Founder / Principal Scientist at Otherlab
Saul Griffith is the Founder / Principal Scientist at Otherlab, where he focuses his work on engineering solutions for clean energy, zero carbon economy. He has multiple degrees in materials science and mechanical engineering and completed his PhD in Programmable Assembly and Self Replicating machines at MIT. He is founder or co-founder of numerous companies, including Otherlab, Sunfolding, Makani Power, Volute, Roam Robotics, Canvas Construction, Optiopia, Squid Labs, Potenco, Instructables.com, and Howtoons. Saul has been awarded numerous awards for invention and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2007.
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Founded or Co-Founded Companies
Sunfolding has developed a solar tracker that eliminates the most expensive and unreliable components in photovoltaics (PV) system: Gearboxes, motors, wires, and bearings. The system takes advantage of high volume manufacturing methods with the lowest cost commodity materials.
Roam Robotics is working on the first generation of exoskeletons that are designed to be consumer devices. These devices omit the rigid materials used in traditional exoskeleton designs for inflatable actuators and plastics. Their first product is a powered knee exoskeleton that enables skiers to improve their performance by staying on the slopes longer and skiing harder than they ever have before. Skiing is just the start of what they are working to do as they have already shown devices that can make people run faster and stay mobile after an injury. Roam is working to change the way people move by allowing people to go more, do more, see more.
Kestral is developing thermally adaptive materials that passively change thickness and insulation in response to the local thermal environment. Applied in fabrics and clothing, such materials have the potential to broaden the range of comfortable temperatures for building occupants, pushing out the setpoints of furnaces and air conditioners and decreasing space heating and cooling energy use by 15% or more.
Volute makes a carbon fiber container for high-pressure gas that folds to fit anywhere. The bulky cylinders typically used to store compressed gas are bad for applications where space is at a premium. This is an especially big problem for cars and trucks that run on compressed gases like natural gas or hydrogen. Designers of these vehicles struggle to fit the necessary 26+ gallons (100+ liters) of compressed gas storage onboard, and must always compromise on driving range, cargo capacity, and/or passenger space. Volute’s tank frees designers from these tradeoffs and enables the first generation of hydrogen and natural gas vehicles that outperform their gasoline competition while emitting much lower levels of greenhouse gases.
CANVAS is bringing automation to construction sites. The global construction market is worth over $10T and yet it is one of the sectors with the lowest productivity. The challenges facing construction include a shortage of trade labor, hazardous environments, outdated tools, and increasing regulation. We believe that new tools are required to amplify the skills of trade workers enabling higher outputs without the wear and exposure. Our approach to unbolting robots is to focus on quick setup through on-site calibration, leveraging contact, and machines working safely alongside operators.
Treau is a seed-stage hardware startup developing next-generation thermal comfort appliances. Building heating and cooling accounts for a full 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and is growing due to increased population, expanding the middle class, and a warming climate. Our technology breakthrough makes heating and air conditioning quieter, more efficient and easier to install with 75% lower emissions.
Makani Power is developing Airborne Wind Turbines (AWT) to extract energy from powerful, consistent winds at altitude. Makani AWTs will produce energy at an unsubsidized real cost competitive with coal-fired power plants, the current benchmark of the lowest cost source of power.
OtherFab is a subsidiary of Otherlab focussed specifically on new digital design tools for making design, manufacturing, and prototyping cheaper, faster, and more efficient. OtherFab uses mathematics, computation, and algorithms to make beautiful things more easily and more frequently.
Onya Cycles produces highest quality hybrid human-electric powered bicycles and tricycles focusing explicitly on light urban vehicles capable of carrying cargo and reducing short car trips. We are proud of our world-class engineering and focus on the highest quality craftsmanship and production.
Potenco envisions a world powered by Everyone. Our mission is to make clean power universally accessible and immediately useful. As a first step in fulfilling our mission, Potenco developed the PCG, a new approach to human power generation expected to initially spread across the developing world. Now, Potenco is working with select partners in developing and industrialized countries to bring additional solutions to market. Just imagine the possibilities as we pursue our mission.
Affordable Technology for Eyecare
OptiOpia’s mission is to improve detection, correction, and prevention of visual loss due to uncorrected refractive error. “Uncorrected refractive error” refers to near-sightedness (myopia), far-sightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism, including the far-sightedness associated with age (presbyopia). We are developing products to make and sell on a for-profit business basis, primarily in less-developed countries.
Instructables is a web-based documentation platform where passionate people share what they do and how they do it, and learn from and collaborate with others. The seeds of Instructables germinated at the MIT Media Lab as the future founders of Squid Labs built places to share their projects and help others.
SQUID Labs develops breakthrough technologies and finds solutions to unique engineering problems. In the course of our work (and play) we have developed novel and diverse technologies for a wide range of applications. SQUID Labs is characterized by our multidisciplinary skill set and our ability to combine those diverse skills to create novel solutions. ‘We’re not a think tank, we’re a do tank.”
What happens when you take a world-class comic book artist, a renowned inventor, and a toy designer? You get Howtoons. Our mission is to provide engaging content that teaches kids how to build things, combining instructions with storytelling. Howtoons has a foundation of science and engineering education, inspiring creativity through art and imagination. The primary contributors to Howtoons are Nick Dragotta (comic artist), Saul Griffith (inventor), and Ingrid Dragotta (toy designer).
Introducing Saul Griffith as one of our finalists