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Mike Cote's Business Editor's Notebook: Top tech products vie for NH title

October 08. 2017 1:33AM
The all-in-one Wagz smart collar tracks activity, fitness, barking, location and temperature. Dog owners can use a smartphone app to control alerts and set containment areas. It can also be purchased with a camera that produces live HD video. (COURTESY)

You may have heard about the collapsible ladder used by the military, the anti-counterfeit technology embedded in hundred-dollar bills and the how-to-make-your-own-app teaching tool for iPhones. How about the smart dog collar and breast-cancer detection software?

Three of the five finalists in this year's New Hampshire High Tech Council's Product of the Year will be familiar to readers of the Union Leader and Sunday News. Joining Pilot Innovations, Crane Currency and Vybe Software - all featured in recent business stories prior to the competition - are iCad and Wagz. They will be vying for the top prize at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford, when audience members will help choose the winner.

Since 2013, I've been helping to judge the contest with representatives from the state's tech industry. This year's panel included Bryan Lord of New Venture Advisors, Tim Dining of Jewell Instruments, Margaret Donnelly, a marketing and business consultant, and James Key-Wallace of the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority.

Here are some highlights about each product based on materials provided by the companies. The diverse group of finalists was culled from an impressive selection of entries that underscores innovation in the Granite State.

The Wagz Smart Dog Collar

Made by: Dover-based Wagz.

What it does: The all-in-one smart collar was built to strengthen the connection between humans and dogs. It tracks activity, fitness, barking, location and temperature. Dog owners can use a smartphone app to control alerts, set containment areas - using ultrasonic and vibrational deterrents rather than electric shock - and analyze data. The collar is scheduled to ship in November for $295 via the company's website. It also can be purchased with a live HD video camera for $495.

Details: The Wagz collar was designed in New Hampshire, and its accompanying app was developed here. The hardware was manufactured in China and assembled in New Hampshire.

The PowerLook Tomo Detection

Made by: Nashua-based Icad.

What it does: PowerLook Tomo Detection uses artificial intelligence-based software to optimize the reading of tomosynthesis technology to detect breast cancer. The software's computer-aided detection helps physicians make more efficient use of 3-D mammography. According to the company, 2-D digital mammography "produces four images per exam while digital breast 3-D tomosynthesis can produce hundreds of images, significantly increasing exam interpretation time for radiologists."

Details: PowerLook TomoDetection is available on GE Healthcare digital breast tomosynthesis systems. It also received CE Mark (for European use) and Health Canada approval in 2016 and is being used by breast imaging centers in Europe.

The Lightweight Carbon Fiber Assault Ladder

Made by: Hooksett-based Pilot Innovations. Macy Industries, a metal fabrication company, launched Pilot Innovations in December.

What it does: The telescoping ladder - touted by Pilot to be the first and only of its kind - is built to withstand extreme conditions. It's only 18 pounds so it can be carried by soldiers in the field on their backs and be used for airdrop missions. The ladder extends from about 28 inches to 18 feet and can be fully extended or collapsed in under 20 seconds. In military testing, the ladder supported more than 1,000 pounds and can withstand extreme heat and cold temperatures.

Details: The ladder is handmade in New Hampshire from carbon fiber composite. Each one consists of 14 telescoping sections that fit inside each other. When extended, the sections are secured with two locking pins beneath each rung.

Motion Surface banknote security

Made by: Crane Currency at the Boston company's research and development center and production plant in Nashua. Crane is supplier of banknotes for central banks all over the world.

What it does: Motion Surface - embedded in the U.S. one-hundred dollar bill - produces three-dimensional effects to ensure authenticity. Images in the proprietary blue polymer ribbon change when the bill is tilted, making it easy to determine whether the bill is authentic.

Details: Motion Surface, released in May, is Crane Currency's third generation of micro-optics security it first introduced in 2006. Together with other Motion products, the technology has been adopted by 41 central banks to be used in 105 denominations. The updated version offers "better integration with the overall design theme of the banknote and is more complex for a counterfeiter."

The DevKit

Made by: Bedford-based Vybe Software

What it does: DevKit is an iOS application that enables users with no programming experience to create mobile apps and games from their iPhones and iPads without having to write any code. "DevKit was designed to be both an inspirational tool and a learning tool. Everybody has an app idea, but learning to code is a huge commitment that many people, if not most, get discouraged from. DevKit gives students both the instant gratification of creating their own mobile apps and games, and the fundamental foundation of knowledge necessary to learn any programming language in the future."

Details: Vybe Software is targeting computer science education with a mission to inspire the next generation of software engineers.

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Tickets for Thursday's event are $50 for NHHTC members and $75 for nonmembers. Admission includes dinner and networking. Register at

Contact Business Editor Mike Cote at 206-7724 or

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