We've scoured the globe to find the most innovative and exciting start-ups and early-stage businesses. Here are the top five that caught our eye in January 2017.
- Intuition Robotics: Israel-based Intuition Robotics is pioneering social companion technologies. The start-up emerged from stealth in January 2017 to debut ElliQ, an artificial intelligence-based robot companion that keeps older adults active and engaged. Avoiding the look and feel of a traditional robot, ElliQ seamlessly enables users to plug into a vast array of technologies including video chats, online games and social media, overcoming the complexity of the digital world to connect with family and friends.
- Fingertips Lab: San Francisco-based Fingertips Lab has created a rotating dial that clips to a steering wheel for hands- and eyes-free smartphone use. The O6 device allows the driver to toggle between websites and apps using the dial, and use voice commands to deliver responses to emails and tweets, for example – all without looking at the screen. The device can 'read' information to the user and respond to voice prompts thanks to AI text-to-speech tech. It will ship in April 2017. See Human-Centred Tech Trends and Synthetic Communities for more.
- Lunii: Launching in the UK and US in September 2017, French start-up Lunii has designed a storytelling device that allows kids to create their own bedtime stories with a turquoise and yellow screenless gadget. The child picks a hero, place, character and object, before being told one of 48 tales incorporating their selection. See Decoding Digital Parents for more.
- PKVitality: In January 2017, French bio-wearable start-up PKVitality announced two trackers that monitor key body functions by 'tasting' the skin, rather than analysing blood samples. A smartwatch-like device, the K'Track Glucose allows diabetics to self-monitor glucose levels in seconds with a simple pressing motion. An accompanying app sends alerts to remind the wearer to check their glucose levels and shares the data with a relative or professional. Meanwhile, the K'Track Athlete monitors lactic acid in real time, letting sports people plan training and recovery sessions more efficiently.
- Inspero: San Francisco-based Inspero has designed voice-controlled Vinci headphones with a built-in fitness tracker and heart-rate monitor. The AI-powered earphones, on display at this year's CES show in Las Vegas, can sense and learn from vital signs, listening habits and exercise preferences to make instant recommendations – just like a personal coach would. The product is scheduled to begin shipping in March 2017.