Research Foundation News

May 2, 2018

Hand-controlled robotic kit garners top honors at TiE50 Silicon Valley awards program

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – ZeroUI and its smart interaction robotic kit “Ziro” received top honors at the recent TiE50 Silicon Valley awards program that named just 50 companies as ‘most innovative tech startups’ from a pool of more than 7,000 nominees from 28 countries.

ZeroUI is recognized for making robotics widely accessible through its plug and play IoT robots and smart interactions.

Ziro hand-controlled robotic kit, which allows for free-form robotic construction using wireless motor modules, was recognized at the event as next-generation, interactive educational tech products. A video about the technology can be viewed here.

The technology was researched and developed at Purdue University by Karthik Ramani, the Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Ramani is a fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and has published in numerous venues, including the ACM Computer and Human Interaction, ACM Interaction Design for Children, ASME Journal of Mechanical Design and the User Interfaces and Software Technology.

“The Ziro kit allows users to build and create free-form robotics construction and operate the robot using gestures with their hands when wearing a glove that comes with the kit,” Ramani said. “We have basically made something that is complicated and made it easy and fun. As a result we hope to engage more kids in engineering and other STEM fields.”

Ramani serves as chief science officer and co-founder of ZeroUI, with Raja Jasti, who also serves as CEO of the company.

Ramani rover Research at Purdue University has led to development of a new kind of toy-building kit that allows children to create robots and control them remotely like a puppeteer. Here, the system is being used to control a small rover. (ZeroUI image) Download image

“TiE50 is a highly competitive technology showcase, and we are very humbled by the recognition that ZeroUI and the whole team have received for the technology,” Jasti said. “I am proud of the team’s hard work to move Ziro and our other technologies to the public.”     

TiE50 judges are composed of a panel of experts in the entrepreneurial arena. Criteria for winning is based on a nominee’s intellectual property and potential for strong growth. 

An awards ceremony will be held Friday (May 4) at TiE Inflect 2018, the world’s largest conference for tech entrepreneurs, at the Santa Clara (California) Convention Center.

The Ziro technology was previously called one of the "Best Gadgets of CES 2016" when it made its debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. ZeroUI licensed the technology through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. The company has offices in West Lafayette, Indiana and San Jose, California.

About TiE50

TiE50 is TiE Silicon Valley's premier annual awards program competitively contested by thousands of early-stage technology startups worldwide. Awards are announced at TiE Inflect hosted by TiE Silicon Valley, one of the world’s largest ecosystems for technology professionals, entrepreneurs, tech influencers, domain experts, enterprise executives, venture capitalists, and educators. TiE Silicon Valley’s network operates out of 61 cities in 18 countries, impacting more than half a million techies. We currently track more than 180,000 technology startups, directly engage with 11,000-plus innovative tech startups globally, and bring together more than 3,000 influencers to support our initiatives. We are the only organization of its kind with a compelling 25-year history of promoting technology entrepreneurship. Follow on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at 

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 765-588-3340,

Sources: Karthik Ramani, 765-494-5725, 

Raja Jasti, 

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