The National Basketball Association has selected a startup, EDGE Sound Research, co-founded by UCR business alumnus Valtteri Salomaki ’18, ’20 MBA and current music Ph.D. student, Ethan Castro, for its NBA Launchpad initiative.
EDGE Sound Research is one of seven companies from across the globe chosen for the initiative, which is designed to pilot emerging technologies that can innovate the NBA ecosystem. For the next six months, EDGE Sound Research will work with several NBA teams and pilot the company’s latest creation, ResonX, in the 2K League, which is the NBA’s esports league. ResonX is a piece of technology that turns any sound into high-fidelity vibrations, allowing fans to hear and feel the game.
“This collaboration grants us access to NBA teams and their partners, while also enabling us to work closely with NBA staff, which expedites our learning of how to effectively scale ResonX within the live entertainment industry,” says Salomaki, CEO of EDGE Sound Research. “Over the next six months, our team will focus on collecting user feedback from live NBA games and NBA 2K Esports matches to refine and perfect our Pro Venue ResonX system.”
ResonX is what Salomaki and Castro, chief technology officer of EDGE Sound Research, have dubbed “embodied audio,” technology that provides the user a full body auditory and physical connection to the game.
Born with a hearing deficiency, Castro’s research focuses on how vibrations interact with the body. Early on, the premise of his research focused on how to share his own hearing experience. But in the past three years, as he’s learned to blend music, sounds, and technology, he has broadened the use of ResonX. Now, this converter board that picks up low, medium, and high frequencies, can also connect fans with the game they love.
Recently, Salomaki served as an alumni judge at the UCR Business Case Competition presented by the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management Women in Business student organization. While a UCR student, Salomaki was a student technician with Esri technology company and interned with a defense and intelligence industry solutions marketing team and was a student. He’s also the co-founder and head of strategy for Free Logic Inc., a digital strategy consultancy in Riverside, as well as co-founder of WXO, World Experience Organization, a design services company.
When Castro and Salomaki met at UCR, they understood the importance of working together and using each other’s experience to grow EDGE Sound Research, ResonX, and in turn, contribute to the Inland Empire’s growth, Salomaki says.
In order to create ResonX, the co-founders are working with a team of engineers, all either current UCR students or recent alumni. All components of the ResonX are created or modified in-house, Castro says. The engineers’ goal is to create and influence all systems to capture sound and give it back to the person with near zero loss, he says.
“We’ve had to learn how to create what we need. This is new technology, so we know what works and what doesn’t,” Castro says. “The requisition here is how we interact with sound … how we take frequencies we feel all around us, that envelope us. It’s the sensation of being there without being there by engaging all the senses. It’s incredible.”