It’s difficult to get a handle on everything that’s going on in the tech world, mostly because there is so much to keep track of!
Developments in Silicon Valley tend to dominate the media, and while this is one of the most talked about tech hubs in the world, there are a lot of other innovative products being built in other countries, many of which speak to particular consumer needs in specific areas.
To get a better idea of some of the most innovative products being built around the world, here’s a look at some companies that have become “unicorns” in 2018 (businesses that have been valued at over 1 billion USD) and other innovative tech from all over the globe:
Traffic congestion is a problem in most countries, especially in densely populated areas like California, where motorised scooters have been causing a bit of chaos on the streets, mostly because their uptake has been so quick that there hasn’t been time to sufficiently adapt to the service, or avoid getting knocked over.
Companies like Bird have got a lot of attention and press for being an easy way to get around without a car, so much so that they’ve just broke the record for reaching unicorn status in the shortest amount of time ever (in under a year). Other similar companies are Limebike and Spin.
The popularity of motorised scooters, and the fact that they’ve had to deal with some regulatory issues, just highlights that this kind of technology is breaking the mould, and is the kind of transport option that could work in many other cities (when there is dedicated space for them of course).
In a South African context for example, just think about how much easier making short suburban trips in peak hour traffic could be with a rented motorised scooter?
It’s no secret that the health and wellness industry is booming, just judging by the number of Wellness Warehouse’s that have sprung up in malls all over South Africa. While health and wellness bloggers tout the benefits of adaptogens and Instagram their morning matcha, there’s also a entirely personalised way of looking into your health that hasn’t become as widely available in South Africa yet, which is personal genetic testing, or “consumer genomics”.
By just sending in a swab of your saliva, you can get a personal genetic profile drawn up that tells you exactly how to eat and exercise for your own particular genetic makeup, and gives you more information about your ancestry. Beyond just general health and fitness, this kind of testing is also being taken a lot further with research into how to prevent rare diseases like cancer.
23andme is one of the most well known unicorns in this industry, and is also one of the most popular companies providing this kind of service at the moment. Although it also faced some regulatory setbacks in the beginning, getting a personal genetic profile is now as easy as sending a swab in the post (in the US).
Just imagine how much the health and wellness industry will expand when genetic testing becomes more affordable and more widely available?
For anyone who’s spoken to an Uber driver in South Africa about why they don’t take cash trips, it’s clear that internationally built location-based services don’t always work in exactly the same way everywhere else, which brings up the question: will future product development be more globalised or more specialised, or just an increasing combination of both?
When it comes to mobility and logistics, there are a number of innovative applications of location-based services that show different use cases for seamless consumer delivery solutions, especially if you consider that competition is increasing in this space (with UberEats competitor DoorDash just gaining unicorn status).
Interestingly, while Uber might dominate in English-speaking countries, products built to serve a particular language are growing. Recent examples of this are apps like Cabify, which is a ride sharing service and recent unicorn that is particularly geared towards the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking market (in Spain, Portugal and Latin America).
Cao Cao is another recent unicorn based in China that focuses on more energy efficient mobility solutions in a country that is known for intense industrial activity (and pollution), which are problems faced in many countries around the world that still rely on carbon-heavy fossil fuels to power local industry.
The Future of Software Development
It’s impossible to tell how the world of software development is going to evolve in the years ahead because the landscape is so vast, and there is a lot of general anxiety around adapting to a fast-paced, integrated and highly automated technological marketplace. If we look at the above examples though, it’s clear that as technology develops, we’re definitely increasing our focus on convenience, efficiency and in-depth understanding, even when it comes to what is going on inside our own bodies.
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