Variable Technologies opens Knoxville office

By Carly Harrington Article Source:

Firm based in Chattanooga makes sensors

Variable Technologies founder and CEO George Yu demonstrates his handheld wireless sensors Wednesday. The Node and the attached sensor will interface with any iOS device. has described the Node as "what every techie wants for Christmas."

A Chattanooga-based technology startup has opened a branch office in Knoxville as it looks to expand its business development and government relations division.

Variable Technologies produces handheld wireless sensors that interface with iPhones and iPads.

"The more we can continue to expand throughout East Tennessee, the greater opportunity we have to make a very big splash," said Alex Lavidge, a partner in the stakeholder management agency Syner-G, who is in charge of communications and business development in Knoxville.

He is joined by Greg Compton, who will also be working on business development, at their office, at 2027 Castaic Lane.

The pair aim to raise awareness of the cylinder-shaped device, measuring 1 inch in diameter and 3.75 inches wide, called Node.

It features a base unit called Kore that can be purchased on the company's website for about $150.

Additional interchangeable sensors are available that can measure such qualities as temperature, barometric pressure, ambient light, temperature and humidity.

The most recent is a color sensor that could appeal to everyone from fashion consumers to interior decorators, Lavidge and Compton said.

At a demonstration Wednesday, founder and CEO George Yu, 30, said he spent three years as a contractor for NASA Ames Research Center developing a poisonous gas sensor for smartphones 

when he realized there was a commercial market.

The company is targeting consumers, businesses and government entities.

An electrical engineer, Yu developed the product after seven months in the living room of his home in Chattanooga.

He initially took to the money-raising platform Kickstarter, raising about $76,000.

Now, the company is pursuing additional investment from angel investors and private equity partners.

It's also looking for funding from a variety of government programs and contracts.

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