One of the unexpected pleasures for the Analog Garage team as we expand our global exploration are the innovative projects we find that are focused on solving local problems.
Of course, there are plenty of efforts in every corner of the world with the potential to make a difference on a global scale. But everywhere we go, we always seem to uncover projects with a local flair.
It’s more common to come across those in India or China, each with huge domestic market potential. But even in a country like Israel, which is much more globally focused because of its small population, tends to solve problems that hit close to home. We’ve come across some ingenious sensor-to-cloud development, for example, that is aimed at growing more produce with less water, which is a precious resource there.
In places like India and the Philippines, where electricity is expensive and unreliable, we invariably meet up with innovators focused on things like low-power design techniques, better battery chemistries and energy harvesting. In the Philippines, where the landscape is freckled with cellular towers, inventors are intent on harvesting spurious radio signals and converting them back into energy.
India is also host to a fast-developing healthcare startup community. Much of the innovation there is focused on customizing diagnostic devices to be portable, sealed and very low cost for use in poor, dusty rural areas.
In Singapore, where space comes at a premium, inventors gin up ways to solve transportation bottlenecks and better manage waste disposal. Like, for example, a municipal hub system we saw that was designed to streamline shipping delivery by minimizing the time that large, expensive gas-guzzling trucks are on the road.
It might seem hard to believe that a place like China, where therapies like acupuncture and massage have been widely used for centuries, is combining its prowess as home to one-fourth of the world’s manufacturing, to create robot masseuses. But it’s true. One startup at an incubator we visited is developing a robot that massages with a plucking action to more closely mimic Chinese technique.