What does the first thing that comes to your mind with the words “small business”? Most likely, you imagine a small kiosk selling all kinds of useful and not very small things, an inexpensive hairdresser without any frills or, at worst, a freelance designer. But what small business does not fit in with is the high-tech industries and innovative projects.
In fact, can a tiny company with a dozen professionals in the state promote innovation in the country? They require serious investments, both financial and intellectual. Innovation is something large-scale, comprehensive … By the way, what is hidden behind such a “fashionable” term today? Almost every iron can hear it, but almost no one can give it a clear definition.
Some experts even believe that the terms “innovation” or “innovation” themselves should be used with great caution today. Many consumers, and representatives of business, have already formed a certain immunity to everything supposedly innovative. Many people associate with these words the banal bragging of the so-called start-ups and a poor marketing strategy, but not high technology. Therefore, do not rush to call any development innovative, at least somehow related to the IT sphere. You should see the difference between innovative development or production and just a tech business.
Innovative ideas for small businesses
Coral creates smart devices that make it easier to take care of yourself. One of the first prototypes is a fully automated manicure machine, which in a few seconds applies and dries the nail polish. All you need is to place your finger on the device, press the button and wait a bit.
Since the young startup has so far presented only a prototype, the founders are not willing to talk about how everything works. While it is known that the machine paints only one nail at a time, and on both hands takes about 10 minutes. The built-in camera and computer with the help of visual algorithms allow you to accurately apply varnish, so that later you do not have to wipe off the excess. In order to speed up drying and improve application, an additional polishing unit will have to be ordered separately.
The price has not been disclosed, but Coral co-founder Ramiya Venkatesvaran said that the product is focused on the premium segment.
Coral has already raised $ 4.3 million – the company has invested in: CrossLink Capital, Root Ventures, Tandem Capital and Y Combinator. In the near future, the company plans to finalize the prototype and prepare it for release into mass production.
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Folding helmet for cyclists
New York industrial designer Isis Schiffer created a paper helmet that protects her head and fits in a backpack.
Everyone knows that riding without a helmet is unsafe, but people still turn a blind eye to this: bulky helmets are inconvenient to carry with you all the time, and for those who rent a bike, it makes no sense to buy a helmet.
A protective helmet increases the chances of a cyclist to survive or not to receive serious injuries in road accidents by 85%.
Isis Reshia is all in one product. She took a thick paper as a basis because of the environmental friendliness of the material and the density indicators when positioned correctly and after a series of unsuccessful prototypes – some remained too large, others did not hold their shape – Isis was inspired by the structure of the bee honeycombs, in which the helmet folded as it should.
After refinement of functionality and external design, the helmet successfully passed crash tests in the laboratory and received a European certificate of quality.
Isis originally wanted to create a simple and affordable solution for everyone, so the first prototypes were sold in vending machines near the bike rental point and cost $ 5.
Smart skin from Xenoma
Japanese startup Xenoma is developing a new generation of smart clothes, which is the ideal monitor for vital signs and has widespread use in other areas.
E-skin monitors the heart rate, respiration and gives advice in case the balance is disturbed. The suit does not constrain the body, and built-in sensors and sensors react to the movements of individual parts of the body. With their help, users who play sports can measure the effectiveness of movements and manage the load.
Each sensor located on the entire surface is responsible for the motor activity of an individual muscle or joint, and the electronic sensor on the chest is connected to the application and sends signals that are converted into accurate data in the mobile application.
For the company, it is not only the convenience and appearance of the products that is important. Creating stylish space suits, the developers made sure that they can be easily used in everyday life, therefore, despite the sensors, it can be safely washed in the machine.
The company’s products are actively used in medical research, manufacturing, for rehabilitation and sports. In addition, the technology allows you to connect costumes for interactive video games.
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3D printer village
Until recently, 3D printers were perceived as entertainment. Then they learned how to make small objects with filigree accuracy. Then there was information that large forms were available to them – for example, at home. And now, the future has come – in Mexico, the construction of a 3D village has begun, with the first two houses already built. In total, plans are 50 houses.
They were built as part of a social program and are intended for low-income families. The size of the house is very small – about 45 sq.m, 2 rooms, 1 bathroom – it looks like a standard Russian “kopeck piece”. They are located on a concrete pillow, which also acts as a small courtyard. Furniture was provided by a charity. The first “new settlers” have already visited their future homes. Representatives of Icon Build claim that the design of the dwellings was developed together with their future residents. In addition, the design took into account the seismic hazard of the area.
The houses were built by the Icon Vulcan II 3D printer. It takes him only 24 hours to build one house, but it took 18 months to program this construction. The printer lays walls of quick-drying concrete, layer by layer.
Bossa Nova has developed robots that use artificial intelligence to help control inventory in retail: they autonomously monitor the filling of shelves, check price tags, and identify consumer habits.
The received data is then sent to data centers – on their basis retailers can analyze: what is sold, in what volumes, what is missing and how to improve the situation.
According to company estimates, supermarkets lose up to 4% of their revenue each year because of goods not delivered on time, and Bossa Nova robots and data processing technologies provide retailers with valuable real-time information.
The devices are equipped with 3D cameras for data processing and touch sensors to go around obstacles in the trading floor. When the shift begins, the employees already have all the information about what needs to be ordered and replaced on the shelves.
Mobile robots are not the only development of the company. Bossa Nova offers solutions for different types of inventory management: static cameras for scanning shelves for small stores; robots – for hypermarkets; and drones for large storage facilities.
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Clothes that grow with your child
Once, designer Ryan Yasin bought clothes for his nephew, but the baby quickly grew out of new clothes. Ryan had the idea – that if you create clothes that will change size with the child. Using his engineering background, Ryan applied the principles of non-waste and practical clothing design, and created Petit Pli.
Designed for babies from 6 to 36 months. On average, during this time, children outgrow 6 sizes. The material is made of dense moisture-resistant material, tested in different conditions and designed so that children do not feel stiff in movements.
The young designer believes that new clothes will help parents save time and money, and such developments will help reduce environmentally friendly production.
Food Allergy Assistant
A few years ago, the World Health Organization dubbed the new century “the age of allergies,” and the disease itself as an “epidemic”: according to WHO, from 2001 to 2010, the number of allergy sufferers in the world increased by 20%. By 2025, according to WHO, 50% of the world’s population will already suffer from this ailment. As the disease progresses, awareness of the disease is growing every year. Various mobile applications are becoming quite popular all over the world, designed to help allergy sufferers cope with the disease or at least alleviate it.
One example is a mobile app for people with food allergies. This application provides valuable allergenicity ratings based on how well (or poorly) selected foods satisfy the needs of people with food allergies and intolerance to any ingredient in the composition. The user needs to set up his personal profile and make a list of allergens that he wants to avoid. Next, take a picture of the composition in the store, and the application recognizes it with the help of neural networks and tells about the ingredients in the composition that cause allergies. The application also creates a rating based on the exchange of real experiences of other people who are allergic to food.
It also helps users detect additives, preservatives, chemicals, flavor enhancers, artificial sweeteners and allergens in products on store shelves. The application provides information about each ingredient indicated on the package and explains what it is and how this or that ingredient affects health.
The application is free. Monetization is based on the principle of payment for additional services of extended functionality (private consultations of allergists on the selection of food), as well as partnership with large networks who need to know user statistics and their preferences for better positioning of products and advertising. The application allows you to create a personalized experience of the buyer and give him recommendations for the purchase.
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Remote control for drone and camera
Students from the Swiss University of Design have designed a remote control for drone and camera. Unlike other devices, the device eliminates the need to take four-handed survey plans.
The main problem photographers and videographers face is the control system. Despite the different functions and purposes, aerial drones have the same control as other aircraft: flight control involves both hands. Therefore, students tried to create a device that, using intuitive controls, will put drone control in the background and allow shooting.
KEA is just an ergonomic device that allows you to control a drone and a camera for one person: the stickers on the right control the flight, and the camera on the left. In the center – a place for a smartphone, which with the help of the application transmits a picture from the camera.
The front stick controls the drone on the vertical and horizontal axes, and the rear slider is responsible for takeoff and decline. The camera is controlled using the left joystick at the back, and the display on the smartphone displays everything that falls into the lens. It seems that the camera is hunting for the subject.
To develop a convenient and functional prototype, the form was experimented with foam rubber, and the control system was tested on a virtual 3D model.
The first working prototype was presented at the Zurich Scientific Invention Exhibition, where visitors could experience KEA in virtual reality.
The intuitive and ergonomic KEA device was developed on the initiative of the Swiss company Advanced Technology Labs AG, which specializes in developing software for radio-controlled aircraft.
The invention is included in the top 20 student works in the field of technological design as part of the James Dyson Award 2019.
Canadian manufacturer of camouflage clothing Hyperstealth Biotechnology has patented a material that refracts light and makes objects behind it invisible to the naked eye.
A material called “Quantum Stealth” is at the prototype stage and was originally developed for the military: it was used to create disguises for reconnaissance and military equipment. Besides the fact that objects become almost invisible to the human eye, they cannot be recognized even with infrared optics and ultraviolet light.
Unlike traditional camouflage, which depends on environmental conditions, be it: forest or desert; According to Executive Director Guy Kramer, the “invisibility cloak” works regardless of conditions, at any time of the year, day or night.
The effect is achieved thanks to stepped lenses with a ribbed surface, where each notch has a bend. This is similar to 3D bookmarks or trading cards with football players, but without illustrations. When many surfaces with different light distribution overlap each other, light is reflected in countless directions, creating “blind spots”. Getting into such invisible zones, objects are hidden from view, and the background remains the same.
“The refraction effect is similar to the way a spoon or tube is distorted in a transparent glass of water. Except that we have learned to reduce the intensity of distortion and the thickness of the material, ”says Kramer.
The patent includes 13 versions of the material that are used to mask large objects, for hunting and distortion of objects that cannot be hidden.
“We are currently working on launching the production of these unique lenses. The finished product should be transparent and detailed, unlike the rough prototypes that are now. I hope the material for the main products will be ready within the next 12 months.”
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Gloves with scanner
The German company ProGloves creates products in the field of industrial Internet of things. The company offers solutions in the field of logistics and freight transportation, manufacturing, trade and aviation – wherever accurate accounting of goods is required.
One of the latest developments of the company is a scanner mounted on a glove, MARK. Ergonomic technology frees up hands and helps employees complete processes faster: accept, sort, store, inventory, pack, etc.
MARK is synchronized via Bluetooth with other devices: tablet, smartphone, smart watch; allows you to scan barcodes at a distance of up to 1.5 m and works without recharging up to 16 hours.
The ergonomic scanner was implemented by Volkswagen, Kuka, Lufthansa and DHL. According to partners, in enterprises with gigantic turnover, seconds count in the moment – “smart” gloves allow you to avoid unnecessary actions, minimize errors and increase productivity.
Thought driven exoskeleton
Clinatec’s French researchers have created an exoskeleton that can be controlled by the power of thought. This is the first case when using an exoskeleton, patients with tetraplegia were able to move their arms and legs.
The main development of scientists is not a 65-pound exosuit, but a Wimagine wireless implant. Two implants are implanted into the surface of the brain, on both sides of the sensorimotor area – the area responsible for movement. They read brain impulses and transmit them to a computer for decryption. Then a complex software algorithm recognizes motor impulses encrypted in the collected information and determines the signals: arm or leg, left or right, up or down. Then the decrypted impulses come through a special program in the form of commands for the exosuit.
The first tests were conducted with a patient with paralysis of all limbs. In June 2017, implants were implanted in him, and for 27 months he trained to control the suit – first controlling the avatar in virtual reality, and then in real time. As a result of the work, a paralyzed patient was able to take several steps, move with both hands and turn his wrist.
Professor Alim-Louis Benabid, neurosurgeon and author of the study: “We are very proud that the concept works and are already thinking through new developments to make the daily lives of people with disabilities easier.”
While the suit is used only in laboratory conditions, to reduce the risk of breakage.
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T-shirt made of wood and algae
Technological clothing manufacturer Vollbak introduced a t-shirt made of wood fiber and algae, which decomposes in the soil in three months.
The company uses eucalyptus, beech and spruce as raw materials. The wood is turned into shavings, then a pulp is made from it, from which the thread is obtained and, as a result, the fabric.
The green print is made from algae. They are placed in a special reactor and the plant is converted to natural ink. Due to the natural characteristics of algae, each print has an individual shade. Algae ink is more sensitive to environmental changes, so the color will change over time.
“Live” T-shirt was created in the framework of protecting the environment from pollution, its feature is the use of environmentally friendly materials and zero impact on the ecosystem.
The co-founder of the company, Steve Tidball, says that the decomposition rate depends on the environmental conditions – the higher the temperature and the more bacteria, the faster the T-shirt will disappear.
The cost of a T-shirt is $ 116. To keep the t-shirt in its original form for as long as possible, the company recommends washing it by hand.
Vollbak is a company that applies science and technology to the manufacture of clothing. In their collection: a jacket made of graphene, a reflective jacket that accumulates sunlight, a hoodie made of material used in the aerospace industry.
University of Sussex graduate Lucy Hughes suggests using fish waste to produce biodegradable replacements for disposable plastics. MarinaTex is made from fish skin and scales – waste that is usually buried or burned.
Transparent and flexible material will replace one-time packaging, bags, wrappers and, most importantly, it will disintegrate in the bin in 4-6 weeks. The production of material does not require special infrastructure for the collection and separation of waste, has a low level of energy consumption and does not harm the environment.
According to the UK Department of Fisheries, fish processing in the country produces up to 500 thousand tons of waste per year. Lucy claims that just one cod is left over to make 1,400 MarinaTex bags.
In the hope of attracting new followers, the Catholic Church has released ‘smart’ beads Click to Pray. To activate the accessory, you need to cross.
The rosary consists of 10 agate beads and a cross that stores data. You can manage the device through an application that sends prayers and collects health data: counts steps, calories and distance traveled.
Users can select different thematic prayers, and the application displays the progress and counts the number and total time of prayers.
Click to Pray beads cost $ 109.
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Brain examination system
BrainCheck, an American startup, has created a system for examining the brain and cognitive abilities. The system allows you to track changes in brain activity, detects problems and gives professional recommendations. The company has already raised $ 8 million of investments.
BrainCheck is based on research from the Eagleman lab at Baylor College of Medicine, where scientists have studied brain function, thinking, and behavior for over 20 years.
The company’s mission is to help therapists provide high-quality care to people with problems, as well as to give people of all ages information about what is happening in their brain.
The technology helps people determine the level of mental work of the brain, identify problems, makes recommendations and compiles a system of daily routines to improve results, and for older people to maintain the ability to function independently. In addition, the system allows you to save on sometimes meaningless trips to the doctor.
The world’s first biomechanical exoskeleton
While the whole world is creating technology to replace humans, American design engineer Jonathan Tippet has been implementing an interesting project for 13 years – the fully human-controlled mechanical exoskeleton Prosthesis.
Automated machines are cool, but Jonathan believes that managing the process physically is better than just being in an email account. The robot moves on four legs on the hydraulic system, which are driven by the hands and feet of the pilot. Developed speed and maneuverability of the machine completely depend on the level of physical fitness and pilot control skills.
Such a concept led the design team to the idea of racing on steel giants, driven by professional pilots. But for now, the Prosthesis prototype presented is similar to the fragile cub of a transformer that weighs 3.5 tons and has a speed of up to 32 km / h.
Although the design looks impressive, the prototype cannot boast of the speed and instantaneous reactions to the movements of the pilot. In addition, it took the designer hundreds of hours to learn how to take the first steps.
Work on the project is ongoing, and perhaps the following prototypes will bring us closer to the competition of space giants in the abandoned corners of the planet.