Edge of Innovation

5 of the smartest startups to watch in 2015

 

With the tech industry moving so quickly, it’s understandable that both users and investors are always on the lookout for the NEXT BIG THING.

Last year, Uber, Ello and Slack all hit the headlines for car sharing, ad-free social networking and aggregated messaging respectively. But what is the next big thing? We scoured the garages of Silicon Valley and beyond to find five startups you should pay attention to in 2015.

Atlas Wearables

After a slow start, 2015 is shaping up to be the year in which wearables finally go mainstream and that could propel Atlas Wearables to greatness.

Atlas wearable
The forthcoming Atlas wearable fitness device uses advanced motion-tracking technology to determine what exercise you’re doing.

Instead of just tracking steps, Atlas has developed motion-tracking algorithms can work out exactly what movement you’re performing at any given moment making it perfect for reps and sets in the gym. Ever dreamed about the fitness tracker that can tell you exactly the body parts you need to hit for the perfect gym workout? This is the company to look at.

Magic Leap

You can keep your Oculus Rift, your Morpheus, Vive and HoloLens headsets. Arguably, the most exciting virtual/augmented reality technology in development comes from Magic Leap.

Although still veiled in secrecy, the system reportedly works by using a tiny projector to shine images directly onto the retinas of the eyes, giving the wearer the almost magical ability to see virtual content in the real world. That might mean augmenting cityscapes for a virtual tour (by showing you how buildings looked 100 years ago) and superimposing fantastical creatures onto real backgrounds for gaming – see below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPMHcanq0xM?rel=0

Or it could also be as simple as providing a virtual UI for computing or taking Skype to the next level by putting you in the same room as the person you’re talking to. We hope to see more this year.

Coinbase

Bitcoin is gradually gaining legitimacy in the eyes of the general public, but the fact that cryptocurrencies are so volatile is still a concern for many would-be users. As the first ever licensed US bitcoin exchange, complete with insurance protection, Coinbase aims to make bitcoin so simple that even your mum could use it. Regulatory approval has already been achieved in half of US states.

SkyCatch

If you’ve ever wanted to get hold of a drone for a temporary bit of mapping or filming, SkyCatch is the startup for you. Rather than asking companies to stump up thousands for a drone they may not need to use constantly, SkyCatch works like Airbnb or Uber: hooking people up with drone pilots for work purposes, while also helping the pilots to make a living. This could be the company that takes drones mainstream.

Drones and UAVs on demand with Skycatch.
Drones and UAVs on demand with Skycatch.

Sakti3

Think of all the technology that’s being held back by today’s limited lithium-ion batteries – laptops, tablets, phones, electric cars, fitness wearables, smartwatches, cameras, remote controls, wireless speakers, handheld vacuum cleaners… the list goes on and on. While some manufacturers dabble with the chemistry or optimise the layout, what we really need is newer, more efficient technology.

Compared to previous lead-acid, nickel–cadmium (Ni-Cd) and nickel–metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries, lithium is still the best solution. It’s why Michigan-based solid-state battery maker Sakti3 recently picked up a $15 million investment from James Dyson to continue development of the next generation of Li-Ion cells.

By using its vacuum deposition technology and a thin-film deposition process, the company aims to double the energy density of today’s battery cells. Just imagine… This would give us laptops that could last for 24 hours straight, smartphones that don’t need charging every day and electric cars with a range of over 300 miles. – Luke Dormehl

What other startups are you excited about? Let us know in the comments below.

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