Several European companies are jumping far into the future—with blood-vessel ID and a jet that takes off and lands vertically. Others are infusing classic objects with cutting-edge tech in order to address some of today’s most pressing needs, from Siemens’ electric-car-charging highway to analog watches that can monitor your heart, to smart beehives, and more.
For paving an electric highway: an Authobahn that charges hybrid electric trucks
Siemens, the long-established global giant based in Germany, broke new ground this year in the sustainable transportations pace by opening the first “e-highway” that allows electric trucks to be charged as they drive. This technology, if widely adopted could simultaneously help solve some of the pain-points associated with electric vehicles—and have a massive positive effect on climate change
2. Sprout World
For designing a pencil that can be planted in the ground so a tree can grow from its used body
Sprout world packs a lot of innovation into a small, everyday object, demonstrating that everyone can make a positive difference. Surreal, yet brilliant.
For fashioning a silent, discreet breast pump that women can use throughout the day
This U.K.-based company’s smart, wearable breast pump received FDA approval 2019 and expanded to the U.S. The design allows new mothers to pump through the day, discreetly, silently, and hands-free. It’s a great example of how “femtech” is being created to address the specific needs of women.
For turning any glass surface, such as a car windshield, into an augmented reality display
WayRay has created holographic augmented reality (AR) displays that can be built into any glass surface, from car windows to cockpits, and allows viewers to see AR information overlaid right on the window in front of them, no special glasses required. The tech could be used in everything from planes to self-driving cars. Very Minority Report-esque.
5. Micro Mobility Systems
For building the Microlino, a low-carbon-footprint car for city dwellers
The Switzerland-based company specializes in creating mobility vehicles for short-distance trips, which they say account for 95 percent of the trips people make in large cities. In 2019, Micro Mobility Systems created the Microlino (they call it the Anti-Tesla), which is inspired by bubble cars from the 1950’s. The small car has a small carbon footprint and is all most city-dwellers need for a majority of their outings. You can check out the (adorable) car here.
For detecting atrial fibrillation via its low-cost analog watch
Some consider Withings to be the “French Apple,” since they have introduced a number of seriously innovative products over the years. Most recently, the company debuted a watch called the Move ECG, which has a electrocardiogram built in. The Apple Watch 4 featured an ECG last year, but the Move ECG is the world’s first analog watch with an ECG built in. This means people who like traditional time pieces now have the option of having life-saving tech on their wrists. The Move ECG can direct AFib at any time, and best of all, the watch has a 12-month battery life, meaning that at-risk users/patients don’t need to remember to charge it every night like Apple Watch-wearers do. The Move ECG won the CES Innovation award last year.
For bringing The Jetsons to reality with the first successful flight of a five-seater vertical takeoff and landing electric jet
The Munich-based company created the world’s first five-seater vertical take-off and landing electric jet. It’s rather groundbreaking for the future of sustainable transportation.
For using AI to calculate musicians’ future royalties and pay them in advance
This record label, based in Stockholm, allows musicians to receive royalty payments six months in advance, so that they have enough funds to continue creating their work. Amuse’s tech uses AI to predict how much the artist will earn in the future so as to calculate their royalties. It’s a cool tool to help struggling musicians get a financial leg up as they try to get their work out there.
For identifying the most secure biometric authentication yet—using unique blood vessel patterns to verify users
Wit Sthaler’s “Fingopay,” you still use your finger to authenticate yourself, as you do with existing fingerprint ID systems, but Fingopay doesn’t use your fingerprint at all. Instead, it employs vein ID technology that uses light to detect your unique pattern of blood vessels inside your finger. It’s much more secure, because unlike fingerprints, blood vessel patterns can’t be altered.
For pollinating an internet of things for beekeepers
This female-founder-led startup is tackling a field that hasn’t seen much innovation: beehives. Machine-learning-enhanced sensors capture a massive amount of data about beehive activity that allows beekeepers to have vastly increased insight into how their hives are actually performing. Bees are one of the most vital components of the agricultural industry, since their activities lead to the pollination of essential plants and crops we rely on. Giving beekeepers more data helps them detect challenges or dangers to their hives quickly, and respond.
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