17 new “Gamechangers” for 2017 … Affectiva to Ava Wines and Magic Leap … Innovators disrupting their markets right now

January 3, 2017

Ava Winery founders Mardonn Chua and Alex Lee claim they can “turn water into wine” in just 15 minutes, without using grapes. The San Francisco startup aims to disrupt high-end wines by offering bottles of chemically identical wine cheaper and more sustainably (lab-grown wine uses 50 to 100 times less water than traditional).

Chua and his team used specialized techniques to analyze the chemical compositions of different wines, including Chardonnay, champagne, and Pinot Noir. These techniques, which included gas chromatography mass spectrometry, identified the amounts of amino acids, sugars, and flavor and odor compounds found within each drink, and allowed Chua to include them in his synthetic wine.

Lee argues that most of the compounds in wine have no perceptible impact on the flavor or aroma. Both, he says, are due to compounds that make up just 0.1% of the total — they include molecules that come from the wine grapes’ skins, which change as the wine ages. Meanwhile, the microbes that ferment the wine also create some of the compounds. Not all the compounds will significantly impact the flavor of the wine, but all of them contribute to its complexity.

Currently, Ava Winery’s website lists its replica of a 1992 Dom Pérignon Champagne for $50. A deal, considering the real thing sells for more than $150. However, wine lovers may turn their noses up at the fact that none of these replicas will have the word “wine” on their labels — a term that can only be used if grapes or other fruits are used in the fermenting process.

Other new “Gamechangers” who are rapidly rethinking, reinventing or reshaping markets range from companies harnessing quantum computing and machine learning, through to data analytics and new types of mobility, delivering aid to Africa and making dreams come true.  Here are the others:

Hyperloop One … suction-tube trains

From Elon Musk’s concept, Hyperloop One (H1) pounced on the opportunity for next-gen transit using vacuum tubes. H1’s first commercial project is a 99-mile system between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, aiming to reduce the two hour trip to a mere 12 minutes. Recently, a key investment from DP World Group, the world’s 3rd largest ports operator, points to high-speed cargo distribution, in addition to passenger transit.

Zee.Aero … Google’s flying cars.

Building a small, all-electric plane that can take off and land vertically. Unaffiliated with Google (but based right near the GooglePlex), the flying car project announced it had been personally financed by Larry Page since 2010, and currently employs nearly 150 people.

Magic Leap … bringing virtual reality to life.

Wired Magazine describes it as the world’s hottest (and most secretive) startup. Magic Leap’s mind-bending “mixed reality” technology uses photonic wafer chips to manipulate light. It superimposes 3D generated images over real world objects, by projecting a digital light field into the user’s eye. Founder Rony Abovitz says “the best way to describe it, is like dreaming”, has attracted $1.4bn funding from Alibaba and Google, and is currently signed up contracts with leading movie studios and game makers.

Nauto … capturing driving data 

Real-world data is essential to creating robust autonomous driving systems. Computer vision dash-cam Nauto collects anonymized safety data from its connected camera network. Its partnerships with big-name auto and insurance companies suggest a wide impact both in vehicle systems and liability reduction.

Dispatch … making delivery smart

Dispatch is creating a platform for local delivery powered by a fleet of wagon- sized autonomous robotic vehicles. Dispatch’s robots are designed for sidewalks and pedestrian spaces, taking on terrestrial drones space in last-mile delivery.

Twist Bioscience … Synthesized DNA 

Twist could help pioneer DNA computing, which writes data into synthetic nucleotides. DNA can last 2000+ years without deterioration, and a single gram can store almost 1T gigabytes of data. Twist is partnered with Microsoft to develop this technology.

Cambridge Quantum Computing … superfast computing 

Building a quantum operating system and developing quantum algorithms, with specific focus on quantum cryptography for its secure currency platform. Quantum encryption techniques will be necessary as current encryption will be rendered useless (quantum computers will be powerful enough to brute-force break classical encryption methods).

Knu-Edge … brain chips

Founder Dan Goldin surprised the world by announcing $100M in angel funding for his 10-year-old stealth chip company. Knu-Edge plans to make chips inspired by human neural networks to power artificial intelligence.

Affectiva … reading emotions

The MIT Media Lab spinout focuses on emotion recognition, using deep learning to identify emotions in facial expressions.

Filament … blockchain payments

Filament is developing decentralized machine-to-machine (M2M) mesh networking technology. The blockchain- based system could advance M2M payments, allowing machines to pay one another for data usage via bitcoin, as well as tackling connectivity in industrial IoT.

Veniam … turning vehicles into wifi hotspots

Develops vehicular mesh networks, turning buses and moving objects into Wi-Fi hot spots. The technology allows for wireless coverage in ports, airports, construction sites, and mines, but could eventually be a cost-effective alternative to cellular networks.

Kernal … superhuman intelligence

Braintree founder Bryan Johnson announced a $100M investment into his startup Kernel, which will focus on hardware and software to augment human intelligence. Kernel is first planning a device for alleviating Alzheimer’s and dementia. But future iterations will focus on a neuroprosthesis for using AI to augment human brainpower.

Enlitic … machine-learning doctors

Enlitic uses machine learning to provide the tools that allow physicians to fully utilize the vast stores of siloed medical data collected today, regardless of what form they are in — such as medical images, doctors’ notes, and structured lab tests.

Kindred … robotic exoskeletons

Founded by former co-founders and researchers of the quantum startup D- Wave, Kindred Systems is an AI-driven company working in human exoskeleton robotics. Kindred’s exo-suits supposedly allow one human worker to do the work of four.

Understory … changing the weather forecast

Understory is a weather data and analytics company providing real time, surface- level data generated by dense grids of weather stations. Understory provides real-time datasets and views of the movement and intensity of weather events.

Droneport … getting medical supplies to remote places

British architect Norman Foster is creating a network of droneports to deliver medical supplies and other necessities to areas of Africa that are difficult to access due to a lack of roads or other infrastructure and the ambition is that every small town in Africa and in other emerging economies will have its own droneport by 2030. The pilot project launched in 2016 is based in Rwanda, and will enable the network to send supplies to 44 per cent of the country, with 40 drone ports planned across the nation in phase 2.

UN Iris Scan … high tech refugee support

The World Food Program has introduced iris scan payment technology in a supermarket at Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, allowing Syrian refugees to buy goods using their eyes instead of cash. The WFP is  operating this new iris-scanning technology to allow Syrian refugees to purchase food without coupons, cards, paperwork or cash. Iris scanners began operating here at the beginning of this month, but WFP plans to expand their use to the 85 supermarkets contracted with WFP across Jordan.

Many more …

Innovation Radar gives you regular updates of the latest “Gamechangers” who are shaking up markets, reinventing business models, and innovating every aspect of business and customers’ experiences. Keynotes and workshops to explore what it means for your business are also available.


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