Scanalytics Inc. plans to open a new lab that will allow the Milwaukee-born company to test its floor sensor and predictive analytics technology on a larger scale. Chief executive officer Joe Scanlin said the company is looking in Milwaukee, Madison and in between for the right spot to open a lab that would include testing space and offices. “We expect a pretty significant investment in expanding our presence in the Milwaukee and Madison corridor in particular,” said Scanlin, who co-founded the company in 2013. “What we’re doing now that we weren’t doing so much before is we’re investing a lot in the material science portion of the business as we are expanding the capabilities of the underlying sensor technology to match what we’ve always had on the software and data platform side.” The company hasn’t landed on a location yet, but Scanlin expects to open the lab within the next six months. Currently, the company has its Milwaukee-area office at One Riverwood Place in Pewaukee. “We’re looking at space in Milwaukee, Madison and also in between,” Scanlin said. “It’s going to come down to our needs now that we’re testing much larger areas and building out much larger installations. It’s going to be a function of finding space that fits for lab space, testing space and office space as well.” Scanalytics developed intelligent floor sensors and predictive analytics technology used to measure human behavior in commercial, retail and home environments. The company says there are many applications for its sensors beyond measuring consumer behavior, including security, productivity analytics, work cell optimization, space design, fall detection and prevention and safety. The technology has been applied to commercial buildings to save energy by turning on lights and HVAC only when an area is occupied. Scanlin said he envisions the company creating a “center of gravity” in the smart buildings space in the Milwaukee-Madison corridor, with the presence of Johnson Controls, many buildings that could be repurposed and the universities in both regions. “We’re pretty excited about the ability to continue growing in Wisconsin with the expansion of what we’ve always felt like Milwaukee and Madison provides, which are opportunities for smart building spaces specifically,” he said. The company, which has found success deploying its sensors to gather data during business conventions, saw that portion of the business take a hit for over a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, when conventions and trade shows were put on hold, though Scanlin said business is beginning to pick up again. It 2019, the company landed a big contract with McCormick Place convention center in Chicago to install its smart floor system throughout the venue’s four-building campus, encompassing 2.6 million square feet of exhibit space near downtown Chicago. At the time of the announcement, former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the company was moving its headquarters to the Windy City. Scanlin said the company grew its presence in Chicago, but its HQ has remained in the Milwaukee area. Its principal office is registered at the Pewaukee office location. It previously occupied space in the Blatz building, 260 E. Highland Ave. in Milwaukee. The pandemic also accelerated several trends that had been in the company’s line of sight. “Overall, it ended up being somewhat positive in the sense that it helped accelerate where we always thought the space was going to go and the understanding of how important it is to get a better understanding of our physical spaces,” he said. “Everyone was focused on capacity and contact tracing and whether or not spaces were ventilated correctly and all of that. So the silver lining was it really moved forward all the things that we expected to happen on a bit of a longer time horizon, and they’re now happening on a shorter time scale.” Meanwhile, Scanalytics’ contract was recently renewed by the U.S. Department of Energy for a $2.1 million project focused on applying its sensor and software technology to improve utility usage and occupant comfort in buildings. The goal is to build a system that helps buildings “computationally consider the stochastic changes in their operating conditions” and adjust proactively, Scanlin said in an announcement. "The support we receive from ARPA-E allows us to focus on the occupancy-based energy efficiency use case and has allowed us to greatly improve our counting accuracy by iterating quickly and simultaneously on both the sensor hardware and the software algorithms,” said co-founder and chief scientist David Webber. The company was first awarded a contract from the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in 2018. The extension will allow Scanalytics to scale its work. “This will enable us to deliver sensor material and hardware innovations that match the maturity of our data platform. The additional investment by ARPA-E makes critical research and development possible as well as allows us to bring the new technology to market faster,” Scanlin said. As it ramps up its work with the DOE, the company recently made a key hire related to the material science portion of the business and expects to hire additional employees in data science, software engineering and material science/electrical engineering, he said.