There’s sweat beading down your forehead, sparks flicking past your face, and the sound of chattering gears score the meticulous pattering of fingers-on-key as you punch line-after-line of inscrutable code into your laptop. This image, or something like it, often comes to mind when someone mentions startup and tech in the same breath, but it doesn’t need to be so, well, stuffy.
Because as we all know, for the sake of authenticity, this fantasy would be set in your backyard shed, or garage-turned-workshop. However, the idea that one needs to be tucked away in the dark corners of their secret lair, performing feats of technological sorcery, is becoming more and more outdated by the second. It’s no longer a requirement to have an omnipotent understanding of technology to build a successful startup within a tech niche, nor has it really ever been.
They key is recognizing specific trends in tech — and, from there, identifying areas in breakthrough research, challenges in development, and popular use-cases that contribute to the development of a new, or to the improvement of an existing product. This sort of insight has the potential to seat you and your budding venture into a position that makes you a necessary contributor to the growth of one of the many tech industry verticals.
MightyAI, Airware and Wearable Experiments Inc. are three recently started companies who have positioned themselves in a way that takes advantage, in the best way possible, of the current technological trends. These companies didn’t just jump in the deep end and try to compete, which may have worked as well, but rather; they arranged themselves in a way that made them an essential piece of the puzzle within a growing tech niche.
Robots are taking over. Although, not quite as dramatically or as murderously as Hollywood may have predicted. The Seattle based startup Spare5, which was recently rebranded as Mighty Ai, was able to recognize the challenges that are still very present in the development of Artificial Intelligence. One being, the ability to accurately recognize and differentiate between basic objects that we encounter in our daily lives, which is absolutely critical in the race to produce the first self-learning computer.
Unfortunately, unless your last name is Connor, were not quite there yet. In light of this pesky hurdle, Mighty Ai has engineered a clever way to outsource work, which is typically completed by training algorithms, to actual human beings. Yes, humans are still a necessity.
The way it works is: Mighty Ai distributes work, in the form of tasks, to specialists in a particular field, which often includes things like providing feedback by way of answering questions, asking questions, or describing the difference between images, audio, or video clips. And in turn, the AI developers who paid for the work are provided with a much more accurate dataset to work from.
Think of it like fact checking Siri, or maybe sending her to etiquette school? It could be both. In other words, the challenge of accuracy in AI development is a clear hurdle, and is something that Mighty Ai immediately recognized and decided they could capitalize on, and did so with great success. It’s no secret that the AI Industry is growing, and in 2016 there were 40 artificial intelligence companies acquired by the likes of Google, IBM and Microsoft to name a few.
Can it be integrated?
That buzzing over your apartment or home is soon more likely to be an aerial drone than an airplane or helicopter. With the FAA predicting that over the next four years drone sales will reach 7 million units annually the drone market is expected to grow considerably. What’s arisen out of this mad dash for a piece of the UAV pie is a need for a uniform platform for drone development.
Enter Airware, founded in 2011 and catering specifically to what they recognized as gaps in the commercial drone industry. Airware cited the inflexibility of military and unreliability of some hobbyist platforms leading them to design an operating system that could be utilized throughout the entire space — but that also specifically targets safety, security, production, and data collection.
Their Enterprise focused solution is already driving manufacturers in the market to create hardware that takes advantage of their applications. Simply by offering funding for commercial based drone development. Not to mention, the production of their own complete drones and cookie-cutter hardware templates.
Airware has created a product that facilitates growth in all aspects of drone market, by making keen observations about the current state of drone research, and capitalizing on oversights within the development of commercial drone applications specifically. Drones are a leading-edge example of growth within a tech niche, and there were 44 companies listed under the drone marketplace at CES 2017 alone.
Hey, I use that!
Wearable tech still seems almost too gimmicky to be true, but with ~100 million wearable devices sold in 2016 popularity is steadily growing. Companies like Wearable Experiments Inc. have taken a unique approach in the way that they’ve combined wearable tech, haptic technology advancements, and the popularity of health and fitness lifestyle trends: to create products like the Nadi Yoga pants.
The pants themselves work like a slip-on personal trainer that provides haptic feedback, like a vibration, to alert the wearer when and where to adjust their form. It’s the combination of function and style that makes these pants so unique, and with advancements in haptic technology on the rise, there will be plenty more opportunities to innovate from the unique base that Wearable Experiments Inc. has created.
An important thing to consider is, who really uses this kind of technology in a meaningful sense, does it provide any lasting benefit? Sure they do, practical concepts like GPS-to-sneaker integration, yes I said practical, promise to ease the stress of navigating busy streets via vibrative cues from haptics embedded in the soles of your shoes: guiding you with gentle buzzes all the way to your destination. And that’s just one proposed use-case. Will it be popular? That’s for you, the insightful entrepreneur, to decide.
The true champions of haptic tech have been the health and fitness communities in particular, with almost half of all wearable units sold focusing solely on fitness e.g. a FitBit or the like. That’s not to mention things like smartwatches that use haptics and have their own health and fitness apps or integration.
Wearable Experiments Inc. cornered a growing technology in haptics, and a thriving marketplace in fashion, health & fitness: by creating a product that is relevant to multiple communities, and that has already won numerous awards for innovation— all by being aware of booming trends in technology and zeroing in on a customer base that has already expressed their interest in dollars.