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At the Skolkovo Startup Village near Moscow last week entrepreneurs competed for the chance to win 900,000 rubles to help expand their fledgling companies and set them on their way to fame and fortune.
Startups pitched ideas on a range of topics including healthcare, the environment, energy, communications, retail and consumer products.
Of most relevance to our particular niche was the ‘digital technologies for mass market’ session, which threw up some interesting ideas and some that I can’t ever see catching on.
The latter included an attachable mobile keyboard called Octodon and a new smartphone flash attachment that apparently improves your selfies.
If you want to find out more about the Skolkovo project then check out my article on Russia’s plan to turn it into the new Silicon Valley, or read on for details of some of the more interesting companies on show at the Startup Village...
It works by building a 3D avatar which the clothes are then superimposed on to based on the user's measurements. It also syncs with Facebook so people can get their friend's fashion opinions.
Several retailers are already using the system which has reduced returns by 10% and also helped to increase cross-sales. One US retailer saw a 20% lift in cross-sales as Dressformer was able to recommend clothes based on how they would fit the customer.
As a cyclist this security app struck me as an interesting idea, though one that might be difficult to implement.
Bike Defend uses a tracking device and mobile app to notify owners when someone has stolen their bike and allow them to track down the thief.
The trackers are built into bike lights, so the thief doesn’t know they’ve been rumbled, and an alarm in the app gives owners a chance to try and foil the crook. However it would take a lot of bravery to chase down and confront a thief.
Fingo is an augmented reality app that enables people to see what furniture and interior design styles would look like inside their home.
It works on a SaaS model, so retailers can fit the technology into their own apps or buy a white label version.
The idea is that a brand like John Lewis could install Fingo within an iPad app and allow users to virtually try out different products in their home before making a purchase.
However, Ikea has already trialled its own version of this technology and personally I’m still to be convinced of the value of AR.
RoadAR is a navigation app that assists drivers by giving them various warnings, alerts and information.
For example, it’s able to warn people about changes in the speed limit or if there are traffic lights coming up. The app also acts as a Sat Nav by giving drivers directions for their current journey.
It’s a fairly simple idea and I’d be surprised if it hasn’t been done before, but RoadAR has apparently attracted 25,000 users within two months so might make a decent investment if you’re an angel with a chunk of cash to spare.
I’m a fan of this idea as it struck me as something that would be useful at Econsultancy’s own conferences and events.
Exhibeacon uses various beacons and wearable bangles that interact with one another so organisers can track attendees' behaviour at their events.
Users can then access reports and analytics to see whether their conference was a success.
Exhibeacon can also be used to target people with advertising and promotions. The owners are looking for investment so they can enter the market in 2015.
Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have a website at the moment, so I'm not sure how you can get in touch...