Virtually every startup team has ambitions to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Elemental Machines is no different.When we began contemplating our next adventure and looked at the world around us, our focus kept returning to the fact that, as a species, we have been able to survive (and thrive) on this planet because of our ability to invent our way out of the holes we’ve found ourselves in. This unique ability to innovate and discover new technologies has been a hallmark of human ingenuity. So we decided to focus on helping scientists discover more quickly and less expensively.
While researchers across the sciences have extensive benches of sophisticated equipment (e.g. mass spectrometers, gene sequencers, cell counters), they don’t have visibility into the numerous environmental variables – temperature, humidity, oxygen, CO2, light levels and vibration – that are continuously and silently contributing to their experimental outcomes. Since most of chemistry and biology are affected by these factors, this lack of visibility has extraordinarily high costs in time, money, and lost opportunity for patients and customers.
It sounds unfathomable that scientists working on the world’s biggest challenges – cures for diseases, life-saving therapies, and new polymers for medical applications – lack environmental data. But, the fact is that consumers focused on the ‘quantified self’ have more data from fitness trackers and biometric sensors than most scientists have about their test environment.
Researchers do have lots of data – often gathered manually. They may have a thermostat inside of a device and a notebook to capture the readings from different points in time – or the thermostat on the wall, which may be programmed to maintain a set temperature. But they don’t have the metadata associated with what happens during that experiment (i.e., the factors that make up the real-world “operating system” – temperature and humidity, when an instrument was calibrated, how much time elapsed between each protocol step, etc.). And we want to change that.
In looking at the founding team’s wealth of experience across wearables, sensors and innovative medical devices, we realized that we have the first-hand understanding of the issues scientists face, as well as the knowledge and expertise to address the issue. So, we are addressing the process of innovation in science, giving researchers insight into the environmental contributors to test outcomes, and helping them improve reproducibility – one of the biggest challenges in the scientific community.
By gathering and aggregating critical metadata and giving scientists visibility into the conditions that are affecting their results, Elemental Machines is accelerating researchers’ work, reducing time to market for key therapies, shortening innovation cycles for new materials development, and more. Simply put, we are building a “debugger” for the physical world that can help scientists focus on science and not on chasing down red herrings.