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InvestMaryland Challenge: Q&A with Advanced Concepts Research Group


Templar Keyboard
Advanced Concepts Research Group offers secure mouses and keyboards.

Check back for Q&A profiles on all the competition finalists.

The first-ever InvestMaryland Challenge is down to its final round with just 33 companies competing for more than $300,000 in grants and business services. The final winners will be announced during the Governor’s Cup Awards Ceremony on April 15.

One of the companies, selected out of more than 250 applicants, is Advanced Concepts Research Group, based in Gainesville,Virginia and Aberdeen, Maryland, founded in 2010. To find out a little more about this high-tech company, we spoke with President and CEO Yasuko Carr and Executive Vice President and CIO Chadd Carr, who also describe themselves as a “dynamic husband and wife duo.”

Q. What does Advanced Concepts Research Group do, and how would you explain it to the average person?

Yasuko: We are a certified minority and woman-owned small business. ACRG offers expertise in information technology research and development and formal test and evaluation of information and intelligence-based systems. Our goal is to provide a broader range and more robust set of cyber threat intelligence tools essential for building a more secure cyberspace. ACRG’s Security Sciences Laboratory seeks to reduce future cyber security issues through the research of root causes of modern cyber security deficiencies, fostering open collaboration and integration of emerging knowledge, and expediting time-to-market of technologies, standards, and requirements.

Q. Has the company been successful so far?

Chadd: We’re about two years in the making and we average a new customer about once a month, so we’re growing at a rapid pace. People see the value in what we’re doing because we’re filling a huge gap that not only concerns businesses and the federal government, but also daily consumers like you and me. We’re so far having great success. One of the biggest challenges of our products, which you can classify as disruptive technology, is that they’re too new. People need time to get their minds around how this works.

Q. Tell us more about the unique and innovative things your company is doing. How is it moving the industry forward?

Chadd: We identify gaps in security. We come up with innovative solutions to fill that gap and what’s novel about us is that we have the expertise to develop those tools in-house. With our Templar Keyboard, we noticed that the current security structures, whether they be a personal computer or at work, simply ask you for a username and password, sometimes they have a common access card or another card you stick in a slot, but really all that is doing is ensuring that someone has the right login information. It in no way seeks to verify that the person with those credentials is the authorized person, so that’s common in any security architecture today. The Templar Keyboard, using some advanced biometric technology and computer algorithms, is able to constantly verify that the person is the actual authorized human user. Right now, it’s the only biometric keyboard being developed. The fingerprint technology being used currently captures the entire fingerprint. Instead, we use a grid process, where we take snippets of multiple fingerprints at random variations and do link analysis to determine identity.

Q. If Advanced Concepts Research Group were to win prize money in the contest, how would it use the money to further its goals?

Yasuko: We’re committed to matching funds won in the InvestMaryland Challenge, and using the prize money to take the company to the next level. One use would be continued research and development, which would be accomplished in our IT lab here in Maryland, and the second would be prototype development, which we would outsource to one of the 250 InvestMaryland Challenge applicants.

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