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Some startups are useful, some are beautiful, and some are pointless – I’m looking at you, Yo!

Then, there are some design ideas that have the potential to radically change our futures. These are creations that 15 years ago you wouldn’t have dreamed possible.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum this week as part of the Global Design Forum, five entrepreneurs took to the stage and pitched their startups, which they believe to have a far-reaching impact on our world and way of life in years to come.


Peek took home top prize from the competition with its app to improve optical healthcare in low-income countries.

It comes with a clip-on piece of hardware and effectively means that non-healthcare experts can perform eye-health checks for people who might not otherwise have access to them.

The app is portable, obviously, and stores patients’ data so the follow-up examinations can be run as smoothly as possible.


For all those looking for an alternative to water bottles, Ohoo! is the answer.

To rid us of the plight of plastic packaging, the startup has designed an edible membrane of algae that helps water replicate water’s droplet form on a bigger scale.

Ohoo! believe that if adopted widely, the new gelatinous container could make the unsustainable plastic water bottle obsolete.



We all pound the pavement. Walking to work, walking to the shop, walking to the pub. Now, Pavegen want to turn those steps into energy.

The startup’s technology turns every step into renewable energy, all of which can be used to power applications such as pedestrian lighting, way-finding solutions and advertising signage.

The tiles are wifi enabled which means the energy collected can all be tracked. Cities can also track where the highest level of footfall is, i.e. where people are walking most.

Plan Bee

Plan Bee

Bees haven’t been doing so well recently. Pesticides, climate change, and pollution (among others) are causing colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon where bee hives simply disappear.

Plan Bee have developed a self-monitoring bee hive that helps track the bees’ behaviour. There is an increasing number of hobby bee-keepers, but everyone leads busy lives and don’t always have time to properly check the hives.

The Plan Bee hive uses a scanner to capture images of the brood daily and digitally analyse them for any unusual patterns.

If symptoms of sickness are detected the beekeeper is then alerted so they can react accordingly, hopefully stopping the demise of an ever-important hive.



VIBE is a computer interface that transfers information to a digital output through vibration, replacing a normal electrical circuit board. It eliminates the need for critical raw materials that are normally used in the production.

It is developed from a single sheet of aluminium and has much of the same functionality that a normal keyboard does.

The best bit? The design means its almost 100% recyclable. Never again will old keyboards collect dust in the corner.

This story originally appeared on Tech City News. Copyright 2014

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