Networks, robots, tracking tools, software are coming down the line. But it’s hardware that will change our world and disrupt daily life.
The 2014 Launch Festival—one of San Francisco’s best places to launch a startup, raise money, and learn to become a star entrepreneur—brought together 50 exciting companies that all provided a sneak peek into what’s next.
So what can we expect? More social networks, more robots, more quantified-self tools, and much more software and hardware that will change our world and disrupt daily life.
Based on what I saw at the festival, here are my personal picks for the three hardware companies to watch this year.
1. A drone in your pocket
The San Diego-based company AirDroids created what might be your first personal flying robot: Pocket Drone. Wherever you go, your drone is by your side. Whatever you do, the drone captures it on camera. The drone (it’s like a GoPro with wings) is easy to operate, affordable, and folds up into pouch that fits in your carry-on bag.
It’s no doubt that robots going to market are a top priority in Silicon Valley’s research and development landscape, but democratizing them takes more. Pocket Drone is really a robot for the masses. So, if you think everyone deserves a little drone buddy, you can support the company’s already successful crowdfunding campaign.
2. Analytics for foot traffic
Density aims to rock the small business world by creating a sensor the size of a deck of cards that anonymously counts the number of people in a room by listening to smartphones’ Wi-Fi addresses. Almost like Google Analytics for foot traffic, this device gives business owners information about how many visitors they have per day, how long they stay, and if they are newcomers or regulars.
The device is accompanied by a cool app with a helpful dashboard that allows users to check data about their shop remotely. But Density’s real value lies in the fact that it can network businesses together: the more that use the tool the more they can share among them. This can provide precious customer knowledge and motivate interesting partnerships.
Even if it comes at the cost of privacy, this service could bring peace to small business owners who struggle to understand their customers and how to serve them better.
3. Kitchen Geeks
Having too many cooks in the kitchen is never a good thing, but getting a little help from your iPad and a clever piece of hardware can’t hurt.
Drop brings a connected scale to your kitchen and…abracadabra…you become a better cook! Helping you with complicated proportions, missing ingredients, and timing, Drop makes sure you’re the best connected cook, if not the most talented.
More than magic, it’s the result of a hard-working team out of the Highway 1 hardware accelerator. As soon as round one funding is complete, they will start manufacturing the smart scale and sending it to doorsteps and countertops everywhere.