MVHS alums launch startup to reduce food waste

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Courtesy of Paran Sonthalia
Mountain View High School graduate Paran Sonthalia, from left, co-founded DeWaste with Daniel Ciao and Pranshu Bansal.

When Paran Sonthalia arrived at UC Berkeley as a freshman in the fall of 2018, one of the first things he noticed was the prevalence of food waste in the dining halls. The Mountain View High School graduate said he was “shocked” to find people throwing away entire plates of food.

Grassroots distribution brings big-city food to Los Altos

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Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Azalina Eusope’s restaurant dishes translate, with modification, into local curbside food drops.

Los Altos’ latest form of secret dining is welcoming to all comers – a grassroots improvisation of volunteer maitre d’s, with fancy foods in compostably plated takeaway. Many local restaurants have been creating new family meal options and offering takeout on a scale never done before. The occasional big-city offering has started to make its way to Los Altos as well – and that’s bringing flavors and traditions previously impossible to experience in the 94022 sphere of eating.

Alkalign Studios brings workouts to the streets

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Marie Godderis/Town Crier
An instructor from Alkalign Studios leads an exercise class on the Bumble Green lawn on First Street in downtown Los Altos.

In a sign of a return to normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, exercise classes popped up last week on the Bumble Green lawn on First Street in downtown Los Altos.

Street closure plan concerning for struggling retailers

The impending downtown street closures – a Los Altos City Council decision meant to encourage outdoor dining and shopping – prompted mixed reaction from local retailers.

New Los Altos business adapts, moves art classes online

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Courtesy of Arezou Bahman
Arezou Bahman’s new Los Altos Wine & Design franchise offers virtual painting classes.

A new Los Altos business is following the trend of moving online during the coronavirus pandemic, providing people a creative outlet during these unprecedented times.

Woman-led AI startup makes songwriting easy

Courtesy of WaveAI
WaveAI’s chief technology officer David Loker, from left, CEO Maya Ackerman and vice president of engineering Christopher Cassion have teamed up to create ALYSIA, the local startup’s song-writing app.

Research has shown that music reduces stress, stimulates memories, eases pain and soothes the soul. During this challenging time with COVID-19, music is an effective way to help people cope with the stress and anxiety that come with the lockdown. For some, it’s becoming an essential, therapeutic tool in keeping calm, activating the happy dopamine in the brain that brings relief to stressful moments in life.

WaveAI is a startup whose product, ALYSIA, integrates music into our lives and makes it easier for us to create our own music with lyrics, top-line melodies and vocals, blending with audio background of our choosing, all using artificial and machine intelligence.

ALYSIA originally began as a research project brought to life by Maya Ackerman, co-founder and CEO of WaveAI. Together with her team of artificial intelligence and machine learning researchers, who are also trained musicians, they hatched ALYSIA in the consumer space.

Ackerman was first exposed to music through singing and playing piano at a young age. She is an artificial and machine intelligence expert in addition to being an opera singer and producer. During her doctoral computer science studies, she began studying voice and tried to create original songs. Because of her own struggles with songwriting, Ackerman saw that creating ALYSIA would help not only herself, but also others who experience similar struggles.

Launched three years ago, ALYSIA to date has generated more than 30,000 songs by users mainly in the U.S. and U.K., with more California users than any other state, including users in Mountain View and across Santa Clara county.

Game changer

ALYSIA is currently the only platform providing assistance with the creation of vocal music through WaveAI’s one-of-a-kind AI technology. It’s a game changer both technologically and in the self-expression songwriting marketplace. Music is now more readily accessible to all. Music lovers everywhere can express themselves through their own original songs, without needing years of musical and vocal training.

“When a user enters the type of song that he or she likes, the app provides suggested lyrics for users to choose from. The melodies are generated in real-time, on demand, not from a database. Only background music is human-made,” Ackerman said. “Other software in the space focuses on creating backing tracks, with no lyrics or vocal components. No other songwriting software enables you to write lyrics with fitting melodies.”

According to Ackerman, ALYSIA started out by catering to novice songwriters with no previous musical experience. The app made it easy for users to write lyrics and add the top-line melody to existing audio tracks. By definition, a top-line melody is the main melody of a song that rides above the chord progressions, creating a through line that helps connect all the various sections of a song together. The top-line melody is also the vehicle that carries the lyrics. Users can either employ ALYSIA’s auto voice or record their own voices to go with lyrics in the song.

“Existing tools create music sheets without words. Our focus, creating music with words, is much more challenging,” Ackerman said.

After users create their songs, they can share their them on YouTube, Facebook or any other social media channel. In the future, ALYSIA hopes to partner with known entities and encourage contest participation to pick the best album of the year, for example.

“Recently, a song created with our technology was named “Song of the Day’’ by the French publication Liberation,” Ackerman said.

She added that with a proven consumer version of ALYSIA, WaveAI is working on its next phase, focusing on professional songwriters and releasing a beta version of LyricStudio in May that will be available at no charge for a limited time.

For more information on WaveAI, visit


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