Create the Future. Today

The app that can measure blood pressure with a selfie. | Photo source Photo source Nuralogix Website

Top 5 Innovations in August

Top Five

From reducing food waste, removing plastic from the equation and changing the way people communicate, here are five of our favourite innovations we’ve seen during the month of August

Sprignwise presents a brand new column featuring our monthly favourites. Every month, we will compile the best innovations spotted from around the world and across sectors. 

From reducing food waste, removing plastic from the equation and changing the way people communicate, here are five of our favourite innovations we’ve seen during the month of August.

1. DEVICE TURNS CAR WINDSHIELD INTO DISPLAY FOR PHONES AND APPS – Italy

Photo source EyeLights

France-based EyeLights has created a portable device that converts car windshields into a hologram that displays phone functions and apps, like navigators. The hologram is projected on an eight-inch display that does not impair the driver’s view of the road.

The device, which is compatible with any vehicle, responds to hand gestures and voice controls. It was successfully crowdfunded on indiegogo.com in February and is available via the company’s website. 

EyeDrive improves safety by allowing drivers to use their smartphones without taking their hands off the wheel. According to the company, EyeDrive saves the user 4.3 seconds of reaction time, because the display is at eye level.

2. A SELFIE VIDEO THAT CAN MEASURE BLOOD PRESSURE – Canada

Photo source Nuralogix Website

Spotted: Kang Lee, professor of applied psychology at the University of Toronto, has discovered a way to measure blood pressure using a phone’s camera. The technology uses transdermal optical imaging, which is able to visualise and measure blood-flow changes under facial skin. 

Facial skin is, by nature, translucent. When light reaches the face, it penetrates the skin and reaches the red blood cells underneath it. Red light is then reflected back and captured by the optical sensor on a smartphone.

“From the video captured by the technology, you can see how the blood flows in different parts of the face, and through this ebb and flow of blood in the face, you can get a lot of information,” Lee said.

Initial research has shown this new process to be up to 96 percent as accurate as traditional testing methods. But more research will need to take place before its use becomes widespread. Lee’s startup, Nuralogix, already has one app on the market, which can measure stress levels and resting heart rate based on a 30-second video of a person’s face. 

3. AN AI-WEARABLE THAT KNOWS WHAT YOU’RE THINKING – United States

Photo source MIT Media Lab

A device called AlterEgo could change the way people communicate, without having to hear a spoken word. Created by a 24-year-old PhD candidate from MIT, this wearable device can detect what you say, even when you are talking to yourself and not moving your mouth. It may be used to help those with memory problems or people who have lost the ability to speak.   

AlterEgo works by detecting the neuromuscular signals sent by the brain to the vocal cords. The device reads these signals and AI turns them into words. The speaker can hear the AI-generated responses through a tiny microphone that conducts sound through the bones of the skull and ear. Responses can also be read out loud through artificial voice technology.  

The device’s creator, Arnav Kapur, is in the process of testing it on patients in hospitals and rehabilitation centres who have lost their ability to speak. Kapur has applied for a patent and has plans to develop AlterEgo into a commercial device.

4. A SUSTAINABLE, SHORT-TERM RENTAL PLATFORM – Netherlands

Photo source Linh Nguyen on Unsplash

Fairbnb is launching a platform for short-term rentals aimed at helping local communities. The platform plans to work with neighbourhoods to make short-term rentals sustainable. 

Like Airbnb, Fairbnb is a virtual meeting place for hosts and guests to connect. Unlike Airbnb, the cooperative says that it is focused on sustainable tourism rather than profit. 

The service does not charge a commission. Instead, 50 per cent of the rental price goes to fund local social projects. Fairbnb recently raised funds through two crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo.com and Goteo.org. The platform plans to go online in September. 

5. PLASTIC WRAP ALTERNATIVE MADE FROM SHELLFISH WASTE – Scotland

Photo source Unsplash by Elle Hughes

Scottish biotech firm CuanTec is planning to replace plastic food wrappers with a biodegradable material extracted from shellfish waste. The material is made out of a natural biopolymer derived from fermenting shellfish remains.

The fermentation process, which resembles that of alcohol or yogurt, gives rise to a natural biopolymer called Chitin. Chitin is then transformed into a more malleable material known as Chitosan, which is used to make the clear food wrapper.

While the product is still in the research stage, it has the potential to biodegrade within 90 days and could be composted at home. Waitrose supermarkets have already shown interest and may use the new packaging to be used for wrapping fish.