The concept of smart homes, i.e. those fitted with modern appliances that lighten the load of domestic life has now been a familiar conversation topic for some time. Other trends in smart technologies have followed hot on its heels. Two additional concepts have entered the lexicon: smart cities and smart offices. Smart offices can be seen as a variation on the theme of smart homes, tweaked to provide the best possible working as opposed to living space. Smart cities, on the other hand, are identified as those in which the internet of things is already up and running, e.g. they have sensors alerting visitors and locals as to the availability of parking space or traffic density. Included within the idea, according to IQ Intel, are the opportunities afforded residents to arrange a doctor’s appointment from the comfort of their own home via webcam, to pay for parking on-line or to monitor their children’s school attendance on-line, etc. What do smart technologies mean for new entrepreneurs? First and foremost - endless possibilities.
Smart homes, alongside smart offices and cities, are creating a completely new way of life for people: one that is full of functional and highly intelligent systems. Stats show us that developments in these areas are accelerating. As Gartner states, smart cities in 2016 are using something like 1.6 billion devices connected up to the internet. This number is sharply increasing, according to the IoT Online Store. By 2020, it is expected that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet globally, one third of which will be smartphones, mobiles and televisions. The remaining two thirds will constitute sensors and other smart devices. The IoT market is set to match the trend, rising from $ 655.8 billion to $ 1.7 trillion by 2020.
As Brittney Helmrich makes clear, the opportunities offered to business by smart technologies are limitless. In the case of smart cities, Young Innovator has already identified four principal areas in which startups should be focusing. They are: reducing energy use in cities, making mass transport in cities more effective (e.g. by car-sharing), connecting healthcare to patients’ smartphones and, finally, in terms of the environment, where there is the need to prevent waste from being generated and to effectively solve the problem of disposal.
Startups that went for it
Cities can become smarter in their waste disposal thanks to French startup Agora Energy. They provide special sensors that monitor litter bins and alert users when they become full. This information helps city authorities get a better grip on the waste disposal process in terms of logistics and cost reduction. Another French start-up is Sénova, with its special web app that proposes unique energy-saving solutions for every household and in this way substantially cuts household budgets. Smart offices, on the other hand, are the domain of US company Robin, who using a combination of smart devices and mobile apps make it easier for employees to meet up across larger companies. Free rooms are automatically booked, employee work calendars shared, and maps point the way to ensure meeting-goers find the right place. Smart parking is being developed by a graduate of last year’s Brno accelerator JIC STARCUBE, Tap4Parking, and by another Brno firm which is co-operating with the JIC, CitiQ.
Video: The Smart Home
Smart City/Home/Office is one of the topics of this year’sJIC STARCUBE, the longest running Czech accelerator. Startups can hand in their applications up until 7 August 2016. Since 2010, 72 start ups have entered JIC STARCUBE. Teams work their way through three months crammed with knowledge and workshops, meeting up with mentors and forging links with global technology companies. They get a helping hand and financial support to test and prototype, to access legal and tax services, for marketing, as well as contributions to cover their travel and accommodation costs. Examples of successful companies who have gone through the accelerator include GINA, Reservio and one of today’s fastest growing startups Kiwi (formerly Skypicker). Learn more about the accelerator by going to its website.
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