MassChallenge Human Potential Startup Showcase ‘Pushes the Boundaries’ of What Humans Can Do

The event, held November 7 at Dallas' Pegasus Park, capped off a six-week MassChallenge Human Potential Sprint program based in Dallas. Sixteen startups from across the U.S. took part, pursuing innovations from wearable devices to "digital pills" to next-gen eye-tracking tech.

On October 20, MassChallenge launched its inaugural Human Potential Sprint, a six-week Dallas-based program for startups that are pushing the boundaries of what humans can do—both mentally and physically. Sixteen startups from across the U.S. took part in the six-week, high-intensity program, and on November 7 most of them pitched their concepts in a Human Potential Startup Showcase at Dallas’ Pegasus Park.

MassChallenge is seeking “enabling innovations” from the program, including sensor technology, augmented reality and virtual reality, brain-computer interfaces, genetic engineering and gene therapy, data monitoring & gathering, artificial intelligence, and exoskeletons.

Startups, partners, and investors gathered at Pegasus Park for the event, which featured both tech demos and networking. Through the program, supporting partners such as Lyda Hill Philanthropies, the Air Force Research Laboratory, Stadia Ventures, and more aimed “to secure access to the next wave of technologies solving for incremental improvement to human physicality and movement,” MassChallenge said.

The event kicked off with a fireside chat featuring Cody Burkhart, chief of NASA’s Humanworks Lab, and moderator Jon Nordby, Head of Texas at MassChallenge.

NASA lab chief on advancing human potential in space and on Earth

Cody Burkhart, chief of the Humanworks Lab at NASA, and Jon Nordby, Head of Texas at MassChallenge, spoke in a ‘Future Is Human’ fireside chat during the MassChallenge Human Potential Showcase. [Photo: Jackie Marie Photography]

In their chat, Burkhart and Nordby discussed the dynamic intersection of technology, human potential, and space exploration, highlighting the potential “for collaboration and innovation in shaping a brighter future.”

In particular, Cody discussed technologies and projects he’s taken part in that share a compelling goal—advancing human potential for both space exploration and life on Earth as well.

The two went on to discuss the critical role startups are playing in creating technologies that serve and enhance human capabilities. Many of the companies taking part in the showcase gave special attention to how startups with innovative solutions can connect and work with NASA and other government agencies.

After a Q&A, the startup showcase gave participating companies their own chance to show off.

One of the pitches at the MassChallenge Human Potential Showcase. [Photo: Jackie Marie Photography]

The Pitches: from wearable devices to ‘digital pills’ to eye-tracking tech

Here’s what 12 of the participants pitched at the Human Potential Startup Showcase, based on capsule elevator pitches they provided to MassChallenge.  

AAVAA (Quebec) showcased its wearable devices with its patented sensor technology that interprets brain and bio-signals, allowing users to effortlessly control their devices with their attention, eye movement, facial gestures, and subtle commands, ushering in a new era of voice-free, hands-free, and touch-free interaction.

Adaract (Utah) showcased its patented artificial muscle actuators, which are 3x-10x stronger per unit weight compared to industry standards. These actuators offer a significant leap in strength-to-weight ratios, paving the way for stronger, lighter, and smaller solutions in fields such as bionics, robotics, aerospace, and more. 

A wearable device at the MassChallenge Human Potential Showcase. [Photo: Jackie Marie Photography]

Dotspace Inc. (California) showcased its digital pill medical device, which empowers patients to gain real-time insights into their health status by simply ingesting the digital pill. This also enables healthcare professionals to remotely monitor their patients’ well-being at home, offering a more efficient and effective approach to patient care that reduces the strain on the healthcare system. (Massachusetts) showcased its AI platform, designed to maximize intellectual and physical functionality, promoting peak performance and addressing aging concerns. In addition, the platform contributes to aging research through our extensive and diverse long-term longitudinal data set.

IC Innovations (Santiago, Chile) showcased their respiratory tracker called CHASKI, which is tailored for athletes seeking to elevate their endurance performance during training. 

Labfront (Massachusetts) showcased its Labfront platform, which contains its code-free wearable data collection and analytics solution. Their platform empowers researchers to extract valuable insights and advance the field of health research.

One of the pitches at the MassChallenge Human Potential Showcase. [Photo: Jackie Marie Photography]

machineMD (Massachusetts) showcased its VR, AI, and eye-tracking technology that conducts fast, non-invasive, and accurate neuro-ophthalmologic exams that help reduce long wait times and misdiagnosis rates.

NeuroTrainer, Inc. showcased its system that blends neuroscience and virtual reality to offer priming modules for immediate cognitive readiness and skill development for high performers in sports and Department of Defence (DOD) applications.

PerZeption Inc. showcased its vision diagnostics platform, changing how vision exams are conducted. Their computer-based, response-adaptive, and self-administered tests generate instant analyses. 

Participants at the MassChallenge Human Potential Startup Showcase [Photo: Jackie Marie Photography]

Pison (Massachusetts) showcased its wrist-wearables, equipped with encrypted Neural Biosensor chips and advanced deep learning algorithms that accurately assess reaction time for impairment, concussion, cognitive fatigue prediction, and enhancement

Tensor Networks (California) showcased its SARAHAI platform, which allows users to quickly and easily develop AI-empowered applications and services to optimize solutions for Property Tech, Defense Tech, Smart Infrastructure, and AI Medical.

ToivoTek Inc. (Delaware) showcased their generative AI and wearable technology that addresses speech issues in young children. 

One of the pitches at the MassChallenge Human Potential Showcase. [Photo: Jackie Marie Photography]

‘An ecosystem of innovators’

When the program kicked off in October, Robby Bitting, Interim Head of U.S. Acceleration at MassChallenge, said that MassChallenge “specializes in technology transfer across industries, offering greater success toward tech development, partnership, and funding.”

“Uniting an ecosystem of innovators to understand the true bounds of human potential will accelerate solutions at a greater rate than attempting to solve these challenges separately,” Bitting added in a statement.

MassChallenge is a Boston-based global nonprofit accelerator that connects innovators to grow and transform economies. The organization has built an ecosystem of partners and investors committed to forging advancements in sports tech, health tech, defense, space, and more.

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