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Innovation

  • This Dutch student is building an ambulance drone

    Drones have a bad reputation, an almost irredeemable bad reputation even when proposed to be put to good use. The bad boy reputation is not uncalled for. Drones, though not on its own doing, have been responsible for some gruesome attacks. One student in Netherlands at the Delft University of Technology is attempting to put drones to good use. Alec Momont needed to complete a final project at university and he set out to find a positive use for drones. Momont was also driven by something greater than fulfilling course requirements. His parents had recently lost a neighbour to...

  • Google is developing a nanoparticle pill that will detect cancer, heart disease

    Google’s quest to disrupt the health industry just got properly serious. While everyone else is fiddling around wearables and apps, Google is allowing people to consult doctors without leaving their houses and is now working on a nanoparticle pill that could identify cancers and other diseases before they become a problem. The product is being developed by the technology giant’s highly secretive Google X division. The pill, Google says, would contain magnetic...

  • IBM’s Watson supercomputer is coming to SA healthcare centres

    You might recall IBM’s supercomputer Watson beating a quiz game of Jeopardy in 2011. The event marked a pivotal moment in our world’s history where a computer matched, or preceded, the skills and intelligence of a human being for the first time. Now, Watson is entering the medical industry in Africa. With Ebola weaving a thread of death through west African countries, from one country to the next, IBM and Metropolitan Health have announced the first commercial application of Watson in Africa. Watson — the impressive computing platform that is able to interact in natural language with people —...

  • 12 new African innovations you need to know about right now

    A while back, we told you about the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The prize, sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), covers a variety of engineering disciplines, including agriculture, nanotechnology, sanitation, security and mobile applications. The mandate behind the contest is to celebrate early stage innovations that will have a marked impact on the lives of people across the continent. The contest organisers have just announced the 12 semi-finalists, who were whittled down from a much larger field of entries from across 15 Sub-Saharan African countries. Each of the 12 semi-finalists will receive training and mentoring from...

  • Danish-developed robotic tongue out-tastes Belgian winetasters

    The annual World Blind Wine-Tasting Championships took place in the southwestern French town of Leognan in 2013. The settlement is near France’s wine-growing capital of Bordeaux, the port city nicknamed “La Belle Endormie” (Sleeping Beauty). Teams from different countries lifted wine glasses with utmost flair, sipped and allowed the wine to swirl in their mouths before unleashing their verdict. Belgium emerged as eventual winners, but the convention of wine connoisseurs, like everything in the universe, is about to get a violent shakedown. In Denmark, researchers have created an artificial tongue and wine connoisseur, a wine tasting robot that might unseat...

  • The Internet of Things: Imagining our connected future

    What do your fitness tracker, your fridge, car, thermostat, phone, TV, gaming console and the weather service have in common? They are all connected, or soon will be. These connected devices are referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) and — for those who’ve been living under a rock — it’s the next big thing. Just how big depends on the source. It’s estimated that, by 2020, the IoT will be worth between $7 and $19-trillion as an industry. By 2020, it is estimated that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. By then, there will be 7...

  • 5 significant innovations our smart homes will create by 2022

    From entertainment systems and washing machines in our homes to transport technologies and environmental control outside of them, connected devices open up a world of new possibilities. Gartner not only predicts the average affluent family home to carry over 500 hundred connected devices by 2022, it also highlights a couple of areas where opportunities for innovation might arise for business. Nick Jones, vice president and analyst at Gartner, refers to smart devices as those which have gained some level of sensing and intelligence combined with the ability to communicate. Gartner suggests that although a mature smart home won’t exist until the...

  • 7 ways to make a dumb home smarter

    The buzzword “smart home” fits nicely alongside terms like “The Internet of Things”. But the smart home is tangible, it is something. Best of all, it’s something well within the reach of us, the little people. First off, what is a smart home? Explaining  A smart home is home automation. Remote surveillance, WiFi-enabled stoves, automated porch lights, flush-aware toilet bowls, stuff like that. With an internet-enabled device connected to a smart home appliance, the possibilities are fairly endless. Think of a remote control for your gate at home, but on a grand scale, and contained within an app on your phone...

  • Siemens is challenging these students to innovate real solutions to real problems

    This is pretty cool. Siemens has just announced the finalists in its Cyber Junkyard competition, which challenges students to design and build engineering solutions to 21st century industry problems. Now in its 11th year, the competition aims to promote engineering skills and encourage tertiary students to apply theoretical knowledge from the lecture halls in real-world settings has expanded to include a new business development component. Unlike previous years, where Cyber Junkyard participants had to recreate and improve a prototype innovation supplied by Siemens, this year’s students were allowed to engineer a solution to any industry problem they chose. The projects...

  • Live in Cape Town? You can check out these autonomous quadrocopters in person

    Over the past few years there have been plenty of videos floating around online showing quadrocopters doing incredibly cool things, like playing the James Bond theme. In a lot of cases, the videos purport to show drones operating autonomously but it’s always a little bit difficult to fully believe unless you can see them in person. Well, if you live in Cape Town, South Africa you can do just that. There is a free demo on 29 August at 16:00 at the CTICC, where a team of roboticists from Zurich will show how these machines dance, build towers, catch balls...

  • Screw the robot apocalypse, our tech future is all about doing good

    After a 20-something-hour flight, I am about to face an immigration officer in the United States – not always the best experience. It’s my turn and I edge forward. “What is the purpose of your visit?” he asks me. “I am here for Microsoft’s Imagine Cup,” I respond. “That’s great,” he exclaims (surprising). “Are you one of the students? What have you built? Will it change the world?” Unfortunately I had to inform him that I am not a developer genius about to change the world, but he’s right, there are students from 34 countries here that are about to. Microsoft created the...

  • How bitcoin is fixing some of the web’s biggest problems

    The web has changed how we communicate, entertain, learn, make money… the list goes on and on. Still, there are so many people who take advantage of the system due to traditional limitations. To name just a few areas in need of remedy, cyber crimes such as fraud, piracy, censorship, and monopolies are all hungry for innovation. Luckily, the web has managed to give birth to new technologies that can help it fix itself. Very notably, bitcoin is one of those. Apart from its use as a currency, the technology first introduced in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto is revolutionising the...

  • Digital innovation could seriously upscale Africa, but there’s still a long way to go

    The biggest problem in the African health delivery system is not the number of sick people or the type of diseases, but ineffective system processes. Doctors are restricted in the treatment they can administer to patients, as their data collection is still predominantly paper based, allowing for records to be lost, mismanaged and destroyed. In addition, the computers and technology available to hospitals are used mainly to record payments rather than to chart treatments and profiles. There’s no question that digital innovation, particularly applications, has taken the world by storm and is changing the lives of millions across the globe...

  • How far could a rocket made of beer kegs fly? This Kickstarter wants to find out

    The uses for beer are multiple: it’s a great social lubricant, it works pretty well for conditioning your hair and, apparently, you can use it as the pay-load for two-stage rocket. No seriously, that last one isn’t a joke. A team of rocket enthusiasts is actually planning to build and launch a rocket, including a payload of two beer kegs, into the atmosphere and they’re funding it on Kickstarter. The team behind the project, which goes by the name Team Numb, actually has something of a history of strapping beer kegs to rockets, having first done so in 2008....

  • Coffee, Wi-Fi, charging mats: how Starbucks became every tech junkie’s favourite ‘third place’

    Observing consumer trends and understanding customers’ lifestyles can lead to moments of genius in meeting customer needs to create a superior Customer Experience. Case in point: Starbucks. According to US-based technology and market research company, Forrester Research, 92% of companies surveyed last year confirmed that the customer experience would be a top priority for them. We are entering what Forrester refer to as the Age of the Customer, “a 20-year business cycle in which the most successful enterprises will reinvent themselves to systematically understand and serve increasingly powerful customers.” For companies to thrive – and possibly...