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MIC: The Node Grabs Attention of Tech World

Editor's Note: We also featured Variable Technologies on November 12, 2013 because they are one of three finalists for the Chattanooga Area Chamber's 2013 Spirit of Innovation Award.

Chattanooga is living up to its Gig city name, by helping new tech companies make a splash in the high-tech world. In fact, one local business is getting so much attention, national publications are calling it the next tech product to watch. You'll find a lot of big ideas with just a glimpse inside the Hamilton County Business Development Incubator. But you can find the most acclaimed inside Variable Technologies.

"Business Week called us the coolest gadget for Christmas for 2012," owner George Yu says. "CNN money calls us the coolest gadget they have seen." Yu is a former NASA employee who set up shop in the incubator when his idea for the Node took off. "We created the Node to be a device that's capable of talking to your smartphone wirelessly and enables you to sense your environment through your smartphone." The Node uses Bluetooth technology to send information from a device the size of a roll of quarters to your iPhone.

Inside the start-up's miniature manufacturing facility, the Variable Tech team starts with a sheet of tiny circuit boards. A robot adds components to create the Node's sensors, making it almost as customizable as a Swiss army knife. "It's a modular device so you have sensor modules," Yu explains, "one on each end that will allow you to customize it to sense different things." Once the sensors are ready, they attach to the "brains" of the unit that come pre-assembled from Colorado.

"This part tells the green part what to do," Yu says, "and what information to get. Then the information comes into the brain part, gets processed and gets sent to the phone." The finished product can measure movement, giving the Node the ability to let you know when your washing machine cycle is complete. "Once you start shaking it you can see the vibrations. Once you stop, it will stop," Yu demonstrates. It can also determine humidity or the exact hue of a color.

But one thing the Node can't measure is how much Chattanooga's gig city effect is helping tech companies like this one thrive. "Things are changing," Kathryn Foster, the Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship with the Hamilton County Business Development Center says. "Everything's going to be technology-based and we have got to get behind emerging businesses that need that support."

To learn more about Variable Technologies, click here.

By: Latricia Thomas

MIC: The Node Grabs Attention of Tech World

Tuesday, November 12 2013, 03:52 PM EST

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