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Democratisation of innovation moves to the grassroots

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When we think disruption, companies like Uber and Airbnb come to mind. But, when we look at software and hardware, HITENDRA NAIK of Intel, believes that any company, big or small can play its roll in changing the markets operate.

When we speak about disruption, we often default to unicorn companies like Uber and Airbnb, which shook up the global taxi and hotel industries, respectively. But with the democratisation of software and hardware, the reality is that anyone can start a business these days and the biggest disruptors and innovators can come from emerging markets and not just the US and Silicon Valley.

Innovations South Africa’s Giraffe  and MyQ from Nigeria have set out to solve real and local challenges, such as unemployment and transportation industry management, respectively. Developers and makers in these and other emerging markets have shown that the game-changers don’t have to be the Ubers of the world but can be the two-man startup that’s making a tangible difference in the lives of thousands.

Innovation moves into hardware space

Until now, global innovation has primarily been in the software space. The adage ‘there’s an app for that’ is testament to the fact that, whatever problem you have, there’s likely an app that attempts to solve it. This is only possible because the democratisation and accessibility of software development tools has enabled anyone with a computer, an Internet connection and some knowledge of coding to do pretty much anything.

But with 1,300 apps being added to app stores every day, we’re seeing an evolution in disruption away from only software to how applications can be linked to hardware, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics to leapfrog infrastructure gaps and to understand and even pre-empt what people want.

It’s now easier than ever to innovate in this space. The democratisation of hardware and compute platforms like Intel’s Edison, Joule and RealSense platforms, as well as its software and cloud analytics platforms, coupled with easier access to funding through crowdsourcing options like Kickstarter, has created a low barrier to entry and has opened up the market to anyone with an idea, to build a business with lower barriers to entry.

Cloud services have also been democratised and, in the future, technologies like artificial intelligence will be, too.

Developers and makers will innovate and build on computer platforms and link any device to data in order to address societal problems that many thought were unsolvable. Think smart cities that can communicate to authorities exactly where water leaks are; health systems that can predict an epidemic long before it becomes a threat; and connected buildings that, when on fire, can help emergency personnel save more lives.

The startups of today will enable the next-generation governments of the future who will harness modern technology for societal transformation that will change the way we live and work to deliver new experiences that fuel GDP growth and create jobs.

Creating a sustainable ecosystem

But with a failure rate of 50% within the first four years, startups need to be enabled through partnerships, incubator hubs, technology and business support to help the public and private sectors reach this level of digital transformation.

Governments in emerging markets have modelled local startup hubs on those seen in Silicon Valley and other developed markets after realising the potential they have for innovation and job creation.

But we need to do more to help these small businesses succeed.

At the public sector level, startups are already benefiting from tax incentives, which allow them to invest more money into their businesses during the crucial first few years. Partnerships with universities will give startups access to a pool of people who are educated in science and technology and can help them to scale their ideas.

The private sector also has a role to play in terms of creating opportunities for startups to showcase their ideas, connect with other startups, and network with investors. Events like Seedstars World  and Demo Africa not only help to discover the best startups but through challenges like the Intel Solutions Challenge, startups in the cloud, IoT and analytics space also gain exposure to potential financiers as well as mentors in all areas of business support to give them a better chance of success. Winners of the challenge also get the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a wider support ecosystem of potential investors and partners to ensure their business is not only successful but also sustainable.

Now that everything is democratised, the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world don’t need to come out of the US – there certainly isn’t a monopoly on great ideas in developed markets. World-changing innovation is taking place at the grassroots level in emerging markets and I believe that the next big global company will come from one of these regions. But we need to make it easier for startups to survive, to access funding and to create an environment and culture that is conducive to sustainability. It starts with getting them the exposure they need and cutting the red tape that is contributing to the high failure rate.

* Hitendra Naik, Director of Innovation, Middle East, Turkey & Africa at Intel.

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Smash hits the
Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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