Tech Innovations: Transforming the Way We Live

Tech Innovations Changing the Way We Live

Tech is an exciting and constantly-changing field that gives professionals the opportunity to use their knowledge and creativity to design, develop and maintain technology systems.  Because tech innovations are evolving at such a rapid pace it has become essential for technology professionals to know the latest trends in the industry. Are  you familiar with companies that are currently revolutionizing our world? Check out this group of eight tech companies that have recently emerged and are on our must watch list. Who knows, maybe one of these trailblazers will inspire you to develop your own great new technology!

Tech Innovations and Companies

#1 Final

Final is many different things: a credit card; a mobile app; and a way for users to protect against fraud, theft and credit card cancellation. Final lets consumers give a unique credit card number to each merchant. They also offer the option of using a one-time disposable number for one-off buys. The company is backed by $1 million in seed funding from investors including Ludlow Ventures T5 Capital Partners, Y Combinator and other fintech angels.  After being listed on the start-up site Product Hunt, Final jumped from just 191 initial sign ups to almost 10,000 overnight. Then within 48 hours they hit 20,000 users.

The creators of Final want to eliminate the hassles associated with traditional credit card use and to help users take better control of their credit. Acknowleding that re-establishing payment relationships wastes time and creates unnecessary stress, Final's tech innovations give people a new method of payment that provides more control over their finances in several ways.  Users can limit specific merchants to a monthly spending amount to stay on budget. Final also shows them exactly where their money is going and ensures they don’t have to worry about missing important bills.

Final may be a great option for people who:

  • Don’t have the time to constantly check their bank statements

  • Are concerned with building good credit and keeping spending down

  • Are looking for an easy way to prevent credit card fraud and other related hassles 

#2 Oculus VR

Oculus provides the tools, software and samples to help developers build virtual reality (VR) experiences. This includes access to the developer community to discuss VR, engineering challenges and game design. Oculus also create VR wearables and technology including the Samsung Gear VR, which allows users to play VR games on their smartphones or create VR theaters with their big screen TVs, and the Oculus Rift VR Headset. In March 2014, Facebook Inc. spent $2 billion to purchase Oculus VR, which says a lot about the potential value of this revolutionary technology.

Before he founded Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey worked at the University of Southern California’s Institute of Creative Technologies, where a team of therapists were using VR to help veterans overcome their post-traumatic stress disorder through exposure therapy.   . Oculus believes it has the potential to create social change by increasing empathy and understanding of different experiences.  

Oculus is in the unique position of providing VR technology directly to users— and providing tools for developers of VR video games to sell to consumers. Beyond video games the Oculus Story Studio, a team of ten Hollywood creatives, plans to release five short VR films this year. When it comes to these tech innovations the possibilities appear endless.

#3 UP by JawBone

Jawbone’s UP® system helps people take control of their health by providing insight into how users sleep, exercise and eat. Consumers can purchase the UP App, which includes a Smart Coach to deliver personalized tips and reminders to help them make better choices, or Activity Trackers, which monitor things like calories burned, steps taken, sleep and diet. The UP app can be connected to most activity trackers. From there you can purchase personalized workout or nutritional plans to help you meet your fitness and weight-loss goals. Users can track their progress real-time and learn how to make better, healthier choices independently.

UP may be a good option for people who are:

  • Looking for an easy way to track their progress
  • Stay motivated
  • Get tips as they attempt to lose weight, get fit or improve their health in general

There’s even an UP Coffee app for people who want to track their caffeine input to help improve their sleep!

#4 D-Wave Systems

D-Wave Systems calls itself the world’s first quantum computing company. Its flagship product is the 512-qubit D-Wave Two™ quantum computer— a device based on a superconducting processor that uses quantum mechanics to massively accelerate computation. So what does all of that mean? Rather than storing information as 0s or 1s like regular computers, the quantum computer uses qubits. A qubit can be a 1 or a 0 or both. This, along with quantum effects of entanglement and tunneling, allow quantum computers to manipulate all combinations of bits at once. This makes the computation powerful and fast.  According to one study in MIT Technology Review, it took a conventional computer 30 minutes to solve a problem that D-Wave’s machines amazingly solved in half of a second. 

The mission of D-Wave Systems is to integrate new discoveries in engineering, manufacturing, computer science and physics into groundbreaking approaches to computation that help solve the complex challenges of today’s world. They strive to be the leader in the development, fabrication and integration of subconducting quantum computers.

D-Wave systems are currently being used by a wide variety of organizations and institutions, including Google, NASA, Lockheed-Martin and USC.  Their quantum machines are best suited to complex optimization programs that exist in:

  • Machine learning
  • Optimization
  • Financial analysis
  • Pattern recognition and anomaly detection
  • Software/hardware verification and validation

#5 DataWind

DataWind offers a low-cost connection to the Internet, affordable computing devices and inexpensive pre-paid annual internet browsing plans.  What is unique about the company is that it has created patented technology that provides a fast, rich and affordable internet experience on existing networks, without the hassle of requiring any new infrastructure. For example, for just $38—the company’s cheapest tablet plan—customers get:

  • A 7-inch, 800-by-480 resolution capacitive touchscreen
  • 1 GHz single-core processor
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 4 GB of storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 0.3-megapixel front camera
  • Android 4.0.3 

DataWind’s goal is to provide low-cost connectivity to people around the world who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.  In 2010, the Indian government enlisted DataWind to manufacture the Ubislate 7Ci tablet as part of a project to provide cheap tablets for students. The target price was $35. At the time, comparable products from DataWind cost over $100. While coming in just over budget at $45, this tech innovation still blew away the competition. After a couple of years, the price has dropped as low as $40 or less.

According to DataWind, over four billion people around the world still do not have access to the internet—with a lack of affordability being the key reason. DataWind’s products and services are best-suited for those who are looking for a cheap way to connect to the internet—and who are not necessarily as concerned with having the latest technologies or the highest quality of products.

#6 Dwolla

Dwolla is a digital payment network that connects with U.S. banks and credit unions to enable safe and fast transfers from account to account. The idea is that once you sign up as a Dwolla user and give them your banking information, you can avoid the delays that come with traditional banking, such as having to wait several days for an ACH transfer. The company has also recently released Dwolla Direct, which makes the sign-up process for first time users easier by allowing them to send money to a business from their account without having to create a Dwolla account first.

Dwolla was developed as a means of changing how money is moved around electronically to make the process quicker, cheaper and more efficient than it is with traditional bank technologies. Dwolla offers benefits like “always on” instant bank transfers that are 24/7/365 for customers in different time zones, custom payment solutions, recurring payment options, and safe, next-day transfers.

Dwolla targets companies in the service industry, small businesses and non-profits who are looking for a less expensive alternative to PayPal and quicker access to payments. The company says it currently has about 35,000 small-to-medium sized businesses using their platform—as well as state governments.

#7 Expect Labs

Expect Labs is a pioneer in new technology that powers voice-driven applications. Their core product, MindMeld, is the first cloud-based service to allow companies to create intelligent voice-driven interfaces for any device or app. The MindMeld iPad app analyzes and understands conversation to predict the info you may need it the next ten seconds. This is not only extremely convenient, but also groundbreaking.  The app allows eight users to participate in a conversation at the same time.  The company’s many investors include Samsung Ventures, Telfonica, Google and Liberty Global Ventures. Popular Science called MindMeld one of 2013’s “Hottest Gadgets”.

Expect Labs created MindMeld to help create next-generation voice experiences that are, in their words,“intelligent, intuitive; convenient, fast, anticipatory, continuous, customizable and cost-effective.” This fascinating tech innovation was designed to respond to conversation in real-time to predict what may be relevant to users in the future.

Right now, MindMeld is targeted toward companies that want to improve user-experience for their apps by employing state-of-the art voice-driven technology. In that way, the benefits of the product will eventually trickle down to consumers like you—whether they’re in the form of products, services, entertainment or more.

#8 Scanadu

Scanadu is health technology start-up company that designed the Scanadu Scout™. The Scanadu Scout™ is a handheld device that measures vital signs in only 30 seconds or so.  The device makes it easy to quickly measure things like blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, oximetry and more. The consumer version of the product will not be available until sometime in 2016, pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. This product has the potential to make checking your vitals as easy as checking your email - incredible! 

The Scanadu device may be useful to anybody who wants to take more control over their health and has access to a smartphone. It will allow users to monitor their health anywhere and any place with an Internet connection.  And as we mention above, it has potential to serve as a mine for consumer health data.

It’s clear that many companies are developing ground breaking tech innovations - and that these innovations have the power to transforms all aspects of our lives!