cash awards.

The competition – conceived and run by students in the BU Energy Club – will take place on April 9 at 5 p.m. at the Boston University School of Management, 595 Commonwealth Ave. in Boston. The public is invited. For more information about the Smart Lighting Challenge visit the Smart Lighting Challenge website.

MEDIA NOTE: To arrange for parking at the event, working press should call (617) 353-9766 no later than 5 p.m. Thursday, April 7.

BU Students Invited to Devise Real-Life Solutions, Win Cash at Smart Lighting Challenge

March 14th, 2011 in Uncategorized

10-2748-PHOLABS-323Next month, BU undergraduate and graduate students from all disciplines are invited to participate in the Smart Lighting Challenge, an engineering design and business strategy competition in which they can win cash prizes.

Students will devise real-life improvements to the design, manufacturing process and product strategy for emerging solid state lighting technologies under development at the BU Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center. Four-person teams will assume the role of product developer and have two weeks to prepare their 15-minute presentation to convince a panel of judges of faculty, alumni, and venture capital and industry professionals to adopt their strategy.

The competition is ideal for students with an interest in energy, entrepreneurship, operations, engineering design and technology. No prior Smart Lighting expertise or technical knowledge is required, and all background information will be provided. The first place prize awards $1,000, second place is $400, and third place is $200.

The judging and presentations will take place on Saturday, April 9 at an event including dinner, networking, and a keynote address by Dr.Bob Karlicek, Director of the Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

To learn more about the Smart Lighting Challenge, please join the BU Energy Club at an information session on March 24 from 4:00-5:00 p.m. in PHO 201. Students will be able to enjoy pizza, have their questions answered, and sign up a four-person group or join an existing team. If students are unable to attend, please visit or email by March 28.

The Smart Lighting Challenge is hosted by the Boston University Energy Club and sponsored by Chevron, the BU Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center, the BU Clean Energy and Environmental Sustainability Initiative, and the BU Center for Information and Systems Engineering.

Kathrin Havrilla

Conference Explores Wide Range of Smart Lighting Applications

February 11th, 2011 in Uncategorized


Nearly 120 participants from academia, government and industry attended “Smart Spaces: A Smart Lighting ERC Academia—Industry Day” at the Boston University Photonics Center on Feb. 8. Here, they enjoy a research poster session.

When the National Science Foundation Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) was launched in 2008, one of its main objectives was to create an optical wireless network using LED-based visible light. While this remains a top priority, the Center has since explored several other applications of LED-based lighting systems, including boosting workplace productivity, detecting bio-terror agents and reducing energy consumption in buildings on the Smart Grid.

To explore such possibilities, nearly 120 participants from academia, government and industry attended “Smart Spaces: A Smart Lighting ERC Academia—Industry Day” at the Boston University Photonics Center on Feb. 8. Presenters represented the Smart Lighting ERC’s partner universities—Boston University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of New Mexico—and many other academic institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

View photos from the conference.

The meeting focused on “smart spaces” that integrate illuminators, sensors, controllers and communications technology into LED-based lighting systems that enhance and adapt to human needs and activities.

“Today’s revolution in solid state lighting yields efficiencies but is not very smart,” said Robert F. Karlicek, the ERC Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). “Part of the ERC’s vision for smart spaces is to be able to live in a world that’s directed by artificial light.” Karlicek announced major goals for the ERC that include the use of smart lighting for biochemical hazard detection, visible light communication and full-spectrum adaptive lighting.

Conference speakers described research on smart lighting applications that ranged from filmmaking to security.

For example, Stephen Selkowitz discussed how he and his team at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California have been examining how smart lighting can improve efficiency and productivity in the workplace. The researchers introduced automated smart lighting systems to the 52-story New York Times Building in a design that includes sensor-controlled shades to reduce glare and more than 18,000 individually-dimmable fluorescent fixtures to supplement natural light.

“Workstation lighting was found to be more comfortable and more cost-efficient,” Selkowitz said, adding that the building saves 60 to 70 percent in energy costs.

Joel L. Plawsky, a professor of chemical engineering at RPI, explored how smart lighting can be used to purify air and water when used in photocatalysis, a process in which a catalyst harnesses UV radiation from sunlight and uses that energy to break down different substances including pesticides, microbes and nitrous oxide. To create a photocatalytic device, Plawsky and his team aim to deposit titanium dioxide nano-rods directly on a UV LED.

“Eventually, the goal is to build an autonomous photosystem,” he said.

BU Assistant Professor Hatice Altug (ECE) described how she is exploiting UV LED lighting, as well as multicolor LEDs, to detect individual viruses. Altug, Professor Thomas Little, Associate Professor Jeff Carruthers and other ECE researchers are spearheading smart lighting research efforts at the NSF Smart Lighting Center at BU.

Ten students from participating academic institutions, including BU computer engineering graduate student Michael Rahaim (PhD ’14), gave elevator pitches on their smart lighting-related research. Several others, including six student teams from the College of Engineering, presented their findings during a research poster session.

“These are our future colleagues,” ECE Department Chair David Castañón told attendees. “Take advantage of the opportunities to network with them.”

Prospects appear bright for these students as the smart lighting industry—already an estimated $50 billion market—continues to grow.

-Rachel Harrington (

Moustakas, Altug and Zaman Win Faculty Awards

January 4th, 2011 in Uncategorized

By Mark Dwortzan

College of Engineering Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs Selim Ünlü announced the recipient of the College’s Distinguished Scholar Award—Professor Theodore Moustakas (ECE)—and the winners of the Early Career Research Excellence Award—Assistant Professors Hatice Altug (ECE) and Muhammad Zaman (BME)—at the ENG faculty meeting on December 20.

Distinguished Scholar Award

The annual Distinguished Scholar Award, formerly called the Distinguished Lecturer Award, honors a faculty member engaged in outstanding, high-impact research, and provides the recipient with a public forum to discuss and showcase research before theBoston University academic community.

10-2225-MOUSTAKAS-025.NEFMoustakas will present the lecture “Nitride-Based Semiconductor Materials and Devices” in March.

Moustakas studies the growth, fundamental material properties and fabrication of novel electronic and optoelectronic devices. Specializing in the development of nitride semiconductors, he is currently working to create visible and ultraviolet LEDs and lasers for solid-state white lighting, water and air sterilization and identification of biological and chemical agents. He is also investigating indium gallium nitride “quantum dots” that boost solar cell efficiency.

A member of the ENG faculty for more than 20 years and “cornerstone” of the Materials Science & Engineering Division, Ünlü said, Moustakas has had a broad impact on his field, through 25 patents, hundreds of invited talks and journal papers and 7,000 citations in research literature. Recently selected as the 2010 Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) Innovator Award, he has been named a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Electrochemical Society.

Early Career Research Excellence Award
AltugThe annual Early Career Research Excellence Award celebrates the significant, recent and high impact research accomplishments of tenure-track faculty less than 10 years removed from their Ph.D.

Since joining the College of Engineering in January 2007, Hatice Altug has earned the National Science Foundation Career Award and “Young Investigator” awards from both the Office of Naval Research  and the IEEE Photonics Society.

Altug’s research is concerned with confining and manipulating light at the nanoscale to dramatically improve biosensing capabilities. Initiating several advances in the fields of nanophotonics, nanoplasmonics and integrated nanofluidics over the past six years, she has developed state-of-the-art technologies for real-time, label-free and high-throughput detection of very low quantities of biological molecules such as proteins and viruses. Her research could advance biomedical research while spawning new clinical and defense applications.

ZamanA member of the ENG faculty for little more than a year, Muhammad Zaman has garnered several major engineering research and education honors, including the Federation of the Societies of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Young Investigator Award, the ENG Innovative Engineering Faculty Fellowship and invitations to three prestigious conferences of the National Academy of Engineering, in both Frontiers of Engineering and Frontiers of Engineering Education. Zaman had previously won the highest teaching honor across the entire University of Texas system, the Regents Teaching Award, while serving on the faculty from 2006 to 2009.

Focused at the interface of cell biology, mechanics, systems biology and medicine, Zaman seeks to understand and decouple the integrated chemical, biological and mechanical basis of tumor invasion that precedes metastasis. In addition, his research focuses on the development of robust technologies and innovative solutions to improve the quality and practice of medicine in the developing world. He is currently a member of a technical committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.