Digital Innovators: three market transforming companies leading business into the world of tomorrow

Luke Graham
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Technology is driving innovation in the global economy (Source: Getty)

Technology has become one of the main driving forces of the world economy, allowing businesses to become more productive and efficient, and helping to create new types of jobs.

Data analytics and machine learning mean that artificial-intelligence powered devices are becoming faster and smarter, able to solve all sorts of problems and tasks.

These three companies below are designing new technological solutions to today’s problems. Their innovations in the business world are helping to transform the markets of the future.

Read more: Life changing companies innovating the digital sector

With three words, find anywhere in the world

Traditional street addresses using postcodes can be inaccurate or ambiguous. Meanwhile, trying to find remote addresses using GPS coordinates is tricky for everyday use.

Address issues are annoying for any consumer or business, especially if it means a delivery doesn’t go to the right place.

What3words is trying to fix the problem of poor addressing around the world using a simple solution. They’ve divided the world into 3m by 3m squares and assigned each one with a unique address using three everyday words.

The company argues that a simple three word address is easier and quicker for consumers to remember and to describe. It also has a wide-range of applications, from making deliveries and GPS navigation devices better, to helping with foreign aid and rescue efforts.

Giles Rhys Jones, chief marketing officer at what3words, says consumer adoption of voice-powered devices has added a new dynamic to the location tech and navigation sector.

“These devices are fast becoming an integral part of our lives, but in a recent independent study we published, we found that globally, 38 per cent still claim to struggle to be recognized by their device or find them difficult to program. The navigation sector - particularly the automotive industry - is focused on how to better the process, striving for a smoother, more accurate input by voice.

“We remain the only addressing system built for this – using a list of around 25,000 dictionary words that are easy to program into voice-controlled assistants. Mercedes-Benz have been the first OEM to see the benefit of more accurate addressing, and the first cars able to navigate to three word addresses are just about to hit the roads.

“In terms of growth, the team has expanded exponentially, and we are almost 80 strong today. We are now operating in Saudi Arabia, alongside our existing offices in the UK, South Africa and Mongolia. Most recently, Tuvalu joined the 10 other countries who have adopted what3words as an addressing standard - giving many people an address for the first time.”

Let your car do the driving

Several companies, including leading tech giants such as Google and Uber, are developing self-driving cars. Removing human error could make vehicle travel more efficient, easier, and, above all, safer.

Imagine how much more productive you would be if, instead of spending mental energy on driving during the morning commute, you could answer emails and start grappling with spreadsheets in the comfort of your car, as it guides itself to your office car park.

British start-up FiveAI is working to develop an autonomous vehicle platform that will be safe in complex urban streets. Last year, the company raised $30m in funding towards its goal of bringing cutting-edge technology to the market with an affordable shared transport service.

In fact, billions of dollars are being invested into the autonomous vehicle sector, according to Stan Boland, co-founder and CEO of Five AI.

“In Europe, Five AI is busy building its team – now at 90 staff and about to start public road testing, in our first forays outside proving grounds.

“Our main developments have been getting our next generation cars – each one costing us $250k and we’ve got a lot, as well as hiring our simulation team in London, starting with the engineering leader from Facebook’s Oculus group and recruiting Leon Daniels (formerly Managing Director for Surface Transport in London) as a key advisor. We’re planning a public launch of our vehicles in June 2018, so watch this space!”

The next step in renewable energy

Wind, solar and tidal energy are well-established forms of renewable energy. What about the humble human footstep?

Pavegen is seeking to solve our energy needs with its advanced smart-flooring solution. Its floor tiles turn the kinetic energy of human steps into electricity in order to power lighting and other applications. According to the company, one footstep provides enough energy to power an LED-lightbulb for nearly 20 seconds.

Sensors in the tiles can also monitor footfall, meaning this data can be used to accurately analyse consumer patterns, and predict peak timings. This kind of data will be invaluable to solve the issues facing urban spaces as the world population grows.

The company has completed over 150 projects around world. Laurence Kemball-Cook, CEO and founder of Pavegen, says recent installations include at an airport in the UAE, and a shopping centre in London.

“From June to December 2017 we worked with the New West End Company and Transport for London to pilot the world’s first smart street just of Oxford Street. This was a great demonstration of how Pavegen technology can enable people to connect with the smart city concept and we are now working with the same team to deploy in a new site that will be deployed at another key location in the West End from June 2018.

“To support this growth in permanent sites, we have also signed an agreement with technology and engineering leader Siemens, to work together on their smart city projects. We continue to work with some of the build’s most interesting brands and agencies. This has been a great testing ground for our tech, allowing us to trial new applications and infrastructure. Highlights include recent work with Gatorade, Mitsubishi and Shell.

“With new senior hires in sales, communications, project management and engineering, we’ve grown overall revenues by 200 per cent.”

These companies are all taking part in the final of Bird & Bird and City A.M.'s Digital Innovators 2018, which highlights the freshest and most inspiring digital companies impacting the market. The two winners will be announced on 11 May. To find out more, go to the City A.M. Digital Innovators hub.

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