The Top 20 Individual Leaders in Intelligent & Connected Devices


Looking to bridge the gap in meaningful connections due to 2 years of virtual social interactions, MistyWest cofounder Leigh Christie sought a new opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of the hardware and intelligent connected device community.

Christie conceived the inaugural ‘Top 20 Leaders in Intelligent and Connected Devices’ awards, affectionately known as the Misties, to recognize contemporary and active inventors, hackers, engineers, product designers, and business leaders who are bringing great technological advances to the world.



The Misties were powered by 30 judges and distinguished leaders from institutions such as Edge Impulse, Microsoft, Informa Tech, Maker Faire and Hardware Club to vote on the winners. Using criteria that evaluated the impact the nominees’ achievements have had on advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the judges deliberated over 150+ nominations down to 44 finalists and, eventually, the top 20 winners.

The winners were announced in a virtual ceremony broadcast on April 14; an event that also included a panel discussion on the impact of hardware on the UN’s SDGs, with panelists Adam Benzion of Edge Impulse, Alison Davis Riddell of Balena, and engineer and developer Rex St. John. After the broadcast, all attendees were invited onto the Zoom call for a virtual happy hour.

The Top 20 Winners of the Misties

Who are the top 20? In no particular order, MistyWest is pleased to share with you the winners of the first ever Misties awards, who are each making a profound impact when it comes to intelligent and connected devices.


Steve Barker of Prospect Control

Steve Barker has developed an innovative and unique approach to IoT based telemetry for large water storage dams. The commercialized device known as dataPoint_VW has made a significant impact for his customers by fully automating data acquisition from critical monitoring instruments thereby reducing the risk profile and carbon footprint of the dam.


Ann Torres of Synapse

Ann Torres is a thought leader for natural human-digital interfaces, micro-mobility, and robotics. She leads the Synapse San Francisco office and engineering community, and has been at the center of Bay Area innovative product development and realization for over 20 years, having worked at top consultancies such as Mindtribe and Cooper Perkins, as well as product companies such as Apple. Many of her accomplishments are confidential.


Fadel Adib of MIT Media Lab

Dr. Fadel Adib earned his Ph.D. from MIT, where his work on seeing through walls was named as one of the 50 ways MIT has transformed computer science over the past 50 years. This technology has been commercialized by a startup, Emerald Innovations, whose health monitoring devices have already been deployed in hundreds of homes and are being used by doctors at major US hospitals to monitor patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and COVID-19.


Sampath Satti of Brave Technology Co-Op

Sampath Satti has designed IoT devices that are capable of detecting signs of opioid overdoses, and can alert front line responders. His device is the primary product of Brave Technology Co-op, whose technology has saved over 100 lives to date.


Adam Sobol of CareBand

Adam Sobol founded CareBand with a mission to keep people living with Dementia and Alzheimer’s safe and out of the hospital. The wearable device can determine if a loved one has gone beyond the perimeters of home and provide their precise location to a caregiver or public safety officials. As part of Third Wave, CareBand also works in other verticals such as Hospitality and Industrial environments to keep people safe.


Roman Kozak of Verdi

Through his work as cofounder and CTO at Verdi, Roman Kozak and his team enable farmers in British Columbia and California to use less water and increase yields by redirecting water from over-irrigated areas to under-irrigated areas. He regularly meets with farmers to discuss the challenges they face and how technology can help address them.



Mark Rabin of Portable Electric

Mark Rabin is an energy pioneer and leader in the world of clean energy portable and mobile “e-Generators”, replacing polluting gas and diesel generators with VOLTstack power and solar technology from Portable Electric. With uses from the film industry to life saving disaster relief, over 650 VOLTstack portable e-Generators are in the field as of 2022, abating a cumulative estimate of over 21 million kgs of CO2 since 2019.


Rosalind Picard of MIT Media Lab

Dr. Rosalind Picard’s early research at MIT created new mathematical models that helped achieve the first content-based retrieval of digital images; her work also pioneered methods of automated search and annotation in digital video. She is an active inventor with patents including wearable and non-contact sensors, and served as a founding member of the IEEE Technical Committee on Wearable Information Systems in 1998, helping launch the field of wearable computing.  Her work has been commercialized by Empatica who has created the first FDA-cleared smartwatch used to detect and alert to potentially life-threatening seizures.


Jeri Ellsworth of Tilt Five

Jeri Ellsworth is an inventor, product creator, chip designer and system-level engineer. She gained internet fame in 2004 when she squeezed the entire circuitry of classic video game systems onto a single chip, the most popular of which was the Commodore 64 Direct-to-TV. During her tenure at Valve Software, Ellsworth pioneered the use of projection and retroreflection to do holographic augmented reality, and in 2017 she launched Tilt Five, an innovative tabletop AR system.


Steven Macenski of Samsung Research America

Roboticist Steven Macenski led the development of the Robot Operating System 2 (ROS 2) and ROS 2 Navigation (Nav2), the tools that power nearly all modern robots, as well as open-source, fully reconfigurable autonomous navigation solutions used by thousands of robots globally. He is a board member of the ROS Technical Steering Committee (TSC).


Erik Norden of Google

Erik Norden has a long list of patents and inventions, currently working on cloud AI acceleration. He was the chief architect of Apple’s Neural Engine, an advanced machine learning accelerator, productized in iPhone XS and iPhone 11, bringing AI to the iPhone. At NVIDIA, Norden started the NVIDIA Tegra Programmable Vision Accelerator (PVA), productized in Xavier, and he helped turn Tegra into an autonomous driving platform. At MIPS, he invented microMIPS, a new instruction set architecture that was productized in MicroChip PIC32. At Infineon, he was lead processor and automotive SOC architect spearheading key innovations.


Sidhant Gupta of Microsoft

Sidhant Gupta is leading Microsoft Premonition, a bio-intelligence platform powered by a network of intelligent connected robot biologist that autonomously collects bio-samples, and cloud-scale metagenomics, helps detect potential pathogens and provide crucial data on the spread of diseases and track emerging bio-threats. 


Michael Burton of Semios

As the Director of Engineering at Semios, Michael Burton leads the engineering team in the development of intelligent connected devices that help growers worldwide leverage data, insights and remote control to farm more sustainably through more efficient watering practices and reduction in pesticides. During the past 8 years at Semios, Michael has helped the company scale from 1000s of sensors on 1000s of commercial acres, to millions of sensors across millions of acres. Semios was ranked among SVG Ventures’ THRIVE Top 50 of the world’s leading scaling and visionary agriculture technology companies and has been named to the Global Cleantech 100, an annual list of the 100 most innovative cleantech companies globally.


Jossie Haines of Tile

Jossie Haines is the VP of Software Engineering at Tile and has led its integration initiatives across the partner ecosystem, including enabling Intel-based laptops to behave as Tiles without needing additional hardware. She is also an advocate for DEI who not only fights for more diversity in tech, but ensures product features account for privacy and the needs of all users and not just the majority.  


Azhar Hussain MBE of Hanhaa

Azhar Hussain is the CEO and founder of Hanhaa, a full stack IoT solution spanning the hardware, fulfillment, services, and connectivity. Hanhaa provides customers around the world with high resolution and timely insight and visibility into their supply chains. With real-time cargo tracking and monitoring, Hanhaa has a business model where the tracker, ParceLive, creates its own return path using global postal networks. This world first innovation radically improves reclamation rates and therefore delivers market leading unit economics. ParceLive directly feeds into sustainable economy principles at a time when hardware from competitors end up in landfills after a single journey.


Scott Waller of Thingy IoT

Applying IoT technology in unique applications is where Scott Waller, CEO and cofounder of Thingy IOT, thrives. He has dedicated himself and the company to solving problems like measuring smoke from wildfires by building remote LoRaWAN networks and sensors to help firefighters and the public. Waller is the recipient of several awards for wildfire smoke research and deployment grants for helping measure smoke in crops and human health.


Antonio Rocha of Smartex

As one of the most polluting industries in the world, the fashion industry is affecting a plethora of ecosystems and compromising our planet. Antonio Rocha is the CTO for Smartex, an IoT solution aiming to reduce production cost and textile waste with 100% real-time inspection for textile manufacturers. Through Smartex’s sensors, defects are detected and avoided from the very beginning of the production process, eliminating the need to spend raw material, water, energy, and time on finishing the textile materials.


John Colombo of Kinsa Health

John Colombo led the team that developed the Cala Health wearable device that treats essential tremor, and was the VP of Hardware Operations for Kinsa Health’s early warning system for detecting and responding to contagious diseases through a network of millions of smart thermometers.


Sergio Delrio Diaz of Waverly Labs

Waverly Labs offers real time mobile language translation with the Ambassador Interpreter, with 20 languages, 42 dialects, and over 50,000 units sold. Sergio Delrio Diaz manages the Ambassador earpiece and translation system strategy, including design engineering and manufacturing (DFMA).


Karen Donoghue of HumanLogic

Karen Donoghue’s accomplishments include launching the application Local Haze to enable citizen scientists worldwide to monitor their air quality, UX design for a neurorehabilitation robot recently deployed into hospitals worldwide, UI architecture work on connected device platforms including the MOTOMAGX Linux-based kernel mobile OS launched by Motorola (for the RAZR2 device) and the SavaJe Technologies mobile platform (acquired by Sun Microsystems). Karen is a published author of two business books on user experience and in her spare time mentors MIT entrepreneurs and aspiring designers.



The Future of The Misties

We are humbled by the support and participation of so many leaders who helped turn the Misties into a successful event. MistyWest could not have achieved it without such a strong foundation of peers, colleagues and partners who wanted to create a powerful experience for our community.

We plan to host the second Misties awards in the spring of 2023, with an in-person event in Vancouver, BC immediately following the virtual ceremony. If you have any questions about being involved in next year’s event or partnering with us, send an email to Leigh Christie at [email protected].

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