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Green background with illustration of newspaper front page with 'The Good News #28' written on it.
October, 2020

The Good News #28

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks out of mine by 10pm… After another weekend of early nights, settle in and read a couple of our favourite recent news stories from technological development. We think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Ultraleap x TouchFree

Bristol-based haptic technology company Ultraleap has launched a new application that will hopefully help to prevent the spread of coronavirus by enabling companies to move consumer interaction with public screens into mid-air. The touchless gesture control can be added to any screen to create a hygienic alternative to physically pressing buttons or touchscreens.

A huge range of businesses from restaurants to train stations rely heavily on touchscreens, keypads and kiosks to reduce transaction times, handle high volumes of customers and enhance the user experience. However, according to recent research conducted by Ultraleap, while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, 80% of people now think public touchscreens are unhygienic and locations are having to adapt.

The application, named TouchFree, provides touchscreen emulation by detecting the users and in mid-air, converting it to an on-screen cursor and supporting interaction methods that we’re all still familiar with. The application is designed to run invisibly on top of exiting user interfaces without the need for modifications which means the downtime for devices is minimal, businesses don’t need to fork out for brand new equipment and consumers can use a system they are already familiar with.

Ultraleap has collaborated with 20+ global kiosk makers, brands and agencies to perfect the application and make it real-world ready including Cortina Productions and Intuiface.

A silver lining of the pandemic is the manner in which it has pushed forward technological developments. While the TouchFree application will of course help stop the spread of coronavirus, it will also help prevent the transmission of various other surface borne viruses and demonstrates the potential of haptic technology.

You can download the TouchFree application for free here.

A man's finger pointing at a screen, using touchless technology to press selections.

Bristol companies selected to join Tech Nation’s Applied AI Programme

Tech Nation, the UK network for ambitious tech entrepreneurs has announced the 32 companies that have been selected to join the Applied AI Growth programme and the list includes two organisations from our hometown of Bristol!

The programme has been developed to champion and support the UK’s most exceptional deep tech scaleups through peer to peer learning and mentoring sessions, addressing the particular scaling challenges for companies in the AI sector. It forms part of the Government’s AI Sector Deal, announced in 2019 to realise the social and economic benefits of AI and harness its potential to transform people’s lives for the better.

The two Bristol-based companies joining the programme are Okko Health and One Big Circle. Okko Health’s software allows patients to monitor their own sight at home, in between hospital and optometrist appointments. The software interprets interactions with a simple video game and flags those who may be having problems with their vision ahead of time, to promote early diagnosis, early treatment and to save sight.

One Big Circle is working to improve safety and operations in industrial environments. It was initially developed for the UK rail sector. One Big Circle’s intelligent video solution applies machine learning to understand environments to raise alerts and increase efficiency and safety. One example includes the use of thermal camera technology and ML to identify excess heat in sections of electric rail which could cause a dangerous fault.

It’s great to see such a serious commitment to development of AI, in fact data shows that the UK leads Europe for AI investment, having raised $1.48bn in 2020 so far. It’s also particularly exciting to see two Bristol companies included in the programme. Bristol’s tech and innovation scene continues to flourish which is amazing for the city and its residents. In fact, 59% of companies joining the programme are based outside of London which is fantastic for those hoping to start a career in AI who aren’t based in the capital.

Hands holding an electronic tablet, using the Okko Health app.

Visit the Innovation Gap to discover the four barriers to creative innovation, and how to break them down. Here’s looking at you kid!