Follow Innovation’s Tech Trends for 2015

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Since our launch, Follow Innovation has been dedicated to bringing you the latest technology news, including direct updates from those at the helm of the most exciting and innovative digital startups. Here’s a roundup of the top trends we’ve identified from our interviews over the past year:

GAMIFICATION

An app that rewards users according to how little they use their phones may seem counterintuitive, but in the case of SafeDrive, this quirk could save lives. Co-founder Tudor Cobalas confessed that the idea for the app came after he almost experienced a crash having been distracted by his phone.

“We wanted to build something that moved the risk of having an accident from the subconscious mind of drivers into the conscious mind,” Tudor told Follow Innovation last December, speaking of his subsequent meeting with business partner Eduard Alexandrian.

Users of SafeDrive collect points every time they complete a car journey whilst successfully resisting the urge to look at their phones. The points can later be exchanged for real-life discounts on products and services provided by SafeDrive’s partners. Goodness is its own reward, but we won’t say no to the occasional extra perk.

WEARABLE TECH

If your wrists are already weighed down with all the smartwatches, activity trackers and sleep monitors you can take, it might be time to start accessorising your bike. Iddo is a BMX sensor developed by the Portuguese startup Coppr. Owner Rui Sousa Campos explained in a March interview with Follow Innovation that he wants to reintroduce the social element to BMXing that’s on the wane now that everybody rides around the skatepark listening to music.

The device recognises and records tricks performed by the user and awards points accordingly. The connected app allows riders to share their scores and challenge others to better them. “Your tricks are also shared with other riders in the area, which is really exciting because it helps to connect people of similar ability so they can find each other, hang out and push each other to step up their game,” Rui said.

With the potential to expand to include training features for professional BMXers as well as other sports, the Iddo could become the next must-have piece of kit for all technology lovers of an athletic bent.

CONNECTED DEVICES

An interesting development in the field of connected devices has given rise to a London-based company specialising in an indoor equivalent to the GPS systems used by many to track their way around an unfamiliar location.

Using Bluetooth and beacon technology, Pointr, as revealed in an interview with Follow Innovation back in March, enables users to locate people and objects within the same building to the highest degree of accuracy yet developed.

The technology is currently being used to help customers find their way directly to items in a major UK department store. A full list of use cases can be found on Pointr’s website, demonstrating its potential for a wide spread of applications in the future.

ANALYTICS

Myriada is the fintech brainchild of co-founders Arjun Hassard and Faisal Choudry. Arjun, also the company’s Managing Director, talked to Follow Innovation in April to explain the system.

Myriada seeks to harvest the professional expertise and talent for financial forecasting of traders to produce information that would otherwise go unshared. As he says, collective forecasting is “a way to extract views out of the professionals sitting in the banks and turn it into something that’s valuable to them and others”.

The Myriada team is also working towards the Summer 2015 Beta launch of Financial Market Rank, a kind of HackerRank for would-be traders that allows students to display their predictive prowess to potential future employers. The output from Financial Market Rank adds to the stream of data that Myriada requires to prove the reliability of their system before the major financial institutions will splash out on the end product.

ON DEMAND

The flurry of articles bemoaning the self-centredness and apathy of Millennials may have failed to take into account one very plausible explanation: they simply don’t have time to read the news.

On hiatus as of May 4th with content refinements underway, the Hoxton-based team at Clippet News, all aged between 23 and 27 years old themselves, were producing ten easily digestible audio updates per day. Editor-in-chief Sagar Gupta spoke to Follow Innovation about their aims: “Our target listener is someone between the ages of 18 and 28 who isn’t hugely engaged in reading the news but understands the impact that current affairs may have on their job and their personal life.”

The team made an effort to engage the young electorate with Clippets covering the General Election, stripping away the rhetoric of speeches and manifestos to cover the big topics. The app is not just for the under-30s: anyone who finds themselves skimming the headlines looking for the point of a story might prefer to receive their news in Clippet form instead. Says Sagar, “we want people to understand and change the world in a way they haven’t been able to before.” So much for the disaffected youth.

CONVENIENCE

As an increasing number of services go online, many struggle to get to grips with the variety of forms and processes to be completed in order to get things done. While support lines and instant messaging help are available to guide users through some websites, when agents are tied up or offline customers can be left bewildered—and often end up leaving the company’s site.

Online guides can offer a lower-cost, always-on solution. This is especially the case when such services are added to a website using Nickelled, a startup offering support software that can be created without having to hire developers to amend the code of the existing site.

In an interview with Follow Innovation last month David Batey, Founder and CEO of Nickelled, shared the benefits of using his product. “Our standalone solution allows anyone to create and distribute engaging interactive guides, regardless of their technical ability. This opens the opportunity of educating customers out to frontline support staff, who are usually in the best position to understand the day-to-day usability issues of customers,” he said.

Not only do such guides make things easier to understand for customers, they’re also likely to spare a fair few support workers from having to perform exasperating over-the-phone walkthroughs of their company’s website.

COLLABORATION

Dust off your dissertations: non-profit Future Ideas wants to unleash the potential of graduates whose academic research could have use beyond earning them their desired grade.

Chief Relationship Officer Aneliya Evtimova explained to Follow Innovation how these projects can be developed to have real-world business applications. “Our community of innovators and business leaders helps to recycle and upcycle academic work and provides graduates with the opportunity to develop their ideas into the next big thing,” she said.

Future Ideas runs academic competitions to which graduates can submit research under six categories—business, community, health, design, sustainability and technology. The entries are then judged by a panel of successful innovators who select three winners from each category, choosing based not only on academic rigour but the viability of the idea as a real product or service. Competition winners are awarded a cash prize of EUR 1000 and business mentorship which could help them realise their ideas.

In addition to the contests, Future Ideas runs business challenges allowing contestants to collaborate with peers on real-world problems. A possible answer for any soon-to-be graduates wondering, “When will I use this in real life?”

BIG DATA

In early 2014, retail investor Ruzbeh Bacha decided to upset the pecking order which determines the availability of the market data used by traders and investors. The result was City Falcon, a free-to-use online platform allowing immediate access to a customised feed of financial news and social data.

As Ruzbeh told Follow Innovation in May, the existing hierarchy favours those in the know or with the capital to invest in financial data. Levelling the playing field will be no mean feat, but Ruzbeh is determined to make it easier for the smaller players in the world of trades and investments to spot an opportunity before anyone else with City Falcon’s up-to-the-minute data.

Looking to maximise his customer base, Ruzbeh has not limited his sights to those who don’t currently have first dibs on the world’s top financial stories. He’s going after those at the top too: “I want to grow City Falcon into a solution… for the majority of Traders around the world,” he said. Watch this space.

MOBILE

Google Cardboard, which is not, in spite of the name, one of the company’s famous April Fools’ Day jokes, has some competition. This in the form of VISR VR, a virtual reality company from Hull, providing low cost cardboard headsets that can be customised to fit any smartphone.

In an interview with Follow Innovation last month, VISR’s COO Alex Beamer explained that the company has shifted its focus away from the consumer market towards businesses and brands that want a slice of the virtual reality experience for their campaigns without a hefty investment. And it’s working. “All I have to do is put the VISR on the head of any CEO or Head of Marketing for them to want one,” Alex said.

Worth mentioning is the fact that VISR’s products are made from corrugated cardboard and assembled using interlocking mechanisms and glue. This means that production costs can be kept down while offering a more durable solution than the more lightweight versions produced by Google. With flexible production on a range of “one to a million units” and fully branded and customisable products at a base unit cost of just £12, VISR is emerging as a serious contender.

CROWD

A new music app aims to make the kudos of having discovered an artist before any of your friends result in real-world payoffs for both musicians and music lovers alike.

Only last week, Aziz Morsly, strategy manager for music discovery platform Tradiio, told Follow Innovation how it all works: “Unlike other music streaming platforms, we are helping artists emerge. We give real life opportunities to artists such as playing in live festivals or signing contracts with labels. To do that, we use the fans. It’s a kind of crowdsourced curation where we try to engage artists and fans together.”

Users of the app can ‘invest’ their virtual coins in any artist they like, and then reap the rewards of their good taste by receiving more coins when the artist becomes more popular and moves up the Tradiio charts. They can then exchange these for equipment on which to enjoy their new favourites, such as speakers or headphones, or tickets to see them perform live at a festival. A good deal all round, except for one or two musos who might prefer the indie tracks they listen to remain as obscure as possible.