Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Apps that measure a user’s exercise have been 10-a-penny for some years, but Go Jauntly is set to offer something brand new and leans much more into crowdsourcing than its rivals. Launched by a new start-up of nature-loving digital experts, and co-developed with Transport for London, Go Jauntly is a community-based initiative that’s as much about exploration and sharing with fellow jaunt-lovers. It also had GBP 10,000 backing from the Ordnance Survey’s Geovation fund that helps start ups using geo-based technology. Big players are involved.

It’s directly tapped into TFL’s dynamic open data, and keeps users informed of everything from congestion to pollution. According to statistics, some 3.6 million journeys a day are made in London using cars and public transport, all of which could have been walked.

“We’re hoping that with Go Jauntly we’re creating technology for good that has a positive impact on society from a health, wellness and environmental perspective,” explains Hana Sutch, CEO and co-founder. “We wanted to start something that would get people out of the house and more active. Our team at Go Jauntly are all nature-loving city dwellers who spend too much of our time deskbound and wanted to be a bit more active.”

Go Jauntly is available now on the App Store with a variety of walks including Richmond and Regent’s Park, plus a selection of South East London’s cemeteries. This isn’t just a London-centric innovation, anyone in the UK can download it, walk-the-walk, and share their jaunt. The company is hoping to get an Android version out by the end of the year.

Other apps that encourage walking include Norway’s Traffic Agent, and the UK’s Walkability was also designed to get users on the hoof. Could this be a concept that goes global and makes for a greener, healthy planet and population?

We’ve seen how the lines between online shopping and visits to brick-and-mortar stores are being blurred, whether by a virtual reality shop through eBay Australia or using smart glasses to let online customers explore physical stores, and now, in Indonesia, one platform is using virtual outlets to make starting a business accessible to more budding entrepreneurs.

Alfamind utilizes the MindStore platform developed by Slingshot, a virtual store that enables anyone to develop custom AR/VR experiences for online stores. In collaboration with nationwide retailer Alfamart, Alfamind’s business model has individuals (or partners) acting as mobile retailers, taking their customized stores to others’ homes and letting customers browse their AR stores through a smart device, placing orders with cash that are then shipped through Alfamart’s logistics. After an initial partnership fee, partners receive a large proportion of sales, with 2-percent going to MindStore and the rest to Alfamart, who benefit by penetrating close-knit communities, as partners often sell to friends and neighbors, increasing brand loyalty in areas Alfamart couldn’t necessarily reach in to. With a projected 150,000 users by the final quarter of 2017, Slingshot is targeting other retail partners globally, with eventual plans to enable users to sell their own-made goods through their virtual stores.

With a wide variety of industries using AR/VR to improve user experiences, from buying custom furniture to designing operating theatres, in what other ways can the technology impact users’ lives?

As the world population constantly grows, the demand for food grows with it, leaving the agriculture industry the tough challenge of finding new ways to produce and maintain more and more food. A team from the Georgia Institute of Technology has been working on one new way to help monitor vast crop fields without needing vast manpower.

The idea behind Tarzan is that it will swing from high wires spread across crop fields and it’ll be able to keep an eye on yield development by checking for health and taking pictures, which can be sent back to a farmer far away. The way it swings along the wires is very reminiscent of the way a sloth moves.

Asst. Professor of Mechanical Engineering Jonathan Rogers explained: “Persistent agriculture is a big thing, we have a lot more people to feed and will have a lot more people to feed than we ever had in history. The only way we can achieve the level of food production we’re going to need in the future is to employ automation and robots.”

They’re hoping one day the robot will be entirely solar powered, so users can spend more time sat with a laptop monitoring data in the comfort of an armchair inspecting images sent back, rather than having to walk countless miles up and down the fields checking crops manually.

Robotics are playing an ever increasing part in the agriculture industry. A drone mimicking predators has been designed to protect crops from birds, and surveillance cameras have been installed in China to let shoppers view their melons being grown. What other ways could automation help meet our ever-demanding food supply needs?

A new timepiece project by Anicorn Watches, the company behind the successful Series 000 and Series K452 watches, has more than doubled its Kickstarter target and is heading into production. The watch itself is called the Hidden Time watch, and is part of the Trio of Time concept, a world-spanning design project.

The Trio of Time is a plan that involves three cities – the first one being Seoul, South Korea – and in each city the company will collaborate with a local designer to create a new timepiece based on their unique interpretation of time perception. Jiwoong Jung is the industrial designer behind the first unit, which is designed to hide time outside the moment, to keep users in the “now”, so as time slips by the numbers fade out, and as it approaches the numbers appear.

“My research on how to naturally pass time began with how hiding occurs in nature, which led me to one of the best known examples, the chameleon’s protective color” explained Jiwoong.

A pledge gets customers a watch for USD 128 (compared to the eventual retail price of USD 283). Units will come in black, silver or rose gold, all with a 39mm stainless steel encasing which has been designed as a multisex piece (there’s also a range of straps to pick from). Backers of the first watch will then eventually be able to vote on which city the Trio of Time visits for the next design.

Most wrist watch innovations these days usually offer a high tech functionality, like the hydration tracker and the smart wristband which tests for alcohol levels in the blood. Are traditional watches becoming a thing of the past?

How much to share with a spouse or partner is a perennial relationship issue. Whether to have a joint account? How to align spending behaviors and savings goals? These issues are rich seams of potential strife between couples. Could a new finance app solve this problem and save relationships?

Instead of a joint account, Honeyfi enables the pooling of financial information from different bank accounts and credit cards. Honeyfi also provides total transparency and budgeting tools for joint management of funds. Setting parameters and targets together, the free app will then track those agreements and encourage early dialogue if goals are in danger of being missed.

US-based Honeyfi was founded in 2016 and aims to provide a happier, safer and easier way to ‘do’ couple financing. Sam Schultz, a Co-Founder, says Honeyfi is more than just a budgeting app because it is designed specifically for couples and encourages them “to collaborate and communicate about money”.

We’ve already seen a service that gives emojis financial updates and an auto-save platform that moves manageable amounts of money from individuals accounts into savings accounts. Honeyfi could have a unique appeal as it leverages the link between relationship happiness and joint budgeting. Could this approach be used to enable more harmonious financial arrangements between other types of relationships or communities?

Leaving premature babies in hospital incubators for long periods can be agony for parents, but a new initiative launched in France can take away some of the pain and yearning. Cordon Numérique (English translation – Digital Cord) connects parents to their babies using a webcam placed above the incubator, so all the parents need is a computer, smartphone or tablet to see videos of their baby.

The Hopen Project has been working on this system for two years, in conjunction with Aquitaine Destination (a French charity dedicated to helping children in hospital). There are now 16 cameras in place at the Pellegrin University Hospital’s neonatology department in Bordeaux. The infrastructure was designed with the hospital staff in mind – one huge touchscreen called the BBWall shows all 16 feeds, and when a baby is particularly awake or active the staff then record a 30-second clip which is sent to the parent via an email link. Both the Hopen Project and Aquitaine Destination are keen to see this spread across all of France soon.

When proud parents receive the clips, they can share them with relatives and the software lets users leave comments on each clip.

It’s great to see any advancements that help poorly children and their families. Norway’s No Isolation avatar helps sick children participate in school even when bed-bound, and in Britain the My MRI VR app helps children prepare for the often worrying MRI scan. Is Cordon Numérique something you’d like to see in your local maternity hospital?

Helping to make renewable energy more accessible is Boston, Massachusetts company SmartFlower Solar. The business’ smart, portable, flower-shaped solar panel system is easy to set-up, maintain and use. And the innovative shape is easy on the eyes. Available in a variety of colors, the SmartFlower photovoltaic system tracks the sun’s movement, making it up to 40 percent more effective at capturing light than traditional static rooftop-mounted panels.

The flower petal shaped solar panels fold themselves up at night and unfold at sunrise, automatically positioning themselves at the most effective angle throughout the day. Rear-ventilation helps the panels produce more energy, and integrated cleaning mechanisms mean that every time the panels unfold, they receive a mini-brush down, keeping them effective longer. In inclement weather, the system will protect itself by folding up the panels until conditions improve.

The amount of innovation amongst renewable energy sources and production is exciting, ranging as it does from housing – including completely autonomous, modular designs – to public transport and amenities such as connected bus stops using free WiFi, phone charging ports and digital screens to entice travelers onto public transport. The challenge remains: how to link and scale successful projects for increasingly sustainable cities?

The research team in Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science department is combining nanotechnology, biochemistry, nano-electronics, 3D printing and coding to produce what could be the health industry’s first intelligent dressing. The smart bandages will be able to track a patient’s levels of activity, send feedback to medical teams on the healing process and possibly even release medication on a timed schedule.

3D printing will be used to make production of the bandages affordable to the health service, and the research team hopes to begin trials of the connected dressings within a year. One of the benefits of the smart bandages could be time saved for both patients and doctors as appointments become fewer thanks to the constantly available stream of information. Another benefit could be more accurate care based on how a wound is healing rather than on how a patient says they are feeling – objective data versus subjective feeling.

Nanotechnology is being used in many industries on a range of projects. Personal, wearable cooling units have been developed that could potentially replace large air conditioning appliances, and nanotechnology is allowing art conservators to get inside the compounds of the materials in newer paintings, cleaning from the inside and hopefully, finding ways to halt and prevent any further degradation of the pieces. How could industries known for their size and strength find surprising new ways of putting nanotechnology to use?

Mobile phone roaming fees can be the bane of travelling with some users regularly racking up astronomical bills by accident, but with the new Handy devices propping up in more and more hotels, they should hopefully be a thing of the past.

The T1 handset is powered by Handy OS, a user interface specifically designed and engineered for the hospitality industry. Aimed at the more “upmarket” hotel, any room with a Handy device gives users all the joys of their regular smartphone (minus the roaming fees), but the device is used as a means of accessing hotel services, like room service or laundry facilities.

The Handy handsets also come installed with LUXOS city guides that will be able to provide suggestions for local attractions be them art galleries, restaurants and just any points of interest. Plus the software will regularly update with promotions, so if the local theatre is having a ticket sale the user will receive notifications of such bargains.

It can also be used to control the in-room entertainment, like the TV for example, and its NFC allows it to be used as a room key.

Handy devices are already in 20 cities across Asia and Europe in hotels including The Hilton and The Ritz-Carlton. The company is hoping to have its gadget in one million hotels before the end of 2017.

We’re seeing more and more ways technology is taking the travel industry into new and interesting directions, such as VR to check a room before booking and a new voice-activated chatbot concierge. How could the hotel industry further benefit from smart technology to build customer loyalty?

There are few things more frustrating for cyclists than red lights, especially when riders have built up a good speed only to have to apply the brakes and lose all that momentum. To make things easier Dutch operation Springlab has designed a new system called Flo, which is being tested out in the city of Utrecht and has been set up to work alongside the city’s cycling lanes.

It works by using speed cameras placed 100 metres before each set of traffic lights, and calculates whether or not the cyclist should change speed to hit the green light. It uses animals to inform a cyclist if they should change speed, so a rabbit means speed up, a turtle means slow down, a cow means users are hitting the red light no matter what, and a simple thumbs up indicates the cyclist is doing the right speed.

It’s currently being tested out on Utrecht’s main road Amsterdamsestraatweg and all being well it’s hoped it’ll expand across the rest of the city and hopefully across Holland. Although it’s possible a nation so well known for its love of cycling will embrace such a system, whether or not it’ll go global is another matter. Another recent Dutch-based innovation ByCycling illustrates just how big cycling is in Holland, and in Poland a solar-powered glow in the dark bike lane is a genuinely impressive safety development. What other inventions are yet to be dreamt-up to make cycling more fun and safer?