Michigan’s Ambiq Micro Gets Ready to Scatter Lots of Tiny, Low-Power Products…Everywhere

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this year. Ambiq Micro won awards from the 2010 Rice University Business Plan Competition and the 2010 Global MOOT Corporation Competition at the University of Texas, Austin, in addition to the Michigan Business Challenge at U-M.

The recent DFJ/Cisco competition that Ambiq won required contestants to make their case using Cisco’s TelePresence communications suites. The goal was to demonstrate technology that enables ubiquitous computing.

Ambiq is focusing on two specific areas within this catch-all category of ubiquitous computing.

1. Ultrasmall wireless devices: The next generation of smart credit cards will have tiny displays and mini keypads to securely log in to online databases. They need to have a power source that will last three or more years. It’s an emerging market in which Hanson sees great opportunity.

2. Ultra-long-life wireless devices: Smart buildings, smart homes, smart factories, all will require hundreds, even thousands, of low-power sensors that monitor movement, equipment, changes in pressure, among many other tasks. But we’ll want to have the sensors in place for periods of 10 or 15 years. Hanson says that his microcontrollers, once they’re ready for prime time, will have that capability.

That may seem like a pretty broad spectrum of applications, but Hanson says that with Ambiq’s platform, about 90 percent of the microcontrollers’ features are identical. It’s only 10 percent that makes a difference between applications. Hanson says there are many possibilities and potential customers and they’ll be attacking many of them in parallel.

“We’ll be releasing a pretty wide family of products over the years,” he says.

For now,  though, he’s focusing on closing a seed funding round. After that happens, then Ambiq will move out of its U-M lab space, move into an office in Ann Arbor, and build a larger engineering team. After the move, though, Hanson still plans to retain close ties to the university.

“We’ve got great researchers here,” he says. “Frankly, for me to stay ahead of my competition for the future, I’ll continue to draw from the research staff here.”

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