August 1, 2017
Interview by Anjali Bhardwaj
We met Bahar Partov, co-founder at Wavelite, the latest TandemLaunch’s portfolio venture. Bahar has a background in wireless communications and became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence in March 2017. She co-founded, Wavelite, a startup which enables sensors to reduce their power consumption to zero.
How did you decide on becoming a tech entrepreneur?
I started seriously considering entrepreneurship in January this year. While I was doing my Postdoc at MIT, I met Soodeh Farokhi, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at TandemLaunch and co-founder of C2RO. She was visiting Prof. Amin Anjomshoaa from the MIT City Senseable Lab – a member of C2RO’s Technical Advisory Board – and I happened to be working in the same lab. We ended up having coffee together and sharing our stories. I grew immensely interested in her journey and work.
It resonated with me because I have always seen myself as an entrepreneur at heart, but I was still waiting for the right time to make a move. I had earned a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering at University of Tabriz in Iran, an M.Sc. in Telecommunications and Information Systems at University of Essex in the UK and a PhD in Mathematics of Future Wireless Networks at the Hamilton Institute and Bell Labs in Ireland. I had also gained some experience working as product development engineer in the opto-electronics industry. My Postdoc could have been extended for an additional year but, given both the immigration situation in the U.S. – President Trump had just passed the travel ban – and my inspiring conversation with Soodeh, I decided it was time to get started building a startup. TandemLaunch handled all the relocation logistics and, a month later, I started working in Montreal.
How did Wavelite originate?
When joining TandemLaunch, I wanted to make sure I would work on a technically exciting project related to my experience and with significant market applications. Converging on one took a couple of weeks.
I found my inspiration in the lab of a prolific university in California. A group had found a clever way to reduce the power consumption of IoT sensors by a factor of a 1,000. I had come to know about the research work recently by interacting with the inventors of the technology and I had the opportunity to validate the invention as a business opportunity. Of course, there is a lot of work to do to transform the lab prototype into a company with a vision.
What does Wavelite do?
Wavelite is essentially a platform that enables ultra-low power sensors. In today’s world, sensors are everywhere and allow us to understand, predict and maximize the utility of a given environment.
Examples include increasing crop yield efficiency in farms, environment monitoring in warehouses or occupancy sensors in offices. The sensors need a power source– that could be in the form of batteries – to operate. This finite power reserve inevitably gets drained and needs to be replaced, meaning you aren’t just paying for the sensors, but for the cost of keeping the batteroes going year after year. Wavelite dramatically reduces the power consumption of wireless sensors to a level on par with harvestable ambient energy in our environment. This will clear a path to our ultimate objective of achieving a battery-less sensor which harvests all its required energy from the ambient energy.
With the upper limit imposed by batteries removed, sensors can proliferate across areas that battery maintenance is an issue. In agriculture, self-powered sensors could be deposited in the soil and require no maintenance, making it possible to continuously gather data and to optimize the use of resources. These low power sensors could potentially be used in building monitoring or warehouse applications. In healthcare, low power operation could dramatically increase the life time of the sensors and doctors could receive patients bio-signals in real-time. All that is needed is Wi-Fi.
Thank you for your time!