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hearScreen gets another honour

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A smartphone hearing test for the detection of hearing problems in underserved communities, called hearScreen, has been honoured for the second time in a few weeks.

The solution was named a finalist in the Philips Innovation Fellows Competition for startups announced last month.

It is now also among the winners of the second annual SA Innovation Awards, in partnership with Business Connexion and Business Day, announced during the MyWorld of Tomorrow expo at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg last week The awards programme is aimed at recognising and celebrating innovative African companies and individuals.

“In the old days it was the large companies that could set up research and development houses, and could be the leaders in innovation that benefited most,” said Matthew Blewett, chief investment officer at Business Connexion. “But it’s changing now – we are seeing the democratisation of innovation. That’s because today you can innovate by having an internet connection and you can even fund yourself through various methods. That is why we launched the SA Innovation Awards – to provide a platform for African innovators, big or small, to showcase how they are bringing great local ideas to life. It’s our way of recognising and celebrating innovation.”

“All industries should be looking at technology as a mechanism of improving efficiencies, operational effectiveness as well as their competitiveness,” said Dr Sibongile Gumbi, one of this year’s SA Innovation Awards judges and group executive at the Technology Innovation Agency. “It is important to embrace technology and in the end see these innovations in the market.”

Songezo Zibi, editor of Business Day and SA Innovations Awards judge, commented: “As much as Africa’s enormous economic potential is recognised, it is only through successful innovations on varying scales that this potential is realised and sustained. I am honoured to have been part of promoting the SA Innovation Awards; it is a valuable tool that we as Business Day support, and look forward to seeing further innovative ideas for our economy.”

The winners as adjudicated by a panel of judges and audited by Mazars (in alphabetical order) are:

Collaborative Innovation: Barclays Africa Group

Created by Barclays and launched in 2014, ‘Rise’ is a global community for open innovation designed to pioneer the future of financial services through technology. It has been created to plug start-ups, corporates and innovators into a global network to enable them to connect, co-create, and scale the ‘next big thing’ in financial services. ‘Rise’ hosts numerous open innovation programmes, including the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstarts at select locations in New York, London, Manchester and in Africa.

Since launching, ‘Rise’ has established multiple partnerships and proofs of concept in order to make Barclays more competitive, as well as support the ecosystem by providing time, expertise and resources with the help of Barclays’ senior executive mentors, industry experts and subject matter expert mentors and funding of up to $100,000 per venture.

Community Innovation: hearScreen

hearScreen offers a solution for the detection of hearing problems in underserved communities utilising generalist community health workers equipped with mobile phones. This allows the decentralised health care at grass roots level.

The patented hearScreen smartphone hearing test, developed and validated at the University of Pretoria, is the first solution for hearing tests operated by untrained personnel with cloud based data management and a referral system that links patients to services.

Corporate Innovation: Resolve Capacity, a division of Resolve Solution Partners, an Imperial Group company

The Clinic-in-a-box solution provides a ready-to-use clinic which has sections for consultations, drugs storage and dispensing and record keeping providing an all-in-one solution without the need for multiple facilities. The units do not have to have a concrete base or slab for installation and can be disassembled and moved if necessary.

This innovation provides affordable quality healthcare to the African continent’s most vulnerable people living in the remotest of places.

Hall of Fame: Vuselela Energy

The Eternity Power Thermal Harvesting power plant is a clean energy power plant based at the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelting Complex near Rustenburg in the North West Province. The plant uses waste heat from the convertor cooling circuit at the smelter to generate 4.3MW of electricity which is used by the Anglo Platinum Waterval Smelter for its general power consumption. Developed by Vuselela Energy in collaboration with Anglo Platinum, the plant was commissioned in June 2015.

It is the world’s first power plant of its kind and is a reflection of true innovation in the field of energy efficiency.

SMME Innovation: Enviro Options

The Enviro Loo is an innovative, dry sanitation solution that addresses the factors that inhibit the installation of safe, sustainable sanitation. It operates through a process of dehydration and evaporation, occurring naturally through the use of the sun, gravity and wind. The system has zero environmental impact, as it uses no water or chemicals, and the decomposition of the waste takes place in a sealed unit, thus ensuring no water or ground contamination can occur.

Although the toilet system is waterless, there has been provision in the design to provide hand washing and hygiene facilities through the installation of rain water via a collection tank. Using solar technology, the unit is able to power an electric light and fan, not only improving the processing throughout the unit but also providing a dignified experience.

SMME Innovator: Jacques Malan, Director at Eternity Power and Vuselela Energy

Jacques is a Pyro-Metallurgical engineer with 20 years’ experience in the ferrous, base metals, ferro-alloy and refractory industries. His experience includes research and process design through to commissioning and operation of metallurgical plants in South Africa and internationally. Throughout his career, Jacques has specialised in the development of new processes for NICE applications and has authored a number of publications in the metallurgical field.

He was also responsible for the establishment of the first construction design and management compliant Waste Gas to Energy plant in the worldwide Ferro-Alloy industry, a 17MW plant at international Ferro Metals.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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