The Digital Catapult Centre in London's King's Cross has been open for only a month, but has already attracted numerous start-ups keen to tap into the expertise on offer and share ideas with their counterparts.
The centre does not work as an incubator or accelerator by funding new technology ideas, but instead offers a place where entrepreneurs and small businesses can collaborate, test products and get mentorship from more established companies.
V3 visited the centre during an open event at which the resident start-ups showcased everything from prototypes to released products, and several new ideas caught our eye.
The Internet of Things (IoT) and big data are two linked concepts capturing the attention of the technology industry today.
Many companies are looking at how to use the vast amounts of data captured from networked devices to streamline their operations or find new sales opportunities. Thingful is taking a different approach.
The start-up aims to create a platform that enables enterprises to search for IoT data and exchange or sell parts of their own data to other companies.
The sheer volume of data means that not all of it will be useful for the company collecting it, meaning inevitably that some of it is wasted.
Thingful wants to provide businesses with a way to monetise all their IoT data whether they use it or not, thereby maximising the return on investment into IoT and big data systems.
Moeen Khawaja, chief operating officer at Thingful, hopes that the Digital Catapult will help the firm to scale up and eventually break into other markets.
"Once we can demonstrate [Thingful] in the enterprise world, we a very hopeful that, maybe five or 10 years down the line, individuals might be able to monetise their data as well," he said.
TruLife Optics is aiming to make waves in the wearable technology market, and has created a prototype screen that it hopes will create a platform for augmented reality software use with wearable technology.
The company has developed a component that can be built into helmets and glasses which uses two holograms on a small strip of 2mm optic glass.
Unlike Google Glass, where a tiny screen is put in the wearer's field of vision, the two holograms reflect a projected image from behind to the centre of the field of vision.
Crucially, the reflected image is transparent which means that augmented reality information is presented as an overlay to whatever the user is viewing without obscuring their vision or causing eye strain by looking as a small screen in a corner of their field of view.
TruLife Optics said that it sees the technology being used in consumer and industrial applications where people need access to information but need to operate equipment at the same time.
The goal of Canary is to create a system that helps in the care of elderly people without requiring them to leave their homes.
Canary's technology uses an infrared sensor system linked by a central hub to monitor and collect data on movement, temperature and an elderly person's visitors.
This data is organised and compared against a set of user defined parameters. If anything out of the ordinary occurs, such as the temperature dropping below a designated level, an alert is sent to the person's family. Canary hopes that the system will ease the burden of care on families.
Jamie Paton, business development lead at Canary, told V3 that Canary's use of the collected data is key to the start-up's offering.
"It's collecting basic information but putting it together in a unique way, in a usable and meaningful way, that people can actually take action on," he said.
Paton also explained that Canary wants to share ideas and get feedback on its service and products to help improve them over time.
Algorithms sit behind the technology people use on a daily basis, effectively providing the 'brains' for the software used in everything from search engines to vehicle systems.
Despite this, many algorithms go to waste by being left in crude formats or remaining in labs or on the pages of research papers.
Wide IO intends to change this by creating a platform where researchers can market and sell algorithms to businesses.
The goal is to create an ecosystem where small teams of researchers can compete against the large labs of major corporations, and businesses can get access to pre-built and usable algorithms, cutting out the time and expense of in-house development.
Wide IO has some challenges to overcome before such a platform is ready. The company will need to establish trust in an open market, integrate algorithms into a standard format for easy redistribution, and create a secure platform, all of which it hopes to achieve through the Digital Catapult.
These are just a few examples of the innovation that the Digital Catapult is hosting, and it is likely that more entrepreneurs and digital businesses looking to develop ideas will be attracted to the centre and its siblings across the UK.
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