DBusiness Daily Update: Professional Pinball Circuit Comes to Kalamazoo Event, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Pinball parlor
Pinball at the ‘Zoo features five tournaments over three days. // Photo by Pinball at the ‘Zoo

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Professional Pinball Circuit Comes to Kalamazoo Event

The fifth Stern Pro Circuit pinball tournament of the 2023 competitive season is taking place today and tomorrow as part of the Pinball at the ‘Zoo event at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center (2900 Lake St.) in Kalamazoo.

Pinball at the ‘Zoo, which started Thursday, features five tournaments over three days:

  • Main Tournament
  • Classics Tournament
  • Women’s Tournament
  • Thursday at the ‘Zoo
  • Friday at the ‘Zoo

“Pinball at the ‘Zoo is one of our favorite stops on the Stern Pro Circuit,” says Seth Davis, president and CEO of Stern Pinball Inc. “We are excited to see if there will be any shakeups in the player rankings after this weekend. We love being able to support the competitive pinball community. It’s exciting to see who the emerging talent is and the individual flavor of each tournament.”

For full details on the Stern Pro Circuit, visit here. For more information about Pinball at the ‘Zoo, visit here.

Survey Shows Small Businesses Confident in Michigan Banking System

Despite recent national banking concerns, small businesses have confidence in their financial institutions, according to a new survey released by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM).

“Though challenges remain for Michigan’s small businesses, they continue to show confidence and optimism for the future,” says Brian Calley, president and CEO of SBAM. “We are encouraged that despite recent events our members have confidence in Michigan’s banking and financial institutions.”

The survey showed that 91 percent of respondents have confidence in Michigan’s banking and financial institutions. The majority of small businesses reported not experiencing a change in access to capital.

The survey, conducted April 5-14 with approximately 550 small business owners also revealed that:

  • 90 percent of respondents are experiencing higher costs compared to normal times.
  • 63 percent of small business owners report inflation as the top concern facing their businesses.
  • 68 percent of small businesses report having a hard time finding and keeping their business fully staffed.
  • 75 percent of respondents have increased wages to attract and retain employees in the last year.
  • 45 percent of small businesses have plans to increase staff size in the next year.

The full survey details and comparison to previous surveys are available at sbam.org.

365 Retail Markets Expands Product Offering in UK with Kafoodle Acquisition

365 Retail Markets, the Troy-based provider of unattended retail technology, has acquired Kafoodle, a U.K. food technology company that specializes in menu and kitchen management, nutritional data, and allergy compliance. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Adding Kafoodle’s technology into 365’s portfolio is expected to complement the company’s existing offerings and enhance its ability to provide comprehensive solutions to its clients. The acquisition also expands 365 Retail Markets’ reach in the United Kingdom and European markets, where Kafoodle has established a strong presence.

Kafoodle’s software simplifies recipe and menu management, nutritional data tracking, and allergen regulation compliance for food service operators (FSO). The acquisition will empower 365 customers to easily create menus that cater to the needs of specific demographics, such as those with dietary restrictions or allergies.

“Kafoodle’s technology is truly innovative and aligns with our commitment to providing data-led insight to our clients while streamlining their business processes,” says Joe Hessling, CEO of 365 Retail Markets. “We are thrilled to welcome them to the 365 family, and we are excited about the possibilities that this acquisition presents.”

The Kafoodle team will continue to operate out of its U.K. headquarters and will work closely with 365 Retail Markets’ global team to ensure a seamless integration. Customers of both companies can expect to see new and enhanced solutions in the near future.

East Lansing’s Stellar Broadband Brings Fiber Internet to Grand Rapids’ Medical Mile

Stellar Broadband, an East Lansing-based fiber internet service provider, has engaged with Michigan State University Research Foundation subsidiary Spartan Innovations and Rockford Construction to deliver ultra-high speed fiber internet for the tenants of a new office incubator space for high-tech, high-growth startups in Grand Rapids.

Stellar engineered an enterprise-grade network to optimize security and performance for 24 businesses and shared common areas. Every business operates within its own network serving its own needs to secure their data, communications, and individual network devices.

“Our partnership with MSU began in 2001, connecting to MSU’s network to extend the fiber network to students living in off-campus housing,” says Richard Laing, president of Stellar Broadband. “Our vision was for students to benefit from the same experience off-campus as they do on-campus. We applied this same strategy for The Bridge: deliver the very best experience.”

The Bridge spans more than 19,400-square-feet and is located on the fourth floor in the Doug Meijer Medical Innovation Building within the MSU Grand Rapids Innovation Park.

Southfield’s HED Signs MEP 2040 Commitment, Previews 5-year Sustainability Action Plan 

Architecture and engineering firm HED in Southfield is a signatory to The Carbon Leadership Forum’s MEP 2040 Challenge in conjunction with previewing the goals of its updated 2023 Sustainability Action Plan (SAP).

A leader in sustainable design, HED is an American Institute of Architects (AIA) 2030 Commitment reporting firm and signatory of the 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué and AEC Sustainable Leaders Group Build Back Greener letter campaign to President Joe Biden.

HED announced these pledges in honor of Earth Day and to illustrate the firm’s dedication to supporting clients with climate-resilient design.

The MEP 2040 Challenge calls on building designers and system engineers to advocate for and achieve net zero carbon in their projects: operational carbon by 2030 and embodied carbon by 2040. By signing the challenge, HED has agreed to reduce operational and embodied carbon across all projects, track and share data, and become active participants in industry-wide efforts to decarbonize building systems.

For more information, visit here.

Whitmer, DPTV, Michigan Learning Channel Recognize Preschool Professionals Day

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed today as Infant, Toddler, and Preschool Professionals Day to recognize early childhood professionals in Michigan.

Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and the Michigan Learning Channel (MLC) worked with the governor and community partners to officially acknowledge the efforts of the dedicated early childhood education workforce that supports the growth of young children.

Across Michigan, parents have been challenged with finding affordable, adequate care for their young children. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of early childhood education employees abandoned the industry to pursue better-paying jobs in other sectors.  This talent shortage has resulted in stress for families and an economic strain on the economy.

To encourage and support early childhood educators, DPTV works with a network of community partners, such as the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (MiAEYC), Michigan Great Start Collaboratives, and Hope Starts Here, among others, to directly engage with parents in Detroit and other communities. while providing supplemental professional learning resources for early childhood educators across the state.

This past month, the Michigan Learning Channel and its member stations began airing content statewide focused on recruiting a new pipeline of early childhood workers. The statewide campaign seeks out and honors early childhood educators through broadcast messaging, newsletters, social media, and direct outreach, asking community members to nominate inspiring early childhood professionals and submit a photo of how they are celebrated. The campaign commenced in early March and runs through mid-May 2023.

For details, visit here.

Cepton Expands Proprietary Chipset for Automotive Lidar

Cepton Inc., a Silicon Valley provider of high-performance lidar solutions with a Center for Excellence in Troy, announced the release of Komodo, its proprietary lidar point cloud processor ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) chip.

Supported by Cepton’s experience in industrializing automotive lidar for volume production through the company’s flagship ADAS lidar series production program, Komodo successfully achieved production-ready status and is expected to begin shipping in Q2 2023.

Komodo will be integrated into several models of Cepton lidars, setting new industry-wide benchmarks for lidar performance and price. It is a highly integrated custom SoC (System on Chip) designed to maximize the technical advantages of Cepton’s patented lidar architecture to improve point cloud quality while replacing several merchant silicon devices to reduce cost.

“Our goal is to ultimately offer our customers a customizable black-box solution with built-in perception capabilities,” says Jun Pei, co-founder and CEO of Cepton. “Since 2019, we’ve had a vision of developing a comprehensive chipset through a series of ASICs covering front-end signal processing, back-end point cloud processing and eventually perception capabilities all within the lidar unit. We started with our own signal processor ASIC, Iguana, and now we are proud to unveil Komodo.

“In the context of the U.S. CHIPS bill, we see the increasing importance of minimizing reliance on the semiconductor supply chain by using our own ASICs. Cepton will continue to drive its ASIC development and expand its leadership in automotive lidar at the chip level.”

Marelli Presents ‘In-Cabin Advanced Technology Showcase’ at Auto Shanghai

Marelli, which has its North American headquarters in Southfield, is presenting for the first time its “In-Cabin Advanced Technology Showcase” during Auto Shanghai in China, which runs until April 27.

The showcase is a physical representation of a vehicle interior that highlights Marelli’s latest innovations in user interfaces, computational hardware, software, and infrastructure.

Its aim is to offer “a unique and memorable experience, engaging visitors in a deep interaction with the next generation of the cabin and driving environment, through intuitive controls and cutting-edge features.

The most relevant technologies embedded in the new “In-Cabin Advanced Technology Showcase” include the fourth generation of the MInD-Xp integrated Cockpit Domain Control Unit, which consolidates traditionally separated ECUs in a unique controller to address the in-cabin technology experience evolution. With the MInD-Xp Cloud Eco System, the solution also integrates the ability to develop and test vehicle applications natively in the cloud.

Another relevant technology is the next generation zonal Dynamic Privacy display, that allows the content shown on the passenger display to be completely or partially hidden from the driver, ensuring safety and privacy. The latest version also offers local dimming and high contrast.

The showcase also presents the pillar-to-pillar Diorama Display, driving three HD displays with local dimming, which guarantees a safe and comfortable ride thanks to sharp visualizations on the windshield. With its innovative reflective technology, it boosts safety by providing a clear, wide-angle view. The latest generation includes the advanced OxOB Holographic Avatar, combining the principle of 3-D stereoscopy and the Diorama setup.

Also featured is the Marelli 3D display with advanced eye tracking technology, which enhances content readability thanks to depth perception, without specific glasses. It is based on two stereoscopic views in real-time, selected among fourteen views, by eye tracking sensors as part of the latest generation of the Driving Monitoring System.

FOX TV Stations, Amazon Announce New Content Distribution Deal

FOX Television Stations (FTS), which includes WKBD-TV2 in the Detroit market, and Amazon are teaming up to distribute FTS’s local news content across Amazon’s devices.

Effective immediately, FTS will provide 17 24/7 local, free, ad-supported television (FAST) channels, one from each market covered by the FOX Television Stations, through the Amazon News app on Fire TV and Alexa on Echo Show devices.

“This important collaboration with Amazon further solidifies our commitment to bring FTS’s powerhouse local news content to as many people as possible,” says Jeff Zellmer, senior vice president of digital operations for FOX Television Stations. “We know that choice and accessibility matter to our viewers and this launch is another key step in our overall strategy and goal of giving our viewers the live and on-demand content from the stations they love.”

Amazon’s News app on Fire TV is a free and customizable news aggregator that is supported with advertising. The app comes built into the Fire TV experience on all Fire TV streaming media players and smart TVs in the U.S. When viewers open the News app on the Fire TV home screen for the first time, they can select the news that matters most to them from national and local sources.

Customers in the U.S. also can watch local news channels in 250 cities from more than 300 local news providers on Echo Show devices. With this update, Alexa will make it easier to learn about the latest news stories in local communities from FOX Local News — all hands-free.

Blue Cross to Host Detroit Lions Play 60 Event at Ronald Brown Academy

Students at Ronald Brown Academy in Detroit will get a visit from the Detroit Lions in recognition of the school’s work to help students adopt healthy habits through their participation in the Building Healthy Communities (BHC) program.

The assemblies are a partnership between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Detroit Lions through the National Football League’s Play 60 program. The Lions’ visit will engage with students on adopting healthier habits to carry into adulthood.

The assembly will feature educational presentations, games, contests, and giveaways along with a Detroit Lions legend player appearance.

Ronald Brown Academy is located in the Detroit Morningside community and East Warren/Cadieux neighborhood.

Shades of Pink Foundation Planning ‘A Walk at the Zoo’ April 29

Shades of Pink Foundation (SOPF) is planning its A Walk at the Zoo fundraising event for April 29 at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak.

“The SOPF A Walk at the Zoo is a springboard for our fundraising efforts throughout the year,” says Pat Meyers, president of the SOPF board. “Last year we pledged to increase the number of individuals we served. We accomplished that goal and distributed more than $283,000 to those in the community struggling financially due to a breast cancer diagnosis — a 47 percent increase over 2021. The success of the walk each year is essential to growing our investment in the community.”

Participants are encouraged to pre-register here.

Tickets purchased before April 23 are $35 for adults, $25 for children (ages 6-17) and $10 for little ones (ages 2-5). Registration includes the zoo entrance fee. Those who cannot attend in-person can help fundraise by registering as a “virtual walker.”

Portions of the event will be streamed on Facebook Live starting at 7 a.m.

Sponsorship packages also are available for as low at $1,000. For more information on sponsorship, visit here.

Grand Traverse Resort to Host Second Annual Wolverine Weekend

Wolverine Weekend is back at Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, June 9-11.

The weekend includes golf on The Wolverine, a meet-and-greet with current athletes like Donovan Edwards and Will Johnson, plus dinner featuring a speaker.

Wolverine Weekend kicks off with a Woodson Whiskey tasting event from 5-7 p.m. June 9 in Aerie Restaurant and Lounge. It continues with golf on Saturday and a formal meet-and-greet and seated dinner Saturday evening in the resort’s Governors’ Hall for a three-course dinner and speaker.

The evening includes current football players Donovan Edwards, Will Johnson, Junior Colson, and Colston Loveland. Plus, former Michigan quarterback Devin Garder, Sports Talk 1050 WTKA’s Sam Webb and Ira Weintraub, and award-winning author John U. Bacon.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit here.

U-D Mercy Program Provides Nursing, Engineering Students Chance to Help People with Disabilities

University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) Engineering and Nursing students engaged in a year-long multidisciplinary, collaborative patient-centered project titled “Faces on Design” designed to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

On April 24 at 11 a.m., student groups will unveil their life-changing devices to clients and the public.

This multidisciplinary program pairs seniors from UDM’s College of Engineering and Science and nursing students from the College of Health Professions to improve the quality of life for people with physical disabilities by designing assistive devices that resolve a need.

Student groups collaborate with clients to identify an obstacle they can help clients overcome by creating a custom design of an assistive device to improve the life of the person or their family. Teams develop prototypes based on client input and student expertise to ensure each device fits the client’s specific needs and is safe to use.

This collaboration allows nursing students to implement what they learned from pharmacology to community health to assist the team in creating the device. Among the devices:

  • A wheelchair storage device that will allow a spina bifida patient to store items and access them independently.
  • A custom shower chair for an MS patient to use in his bathtub so that he can get in and out of the shower safely.
  • A device that allows a paralyzed accident victim to transition from his wheelchair to his RV bed while camping.

Kettering University EV Kartz Has Best Finish in Team’s History at evGrandPrix

The Kettering University EV Kartz team earned multiple awards this year at the annual evGrandPrix in West Lafayette, Ind., giving the team its best-ever finish.

The competition, which took place April 14-15, featured 15 teams that designed and built electric go-karts for the race.

Kettering earned first place in the engineering design category and was named the most technologically advanced team. Overall, the university finished second and placed third in the 50-lap head-to-head kart race.

“It was incredibly validating to perform well at the competition,” says Henry Grasman, a member of the team. “All the hard work over the last six months was well worth it.”

The team did hit a couple of bumps in the road along the way.

During the build, the team struggled to get the battery management system to communicate with the 13 boards responsible for monitoring the battery temperature and voltages. At the qualifying race, the brake system locked up.

“The whole team worked together and fixed it just before the final race,” says Chen Duan, team advisor.