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ABQ startup ready to market data-privacy device

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Online privacy lovers could stuff their Christmas stockings this year with a new Made-in-New Mexico, cloud-free social media platform that enables user control over all personal information.

Albuquerque startup Lens will sell its first “Lumen” privacy devices during a Dec. 6 launch party at the Lobo Rainforest building at the Innovate ABQ high-tech development zone Downtown. The device stores and protects all of a user’s personal information and online interactions. It’s operated through a special app that allows Lens subscribers to control who can access information and what they’re permitted to see.

“We will unveil the entire product at the December launch, including apps that will run on mobile devices to control the product,” said Lens founder and CEO Mark Chavez. “We’ll do all the manufacturing here in New Mexico. We already completed the industrial design, which is a plastic mold with off-the-shelf hardware for the internal mechanics.”

The controlling app includes an “alias” feature that masks a subscriber’s real phone number and email address so users can immediately revoke access to anyone at anytime without their real contact information ever being revealed.

The app will soon include a special feature as well for users to instantaneously complete everyday forms like a doctor’s office questionnaire by taking a simple photo of a document and providing access to the Lens device to automatically fill it out.

That feature comes courtesy of Pencil-In, a startup launched in 2016 by University of New Mexico student Kyle Guin, who sold his company for cash and an equity stake in Lens.

“We’re collapsing the Pencil-In technology into Lens,” said Guin, now Lens marketing director. “It made sense to bring the two companies together.”

The Pencil-In app allows users like students to instantaneously turn photos of things like course schedules, events or business cards into immediately accessible files logged into note, calendar or contact programs on mobile devices. By merging with Lens and adding the automatic document fill-out feature, information generated by Pencil-In will become protected and controlled by users as part of the online privacy platform.

“It will grow the value proposition for our customers,” Chavez said. “We’ve built it out to conform to the Lens network.”

Pre-orders for the new Lens device cost $299, but a final market price must yet be determined, Chavez said.

New features will be added as more apps are developed for the Lens platform. The goal is to build a completely cloud-free, protected network over time.

Chavez, a former salesforce.com executive and New Mexico native, returned to Albuquerque last January to build Lens here. The company is currently housed at the Lobo Rainforest building with six employees, including two former Sandia National Laboratory engineers.

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