Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from fintech to energy — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.
Don Frieden, president and CEO of P97
Don Frieden, president and CEO of P97, shares how he plans to streamline day-to-day transactions on the Houston Innovators Podcast. Photo courtesy of P97
Before Don Frieden started his company, gas stations hadn't innovated their payment technology since 1997. He knew that needed to change.
P97, founded in 2012, exists to use innovative technologies to simplify and energize daily journeys, Frieden explains on the Houston Innovators Podcast.
"We think about daily journeys from the time we leave home in the morning and when we get back at the end of the day — whether it's tolling, parking, buying fuel, fast food restaurants, it's all a part of your daily journeys, and our goal is to make things a little bit simpler each day," Frieden says on the show. Read more.
Haleh Ardebili, professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of Houston
Haleh Ardebili is the the Bill D. Cook Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UH. Photo courtesy
A new prototype out of the University of Houston feels more like science fiction than reality.
"As a big science fiction fan, I could envision a ‘science-fiction-esque future’ where our clothes are smart, interactive and powered,” according to a statement Haleh Ardebili, who last month published a paper on a new stretchable fabric-based lithium-ion battery in the Extreme Mechanics Letters.
“It seemed a natural next step to create and integrate stretchable batteries with stretchable devices and clothing," she said. "Imagine folding or bending or stretching your laptop or phone in your pocket. Or using interactive sensors embedded in our clothes that monitor our health.”
The battery uses conductive silver fabric as a platform and current collector, which stretches (or mechanically deforms) while allowing movement for electrons and ions. Traditional lithium batteries are quite rigid and use a liquid electrolyte, which are flammable and have potential risks of exploding. Read more.
Babur Ozden, founder of Aquanta Vision
Babur Ozden is the founder of Aquanta Vision. Photo via LinkedIn
Aquanta Vision Technologies, a Houston-based climate-tech startup, was selected to participate in the scale-up phase of Chevron Studio, a Houston program that matches entrepreneurs with technologies to turn them into businesses. Aquanta's computer vision software completely automates the identification of methane in optical gas imaging, or OGI. The technology originated from Colorado State University and CSU STRATA Technology Transfer.
Babur Ozden, a tech startup entrepreneur, along with Marcus Martinez, the lead inventor and Dan Zimmerle, co-inventor and director of METEC at CSU Energy Institute, came up with the technology to identify the presence and motion of methane in live video streams. Currently, this process of identifying methane requires a human camera operator to interpret the images. This can often be unreliable in the collection of emissions data.
Aquanta’s technology requires no human intervention and is universally compatible with all OGI cameras. Currently, only about 10 percent of the 20.5 million surveys done worldwide use this type of technology as it is extremely expensive to produce. Ozden said he hopes Aquanta will change that model.
“What we are doing — we are democratizing this feature, this capability, independent of the camera make and model,” Ozden says. Read more.