Ben WoodsEurope Editor
Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional Ben is a technology journalist with a specialism in mobile devices and a geeky love of mobile spectrum issues. Ben used to be a professional online poker player. You can contact him via Twitter or on Google+.
Today is the day that eight hopeful startups got to pitch their ideas to investors at startup accelerator Springboard’s Internet of Things (IoT) demo day in Cambridge, England.
The eight teams hail from all over the world – including entrants from Montreal, Toronto, Portugal and Bulgaria – and have spent the last three months tirelessly working away on their hardware-based startup ideas for the Internet of Things in preparation for today.
The program was announced in November last year and since whittling its way down to the eight final teams has seen has seen the groups receive more than a dozen show and tell sessions and 827 one-on-one mentoring sessions in a bid to fine tune the groups’ ideas for Internet of Things hardware.
But with mentoring and show and tell behind them, today is the day they get to pitch their ideas to investors, so, here are details of seven of the startups. The eighth is currently operating in stealth mode (yes, even on demo day) but we’re digging to find out more about them.
TaxiCast by London-based BrightMove Media wants to revolutionize advertising on taxis.
It claims to be the world’s first commercially approved geo-fenced (limited by a virtual perimeter) and day-parted (day-parting refers to splitting the day into parts to show content most appropriate for each time, and therefore audience) digital advertising service on LED screens mounted on the rooftops on London black taxis.
The company, comprised of Piers Mummery, Craig Holloway and Christian McGuinness, already has regulatory approval for its first fleet of 25 vehicles from Transport for London and already managed to secure a significant £680,000 seed investment in May this year.
Developed in-house over the course of the last two years, TaxiCast is set to launch in the UK on June 25.
Bulgarian startup Playground Energy is made up of Hristo Aleksiev and Ilian Milinov wants to merge the digital age and ‘olden times’ and get kids back in the playground.
The company wants to encourage kids to be more active and spend less time sat in front of the computer screen and is hoping to do so with its playground that combines tech with activity.
For example, it uses the kinetic energy of children to power lights and sounds, providing encouragement for the kids to do yet more. Playground Energy’s system can also be used to report how much energy has been produced and has plans for the future to introduce a way of powering Wi-Fi access for parents to while away the hours while the kids are playing.
Responsive Sports is the brainchild of Steven Cains and is looking to give sports equipment smarts.
The idea behind Responsive Sports is that if sensors are added to sports equipment athletes will be able to get better information about their performance. Simple.
In addition to selling sports equipment embedded with sensors, Responsive Sports can also power stats for televised professional sports.
Its first product will be aimed at mixed martial arts (currently the seventh largest sport in the world, Cains says) and talks are already underway for getting products onto shelves. Cains said he’s also in talks with partners to adapt the technology for a variety of televised sport.
Siine, based in London and Barcelona, is the work of Ed Maklouf and Andrei Kovacs and has already attracted the attention, and backing, of Niklas Zennstrom’s Atomico Ventures.
The company’s work focuses on enabling structured data input from a smartphone to anything.
To date, the company has released a shortcut keyboard UI for Android that has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times and a football Referee Pro application that replaces the pads of paper of olden times.
The company said it also has other products in the pipeline that “do the same magic” for other verticals, including using crowd-sourced data and environmental protection.
TapTo is a cloud-based marketing platform that uses QR codes and NFC capabilities on devices to create “more relevant and engaging” experiences.
NFC tags can be embedded into posters or point-of-sale (POS) displays to activate when a user gets within 3-5cm.
The company, Andy King and Jack Wall, says its QR and NFC tag management platform can be used to update marketing campaigns in real-time and every interaction delivers data on the user’s location, the time of interaction and the handset used.
TapTo said the non-payment NFC market is set to balloon to an estimated $35B by 2016, and clearly, it wants a slice of that pie.
TOPPOT wants to change the way you cook.
The Portuguese startup believes that its digital sous-chef (a sort of assistant head chef, if you will) can help the world eat more healthily and transition away from eating so many ready-made meals.
TOPPOT uses a method of cooking called sous-vide (cooking in a water bath) and already knows all the processes and required knowledge to carry out the task to perfection.
The project’s founders, José Pinto Ferreira and Catarina Violante, said the device also learns your taste, adapts to your day and learns what and when you eat.
The pair also said they have a pre-alpha version of the machine up and working and have “already felt the difference it makes in our daily lives”.
WiCastr, based in Cambridge in the UK and Montreal in Canada, is looking to take advantage of the upcoming capacity cruch caused by the explosion in the use of smartphones while out and about.
What WiCastr purports to do is allow people to access content across all of their smart devices, but without the need for an app or even an internet connection.
The unit itself is essentially a mini portable Wi-Fi-based broadcasting station and software development platform, WiCastr said.
“WiCastr will be used in retail to extend the in-store experience and provide personalized offers, at large events and conferences to provide access to contextual content, and in the enterprise world to quickly and effortlessly deploy wireless networks,” the company added.
WiCastr is currently in talks with a number of businesses across different sectors, such as retail, events, telecomms and the enterprise with a view to deployment in the coming months.
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