Was the Smart Phone really the last really big innovation with the potential to change our lives? A generation of digital natives growing-up alongside the rapid evolution of services and entertainment on mobiles seems to suggest it was. I used to track the technology and all it’s convergences as our small innovation team at Ordnance Survey awaited a platform that could do justice to our suite of location based games and augmented reality demonstrations.
Apple emerged with the innovation. Nothing new; but just a neat bringing together of current technologies in a different way that made sense to any user.
So is it the wizardry of the solid state technology and the services that run on them that really change our lives?
I always thought so. As an occasional reader of all the Geo journals I get (Geographica, the Royal Geographic Society‘s Geographical Journal and the Bulletins from BCS and the Society of Cartographers) you get used to academic proposals that pique interest but really never get the impact to change the world (or how it’s measured or referenced).
But that changed this lunch time.
I was surprised when a pilot friend of mine phoned to asked me “have you heard about these What3Words” guys?
Slightly taken aback as it normally takes some time (almost centuries) for a new geographical reference system to get the nod from academia, adoption by business and then enter the mainstream to pique the interest of a commercial airline pilot.
“Well yes” I replied. “Our Angel investor has a stake in it, the guy who designed the user interface for SplashMaps is employed by them and they, like SplashMaps, are a co-sponsor of our Geomob gatherings in London”.
“Oh”… he said “Do you know what this means?”
I waited and listened with increasing excitement as I realised that the talks I’d seen and the articles I’d read about this 3 year old business were now being faithfully interpreted into a clear set of benefits that anyone could buy.
Mike’s interesting. Like all investors in SplashMapshe has an eye for potential.
As a pilot with a background in the military he’s well aware that not knowing where you are is a common route to most disasters. The W3W approach to “naming” every 3m square on the planet means the same reference can be made for his craft as it takes off, advances around the world and eventually lines up with a gantry at LHR. Accurately. The idea is brilliantly simple and infinitely extendible to all areas of life where a common meeting point is needed. So what can I do? How about for a start;-
Like most Geo Businesses SplashMapscannot afford to be behind the curve. Already Splashmaps is streets ahead of most with our map interface that lets you choose anywhere in the planet by name, post code and by reference to a viewer map and preview. We can add a What3Words finder to this and people can get even more specific about start, finish and meeting points. Perhaps there’s even demand for a sub-heading in the titles of our map?
Mine would say Refreshed.Butlers.Enveloped
The amazing coverage this “behind the scenes” reference concept gets in the press is testament to the team behind the project and the excellent backers they’ve been able to attract. A reference that will change our lives? I recon so.
I’ve been bad for not keeping you all up to date on dbyhundred activities so, as we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, here’s a potted summary of our greatest achievements this year;
2) Another “almost” half of the year has been spent with HomeHalo creating the worlds most simple way of managing your kids internet use. I’ve been project manager from the start, taking the idea from concept through early prototyping now to manufacture and sales. It’s a unique combination of hardware and cloud based services and draws on all my skills for international collaborations.
3) More Market Research work has been completed for SBD Ltd. using my expertise and contacts in the connected vehicle sector. I was also very pleased to work with a new dbyhundred Ltd. star researcher for the first time on making new propositions in geo-research. Every year the connections strengthen and new sources of info are found!
4) I continue to work with the expert teams in the European Commission on a range of calls around innovation and implementation of cloud infrastructures. These are great networking opportunities for all 3 of the above as well as the work which I carry out personally and is both fascinating, rewarding and helps keeps European technology ahead of the curve.
At dbyhundred Ltd. we’re enjoying a strong year of extending our core innovation skills into new areas. In fact this years’ projects cover the diverse markets of Low Carbon Automotive, Maps, Vulnerable Road User safety, and Internet security. As is often the case for our projects, each of these businesses are following the trends in big data and often “open” approaches to innovation and provision of data.
Our skills in managing innovation events have been applied to the automotive industry through our management of the Meet the Engineer event in April.
We continue to help in all aspects of start-up businesses. Initially this year this was all about new product development for SplashMaps, but we have now taken on a brand new contract with a client launching an internet security proposition for launch next year.
Our networking and education in all aspects of the latest in “cloud” and “big data” has been boosted with 3 European Commission contracts.
2014 looks busy too with many of the current projects having significant targets toward the end of this year and the middle of next, but we are always interested to learn of new opportunities from our past, present and new clients.
A nice analogy and a good set of reasons why public sector created data should be made a available FREE for anyone.
Working on the “How” they do this on a European scale is the usual challenge, particularly with the wealth of different charging structures in each member state. But entrepreneurs will pick up quickly in the early “free” markets. We will show how free data improves the economy for all!
Since it started in November 2012 the idea of SplashMaps; Washable, wearable, waterproof maps designed for the REAL outdoors; has developed and captured the imagination of hard-nosed geographers and hard-core adventurers alike.
dbyhundred has contrinbuted to a lot of this success;
You could say our second success was breaking even this month!
And our third has just come in! The Technology Strategy Board has just approved our application for an Innovation Voucher! This gives us the funding we need to refine our customer centred web design. Soon users will be able to select their preferred mapping area, automatically input their own data overlays and change titles and branding to make a totally unique map to their specification.
dbyhundred is proud to have been here for the start of this exciting business and to have helped make a reality out of a compelling idea.
Last week I managed two innovation events designed to grow the potential for Low Carbon automotive technologies in this country.
At the Automotive Council’s “Meet the Engineer event” we lined up 18 companies to present their technologies before an audience of the main car manufacurers and their suppliers in this country. Each technology had significant potential for reducing carbon emissions throughout all automotive applications. But the noticable common factor amongst most of the technologists is their preference for using busses as the proving ground for their innovations.
Why is this?
1) Busses are manufactured in Low volumes. This means they can benefit from earlier stages of production of the Low C technology. By contrast, production cars require the technology to be proven and then reproduced, faultlessless, many thousands of times on the production line.
2) Busses are big and therefore can adopt a technology before development has miniturised the invention.
3) Busses have larger engines and therefore the greatest potential for improvements in performance.
4) Already busses (and particularly coaches) are recognised as the lowest carbon choice in public transport.
So it was a privilage that we had the forthcoming hybrid Boris Bus from Wrightbus proudly parked in front of the exceptional Concept 1 venue at Millbrook last week.