With a new chip, augmented reality startup Ixana claims a breakthrough in the quest for a "wearable brain"

With a new chip, augmented reality startup Ixana claims a breakthrough in the quest for a “wearable brain”

The three co-founders of Ixana, LR: Shovan Maity, head of research; Angik Sarkar, CEO; and Shreyas Sen, a Purdue University professor who invented the new chip.

A previously unknown Seattle startup, founded by veterans of the semiconductor and tech industry, claims to have developed an energy-efficient chip capable of running advanced AI applications on augmented reality headsets lightweight and cordless that will work all day without recharging.

The company, Ixana, says devices that incorporate its chip will give users the equivalent of a “wearable brain” – sensing and analyzing the person’s environment, and providing real-time information on everything from inventory on a warehouse shelf to a previously forgotten acquaintance at a party.

By enabling all-day battery life in lightweight portable devices, Ixana says its proprietary YR11 chip represents a key breakthrough that big companies like Apple, Microsoft and Meta have yet to realize (or at least publicly unveil) in their own work on augmented reality, AI and wearable technology.

Ixana has raised $3 million in funding from Uncorrelated Ventures, Samsung Next, Evonexus, Hack VC, and angel investors including Tom Chi, who led the early development of the Google Glass AR headset. The chip has also received more than $3.5 million in government grants from the National Science Foundation and others.

The company declined to divulge details of the underlying physics of its chip, which it says resulted in a 100x improvement in power efficiency, but said it generally relates to how the chip distributes computing beyond a location to spread the computing load, dissipate heat, and reduce battery drain.

An Ixana chart outlines its YR11 chip features and reference hardware design.

Ixana promises to provide more information and demonstrate the chip in early January at the CES show in Las Vegas, including an augmented reality reference hardware design that will be on display at its booth.

The company was founded at the end of 2020. It has a team of 17 people with past experience in companies such as Intel, Qualcomm, Silicon Labs, Ford, Goodix, Rambus and Texas Instruments.

The chip was designed by Shreyas Sen, co-founder of Ixana, former Intel Labs research scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

“The key problem we’re trying to solve is to make sure our brains and machines can interact faster, so we can get real-time feedback from machines,” said Angik Sarkar, CEO and co-founder of the society. “Essentially, the machine becomes an extension of you. We sometimes call it a wearable brain.

Sarkar, a former senior software engineer at Intel, previously founded and led hotel price forecasting company Waylo, a machine-learning travel startup acquired in 2020 by European online travel company eDreams Odigeo.

Shovan Maity, co-founder and head of research at Ixana, was previously an engineer at Intel and Qualcomm.

Now in its fourth generation, the chip was developed by the Ixana team and manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). While some headset components are sourced from China, the company says all customer-facing components are sourced and assembled in the United States.

Ixana says industrial customers are already testing headsets that incorporate the chip in warehouses. The company said it plans to launch more extensive testing and validation of its reference chip and headset design next year.

The company also plans to release an Android software development kit (SDK) that developers can use to run their own machine learning models on the headset to capture data for real-time feedback.

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