RALEIGH – Biometric-sensor startup Valencell’s current CEO and board chairman, Michael Dering, will retire at the end of this month, and the company has selected Kent Novak, formerly a senior vice president and general manager at Texas Instruments, as its new CEO.

Novak began his new role earlier this week.

Kent Novak

Dering will stay on with the company through the end of the year in an advisory capacity.

Valencell has named Mark Floyd, a venture partner at TDF Ventures and one of the company’s long-time investors, as the new chairman of the board of directors.

“We’re very happy to be able to add two world-class executives to the Valencell team,” said Dr. Steven LeBoeuf, cofounder and president of Valencell in a statement.

Novak’s experience leading the DLP Products organization at Texas Instruments and track record of driving growth in new markets is an excellent fit with the rest of the Valencell team, said LeBoeuf.  That experience “parallels how we ‘breathe life’ into silicon technology across multiple markets, form factors and use cases,” LeBoeuf said.

Raleigh-based Valencell develops performance biometric sensor technology and then licenses that technology to consumer electronics manufacturers, mobile device companies, sports and fitness brands, and gaming companies to integrate into wearable technology products.

It’s an industry that is expected to continue to grow in 2019.  IDC forecasts worldwide wearable shipments to reach 214.6 million next year, dominated by wristwatch wearables, which are expected to represent more than 80 percent of all devices shipped for consumer use, even if the growth of the industry slows.  The market is expected to grow to a total size of at least $5.5 billion by 2025, according to IDTechEx.

“I look forward to bringing my skills and experience to that mix to take the company to the next level of growth and value,” said Novak in a statement.  “I was immediately impressed with the company’s tremendous mix of outstanding technology, top-notch talent on the team, great customers and partners, and huge market opportunities at hand.”

Valencell photo

A Valencell sensor in a wearable

The company’s PerformTek biometric sensor technology works by employing biophysical signal characterization, resulting in a reduction of noise and the gathering of accurate biometric data including heart rate, respiration rate, VO2 max, and cardiac efficiency measures, as well as other advanced biometrics.

Valencell measures weak blood flow signals by shining light at the skin using optical emitters and sensing the scattered light with a photodetector.  The technology is scalable to multiple form-factors such as earbuds, smartwatches, armbands, and wrist devices and, according to the company, is currently integrated into more biometric wearable devices than any other technology provider in the world.

WSJ Joshua Fund, TDF Ventures, True Ventures, and Best Buy Capital have all invested in the company, which holds more than 70 patents for their technology, with more than 100 patents pending.