10 Incredible Entrepreneurial

Inventions from Around the Globe

A new year means a new set of possibilities for inventors looking to take their ideas to market. Springwise, a site dedicated to entrepreneurial ideas from around the globe, has collected 10 ideas it feels can be game-changers this year. The site has more than 15,000 “spotters” from around the world keeping an eye out for next-gen products. Check out its picks for this year’s most innovative ideas and products.
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1. Facebook Hangers: Brazil

Brazilian fashion retailer displays

Facebook ‘likes’ for items

in its real-world stores

Bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds is a challenge for any brand, but Brazilian fashion retailer C&A has come up with an innovative solution. Much the way both Renault and Bacardi have found ways to translate between real-world approval and Facebook “likes”, so C&A has found a way to bring customers’ Facebook approval into full view in its real-world stores.

Through its new “Fashion Like” initiative, C&A has posted photos of a number of the clothing items it sells on a dedicated Facebook page, where it invites customers to “like” the ones that appeal to them. Special hooks on the racks in its bricks-and-mortar store, meanwhile, can then display those votes in real time, giving in-store shoppers a clear indication of each item’s online popularity. The video below (in Portuguese) outlines the premise in more detail:

C&A has found a way to bring customers’ Facebook approval into full view in its real-world stores through online clothing ratings.

In order to bring Facebook into the brick-and-mortar world, Brazilian fashion outlet C&A installed displays on their coat hangers to inform shoppers of the popularity of each item. This blurring of the boundaries between online and offline customer interaction is something that may set successful brands apart as the web integrates further into our daily lives

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2. The Connected Sidewalk: Spain

VIA INTELIGENTE is a standard solution for any city that wishes to digitalise its streets, squares, schools … Purchase of entrance tickets, Environmental control, Urban security, Services for the elderly, Support for minority groups, Traffic monitoring … all these will be the new Intelligent Routes.

picturePedestrianised streets in commercial zones and near to historic centres tend to be those areas most often frequented in urban locations, and those to which we can offer messaging services, social networks, news, leisure, location, culture etc… Each municipality tends to have different priorities and may, for example, decide to use Intelligent Routes to attract children back to its squares, or make municipal parks and gardens safe for the elderly.
In addition to working in public zones, in which it is at its most useful, VIA INTELIGENTE is also of great use in schools, transport networks, airports, promenades, theme parks … and any other place in which we can provide information and help citizens to mix with other people, carry out activities, receive assistance … and feel secure.
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Wifi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, RFID … are mature technologies, but will, for the first time ever, be used in the paving of our cities to provide their inhabitants with more and better services.

We’ve already seen sidewalks used to capture the energy of pedestrians’ footsteps, so it doesn’t seem all that far-fetched to see them emit power as well. Sure enough, iPavement is a sidewalk pavement stone that serves as a Wi-Fi hot spot with Bluetooth connectivity. Made of calcium carbonate, each iPavement stone weighs 55 pounds and measures 15 inches square. Available in either a classic smooth or a corrugated finish, the stones are the brain child of Spanish Vía Inteligente, which will start to manufacture them this summer. They offer 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1, and a coverage area of between 1,150 and 6,240 square feet, depending on their surroundings. Included with the stones, moreover, is a built-in Linux-compatible operating system, along with apps, offering access to maps, coupons, virtual libraries, and a wide array of local information.
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3. Gravity-Powered Lamp: United Kingdom

Battery-free lamp for developing

nations is powered by gravity


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In areas with poor access to electricity, many people rely on dangerous kerosene lamps once night falls. The Nokero solar-powered light is one solution that is aiming to deal with the problem, and now deciwatt.org’s GravityLight joins it in providing cheap, safe and environmentally-friendly light for developing nations.

While solar panels can be expensive and rely on sunlight and batteries to work, the GravityLight requires neither. The device is connected to a bag that can be filled with sand – or other weight – and is able to convert the energy when the weight is lifted. For example, raising the weight for three seconds provides enough energy for 30 minutes of light. Due to the lack of batteries, there are no costs after the initial investment, and there are zero waste products and no deteriorating parts. Part of London-based design firm therefore.com, deciwatt.org recently surpassed its target funding for the production of 1,000 lamps on Indiegogo. The following video explains more about the project:

The GravityLight provides cheap, safe and environmentally-friendly light for areas with poor electricity access.

Many of us may take electric lights for granted, but there is a considerable portion of the world—around 1.5 billion people—that lives in poor, remote areas and has to rely on dangerous kerosene alternatives. Currently being funded through an Indiegogo campaign, the GravityLight hopes to change that by offering a cheap lamp that runs on an entirely renewable resource. The device is attached to a weight, which when lifted for a few seconds harnesses enough energy to power the light for 30 minutes. Operating without batteries, the GravityLight contains no deteriorating parts and means owners don’t have to spend money to keep it running.
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4. The Aggregated Credit Card: United States

Digital wallet combines users’

credit cards and selects

the best one

The Wallaby Card is connected to each of its users’ credit card accounts and is able to select the best one to take advantage of rewards and savings.

While innovations such as the Canadian government-backed MintChip have aimed to reduce the amount of physical money we carry around with us, our latest spotting is a solution for those who have amassed numerous credit cards. The Wallaby Card is connected to each of its users’ accounts and is able to select the best one to take advantage of discounts and rewards.

Those creating an account with Wallaby load the details of the bank cards they want to link to their digital wallet, which are stored online. Both the continuous and one-off benefits tied to each card are monitored by the service and users can pick the type of rewards they usually choose for those cards. Customers can then replace the various cards they usually carry around with the single Wallaby Card. The date, location of the user and their card details are checked every time the Wallaby card is used to ensure that the best card linked to the digital wallet is chosen to enable customers to make optimal use of deals and their money. Currently in limited beta trialling, the Wallaby Card will cost nothing for the first six months of use and USD 50 a year after that, although the company believes many will make that back in rewards. The following video demonstrates how the card works:

Many credit card companies offer a variety of deals on their products in order to entice customers, meaning that many end up with more than one account in order to make the most of different offers. Rather than making card holders keep track of which card would be best for each purchase, Wallaby enables them to upload all of their cards’ details, which are accessed via the single Wallaby Card. Depending on what is being bought, at what time and how expensive it is, the Wallaby Card selects the best account and charges it.
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5. Open-Source, Personal Water Desalinator: Italy

Distiller uses solar energy to make

salt water drinkable

Eliodomestico is an eco-distiller that uses solar power to make salt water drinkable.

We’ve seen numerous efforts over the years to purify water and make it safe for drinking, but it wasn’t until just recently that we came across one invention designed specifically with desalinization in mind. Sure enough, Eliodomestico is an eco-distiller that uses solar power to make salt water drinkable.

Created by Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti, Eliodomestico is an open source project designed to provide safe drinking water for people in developing countries. Essentially, the device works like an upside-down coffee maker to produce five liters of fresh water every day. Users begin by adding sea water in the morning. Over the course of the day, the heat of the sun causes steam to rise into a water-tight boiler. The steam is then forced down through an expansion nozzle and condenses against the lid of a collection basin. At the end of the day, users can remove the basin, which is full of fresh water and designed for transport on the head. In the video below, Diamanti explains the premise in more detail:

In a nutshell, Eliodomestico is an eco-distiller that uses solar power to make salt water drinkable. Created by Italian designer Gabriele Diamanti, Eliodomestico is an open-source project designed to provide safe drinking water for people in developing countries. Essentially, the device works like an upside-down coffee maker to produce five liters of fresh water every day. Users begin by adding sea water in the morning. Over the course of the day, the heat of the sun causes steam to rise into a water-tight boiler. The steam is then forced down through an expansion nozzle and condenses against the lid of a collection basin. At the end of the day, users can remove the basin, which is full of fresh water and designed for transport on the head.

Eliodomestico is made from widely available materials and requires no electricity or filters; maintenance is simple, Diamanti says.
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6. Socialized Airline Travel: Holland

Airline lets passengers choose seat

partners based on social media

profiles

KLM’s new Meet and Seat service will enable passengers to choose who they sit next to based on Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

As mentioned in our recent article on Malaysia Airlines’ MHBuddy Facebook-based platform, KLM are reportedly developing a similar service to enable passengers to choose who they sit next to on their flight. However, unlike MHBuddy, which operates solely through Facebook, KLM’s new Meet and Seat service will enable passengers to access their fellow travelers’ LinkedIn profiles as well.
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The Meet and Seat service will allow passengers to choose their in-flight neighbors based on their occupation, mutual interests and appearance. By connecting to LinkedIn and Facebook during online check-in, passengers will be able to pick their ideal seat buddy, although both parties will have to choose to participate in the service. KLM believe it will provide an opportunity for networking, though other reports suggest it’s more likely to be used as a matchmaking tool. Those who are not interested in making friends or contacts on their journey do not have to participate. Meet and Seat is due to launch early this year.

Giving customers the power to choose who they sit next to presents an opportunity to make the journey more enjoyable, profitable or simply more interesting. Time for other travel operators to follow suit?

Indicating how much social media is becoming a major part of many businesses’ strategies, Dutch airline KLM this year rolled out its Meet and Seat program, enabling travelers to choose their seats based on the online profiles of those sharing their flight. Customers can make a match by offering their Facebook or LinkedIn data, depending on whether they’re looking for a potential personal or business relationship.
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7. Real-Time Sports Performance Tracking: United States

Trackers embedded in athlete’s

apparel provide live in-game

data for coaches

Adidas is to trial its miCoach system at the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, with team coaches able to monitor athlete performance on tablet devices.

Devices that help athletes monitor their performance have been around for some time now and are starting to encompass a range of sports – we recently reported on the Swimtag wristband, which acts as a training aid for those heading to the pool. Taking the concept one step further, adidas is set to test its miCoach performance-tracking system on world-class soccer players during a live game in July.

miCoach is a suite of devices and software built into sports apparel that monitors the performance of athletes — such as heart rate, movement and goal achievements — in real time while they are training or in competition. Hardware includes the SPEED_CELL — a device which can be attached to the bottom of footwear to give data on speed, pace and distance, the HEART RATE MONITOR and the PACER Bundle, which monitors cardio performance and provides post-workout analysis. Each of these can be used in conjunction with the Mobile App or Sport App for mobile devices, which produce visualizations based on the data from the hardware. Still in development, adidas will be trialling the equipment at the 2012 AT&T Major League Soccer All-Star Game in Philadelphia on July 25th as well as throughout the rest of the MLS season. Coaches will be able to use the suite to analyze player positions and performance, and can then make strategic changes based on the data. miCoach will be rolled out to the public once it has been successfully tested. The video below demonstrates the suite in action:
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Another trend that has grown in 2012 is the idea of the quantified self—learning about ourselves through data analysis. We’ve seen many new products which help to catch information about sports, one of the most comprehensive being Adidas’ miCoach, a suite of products to help sports professionals and trainers work out exactly how to improve performance. Using trackers placed onto players’ kits, the miCoach delivers metrics on speed, pace, heart rate and more in real-time. The system can also monitor entire teams at the same time, giving coaches the ability to make smart decisions during play.
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8. Audience-Controlled Concert Lighting: United States

App enables musician to control

concert lighting and sound

through crowd’s smartphones

Musician Dan Deacon is taking over the smartphones of fans at his live performances to turn them into part of the show.

We recently saw digital audience participation in action with the Stanley Piano, an automaton organ which takes requests from Twitter. Now musician Dan Deacon is taking over the smartphones of fans at his live performances to turn them into part of the show
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Fans attending a concert on the experimental artist’s current tour, which is promoting his recent album America, can download the app from the App Store and Google Play before they head to the venue. When the show starts, all phones running the app can be controlled using sonic prompts – in much the same way as the Chirp app we recently covered. The musician can then synchronize the crowd’s phones to display the same color and make the LED lights flash in time with each other as part of the light show. Perhaps most interestingly, the smartphones can also be made to emit sound, becoming an extra instrument for the musician to play. The video below gives a demonstration of the app in action:

While new technology has often been the bane of major record companies over the past decade, artists seem to have readily embraced its possibilities. One such musician is Dan Deacon, who teamed up with Wham City Apps to create a way to take over the smartphones of live audiences. Those attending a Dan Deacon show in support of his album America could download the app, which enabled their phone to respond to sonic prompts, changing the color of the screen or playing sounds in addition to those coming from the stage. The app allows for a greater deal of interactivity between the musician and the crowd, making for a more engaging experience.
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9. The Safe Phone: United Kingdom

Made-to-order phone focuses

on calling a select set of

pre-programmed contacts

OwnFone is a mini, lightweight, and customizable low-cost mobile phone that focuses on simplicity and ease of use.

In this era of ever more sophisticated smartphones, the need for a “simple phone” on the market has become increasingly evident. Enter the OwnFone, the latest entrant in this trend-defying category that adds a twist of personalization to the mix.
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A creation of UK-based CyCell, OwnFone is a mini, lightweight, and customizable low-cost mobile phone that focuses on providing direct access to a select set of key contacts. In addition to choosing the color and style of their device, users can design the handset around up to 12 names for quick dialing. Two, four, 8 or 12 name buttons can be preprogrammed and prelabeled on the OwnFone, which receives calls as well; the fewer the buttons chosen, the bigger they are. Meanwhile, phone numbers are not stored in the OwnFone, but rather are kept in a secure computer server instead. So, in the event the device gets lost or stolen, the user’s key contact numbers are protected. The credit card-sized OwnFone is rechargeable and will last in shutdown mode for up to a year without charge. Braille and photo buttons are coming soon, the OwnFone site says. Pricing is GBP 55, and three price plans are available, with no long-term contract required. The video below explains the premise in more detail:

In this era of ever more sophisticated smartphones, the need for a “simple phone” on the market has become increasingly evident. Enter the OwnFone, the latest entrant in this trend-defying category that adds a twist of personalization to the mix. A creation of UK-based CyCell, OwnFone is a mini, lightweight, and customizable low-cost mobile phone that focuses on providing direct access to a select set of key contacts. The handset can have up to 12 names for quick dialing. Phone numbers are not stored in the OwnFone, but rather are kept on a secure server (so if the device is lost or stolen, the numbers are protected). The credit card-sized OwnFone is rechargeable and will last in shutdown mode for up to a year without charge.
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10. Wireless Shoe Phone Charger: Kenya

Tiny chip inserted in the sole of a

shoe can charge the wearer’s cell

phone

A Kenyan entrepreneur has developed a tiny chip of thin crystals, insertable in the sole of any shoe, which can gather and store energy as the wearer walks.

The ubiquity of cell phones has inspired countless creative ways to keep them charged, whether it’s through a pedal-powered table, a charging handbag or a USB-equipped urban bicycle — to name just a few recent examples. The latest spotting? A tiny chip insertable in the sole of any shoe that gathers and stores energy as the wearer walks.

The brainchild of Kenyan entrepreneur Anthony Mutua, the new technology was on display earlier this month at the Science and Innovation Week taking place in Nairobi, according to a report in Kenya’s Daily Nation. The technology consists of an ultra-thin chip of crystals that generate electricity when subjected to pressure; placed in the sole of a shoe, it gathers energy when the wearer walks, runs and moves about. A phone can then be charged via a thin extension cable that runs from shoe to pocket, or energy can be stored in the crystals for charging purposes later. Mutua charges KES 3,800 to fit any shoe with one of his chips, and he offers a two-and-a-half-year guarantee.

Mass production of Mutua’s chips will reportedly begin soon thanks to funding from Kenya’s National Council of Science and Technology. Mobile and energy entrepreneurs the world over: One to get involved in?
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The brainchild of Kenyan entrepreneur Anthony Mutua, the shoe charger is a tiny chip inserted in the sole of any shoe that gathers and stores energy as the wearer walks. The technology consists of an ultra-thin chip of crystals that generate electricity when subjected to pressure; placed in the sole of a shoe, it gathers energy when the wearer walks, runs and moves about. A phone can then be charged via a thin extension cable that runs from shoe to pocket, or energy can be stored in the crystals for charging purposes later. Mutua charges about $43 to fit any shoe with one of his chips, and he offers a two-and-a-half-year guarantee. Mass production of Mutua’s chips will reportedly begin soon thanks to funding from Kenya’s National Council of Science and Technology.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha