”Your sneak preview of the future” is the slogan of Innovation Origins, and that’s just what we will highlight with our Start-up of the Week column. Over the past few days, five start-ups of the day have been featured and on Saturday we will choose the week’s winner.
We shall consider various issues such as sustainability, developmental phase, practical application, simplicity, originality and to what extent they are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of UNESCO. They will all pass by here and at the end of the week, the Start-Up of the Week will be announced.
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Einride: Electric trucks with no cab and no driver
In order to keep the world’s economy to a certain extent up and running, things have to be transported all the time from A to B. And even though the 21st century is now entering its third decade, this still happens in very much of a 20th century way: with an old-fashioned truck which has a dirty diesel engine and a human driver. This can be done much more sustainably and efficiently, or so the Swedish start-up Einride thinks.
In principle, autonomous trucks are nothing new; nevertheless, most of the time these are still made up of an ‘old-fashioned’ chassis with smart equipment on board, while the conventional engine continues to hum along nicely and consequently still emits a lot of CO2. That is why the Scandinavians have changed the entire design and have created a means of transportation that is as compact as possible and as sustainable as the most modern electric vehicles nowadays are. This means that you can still have the transportation of heavy goods, but without the ecological and personnel issues. And what’s more, this “driver” never has the need for sleep or extremely bad snack food from a roadside restaurant which has dubious hygiene standards.
Edward – the e-PA for super-salespeople
The technology for virtual assistants is slowly but surely starting to grow up. However, the applications of Alexa or Siri generally tend to remain relatively simple in nature and have an all-round character. Putting on music, listing your schedule or reading out the weather forecast is often all quite possible, but in case of more specific requests, a button has to be pressed or text entered somewhere.
Edward is different, he has been developed as a mobile device and especially for work carried out by salespeople. This virtual assistant, who at the moment speaks Polish and English, is responsible for all the paperwork involved in a sale and will store the customer data himself. This means that the salesperson only has to do what they are good at: giving sales pitches. Perhaps healthcare and the education sector could also use an Edward …
Styleriser – The software stylist
Just what is your “color” actually? Most people will not have an immediate, straightforward answer to this question. Something that can be a bit of a gamble when looking for a perfectly fitting item of clothing. And to make matters even worse, we now have access to entire department stores with a very extensive range of clothes. This range is so huge that we easily lose an overview of everything. Although … even when the range is expanding so fast, an algorithm will help you! The Styleriser software will match your appearance with your colors that suit you and your and shape the most through the use of a selfie.
All the preliminary work is done by this digital personal shopper which takes into account the shape of your face and the color of your eyes, skin and hair. Your choice can also be matched with other items of clothing so that you can create a great color palette in your set. According to the designers, this is necessary because retail environments have changed rapidly in recent years and the range of choices has become excessive as a result. Moreover, online stores do not have employees who recommend or discourage particular combinations. So this is where the online assistant comes in. Nonetheless, it can’t yet say that it ‘has this shirt too,’ given the fact that the Styleriser does not have any skin tone, face shape much less a physical body.
WEtell – The mobile network with sustainability certification
It is not easy to live in a climate-neutral way. Of course, you could use green electricity, eat less meat and cycle more often. But one of our most popular devices still makes a significant contribution to CO2 emissions – the smartphone! Of course, there are brands such as Fairphone that are manufactured without harmful substances. But this only solves part of the problem. Your provider works with network masts and, you guessed it, they are bad for the climate. Alternatives were also not available until quite recently, discounting the fact that you would then have to go through life without a smart phone altogether.
What the Germans at WEtell do differently then, is tackle the problem at its core. They are on a mission to also make the supply of networks and providers greener and that is why they started their own telecom service provider. And this is reflected in all facets of the company where their magic word is consistency. Customers are aware of the fact that when they start working with WEtell, the seas won’t get any warmer because of their services. This philosophy is reflected in their entire business operation and they also place a high value on privacy. It’s a pity that hackers and evil-doers can’t go beyond the legally required period to check whether your smartphone use is sustainable.
Biosure – HIV check outside of a clinic
Although HIV is now no longer the deadly disease that it once was at the end of the last century, it can still be a chronic, dangerous condition whereby patients are condemned to a lifetime of swallowing expensive HIV-inhibitors. And since prevention is always better than a chronic disease, every effort should be made to determine their status as conveniently as possible. Since the circumstances in which an HIV infection is usually contracted are not among the topics that people readily talk about, this can now be done from home.
Fast HIV testing at home, however, has been around for some time, but so far has had one major drawback. If the user does not carry out the test correctly, then a negative score will result, which may not be the case at all. The Biosure test demonstrates that no unreliable result is possible because of an incorrect application. Inspiration was taken from the all-too-familiar pregnancy test, which is primarily known for its simplicity. Shame, waiting times, fuss and uncertainty are therefore definitely a thing of the past.
In order to stop the epidemic which is continuing to spread, it is very important that everyone in high-risk groups is aware of their status; the ‘unwitting’ HIV-positive group may well be the greatest risk. This risk applies not only to themselves but also to others. And all this can be prevented. Moreover, the life expectancy of someone with the infectious disease is no longer lower than that of a healthy person – as long as they swallow their antiretrovirals. On top of that, the viral load may even become undetectable, so that there would be no risk of it spreading. This super-fast and accurate self-test saves lives, saves costs and should be available at drugstores all over Europe next year. And last but not least, Biosure may call itself start-up of the week as well.
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