Two Denver tech businesses have landed federal funding to help them develop new products and expand their reach at a time when many businesses are in survival mode.
Greetly, which provides systems for companies to check in and track visitors, received $50,000 through the Small Business Innovation Research program to work with the Air Force. The company is looking at providing more efficient and secure check-ins for contractors and deliveries at Air Force sites, said Dave Milliken,the company’s founder.
The 5-year-old company launched a new touch-free version of its visitor-management system Thursday. Milliken said interest has been high as workplaces look to welcome back employees and the public with the coronavirus pandemic still in force.
An even younger company, Cipher Skin, has won a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense through the SBIR program. The company will match the grant and work with the Air Force to explore how the military can use the Cipher Skin technology and develop it for civilian use.
Phil Bogdanovich, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said the Air Force is interested in technology that can measure the oxygen saturation in the blood while a person is moving, through their clothes and remotely.
“The real benefit of a relationship with the government is the ability to test equipment in an austere environment, under cases of stress that an average individual doesn’t experience,” Bogdanovich, who was in special operations with the military in Baghdad.
The company’s technology transmits real-time data about the human body and physical objects. A mesh is embedded in sleeves with sensors that simultaneously registers several data points and can be applied to elbows, knees or inserted in caps or helmets.
Early this year, a California energy company invested in Cipher Skin because it wants to use the technology to remotely and continuously monitor pipelines.
Bogdanovich started the company in 2017 with Shaka Bahadu, )the chief operating officer. They drew from Bogdanovich’s experiences when he was recovering from injuries. His therapy with a personal trainer showed him that immediate feedback was vital to healing.
Milliken’s experiences working in the marketing world inspired him to develop the Greetly system, whose clients include several federal, state and local agencies as well as businesses, including Randstad, DHL and Office Evolution.
“I spent so many days going in and out of professional shops, small ad agencies. I felt like those organizations spent a lot of time trying to impress me as a client with really modern offices, great decor,” Milliken said. “But I saw a gap in reception. There would either be no receptionist or a junior account person maybe waiting for me. I just felt that was a gap in showcasing themselves as modern and being efficient.”
Milliken, armed with technological know-how and background, worked with previous partners and vendors on filling that gap. He said he got great feedback on the interactive kiosk he proposed. People can sign in, alert the people they’re visiting, have ID photos taken, ID badges printed and sign any forms they need to sign.
Greetly’s new touchless technology arrives as the coronavirus pandemic has made people wary of exposure to the infection in public places. The new system allows people to use their phone to scan a QR code or text a code that enables the same check-in process. In the COVID-19 era, forms that visitors have to fill out might include questions about whether they have any symptoms of the illness.
“We were wondering, like everyone else, what the future of the organization looked like and what was that going to mean for employees and workplaces,” Milliken said.
So, the Greetly staff “did several deep dives as to how the product might evolve due to COVID,” he added.
“We came up with this concept of visitors checking themselves in in a touchless manner using their phone rather than a shared kiosk,” Milliken said.