Our world is shaped by the markets that facilitate it. And with a roughly four trillion pound tech market supplying the global demand for things that make life easier or more enjoyable, it’s clear it’s shaping it in a pretty big way.
Among the negative press about tech, from AI taking over the workforce to online consumerism disconnecting people, Tech for Good is showing some light in the robot-data-algorithm tunnel of darkness. And not only that: by nature of tech being able to dip its toes into multiple markets across the ecosystem, from recreation and self-care to healthcare and sustainability, the reach of its benefits are vast and the future of its lifespan is long.
Unbound Festival this year – a celebration of tech innovation – saw an influx of brilliant ways to make life easier, more sustainable and/or more fun. Filling gaps in the market and disrupting already filled ones, are several exciting startups that are designing the blueprint for the future, with innovation.
The Technical Roundup
Undeniably the most groundbreaking tech seen at Unbound was the innovation that directly enhanced people’s quality of life, from virtual reality that improves neurological mobility difficulties, to digitally integrated walking canes that increase independence for the visually impaired.
Spearheading the current mainstream market is a boom in self-care apps like mindfulness and sleep assistance, while location-based apps designed to tackle physical inactivity are making scenic walking as easy as an Uber is to order. Environmental tech is making sophisticated and automated waste recycling a reality, as well as renewable energy, through apps and products increasing its usage, purchase and sale.
Tech That’s …..For Good
Solving social, environmental and health problems with tech solutions is one of the most relevant and important applications of the 21stcentury. It’s a sign of exciting feats yet to come, with disruptive start-ups paving the way for tech innovation, showing the magnitude of its potential for the future.
Resilience Energy aims to increase solar energy usage through an app that allows homeowners to produce, store and sell energy. Other notable tech innovators include Deciwatt: a portable renewable energy company where pulling a cord (as opposed to needing sunlight or electricity) can create light and power. Emsol is an air and noise pollution monitoring solution that tracks and measures the impact of transport emissions. AI company Grey Parrot, uses computer vision solutions to identify different types of waste that have the potential to revolutionise waste management and automation. Lastly, Cogzconnects food producers directly with trade buyers on their website, to sell surplus produce before it becomes food waste.
The height of human innovation is being able to replace, improve or accompany human mental or physical disability, with technology that becomes an indispensable part of their body, or an indispensable aid to their mind. One of the biggest downfalls to mental or physical difficulty is the debilitating lack of independence, which causes extreme states of stress and frustration.
Tech that’s been pioneered to assist in restoring some of that independence and the freedom of choice, pleasure and sense of strength that goes with it, holds a contribution to society so compassionate that its future potential is immeasurable. This section should alternatively be called, “Tech that’s For WellbeingIndependence”.
Andiamo provides 3D bespoke-made supports for disabled children, while Avenna, provides tech that works on the causal pathways and early detection of chronic inflammatory diseases. Walk with Path, has designed a shoe attachment equipped with visual cues to assist people with walking problems caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. Another walking-assisted invention is WeWalk, which aims to help the estimated 250+ million visually impaired people worldwide with a technologically advanced voice-controlled cane, where objects above chest height can be detected by ultrasound, and a phone app and Google Maps are integrated to aid navigation. In terms of physiological rehabilitation, Immersive Rehab uses VR physiotherapy programmes to help sufferers of neurological mobility issues, or those with balancing difficulties resulting from the likes of strokes, spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis.
Go Jauntly’smission to alleviate inactivity, stress and depression by finding interesting location-targeted walks based on your location, is categorised by preference, such as walks under 45 minutes, walks with views, and walks that are child-friendly. A fantastic piece of tech for good innovation is Storyball: a screen-free smart toy for kids that uses dynamic games and challenges to get kids moving and learning.
Tech That’s…Crucial For Day to Day Convenience
Within the transport and smart cities talks, one of which was attended by heads at TFL, Citymapper, Uber and Drivy, the focus was on making systems more streamlined and safe through insights derived from big data, revealing stresses on different parts of transport systems.
Micro-consolidation of freight and vehicle delivery through automated and more eco-friendly means, was also outlined as a pressing need. In discussion about private car ownership versus shared ownership, head of Drivy’s UK branch Katy Medlock outlined the importance of introducing the use of more shared-car ownerships, due to private ownerships causing tendencies to travel by car out of convenience, rather than necessity.
The app WeShop is the equivalent of Shazam for shopping, and enables users to compare, find and purchase loved items through photos they take and a digital feed they curate. Rewards in the form of ‘WeCoins’ can be gained through posting, shopping and getting likes or comments, which can then be spent at more than 100 of WeShop’s partner stores. The other FinTech app Thyngs, allows users to turn their phone into anactive shopping device, where ‘…anything physical – from packaging to products – can become a cashless payment point’, among other features.
Over in the hospitality and activities corner, app Hollabox realises the best way to decide whether you want to do something in London, is to visually see it first. Videos of experiences and venues in London are uploaded, meaning you can visually try and test places and activities before you book them. Once you’ve decided, you can then book through the app. Venues include restaurants, bars, cafes, pubs and markets, while experiences include cinemas, galleries and adventure sports.
Good design provides solutions to problems that to some degree enhance quality of life, with a blueprint designed to make life easier, healthier or more enjoyable. By filling untapped gaps in the market and disrupting already filled ones, tech is changing the landscape of business, and the consequent society dictating it. For more information on tech innovation visit Unbound London or support for your start or scale-up, visit the CoStartup & Go website