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The University of Southampton

AI-powered solar modelling and smart clothing on show at world’s biggest tech show

Published: 8 January 2021
Absolar image

Innovative technologies developed by engineers at the University of Southampton will be unveiled in an online edition of the world’s largest and most influential technology show, CES 2021.

Entrepreneurial engineers will demonstrate two startups based on cutting-edge Southampton research across the four-day show, running from Monday 11 to Thursday 14 January.

Absolar, founded by Dr Phil Wu from the Sustainable Energy Research Group, can identify every building in a city suitable for solar panels and optimises their placement.

Inpulse, founded by neuroscientist Devon Lewis, leverages the power of AI to correct and improve muscle performance in real time.

The researchers are among eight startups exhibiting at CES 2021 through Future Worlds, the on-campus startup accelerator at the University of Southampton.

CES usually takes place in Las Vegas and attracts over 170,000 visitors who flock to see the newest technology being showcased by the 4,000+ tech firms in attendance. 2021 sees the event go all-digital, taking the global reach of CES wider than ever before.

Absolar has developed computer software using remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies to simulate solar resource on buildings. The technology is able to identify all buildings in a city that are suitable for installing solar power systems, along with providing multi-layered estimates for individual buildings, including optimal configuration, potential of power generation, and return on investment.

Absolar will launch their cutting edge software, INTERA, at CES. People can experience a demonstration of the software at the show’s digital stand or on the Absolar website.

Dr Wu has advanced the startup with support from a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellowship.

“Absolar is committed to spark the next energy revolution by powering the world with renewable energy and reducing energy waste,” he says. “We combine advanced energy simulation with data analytics to instantly replace labour-intensive physical surveys, assessing the feasibility of renewable energy systems and identifying energy waste across entire cities and individual households.”

Inpulse will give people, ranging from world-class athletes to patients suffering from neurological disorders, the best possible control of their muscles. The startup’s stimulation algorithm enhances the effectiveness of athletic training and reduces injury recovery times by increasing muscle output by up to 30 percent.

Devon Lewis has been exploring interfaces with the nervous system for the control of neuroprostheses in his PhD research, which is supervised by the School of Engineering’s Professor David Simpson and Professor Liudi Jiang, and Biological Sciences’ Professor Philip Newland.

“The way our nervous system coordinates movements of the body is incredibly complex, and problems can arise at any stage, leading to a huge range of movement disorders,” Devon explains. “Conventional approaches usually seek to identify and improve specific biological issues, but we can use electrical stimulation to bypass these issues and treat everything from minor tremors to complete paralysis without drugs or invasive surgery.”

Attendees at CES will be able to experience a demonstration of Inpulse’s dashboard which visualises muscle imbalances and corresponding stimulations in real time ahead of their full product launch in 2021.

Future Worlds is returning to CES for a sixth consecutive year as the UK’s only exhibiting university.

Current University of Southampton startups being exhibited at CES 2021 also include ArchAI, an AI tool for construction planners to automate archaeology assessments, Aquark Technologies, a revolutionary miniaturised cold atom chip for quantum hardware, and Sentient Sports, an AI platform that assists football managers by predicting how players will perform.

Ben Clark, Future Worlds Director, says: “We are very excited as Southampton steps up as the only university representing the UK at CES for a sixth consecutive year. The startups we have selected to exhibit are inspirational future leaders in their field, destined to make a huge change in the world of AI and quantum.

“More startups than ever before are exhibiting with Future Worlds at this year’s CES, reflecting the immeasurable vision, talent and determination to push through the pandemic to help create a more sustainable, connected and healthy world to come.”

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