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Press Release

Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
July 27, 2005

Carnegie Mellon Researcher Creates Spinoff Company To Produce New Sensor To Detect Computer Hard Drive Failures

Michael Bigrigg recently started a company that manufactures a sensor to detect and mitigate temperature problems in hard drives.
PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University researcher Michael Bigrigg recently started a company that manufactures an innovative sensor to detect and mitigate temperature problems in computer hard drives.

The Pittsburgh-based company, Pervasive Sensors Inc., is producing Critter™, a computer-based temperature sensor that monitors and helps regulate adverse environmental conditions. The company spinoff comes from research undertaken at the university over the past two years.

"Essentially, what we are doing is saving the life of the computer hard drive and preventing costly down time. Hard drives get hot, and the sensor is designed to pick up temperature variations," said Bigrigg, a project scientist for the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES).

A collection of Critters can be deployed by a system administrator to monitor several computers from a centralized location. The $21 Critter attaches directly to a desktop computer's game port and can be installed in minutes, requiring no special knowledge of computer software.

Software also used in conjunction with the Critter is capable of sending email and phone alerts, generating history logs and trends, and maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements from government agencies such as the FDA and the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to continued development of sensor technologies, Pervasive Sensors Inc. provides product and software development services for customized application of sensor technology.

Bigrigg said the Critter will continue to develop with future applications, including energy monitoring and building facilities management.

Company funding was supplied, in part, by the state Department of Community and Economic Development and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Alliance (PITA) program.

Between 2001 and 2005, Carnegie Mellon researchers spun off 15 companies employing more than 100 workers in the Pittsburgh region and securing $40 million in seed funding, according to the Center for Technology Transfer at Carnegie Mellon. The center helps university professors commercialize innovative research projects.


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