This post is adapted from an article on OhioX.
Name: Craig Borkowski
Job: CEO, Terra Sound, LLC
Q: What does your organization do?
Terra Sound is fundamentally a software company that is developing proprietary algorithms and a GUI specifically for the Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) market.
DAS (also called fiber optic sensing) is a technique where you utilize pre-existing or new fiber optic cable and fire a laser down one dark fiber. Any energy that is put into the surrounding area can now be detected as it causes micro-stresses in the fiber that allows us to read the strength and pattern via backscatter of the laser.
We have built a library of classifiers of interest such as walking, heavy equipment, hand digging, excavation, gun shots, and fence climbing to name a few. The software then is constantly using these classifiers and comparing them against live data to determine if one of the events of interest is currently happening. This is extremely useful in a variety of market places, but Terra Sound has focused in on Perimeter Security, Oil and Gas Safety, and Smart Cities.
Using our technology allows a company to find and alarm on events of interest. In Perimeter Security it could be someone approaching a restricted area, climbing a fence, or digging near the asset. In Oil and Gas we can detect someone digging near pipelines, a pressurized gas leak, or a third party intrusion. In Smart City, we can see live data of highways such as average speeds, traffic flow, accidents, and construction progress.
These are very useful to our clients and we are constantly coming up with new classifiers based on events of interest for our customers.
Q: What’s a problem you're working to solve?
For Terra Sound this is captured in our vision… Providing reliable sensing solutions and data to secure, protect, and predict in an inconsistent world.
What this boils down to is how can we protect our customers assets and reputation while improving safety. This means different things in different markets for us.
In Perimeter Security it is making sure that critical assets are protected... from our energy infrastructure, to borders, and military bases we make sure that there is a warning of potentially harmful events.
In Oil and Gas it is preventing disasters if someone accidentally hits a gas line while digging, and protecting the environment from leaks in the infrastructure.
In Smart City, this means providing data on speeds and accidents that will allow our city planners to become predictive in how resources are deployed to prevent future issues.
Q: What’s a lesson you’ve learned that's shaped your work?
I think the biggest lesson is to make sure that you take care of the customer. If they are happy with your product, and you are responsive to their requests, then you will continue to get repeat orders. But if you fail to take care of them, even if you have a great product, they will start to look elsewhere or change at the first possible substitute.
At Terra Sound we pride ourselves in our commitment to customer satisfaction. It is an important element to our business model and every person in the organization makes sure that we are delivering on what we said we would every day. If you can do that, your growth becomes a lot easier.
Q: What’s a trend in technology or innovation that doesn’t get enough attention?
I think the biggest trend at the moment is autonomous driving. We hear a lot about Tesla and electrification of vehicles, but almost every major car company is now looking into some form of autonomous driving and it requires the entire eco-system to change along with it. From the roads we drive on, the signs and stop lights that we currently use, the sensors and car interiors, and even the insurance will likely be changed in some way.
This presents an incredibly large opportunity in the near term future for how these systems will be addressed. There will need to be some type of phase in, since existing cars can’t be taken off the road, so an overlap period will likely be in some form for years to come.
But the sheer magnitude of the change will accelerate the growth of companies that lead it, and break companies that try to cling to previous ways of doing things. We haven’t had a change like this starting to happen since horse drawn carriages were being replaced by the automobile.
Q: What’s one moonshot idea that could help make Ohio a world leader in technology and innovation?
To me the idea isn’t a moonshot, but how do we position Ohio to be a leader in new technology areas such as AI, Smart Cities, and Autonomous Driving. They are all linked in some fashion and the cities that figure this out will be able to draw and keep talent that will drive the next industrial revolution. These are broad areas that will touch a large portion of the economy, and likely the jobs that will survive as AI and robots start taking over more traditional and monotonous tasks.
The question is how do we jump start this? I think it starts with an educational base in high school to move on from traditional classes and start to offer students classes in coding, robotics, and AI and encourage students to take that track.
This is followed up with in State Universities that can continue the education and get real world research in these areas funded to provide students with the basic skills that will be needed. You now have a highly educated and specialized workforce in state that is ready to power or start the companies that will be leading in the development of these areas.
Q: What’s a recent book, podcast or news story that you found interesting?
I usually try to skim through the science journals and articles every week, and graphene is a materially that I have always been interested in.
It was recently discovered in 2004 while performing research on graphite, and is essentially an atom thick layer of graphite. There are a bevy of amazing properties of the material, but the most important are that it is extremely strong, can act as a perfect gas barrier, is an incredibly good conductor of thermal and electrical energy, and is still flexible.
That being said, it has been extremely expensive to purchase and thus not really applicable for anything but the most extreme high end markets. So I was really happy to hear that the cost of this material has been rapidly decreasing, and that someone has found a way to convert old tires into it!
I’m not sure how expensive the process is, but if they are considering to use it in concrete (one of the most basic and widely used commodities), then I imagine that the costs are quite low. If this is successful it can really open up a huge number of applications that could potentially use this material.
Q: What's your favorite place in Ohio?
I went with Whipps Ledges in Hinckley during the OhioX podcast and I still love that place the most, but I will change it up this time and bring another Ohio gem to the forefront.
So from a cultural perspective I really love the West Side Market in Cleveland. This is a place that my grandfather and parents used to take me to when I was little and I used to love it.
From fresh produce, to meats, bakeries, and a mishmash of cultural delicacies, this is the place to be. Some of the shops have been there since I was little, but there are always new ones offering a variety of new foods and dishes. I love the vibrant feel of this market that brings together the best of what Ohio has to offer!
Q: What makes Ohio special to you?
For me it is the place I grew up in and will always be home. I love the sports teams and the fans that love them no matter what. The sheer number of things that can be done in Cleveland and the gems that every little town seems to have. The Metroparks, which is one of the greatest park systems in the US and keeps everything connected to nature. It’s really hard to state just one thing, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.