Ten startups took the stage at this year’s Hack Osaka, with startups focused on social good, travel and health winning the judges’ hearts and nods at the event, which was held on February 27.
Gold Prize – Dot
Dot, a braille smartwatch company based in South Korea, snagged the Gold Prize at Hack Osaka with its low-cost device for the visually impaired. This victory comes after the startup won at Slush Tokyo’s 2017 Pitch Contest and was chosen as a finalist at Tech in Asia Tokyo 2015. Dot’s smartwatch consists of dots that are raised or lowered to create different braille characters. It can display information from text messages, GPS, and other applications by connecting through bluetooth to smartphones and other devices. Its current retail price is at US$359, which is significantly more affordable than some smartwatches that fall within the US$3,000 range.
Silver Prize – EyeControl
EyeControl is another company that’s looking to give people with disabilities greater functionality at a lower cost. The startup’s technology targets people with locked-in syndrome (LIS) or those who have full cognitive functionality but lack the ability to communicate through speech or movement. Stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and ALS are among some of the medical conditions that can lead to LIS. EyeControl’s wearable communication device works by reading eye movements. It doesn’t need a screen, making it cost effective and easier to learn. Like Dot, this company is looking to enter a largely untapped niche market, where the legacy technology is often unaffordable and not user-friendly.
Bronze Prize (tie) – Carbyne
Carbyne, a company focused on public safety, is working to upgrade emergency response systems. Callers can send information like personal data, location, and videos via their smart devices to authorities. Dispatchers can use such details to make more appropriate and direct responses while Carbyne’s proprietary technology can help them pinpoint a caller’s location. The company claims that the time of response can be cut in half through their technology.
Bronze Prize (tie) – Nature Remo
Hack Osaka’s other Bronze Prize winner was Nature, a Japanese company focused on internet-of-things technology founded by Haruumi Shiode. The company touts its smart AC technology, which can be seamlessly integrated with Google Home and Amazon Echo.
In February, Nature as the company has also gained recognition domestically as it just received over nabbed US$900,000 in funding from multiple Japanese companies and investors.
Blood Hero connects blood donors to organizations that with the constant high demand for blood in the Philippines. People can sign up on the app to donate or to seek a donor. Those who need blood can locate donors both by blood type and location. Stories can also be shared through app to inspire people to keep donating.
Have you ever had to fly out eight hours later than scheduled and received a five-dollar airport coupon for your trouble? Too often, flights are delayed, overbooked, or cancelled, and the reparations given don’t not equal the damages. French company Oui Reward is looking to help inconvenienced travelers get the compensation they deserve. Through the site, claims can be made for eligible flights up to five years prior. Based on the flight distance, passengers are entitled to different levels of compensation – the maximum amount is 600 euros.
Artificial intelligence seems to be disrupting every industry, and Yiyuan is working to bring that into skincare. The China-based company has a commercial API (application programming interface) and SDK (software development kit) for facial skin diagnostic analysis. Yiyuan is also leveraging AI technology into medical-imaging diagnostics as well as intelligent analysis of orthopedic, dermatological, and lung scans.
A short-term rental marketplace, Travelio has more than 2,000 units listed across 25 different cities in Indonesia. The company professionally manages the properties, which include apartments, villas, and houses. Users can choose to book immediately and accept the face price or negotiate.
Japan-based BackTech runs Pocket Therapist, an app designed for workers who suffer from lower-back pain. The app allows employees to directly consult with specialists about pain relief as well as preventative measures. BackTech also helps client companies develop surveys to capture and analyze employees’ back-health data.
The sharing economy is being applied to a myriad of markets, but not often around insurance. Sergey Shayakhmetov, CEO and founder of Protectiq is looking to create insurance through a P2P platform that’s affordable and accessible for people in developing countries. Protetiq’s revenue model is based on a fixed fee, but it claims that its interests don’t lie in high profits. The company says that without sacrificing coverage, participants pay comparatively smaller annual premiums, which start as low as US$20 and covers up to US$35,000. Charity funds or employers can pay for the premiums. Protectiq even organizes everything, including travel to and from the clinic as well as treatments and rehabilitation.
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