Disruption in 10 “Non-Tech” Industries

Written for BeMyApp by Gregory Thomas

Technology has given our lives quite a shake-up. Thanks to the triple threat of the internet, mobile and social, we have become reliant on technology in ways that were once unimaginable. While Industry 4.0 (the Fourth Industrial Revolution), Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are buzzwords for some, for a vast legion of developers and inventors, making these concepts a reality has become the very essence of their life’s work. As such, we’re going to take a look at the tech companies, all of whom are already on the market, that are transforming traditional industries.

FURNITURE & DECOR

First up is Tylko, the Polish startup that’s doing the IKEA revolution one better by squeezing out mass-produced furniture and replacing it with “mass customized” furniture. According to Tylko co-founder Benjamin Kuna, they are “trying to change an industry that hasn’t been touched by the technological revolution”. The company formally unveiled their app at last September’s London Design Festival. It merges an algorithm to ensure structural stability (after all, how many of us are furniture designers?) and estimate cost, with augmented-reality features which allow the user to see how the design looks in their own home. Another innovation is the ability to communicate directly with the manufacturer — essentially cutting out the middleman. In an industry that has been slow to adopt new business models, Tylko could be a game changer as it creates an ecosystem which shifts the focus to mass customization.

CROP MANAGEMENT

Edyn is taking a new approach to crop management. Developed by soil scientist Jason Aramburu, the company has developed a solar-powered soil sensor, which continuously uploads data to the cloud including information on moisture, soil fertility, humidity, and temperature. The app comes with settings for numerous crops and flowers and can be used by professional farmers or gardening enthusiasts. The cloud-based application links with iOS and Android-based smartphones and is just part of a broader revolution that will transform farming.

EDUCATION

Another industry that has remained stubbornly resistant to technology is education. Whilst MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) hold tremendous promise, the technology is still in its infancy. However, the challenges facing education today are multi-faceted and the solutions often require a communal approach. DonorChoose is a tech-for-good platform that links donors with teachers to help finance specific school-related projects. Founded by Charles Best, a former school teacher, DonorChoose has helped to finance more than $400 million in school-related projects, and counts Stephen Colbert and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner as members of its board of directors. The company is currently creating a new model for funding public education and is currently working on a broader project to help fund specialized programs, such as coding, into schools across the country.

PRE-PAID DEBIT CARDS

Three M.I.T. grads walk into a room and ask for $3 million in financing. Okay, this sounds like the setup for a joke, but DeepPocket may revolutionize the prepaid debit card industry forever. Founded by M.I.T. grads Taweechai Pureetip, Charatpong Chotigavanich and Natwut Amornvivat, DeepPocket seeks to solve the problem of high fees and declined transactions that plague users of pre-paid debit cards. Powered by algorithms and social networking, the platform allows users to take out micro-loans via social financing — basically small loans from the user’s network of connections. On an individual basis, the loans are less than $1 each, but on aggregate, the total loan amount might be $30 or more. This allows users to bridge the gap needed to complete a transaction. The company is live and is recently closing more than $3 million in financing; plus, has partnered with a commercial bank in Thailand and MasterCard to bring their platform to the unbanked around the world.

REAL ESTATE & HOME BUYING

House hunting is not easy and while companies like Zillow and RealtyTrac help to search neighborhoods and even look inside target homes, the quality of the photos is usually lacking. As such, the process is complicated and buyers lose time traveling from house-to-house. Enter InvisoUSA, the company uses its propriety technology to manage the entire image-creation process, ensuring high-quality photos in 24 hours or less. These photos can then be viewed on the Invisio APP or shared via social media. Currently operating in the Orlando, Florida, the company plans to expand into other markets.

ADVERTIZING ANALYTICS

If you are not in marketing or advertising, you have probably not heard of MadTech; which is the confluence of analytics and other technologies with marketing and advertising. It is a tech trend that is gaining steam and none other than FMCG giant Unilever recently ran a MadTech startup contest called the Next Big Thing. One MadTech company to watch is Relative Insight. The company uses algorithms to transform language into data sets for comparative analysis. Launched in 2014, the company has worked with advertising firms, such as Ogilvy, and global brands, such as Microsoft and Tesco.

HEALTHCARE

Healthcare is also being transformed by technology and one company to watch is Iodine. The company uses its database to help patients and providers make the right decisions when choosing and monitoring drugs. The biggest breakthrough is the mobile application as it follows the patient’s condition, helping to crowdsource the efficacy of drugs. More than 100,000 people are currently using the app and its database could dramatically alter how drugs are prescribed.

MANUFACTURING

In the past, operators were tied to their machines, but all of that is changing as sensors, robots, and 3D printers will redefine manufacturing processes. Despite risks to traditional jobs, Industry 4.0 is poised to create new opportunities across the board. One company to watch is Engel, whose cyber-physical system, Inject 4.0, and its proprietary iQ software, are fast becoming the standard for machine-embedded intelligence. The software helps to identify preventive and predictive maintenance issues and is connected to the cloud.

All of these companies are transforming their industries and, in their own way, our lives. However, this just scratches the surface and by the time you have finished this article, a new startup will begin working on another idea that will forever change the world. This is an amazing time, and while humanity is facing seemingly intractable problems — e.g. global warming, among others — the pace of technological advancement, be it IoT, AI, VR, materials science, life science, is happening so quickly that industries once considered immune from technology are now prime for disruption.

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Photo Credits:

Source: (1) Hemendra. Lifehacker. Edyn: Technology Meets Environment in Your Garden. http://goo.gl/pf53EV. Retrieved 6 April 2016.

Source: (2) YouTube. DeepPocket: MasterCard create apps for free. Have to pay more in the pocket. https://goo.gl/uS1ane. Retrieved 6 April 2016.

Source: (3) Henning, Shannon. Postpartum Progress. Take Your Health into Your Hands: Join the BFD Study with Iodine’s Start App. http://goo.gl/ys7cvo. Retrieved 6 April 2016.

Source: (4) Engel. Inject 4.0 — The Answer for a Smart Factory. http://goo.gl/jxh2Y4. Retrieved 6 April 2016.

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