What is EllisIs?


"EllisIs" refers to a safety sensor business that originated from research conducted by Neil Gershenfeld. The business developed sensors designed to differentiate between different types of passengers and objects in vehicles, such as distinguishing between a front-facing adult and a rear-facing infant in a car seat. This distinction is crucial as it determines whether an airbag should be deployed in order to prevent injuries or fatalities, particularly in the case of infants. The technology, which started from experiments with local electromagnetic fields and a collaboration involving a magic trick, ultimately became a significant part of automotive safety, generating around $100 million a year in revenue. The company was vital in preventing airbag-related accidents without being widely publicized for its role in enhancing auto safety 1 .

Sensing Fields

Neil shares how he used local electromagnetic fields to detect how they interact with the bow while Yo-Yo Ma played the cello. This led to a collaboration with Penn and Teller and eventually became EllisIs, a leading auto safety sensor business.

Lex Fridman Podcast

Neil Gershenfeld: Self-Replicating Robots and the Future of Fabrication | Lex Fridman Podcast #380