Inspirational inventions have been taking centre-stage at this year’s Gadget Show Live. New for 2014 are the British Inventors’ Project, the International Future Tech Zone and the British Inventor of the Year awards. O2 Guru David McClelland takes a look at the future.
It’s easy to dismiss a consumer technology show a shopfront for big electronics brands to promote their ever-faster, smarter and shinier gadgets. That, however, would be to do something of a disservice to the Gadget Show Live which has long tried to champion the plucky startup alongside the more established tech giants.
This year the Gadget Show Live has taken this commitment to grassroots innovation a step further with the inclusion of the British Inventors’ Project and the International Future Tech Zone.
Showcased in these dedicated zones are over 40 ingenious inventions ranging from life-changing artificial body parts and eco-friendly battery-life enhancers to wearable tech for your pet (the irresistibly named ‘FitBark’).
Billed as a ‘celebration of innovation, invention and the entrepreneur’ the focal point for these two zones is the WIRED Innovation Theatre, where both the inventor and the invention take centre-stage in daily live shows.
Almost of equal interest as seeing the products themselves is hearing the inventors’ own backstories: where their inspiration came from, how they found funding to bring their idea to fruition, their aspirations for their invention. It’s inspirational stuff which can’t fail to awaken our inner inventor.
On the press day The Innovation Theatre also hosted the British Inventor of the Year award.
This year’s runner-up was Veglo, a unique wearable fibre-optic bike-light developed by Edward Ward. Being raised in Botswana without a family television, Ed says he developed an uncanny ability to build things. Now living in London Ed, decided to develop the Commuter X4 after an accident in which he was thrown from his bicycle into the middle of a busy road.
The winner of British Inventor of the Year 2014 was an artificial pancreas developed as part of a collaboration between De Montfort University and the Renfrew Group. By using the device type 1 diabetes sufferers will receive a measured dose of insulin removing many of the risks associated with self-medication. Clinical trials are about to begin but they are still several years away from it being used in humans.
All of the 21 shortlisted entries for the British Inventor of the Year can be seen at the British Inventors’ Project in Hall 6 of the NEC. In another coup for the Gadget Show Live this year Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, will be visiting the show to meet with the shortlisted inventors.
Other highlights on the Innovation Theatre stage include Bike HUD, a heads-up display for bikers; OneWheel, a single-wheeled self-balancing skateboard (think Segway crossed with a skateboard and a monocycle and you’re there); and Sq-easy Glove, a washing up glove with integrated washing-up liquid dispenser.
Shining the spotlight on new technology and the inventors behind them makes a refreshing change for a consumer technology show, and with the exposure their inventions have been receiving here it surely won’t be long before some take the next step from small-time to big business.
The Gadget Show Live runs between the 9th and 13th of April 2014 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. For further information and tickets visit: www.gadgetshowlive.net