It’s a sprint and a marathon: How 4 Boston tech leaders stay ahead with new tech

by Cailin Crowe
March 26, 2019

This year marked the internet’s 30th birthday. While this is certainly a major milestone, it’s also a head scratcher. How has it been just three decades since our world was transformed by the internet and the proceeding tech to follow?

The tech industry moves at a mercilessly quick pace – especially in Boston. Tech leaders have to be on their toes and always ready for change. We spoke with four tech leaders who remain in lockstep with the industry by constantly planning for the future and introducing new technology to their business.

 

witricity electric vehicle boston
photo via witricity

WiTricity is cutting the cord on electric vehicle charging. Using magnetic resonance technology, the company allows EV drivers to charge by simply parking over a charging pad. WiTricity’s technology was originally inspired by an MIT professor fed up with his phone running out of battery. Why can’t a phone — or a car for that matter — charge itself? And thus, WiTricity was born.

CEO Alex Gruzen shared the latest on the company’s tech and plans for future developments.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

Bringing a new technology to market, like wireless charging, can bring many interesting challenges. Nothing is ever static. Just as you’re developing and pushing the limits of your technology, the relevant target markets are also evolving. The path that a business decides to take is determined largely by finding that critical product-market fit. For WiTricity, once vehicle electrification took off, that path was clear, and for the past two years we’ve been exclusively focused on wireless EV charging.

Our goal is to reduce the barriers to broad consumer adoption of EVs by making charging easier than refueling.”

With all major car manufacturers and climate-focused nations like China racing to phase out gas-powered vehicles, the global EV market is at a tipping point. It’s estimated that more than 120 million EVs will be on the road by 2030 with over $50 billion being invested in charging infrastructure. It’s a tremendous opportunity to deliver wireless charging on a global scale, with a delightful user experience while charging just as fast and efficiently as plugging in.  

As the leading innovator in wireless charging, today we control over 1,500 patents in the EV wireless charging market. WiTricity’s global team works with automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tier 1 suppliers around the world, providing a decade of foundational know-how, licensing, reference designs, engineering support and design services. Our goal is to reduce the barriers to broad consumer adoption of EVs by making charging easier than refueling.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

After our recent acquisition of Qualcomm’s wireless charging arm, the WiTricity team is focused solely on the commercialization of EV wireless power. This means completing global standards to ensure vehicles are interoperable, enabling every wireless charger to charge every brand of electric vehicle. WiTricity is also supporting vehicle side manufacturing, channel development and infrastructure deployment. In other words, broad deployment is our key focus. Wireless charging will enable EV drivers to simply park and charge — it’s that easy. Imagine never having to think about refueling — it just happens transparently.

carbon black team boston
photo via carbon black

Engineering Manager Mark Schmitt is driving the latest innovations at Carbon Black.

The Waltham-based company is on a mission to prevent cyberattacks with their endpoint security solution. Financial institutions have experienced a 160 percent increase in cyberattacks over the past year, according to the company. Carbon Black’s technology is used to fight those “modern bank heists” and other cybercrimes. Schmitt shared how he works with his team to fight cyberattacks using Carbon Black technology.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

At Carbon Black, we pride ourselves on hiring the best technical experts and building teams that last. We hold one another to high standards, and we sustain and support one another. Our developers and other engineering staff are among the most knowledgeable in the world when it comes to cybersecurity and low-level programming, and there is never any shortage of opportunity to learn from the best.  I'm always impressed with how much organic teaching and learning happens at the team level here.

It's really exciting to be at the forefront of transforming cybersecurity and keeping the world safe from cyberattacks.”

As an endpoint team responsible for keeping Mac users safe, we face a number of unique challenges. I'm really proud of the hiring we've done, and as we build out even more teams focused on solutions for macOS, it becomes apparent that we're hiring for the long term. Our team members are strong technically, work hard to stay current in their technical skills, and are great about sharing that knowledge with one another to move us all forward.

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

With new features like Threat Hunter and Live Query, the predictive security cloud platform is becoming more and more powerful as a tool in the hands of our customers. We remain laser focused as a team on moving the PSC forward and maximizing the value it brings. It's really exciting to be at the forefront of transforming cybersecurity and keeping the world safe from cyberattacks. It's also a huge responsibility. It is so rewarding to work on a product that you know is making a tremendous difference for good in the world. Not every software company can claim that.

 

Interactions team boston
photo via interactions

Vice President of Solutions Architecture James Wood shared how Interactions’ technology allows users to interact with virtual assistants just like they’re speaking to an actual human.

Interactions’ Intelligent Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to help customers converse with virtual assistants through voice, text, typing or even swiping platforms. The interactions are human-like and eliminate the frustration and anger that can otherwise stem from customer-facing conversations.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

Interactions’ SaaS business model and continued investment in research and development resources, allow us to constantly evolve our core platform in a way that benefits both existing clients and new ones. We’ve also made several key acquisitions over the last few years to expand our technological reach in areas like social media and artificial intelligence.

...every year brings new projects (and thus new challenges) from our enterprise customers across a variety of verticals.”

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

My team is primarily focused on delivering our Intelligent Virtual Assistant product as a managed service to our clients. This means that every year brings new projects (and thus new challenges) from our enterprise customers across a variety of verticals. It also means that each new project is an opportunity to bake in our newest platform technology, like new applications of artificial intelligence in dialog management, or the support of more digital and social media channels with our virtual assistant. This year also marks the launch of our latest delivery platform – as a team we are building these solutions using a brand new toolset that incorporates a number of new technologies.

owl labs team
photo via owl labs

Mark Schnittman is co-founder and chief technology officer of Owl Labs, a company removing pain points from meetings for remote employees.

Just over half of employees across the globe work remote at least once a week, according to the company. In fact, Schnittman was inspired to create the company’s Meeting Owl product because of his own struggles as a remote employee. Somerville-based Owl Labs is on a mission to learn from Schnittman’s experience and help remote employees feel connected and productive during meetings.

 

Tech moves fast. How do you stay ahead of the curve? What new technologies are you excited about or eyeing for future projects?

A high quality network is an effective way to keep up with technology. For me, this includes meeting up with local friends or former colleagues and maintaining a carefully curated Twitter feed.  

...we're focused on pushing new algorithm development to automate more and more of our users' needs in the meeting room.”

 

What are the biggest tech projects your team is working on this year?

We're really excited to explore cutting-edge SOCs (System On a Chip) that are tailored for the internet of things and artificial intelligence applications. And as always, we're focused on pushing new algorithm development to automate more and more of our users' needs in the meeting room.

 

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