In the not-so-distant future, a drone instead of a driver might deliver your pepperoni pizza -- or anchovy-covered pie, if you're into that -- to your front door thanks to technology that was commercialized at a nondescript facility in Hilliard.
Converge Technologies, 4621 Lyman Drive, is home to five startup technology companies, but it has room for 10 to 12. The facility is designed to provide entrepreneurs with the direction, guidance and experience necessary for them to strike out on their own within 12 to 18 months.
David Meadows, Hilliard's economic-development director, describes Converge Technologies as a "business incubator."
John Bair, 53, Converge Technologies' CEO and chief technology officer, and Eric Wagner, 44, the company's chief strategy officer, combined forces to open the incubator after helping establish the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence in 2014 at Ohio State University.
"It's all about moving technology out of the labs," said Bair, who describes Converge's goal as supporting the efficient commercialization of innovative technologies.
Converge Technologies is based in a 25,000-square-foot building it purchased in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing complex, and it opened there in April, Bair said.
The company leverages internal and external resources to support the successful design, prototyping, product development and manufacturing of technology, he said.
GhostWave, founded by Dean Zody after working at Nokia Corp. and Lucent Technologies, is one of the incubator's tenants.
Zody, now company CEO, uses an exclusive radio-frequency-radar patent associated with Ohio State to commercialize technology that would allow drones to fly beyond the operator's line of sight when it is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Currently, drone operators are not permitted to fly beyond lines of sight, and cameras have limitations, for example, in a fog bank, Zody said.
The RF technology that allows the drones to be safely operated when they can't "see" is derived from proprietary, government-level technology U.S. Department of Defense can utilize for military operations, he said.
But it is the commercialization of practical uses, such as delivering a pizza or other products to consumers, that Converge Technologies is helping GhostWave to explore, Zody said.
Another tenant at Converge Technologies is Ubihere, whose founder and CEO is Alper Yilmaz, a professor at Ohio State.
Without using GPS, Ubihere employs patented advanced-positioning analytics to map an image in real time to pinpoint precise locations using 2D and 3D technology, providing workstation safety, fleet management and operational efficiency, according to the firm's website.
Joseph Chiocca is helping Ubihere commercially market its product.
Chiocca, a 23-year-old electrical engineer and Ohio State graduate, is an engineering associate at Converge Technologies and one of its 12 full-time employees.
One example of Ubihere's use is that hospitals can track equipment between locations or even within the hospital to the very room, Chiocca said.
Using an electronic computer-aided design program, Altium Designer, Chiocca creates a rendering of the tracking device before it is assembled, after which it is built and tested for its intended purpose.
Two other Converge Technologies employees, Harrison Moshier, 23, and Blake Charles, 24, both industrial designers with education backgrounds at Ohio State, are working on renderings of a continuous positive airway pressure ventilator -- best known by its acronym, CPAP -- for BreatheWell, which is not one of the five firms based at Converge.
The company is exploring the marketing of the CPAP machine domestically but also in India, where there is an increasing demand for the machines that help patients with sleep apnea, Bair said.
Two other companies at Converge, SK Infrared and Matsaki Technologies, have Earl Fuller as their CEO.
Matsaki Technologies, a commercial spinoff of SK Infrared, is working with NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas of Ohio, to develop a technique that would use infrared radiation to identify natural-gas leaks, Fuller said.
The fifth tenant at Converge is EntroTech, a coding firm.
The technology companies based at Converge will provide a significant benefit to consumers around the globe but also to Hilliard directly, Meadows said.
Meadows said new businesses have three components: attraction, creation and retention.
Converge Technologies is part of the business-creation aspect, he said.
After the businesses in the incubator outgrow it, the city wants to keep them in Hilliard, too, Meadows said.
"We are exploring how we can ensure that Hilliard has the space to accommodate" those new businesses, he said.