Hong Kong International ICT Expo 2018: Bringing startups to the fore
By Chong Jinn Xiung April 20, 2018
- 110 startups from across the globe gathered to show the latest tech
- Innovations in 3D printing, wearable technology, virtual reality on show
STARTUPS were back in full force at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) following the successful introduction of the Startup Zone during last year’s Autumn Edition of the show.
This year a total of 110 startups were present and all of them occupied the concourse area on the third floor of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre showing the latest innovations in 3D printing, robotics, virtual reality (VR), health tech and many others.
The atmosphere was certainly lively as many visitors eagerly observed and inquired about the solutions the startups had on show. In fact, many of the startups present were not native to Hong Kong but came from across the globe from countries such as, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the United States.
“Since last year, the HKTDC launched a dedicated Startup zone to provide a platform for new startups to present ideas to global buyers and potential investors. This would in turn allow them to grasp business opportunities and explore overseas markets,” said HKTDC deputy executive director Benjamin Chau.
To help startups gain more exposure and expand their business, a series of startup-themed events including a ‘Smart Launch’ session, pitching sessions and media pitch day and investment matchmaking sessions were organised.
Sharing sessions and mentoring sessions were also staged where successful entrepreneurs, angel investors, startup accelerators and incubators shared insights on how to best get their product to market, find manufacturing partners and tips on crowdfunding.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council arranged for special meeting sessions where members of the media had a chance to sit down with a few of the startups at the show.
Diving straight into the world of VR, DNA spoke to Canadian startup Babylon VR on their self-titled Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that is meant to help companies create compelling web-based VR experiences.
The company’s chief executive officer Jack Liu explained that the idea behind the platform was to democratise the creation of VR content so much so that someone without any coding knowledge can do it on their own.
“Often times the best people to build these VR experiences are programmers but they need help from designers to realise their vision. Our solution aims to cut down the lengthy process of creating VR experiences down to a single day,” he said confidently.
With the proliferation of many 360-degree cameras on the market like the Samsung Gear 360, Ricoh Theta or the Xiaomi Mi Sphere; it is relatively inexpensive to own a device and begin taking 360-degree photos and videos.
The idea is allow users to upload any 360-degree photo and video to their cloud platform to stitch together to make an immersive storytelling experience.
Liu said the platform will be available for use for free, with limited access to certain features and a watermark on each work. There is also paid model that gives commercial businesses such as hotels, event spaces and restaurants full creative access to create virtual tours to showcase their spaces.
Babylon VR is currently in beta now but it will be ready to roll out by the summer of 2018.
A better night’s sleep
Sleep is crucial for our wellbeing and Hong Kong Enter Trade Technology Co Ltd understands this. This is what led them to create the Luuna Smart Eyeshade (pic, above) that aims to improve the quality of sleep at night and even power naps during the day.
Luuna functions as a sleep tracker with special sensors that capture the user’s brainwave activity with Electroencephalogram (EGG) technology in real time.
It will then send this data to the iOS or Android mobile app that works in concert with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm to determine the best music to be played according to the user’s mood.
Weng claimed that using the Luuna, which took three years to develop, would allow sleepy individuals to feel better and refreshed after taking a 20-minute power nap.
The company aims to deliver the Luuna by June 2018 at a retail price of US$129 though prices may vary depending on the market.
Smart device for babies
Keeping to the healthcare theme, Peacify Sock is a smart wearable device developed by another Hong Kong startup Peacify Limited.
Peacify co-founder and business and strategy manager Jay Ho explained how the project was started in 2016 when he and his other co-founders: Alan Law, Matthew Lee, Johnny Poon and Celia Lee discussed the problems new parents faced and how there were limited solutions available to them.
“There are so many wearable devices for monitoring our health on the market from the Apple Watch to devices from Fitbit and Garmin. So we wanted to use technology to help new parents out,” he said.
The concept of the Peacify Sock is that it brings medical grade sensing technologies to infants in the form of a baby sock.
It is small, lightweight and easy to wrap around the ankle of a newborn baby. Underneath it are sensors that are said to be able monitor a baby’s vital signs such as the bloody oxygen level, heart rate and body temperature and transmit data to an app for smart devices.
Parents would be able to monitor the baby’s health in real time anytime and anywhere via the app. In the event of any abnormalities in the baby’s readings like a spike in temperature, parents will receive a push notification and be able to take action immediately.
“Often times parents need to frequently check on the state of their baby throughout the night and lose sleep. The idea is that this device can help take the pressure off new parents while giving them peace of mind,” said Ho.
An eye on security
Biometric security is everywhere these days from the locks on our doors to our smart devices. But for South Korean security solution company Ai Platform, many of these measures are not as secure as we might think them to be.
To the Busan headquartered company, fingerprint scanning can be fooled as silicon gel can be used to make a copy of a fingerprint. They also argue that facial recognition is not as accurate as it is made out to be as the shape our faces change depending on the time of the day.
For highly sensitive worksites like banks, government offices or military installations, security is of the utmost importance. These are the institutions Irience has been targeting with its Eye Master, iris recognition access controllers.
The device is able to enroll and authenticate two eyes simultaneously. The solution is not limited to just iris scanning but also supports RFID cards and good old passwords.
To date Ai Platform has already supplied 500 units of the Eye Master to a bank in South Korea and it has a retail price of US$1,500 per unit.
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