Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to find budding Rule Breakers finds tugboats caught out of water and technology that promises to shrink mobile phones.
First up this week is Aethon. Like Toddler BreakerInTouchTechnologies, it produces robots to help hospitals run more efficiently -- but Aethon focuses less on patient care than on hauling equipment. Its Tug robot is essentially a big box with wheels and a trailer hitch. That simple exterior, however, masks a computer-powered intelligence that helps the robot store and interpret floor plans, letting it navigate the maze of corridors and obstacles that define most health-care facilities.
The advantage of the Tug is that it can tow anything that can fit on a hospital cart that doesn't weigh more than 500 pounds. As you can imagine, that's pretty much anything -- from blood and medication to food and equipment. It's also easy to use, according to the website. Starting it up requires only plugging a destination into the touch-screen interface and pressing "go."
The innovation has proven attractive to at least a couple of hospitals already, including the University of Maryland's shock trauma center. That, in turn, has brought investors to the table. The company more than doubled its original funding with $11 million in new cash from venture firms Trident Capital, Draper Triangle Ventures, Salix Ventures, and Pacific Venture Group. Does anyone else think these guys are paying attention to the millions in stock market value being created by Rule Breakers pick Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG ) ?
Next, it's on to BitWaveSemiconductor, which is creating a chip that would allow a phone to switch between cellular protocols very efficiently. That's key, reports VentureWire, because it can take up to six chips to do the same today. Consolidating them could lead to substantially smaller mobile phones.
The idea has turned more than a few heads, especially among investors. A week ago today the firm announced it had completed a Series A round of funding worth $13 million, $9 million of which it has already put in the bank, according to VentureWire.
Of course, BitWave is interesting not just for its innovation, but also for the company it has kept. For example, the Boston Business Journalreports that the firm's chip design was created in part at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It shares that distinction with another white-hot member of our Rule Breaker portfolio: AkamaiTechnologies (Nasdaq: AKAM ) .
Just don't count on similar returns soon. BitWave says its chip technology could come to market as early as 2007. In the meantime, VentureWire reports, the company will use a portion of its funds to demonstrate the effectiveness of its technology at various global trade shows. Expect Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY ) , Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , and Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) to be among the interested watchers.
Sadly, there were no Baby Breaker public offerings this week, which means it's time to say goodbye. See you back here Friday, when we continue the quest for the next ultimate growth stock.
For more Rule Breaking Foolishness:
- Did you catch last week's Baby Breakers?
- How about the two toddlers we profiled before that?
- XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR ) might be a Rule Breaker. Or it might not be. What's your take?
Fool contributor Tim Beyers wonders why anyone would want to make cell phones smaller. They're too easy to lose as it is. Tim owns shares of Nokia. You can find out what else is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.