The technology start-ups making us sit up and listen
With CES recently taking place in Las Vegas, it seems 2014 could be the year of new technology. As well as numerous developments in wearable tech, highlights of CES came in the form of Toyota’s hydrogen powered car prototype, Samsung’s ultra-high-definition curved TV, a newly developed anti-microbial glass by Corning and the PrioVR game controller suit. However, these incredible advances are being challenged by some equally incredible start-up businesses.
Founded in 2012, having been developed by researchers from the Centre of Speech Technology Research at Edinburgh University, Quorate Technology produces software to make audio searchable using technology that converts speech into text.
Quorate Technology’s co-founder Nick Rankin describes how important the software will be for police, defence, aerospace, troops on patrol and air traffic control: “Our system automatically generates a transcript of what has been said in a conversation and makes the audio searchable by key words. So for example, we can automatically generate the transcript of a police interview and so if you wanted to find out the bit in the interview that talked about a white shirt, say, you can type in white shirt and find all the chunks in the conversation where it was mentioned.”
Moment.Us is a music app that was founded in Manchester in 2013. The app establishes your location, your mood, the weather, and a number of other factors, and picks songs to suit from 25 million tracks. By skipping or favouriting songs, the app learns your listening behaviour and adapts to your tastes.
Belfast has also come into its own for start-ups in recent years. Its harbour, formally known as Queen’s Island, has been regenerated as the Titanic Quarter and is now home to the Northern Ireland Science Park where 110 companies including many innovative start-ups are based.
One of these companies is Brewbot – a robot that brews beer! The brewer connects to the machine via the Brewbot mobile app, chooses or creates a recipe, starts the machine and adds the ingredients when prompted. The project was launched on crowdfunding website Kickstarter and exceeded its target, achieving funding of over £114,000.
Fashion-focussed video tagging platform Taggled was created by Ian Scott who was inspired by the complaints of his friend who had searched unsuccessfully for a jacket he’d seen on TV.
Taggled’s community manager Catherine Morris says: “Video bloggers or brands coming to our platform can tag the content very easily through drag-and-drop. Then, whether on a blog or social network, they can access the info by clicking on the tag. If the viewer clicks through to a retail site and buys the product, we get a commission from the retailer and share the profit with the blogger.”
With so many exciting and innovative tech start-ups, and growing ways of funding them such as crowdfunding platforms, we can’t wait to see what impact they will have in 2014.