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Technology

SkyLine

The dynamic global tech market changes at light speed, but some things are constant — like British innovation. London is still the largest ICT sector in Europe. From the capital’s Silicon Roundabout to Silicon Gorge, booming tech clusters are cropping up all over the UK, Europe’s leading app economy.

Look at my hands manipulating a touch screen, he said.

Together, game-changing inventions, like graphene and the World Wide Web, along with priceless human capital, an enduring national brand, and supply chain efficiency make the UK a global digital economy torchbearer.

watch on wrist
Rather than processing bodily data and feeding it back to users, doppel actually alters feelings and behaviour.

Stress Reduction, A Digital Heartbeat Away

The first wave of wearable technologies may have largely adopted the Fitbit model, measuring human performance, but the next generation of devices, according to Fotini Markopoulou, are aiming at improving performance.

Doppel is an active wearable,” says the co-founder, science lead and CEO of the London namesake tech startup. Rather than processing bodily data and feeding it back to users, the sleek digital wristband actually alters feelings and behaviour.

Doppel is capable of generating almost immediate energising or calming effects in its wearer, depending on speed setting, by emitting silent heartbeat-like vibrations directly onto the wrist’s pulse point.

The smart product is inspired by the concept of ‘entrainment’ — how rhythms can transform a person’s emotional state. For example, music with rapid beats gets people moving at the gym, while slower tempo melodies encourage relaxation. “Our invention was a way to generate a similar effect with something that you could use anywhere,” says Markopoulou.

The wearables startup is a pool of her own know-how in quantum gravity physics, and its other co-founders’ expertise in mechanical engineering, industrial design, and material science.

Rather than processing bodily data and feeding it back to users, doppel actually alters feelings and behaviour.

Crowdfunded By Market Demand

While Doppel was seeded with grants from organisations and programmes such as Horizon 2020, it also got an infusion of capital and public confidence by securing £111,194 in crowdfunding. “Kickstarter was the reality check,” notes Markopoulou.

Things accelerated when a manufacturer in China helped them produce an ambitious debut run of 10,000, investing in Doppel as well.

The co-founders stayed clear of screens, buttons and intrusive functions like alerts when they set out to craft Doppel. “We wanted to design something that integrated with people’s bodies as naturally as possible,” she says.

Doppel has received a strong response in the United States. As such, Markopoulou and her partners are “introducing our baby to the world at CES,” this year’s global consumer electronics and tech trade show in Las Vegas. They also sell it throughout Europe and Canada.

With active interest coming not just from consumers, but coaches on behalf of athletes, and companies keen to spur efficiency and calm in employees, the sky’s the limit.

Look Ma, No Hands, Just Phone!
“We wanted to design something that integrated with people’s bodies as naturally as possible.”

The Workplace of the Future, Kitted Out With Tactile Tech

In the office of tomorrow, getting engaged in work will take on a new meaning, as employees touch, feel and move files and folders around in mid air.

Bristol-based startup Ultrahaptics has developed the world-changing technology behind this futuristic working environment and it’s based on high-frequency sound waves (inaudible to the human ear).

Using proprietary algorithms and a network of speakers, which emit such ‘ultrasound,’ the tech’s inventors have essentially been able to wave-sculpt floating virtual objects which can be touched, felt, held and manipulated by end users, without the need for gloves and wearable gear.

“Our integration will be part of that desk of the future that allows you to feel what you’re working on,” says Ultrahaptics CTO Tom Carter, who co-founded the business in 2013 with his then University of Bristol human-computer interaction professor, Sriram Subramanian, and Benjamin Long, at the time a post-doctoral researcher.

The company, which completed a £17.9 million series B funding round in May of 2017, provides developers (manufacturers, content creators, etc.) with hardware, software, tools and its engineering expertise so they can test, prototype and create their own Ultrahaptics-based products.

“Our integration will be part of that desk of the future that allows you to feel what you’re working on.”

Virtual Showrooms

At this year’s CES, Ultrahaptics brings to life how a consumer may benefit from buying a car in a virtual showroom (featuring an AR headset by Meta and 3D graphics by ZeroLight). The display invites conference-goers to change the vehicle’s colour and feel its engine rev.

The tech can also be employed in automotive design and engineering. “If you’re working on CAD modelling, designing a new supercar, you can see what you’re working on right there in front of you, reach out, touch it, and feel it,” says Carter.

Ultrahaptics has been embraced in the automotive industry, and showcased its haptic controls in the dashboard of a demo Bosch concept car at 2017’s CES. It has also partnered with Jaguar Land Rover in investigating a mid-air touch system for its Predictive Infotainment Screen.

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