This stealth mode startup is building the future of wearable, invisible tech

Written by Sam Dewey
Published on Jun. 14, 2016
This stealth mode startup is building the future of wearable, invisible tech

Picture this: You’re sitting in the park as your kid races through jungle gyms and zips down slides. He’s playing, imaginative and independent and curious and free, and then — just for a second — you lose track of him.

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Every second is an eon as your veins pull taut and your eyes scan the playground in a frenzied mix of hope and terror.

That’s what happened to John Renaldi and his wife after they took their son and daughter to Maggie Daley park for the first time. Renaldi said he lost track of his now seven-year-old son Ethan for about half an hour — about 29 and half minutes longer than any parent can bare.

He ended up finding him safe and sound, but the experience stuck with him.

“Before I knew it, he was gone in an ocean of people,” he said. “It was a traumatic moment that’s had quite the impact on me.”

A self-proclaimed gadget geek with about 11 years of experience at Motorola, Renaldi turned to tech to try to avoid ever having to relive that experience. Where smartphones quickly proved useless in solving that problem, another, more nascent technology was picking up steam and showed plenty of promise: wearable tech.

But smart watches and and other trackers soon proved too bulky, ugly, and incompatible with his kids. Out of viable options, Renaldi did what any other techie worth their salt would do: he built an answer himself.

Meet JioBit, Renaldi’s secretive solution that’s been operating in stealth since its launch in late 2015.

Though Renaldi was intentionally tight-lipped about the product, what he shared suggests the team is working on an invisible, wearable tech for children that recharges itself based on movement (that last bit is pure speculation on our end, but that's the vibe we got).

What he did say is that they’re building small, low-power architectures with elements of machine learning and device-to-device communications (think Internet of Things) involved.

“We’ve built an always-on architecture that is very contextually aware and reacts to the user and their behaviors in a very power efficient way,” he said.

And he said he's adamant about steering clear of wearable tech that’s built for the wrist. “They’re more or less just taking the smartphone guts and putting it into a watch,” he said.

Instead, he could be charting a relatively unexplored region of innovation — tech that’s a lot of things all at once. It’s what he sees as the future of wearables: invisible but built with design in mind; customizable, convenient and connected; power-conscious that utilizes innovative energy sources.

“We’re at the forefront of merging all of those things together to solve real problems and not just be another gadget or gizmo,” he said.

Today, the team sits around 12. A third of the team works out of Palo Alto, while the rest are based out of Chicago’s Catapult.

Image via JioBit. 

Does your company have a story to tell? Shoot us an email, or follow us on Twitter @BuiltInChicago.

Hiring Now
Financial Services