May 21, 2014

Autism and Robots

The CDC reports that 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with Autism, and it is five times more common in boys than girls.   The rate of diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to, has been increasing by 10 to 17% per year.   Certainly some of that increase comes from better diagnosis, but my understanding is that it is actually increasing in society for as yet not well understood reasons.   

As part of my time off and figuring out what I want to do next, I’ve been hanging out with a lot of entrepreneurs and start up teams.  One that I just have to write about is Jalali Hartman, a Boulder entrepreneur who is trying to help children and adults with Autism, and he’s doing it with a low-cost robot.  I think that is so cool to use technology to help people, and he seems to be getting results.  His company ROBAUTO is getting great press, and it’s not because he’s got a PR machine behind him, it’s because people see what he’s doing and they want to see him succeed.  I know I do.
The first version of the robot from ROBAUTO is named ONE.  It’s already been selected as a 2014 Global IP Champion by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  He was selected, and successfully completed the 2013 HealthBox Florida Accelerator class.  He’s demoed at New Tech Meetup, this year’s Boulder Startup Week, and he’s been written up in UX Magazine,, Autism Daily Newscast, and most recently there was a great article in Health Source Magazine (page 24-29).  Check out the website for even more.
Jalali tells how some people who just can’t interact or even speak, become captivated with robots.  Just interacting with the robot seems to help some of the people, but Jalali even involved them in the design process.  The great thing he says is some of the least expensive devices showed some of the most promise.  Autism can be very expensive and health coverage varies, so a multi-thousand dollar robot would be out of reach for most families even if it could be shown to help their loved ones.  ROBAUTO ONE is expected to come in at the low hundreds price point.
There is a lot of work to be done, but it is wonderful to see someone combining their love of technology with their love of people and a strong desire to help make the world a better place.  Jalali recently moved to Boulder from Florida to be part of our start-up community.  Buy him a cup of coffee and ask him how you can help.  He'll be the guy in the back of Amante coffee with the robot on the table and a big smile on his face.
I have to also add that Autism has not touched my family directly, but my daughter-in-law Tori Gold works with children with Autism, and I admire her so much for the work she does.  She loves her kidos, and her and my son Christopher have worked hard to to raise awareness of Autism.

May 21, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Robots | Permalink | TrackBack

May 13, 2014

Denver Mini Maker Faire


I still remember discovering Make Magazine, Issue 2 in early 2005.  It looked like a big Readers Digest for hackers (the good kind) and makers.  At that time I'm not sure if "maker" was a word, but if Make Magazine didn't invent it, they certainly did their part to popularize it.  A maker is a Do It Yourselfer with a techie bent.  They might be artists, hackers, engineers, or people who just like to take things apart and put them back together, probably in a different way than how they started.

As Make Magazine launched, they also created Maker Faire which in its first year had over one hundred makers exhibiting all sorts of projects, and in 2012 they drew 120,000 people to the event.  I've always wanted to go out for Maker Faire, but while doing Gold Systems I never felt like I had the time.  In hindsight, that was silly, but now I intend to make it out there. (ha, get it?)

On May 3rd and 4th of this year, there was a "Mini" Maker Faire held in Denver, and as part of the work I'm doing for 6kites, I got to go with my good friend Marty.  While it wasn't huge, it was a lot of fun.  The best part was seeing all the kids running around, excited to see and get their hands on all the projects.  It gave us hope that young people will want to get involved with engineering.  Local Boulder company Sparkfun was out in full force teaching kids how to solder and assemble different kinds of fun electronic kits.  I'm really impressed with Sparkfun and want to make it out to their facility tour some Friday afternoon.  It will be like the Celestial Seasonings tour for geeks, hackers and makers.  Be sure and check out their website at

So here are some photos of the Mini Maker Faire.  If it looks like fun, there will be another one in Fort Collins on October 5th, call the NoCo Mini Maker Faire.

There were many robots of all sizes.  Here is one from, I think, the Berthoud Robotics High School club.  Marty and I got to drive it around and try to pick up and throw a ball with it.


Here are a couple of amazing R2D2 replicas


Note the sign at the Denver Mad Scientist Club table


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was there, doing some amazing science demonstrations.  In this one, they were showing how a supercold piece of metal could be made magnetic, as long as it was cold.  I believe he was pouring liquid nitrogen onto the metal.  It was better than magic.


Not everything was electronic.  There were also quite a few artists showing their work.


Last but not least, perhaps the busiest place during the show was the Sparkfun area.  Again, these people do a great job getting kids of all ages learning and playing with electronics.


There was so much more, but this is enough to get you thinking about what you missed.  For a list of all the companies and individuals who displayed, check this link.



May 13, 2014 in Entrepreneurship, Internet of Things, Robots | Permalink | TrackBack