”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.
Presize: the virtual fitting room
One of the biggest drawbacks to shopping for clothes online is that there is no way to try them on to see if they fit. And since sizes, shapes, postures and brands often vary, there are plenty of returns. That kind of image of a model is of course fine, but the average buyer is obviously not a model. When you get home, it turns out that the t-shirt doesn’t fit very well and you find that out a bit too late. How great would it be if you could prevent this from happening beforehand?
When you use Presize, a 3D scan is made of your body and the garments can be tried on virtually. The ‘virtual you’ is designed very carefully and is also animated. This means that you are immediately able to see if an item is not quite the right fit or if it has a fit that does not suit your posture. Lengthy return processes are a thorn in the side for both webshops and consumers. The team behind this app wants to reduce the number of returned shipments and the amount of frustration that has built up for all involved.
Carbon Waters: Graphene without muck
Graphene is known as the thinnest material on earth, it is a conductor of both heat and electricity, is very strong and transparent in color. It is also called a miracle compound and due to it being able to be produced increasingly faster, more and more new possibilities for it are appearing on the horizon. For example, graphene can be used as a coating for foldable or rollable touchscreens, medicines – and tennis player Novak Djokovic has even had his racket fitted out with it. According to the athlete, he hit his balls harder than ever before using this coating.
Yet there are also some disadvantages that are associated with this artificially produced carbon coating. Although there are several ways to manufacture the material, this often involves processes which are not entirely climate-neutral or that involve working with hazardous substances. The French team from Carbon Waters has developed a method whereby graphene is produced in a liquid form. The advantage of this is that no hazardous powders need to be used and that a sustainable production method been achieved as a consequence.
Biomer: from discarded waste to sustainable dye
Astaxanthin is a colorant with many varied possibilities. For example, it is used as feed in salmon farms, which gives the fish their characteristic pink color, and it is used in the poultry sector in order to give egg yolks their characteristic yellow color. Until recently, this substance could only be made with the help of petroleum. And since crude oil is not exactly the most sustainable commodity on the planet, the search for alternatives is extensive.
The team behind the German company Biomer produces the much sought-after astaxanthin through a biotechnological process which makes use of fermentation. Consequently, crude oil is no longer needed and waste products from e.g. agricultural companies are used as a basis. This means that the muck of one agrarian becomes the raw material for food for another agrarian. Oh yes, and the Biomer method is even faster than the pollutant method!
Neosound – No more quarrels with customer service?
The discrepancy in quality between different call centers and service employees is quite substantial. If you want to judge all the conversations held by their quality, then you should employ at least as many quality controllers as there are call center agencies. Obviously, this would be a hopelessly impossible task. That’s why NeoSound works with an automated system that registers whether a call is escalating or not based on silences and raised voice levels and emotions.
The software also immediately indicates where the areas for improvement are so that the employee is able to start working on them. Ultimately, it must improve the quality of customer services. However, they should hurry up as the first fully automated self-learning customer services are not too far away. Needless to say, a system that monitors staff and customers would not be that applicable in that case. Oyster Card customer services and internet provider services etc – are you reading this?
Actijoy – Rather a happy puppy than be as sick as a dog …
These kinds of systems already exist for seniors, pregnant women and houseplants – and now even (hu)man’s best friend has to deal with them. Sometimes you wish dogs could talk, as these faithful four-legged friends are very good at hiding physical defects and you often only discover injuries or illnesses when it is already too late.
And where else could such an idea come from besides the Czech Republic? A country that at times seems to be entirely made up of dog people. Actijoy‘s monitoring system is comprised of a set of food bowls, a health and activity tracker and an app that allows you to learn about all sorts of physical secrets that affect your pet. Kidney diseases and diabetes can be picked up at an early stage so that your pet is able to be treated by a veterinarian in time. You will also know at a glance how much your dog is eating and exercising.
The team also wanted to market a similar system for cats, but this turned out to be more difficult than expected. Although this is not so surprising either. After all, dogs are easier to fathom than cats.
As happy as a puppy is of course better than being sick as a dog. Actijoy’s technology is not new in itself, but the combination of smart water troughs, collars and apps certainly is.