Jeremy Daily has seen a lot of smashed vehicles over the years.
“Crash reconstruction is just part of the family business,” he said. “My dad was a sheriff’s deputy in Wyoming when I was growing up.
“I couldn’t do exactly the same thing he did, so I carved out my own niche.”
A mechanical engineering associate professor at the University of Tulsa (TU) by day, Daily launched Synercon Technologies in 2013. The startup offers adaptors, sensors and software that can be used to record and extract crash data from large commercial vehicles, such as dump trucks, tractor trailers and school buses, similar to black boxes in manned aircraft.
Although the capability has been around for almost two decades in some vehicles, the captured information is not necessarily usable without an assist.
“They’ve had the ability to record operational data for a while – back to ‘98 in some models — but that feature was not robust from a forensics standpoint,” Daily said.
Synercon Technology’s signature offerings stem from a research agreement. Daily and a team of students and faculty from TU’s mechanical engineering, computer science and electrical engineering departments developed the technology as part of a three-year cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Justice.
Among the results of that grant was Synercon’s Forensic Link Adapter, a self-contained computer that works with multiple engine types and downloads forensic data in a secure, encrypted format. However, getting that research out into the public required going outside of academia and licensing the technology from TU.
“The only way for the general public or law enforcement to get their hands on our device that we came up with was to commercialize it, which is why we came up with the start-up to get the product into the field,” Daily said.
Since spinning off from TU with institution’s blessing, Synercon Technologies has set up shop in The Forge, a Tulsa small business incubator. Daily and his team have had to adjust to the challenges of finding and maintaining supply side vendors that can accommodate the start-up’s need for specialized cable systems.
For example, when a vendor did not come through with enough hand built cables for the start-up’s first commercial order, the team wound up throwing an extended weaving party, pulling in anyone and everyone they could in order to meet their deadline.
“We took over the Forge for four straight days,” Daily said with a laugh. “We had every desk, chair occupied with someone crimping wires, stuffing wires or cleaning up pizza boxes.”
Despite his passion for the science behind the start-up’s product line, Daily still gets occasional reality checks that the Forensic Link Adapter is fulfilling a grim need.
“It’s very sobering when we hear one of our devices are being used in a high profile case, especially when it’s a fatality that involves kids,” Daily said. “School buses are an example of a commercial vehicle that can use our device. Crash testing for science is fun, but the sobering reality is that when something does happen like this for real, there are a lot of people who want to know what that vehicle is doing at the time.
“Our motto is to get to the truth behind heavy vehicle crashes. It’s easy to forget that sometimes when you’re immersed in the website development, supply chain management, code writing or sales.”