The World’s Most Innovative Companies

The World's Most Innovative Companies

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

The World's Most Innovative Companies

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

Rank Company Country 12-Month Sales Growth Innovation Premium*
#1 Tesla Motors United States 23.35503728% 82.4%
#2 Salesforce.com United States 25.00310623% 75.5%
#3 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals United States 36.88172524% 72.9%
#4 Incyte United States 46.0699371% 70.8%
#5 Alexion Pharmaceuticals United States 19.24211141% 70%
#6 Under Armour United States 29.27417278% 68.9%
#7 Monster Beverage United States 13.37638736% 68.8%
#8 Unilever Indonesia Indonesia -13.98427381% 67.93%
#9 Vertex Pharmaceuticals United States 147.9493033% 67.9%
#10 BioMarin Pharmaceutical United States 13.43571162% 67.4%
#11 Amazon.com United States 25.91405818% 63.8%
#12 ARM Holdings United Kingdom 20.3783907% 63.7%
#13 Naver South Korea 23.11330645% 63.3%
#14 FleetCor Technologies United States 14.83904549% 62.1%
#15 Netflix United States 24.74884174% 60.3%
#16 Shanghai RAAS Blood Products China 50.90653334% 60.2%
#17 Rakuten Japan 14.75391035% 60%
#18 Asian Paints India 7.609810975% 59.8%
#19 LG Household & Health Care South Korea 15.332049% 59.5%
#20 Verisk Analytics United States 12.36966581% 59.5%
#21 Amorepacific South Korea 21.03029209% 59.1%
#22 Coloplast Denmark 10.08704948% 57.5%
#23 Marriott International United States 5.226873021% 56.5%
#24 Illumina United States 11.72185546% 56%
#25 Red Hat United States 15.83289878% 55.9%
#26 AmerisourceBergen United States 9.599723828% 55.6%
#27 Visa United States 6.308169597% 55.5%
#28 Sysmex Japan 9.644825211% 54.4%
#29 Baidu China 20.03084206% 54.2%
#30 Mastercard United States 6.793164902% 54%
#31 Hindustan Unilever India 54%
#32 Hermès International France 53.7%
#33 TransDigm Group United States 22.30367102% 52.1%
#34 Perrigo Ireland 19.02427687% 52%
#35 The Priceline Group United States 11.47156326% 51.9%
#36 Adobe Systems United States 23.2907817% 51.7%
#37 Cerner United States 19.77776212% 51.4%
#38 Ulta Salon Cosmetcs & Fragrance United States 21.61511502% 51.4%
#39 Chipotle Mexican Grill United States -8.863600488% 51.1%
#40 Almarai Saudi Arabia 9.758190756% 51%
#41 Fast Retailing Japan 51%
#42 Starbucks United States 11.37412455% 50.8%
#43 Unicharm Japan 1.899656929% 50.6%
#44 Sirius XM Radio United States 10.34398616% 49%
#45 Iliad France 48.5%
#46 Magnit Russia 48.5%
#47 Autodesk United States -8.15830721% 48.1%
#48 Tencent Holdings China 31.91832908% 48%
#49 BesTV New Media China 604.3609019% 47.8%
#50 Lindt & Sprungli Switzerland 47.8%
#51 Reckitt Benckiser Group United Kingdom 47.8%
#52 Cielo Brazil 31.22165469% 47.7%
#53 Ctrip.com International China 53.36607746% 47.7%
#54 Mead Johnson Nutrition United States -10.75213953% 47.5%
#55 Shimano Japan -6.679413332% 47.1%
#56 Kone Finland 10.34487099% 47%
#57 Dassault Systemes France 12.10758886% 46.9%
#58 Expedia United States 26.72907876% 46.7%
#59 ProSiebenSat1 Media Germany 16.20524666% 46.1%
#60 Brown-Forman United States -1.460564752% 45.7%
#61 SBA Communications United States 0.256482325% 45.3%
#62 Essilor International France 45.2%
#63 Allergan United States -11.06705322% 44.9%
#64 Keyence Japan 13.54592646% 44.9%
#65 Oriental Land Japan 0.792523461% 44.2%
#66 Tata Consultancy Services India 14.33485032% 44.1%
#67 Intuitive Surgical United States 11.35063792% 43.9%
#68 Fastenal United States 1.575807654% 43.3%
#69 Roper Industries United States 2.132861974% 43.2%
#70 Smith & Nephew United Kingdom 43.2%
#71 Experian Ireland 43.1%
#72 Colgate-Palmolive United States -7.35540153% 43%
#73 Sun Pharma Industries India 45.4621078% 42.8%
#74 Acuity Brands United States 19.47704423% 42.5%
#75 Molson Coors Brewing United States -8.89668616% 42.4%
#76 Fanuc Japan -27.52907909% 42.2%
#77 Inditex Spain 14.20497786% 42.1%
#78 Luxottica Group Italy -3.579247091% 42.1%
#79 SABMiller United Kingdom 42%
#80 CR Bard United States 4.880504635% 42%
#81 General Mills United States -6.053215203% 42%
#82 Novozymes Denmark 7.896962707% 41.6%
#83 Edwards Lifesciences United States 12.77286742% 41.3%
#84 Equifax United States 13.28712177% 40.9%
#85 Geberit Switzerland 23.2019523% 40.7%
#86 Capita United Kingdom 40.4%
#87 Falabella Chile 8.970031304% 40.4%
#88 Liberty Global United Kingdom 0.65600746% 40.2%
#89 Larsen & Toubro India 10.75150619% 40%
#90 Assa Abloy Sweden 11.03516246% 39.9%
#91 Hikvision China 33.3114954% 39.8%
#92 Constellation Brands United States 10.73986459% 39.7%
#93 Coca-Cola United States -5.614483869% 39.7%
#94 Omnicom Group United States 0.573617536% 39.7%
#95 Paychex United States 7.753239642% 39.5%
#96 Starwood Hotels United States -6.171370282% 39.5%
#97 ITV United Kingdom 39.4%
#98 Church & Dwight United States 2.824724508% 39.3%
#99 Grifols Spain 9.340417413% 39%
#100 AVIC Aviation Engine China -24.48847785% 39%

The World’s Most Innovative Companies

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Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave

Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave

Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave

One of the most consistent patterns in business is the failure of leading companies to stay at the top of their industries when technologies or markets change. Why is it that established companies invest aggressively–and successfully–in the technologies necessary to retain their current customers but then fail to make the technological investments that customers of the future will demand?

The fundamental reason is that leading companies succumb to one of the most popular, and valuable, management dogmas; they stay close to their customers. Customers wield extraordinary power in directing a company’s investments.

But what happens when a new technology emerges that customers reject because it doesn’t address their needs as effectively as a company’s current approach?

In an ongoing study of technological change, the authors found that most established companies are consistently ahead of their industries in developing and commercializing new technologies as long as those technologies address the next-generation-performance needs of their customers.

However, an industry’s leaders are rarely in the forefront of commercializing new technologies that don’t initially meet the functional demands of mainstream customers and appeal only to small or emerging markets.

To remain at the top of their industries, managers must first be able to spot the technologies that fall into this category. To pursue these technologies, managers must protect them from the processes and incentives that are geared to serving mainstream customers. And the only way to do that is to create organizations that are completely independent of the mainstream business.

Disruptive Technologies: Catching the Wave

The Next Big Technological Revolution Will Be Polite

The Next Big Technological Revolution Will Be Polite

The Next Big Technological Revolution Will Be Polite

Revenge of the nerds: Google is designing VR to beat bullies from day one.

YouTube. Twitter. Reddit. The Internet is one big gradient of rude behavior that starts with insensitivity and ends in outright harassment. Even in Daydream Labs, where Google is building the future of virtual reality applications and interface, the company noticed the propensity of its own employees to dehumanize one another.

It could be a gesture as innocent as tossing a silly hat on someone else’s head, but that hat could spill over the person’s eyes and leave him temporarily blind. Or it could feel like an intrusion of personal space. In Google’s testing, such offenses were completely unintentional, but people were hurting one another’s feelings in ways that the Daydream team realized was a flaw of their own design.

“[Sometimes] we need to see our failures over and over again before we realize there’s an issue,” says Rob Jagnow, Google VR software engineer. “A finding we needed to see over and over again is that the potential for trolling and fighting in VR is going to be very high.”

The stakes are big. VR is estimated to be a $120 billion business by the year 2020, fueled largely by companies like Google, which are convincing cell-phone manufacturers to build handsets to double as VR headsets.

When we spoke a few months ago, following the team’s presentation at Google IO, Jagnow recounted some of the team’s earliest discoveries when they put people into shared virtual reality spaces.

“The first thing people do when they enter a co-presence application . . . is they say, ‘I wonder what if feels like to stand inside your body,’” says Jagnow. “It’s a natural thing to do, but it can make it really uncomfortable for the other person.”

“Someone is like, ‘What’s it look like when I punch you in the face?’ he continues. “You’re not really punching them! But when you’re on the receiving end of that fist, it can be uncomfortable, because it really feels like you’re there.”

To Google, one of the greatest challenges of VR is making someone feel “physically and psychologically safe,” because they worry one experience where a person feels casually abused in VR could make him give up on the technology before it catches on. Their internal tests have found that people will literally pull off their headset if they get uncomfortable. And gamers, especially, have developed a bad reputation of making their targets very uncomfortable.

“I don’t think you have to stretch your imagination very far to think of some less-than-welcoming video game communities out there,” says Jagnow. “The lesson is get this right the first time because it’s very hard to fix this in the long term.”

So far, Google has released two VR experiments to demonstrate how it’s addressing the next wave of cyber bullying before it starts. One uses a stick, the other, a carrot.

In a poker demo, two players sit at a game table. Of course, no one stands during a poker game for any good reason. So if someone gets up, it might be in anger, to steal the other player’s chips, look at his cards, even strike him. So Google uses the stick as a preventive measure. Standing up from your seat subtly desaturates the world from bright and colorful to a dim grey scale in your headset. The chips disappear, and so does the opponent. A blue bubble guides the offender back to his seat. It’s a fascinating UI punishment because it’s less about creating misery for the user than taking the game’s fun away.

“It doesn’t feel like you’re being slapped on the wrist,” says Jagnow. “It’s a gentle nudge that says, ‘you’re experiencing this wrong. Come back to this glowing spot of light over here.’”

In the second demo, instead of cranking down the fun for bad behavior, Google turns it up to reward positive behavior. In shared spaces, when people high five, or fist bump, they don’t just high five or fist bump. Sparks fly in a magical celebration of camaraderie, and the world literally becomes a more enchanting place when you treat a fellow player well.

So far, Google is only presenting these ideas as “findings,” encouraging developers to adopt the ideas in VR for their own apps. “You only have so much control over a platform. You don’t want it to feel like developers are in a stranglehold and have to adhere to strict rules,” says Jagnow. “But if you can present findings, and guidelines, to help along the way, we believe that’s the way to allow everyone to benefit.” I can’t help but wonder if Google should take the idea further on Daydream, and if, much like the company does with its Material Design guidelines on Android, it could mandate—or at least certify—a level of compliance for VR developers on the platform. Because it’s not that I don’t want to one day play some super aggressive game like Call of Duty in virtual reality. It’s that I really don’t need to be teabagged during Chutes & Ladders to do so.

The Next Big Technological Revolution Will Be Polite

The Most Innovative Companies of 2016

The Most Innovative Companies of 2016

The Most Innovative Companies of 2016

  • 01

    BuzzFeed

    For shaking up media across the globe

  • 02

    Facebook

    For not letting size get in the way of acting like a startup

  • 03

    CVS Health

    For becoming a one-stop health shop

  • 04

    Uber

    For hustling corporate business

  • 05

    Netflix

    For giving unexpected audiences exactly what they want

  • 06

    Amazon

    For evolving from commerce to cool cloud services

  • 07

    Apple

    For acing its China test

  • 08

    Alphabet

    For finding a better way to bet big

  • 09

    Black Lives Matter

    For turning the conversation about race into results

  • 10

    Taco Bell

    For combining corn, beans, meat, and cheese into genius

  • 11

    Robinhood

    For removing all the barriers to stock trading

  • 12

    Universal Studios

    For breaking the box-office record with canny casting and marketing

  • 13

    Huawei

    For taking the upper hand in the global mobile competition

  • 14

    Cyanogen

    For offering a more open, customizable version of Android

  • 15

    InMobi

    For making mobile ads you actually want to see

  • 16

    Novocure

    For attacking tumors with electricity

  • 17

    Bristol-Myers Squibb

    For treating tumors with T cells

  • 18

    Amgen

    For making cancer therapy go viral

  • 19

    Spotify

    For finding the beat in the data

  • 20

    GE

    For leading the industrial Internet of Things

  • 21

    Warby Parker

    For prescribing social good at home

  • 22

    Riot Games

    For being in an e-sports league of its own

  • 23

    Farfetch

    For putting the world’s best boutique-fashion retailers on a global stage

  • 24

    Everlane

    For matching our clothes to our values

  • 25

    Kit And Ace

    For designing luxe casual wear from next-generation performance fabrics

  • 31

    Airbnb

    For democratizing authentic, local travel experiences

  • 32

    Generator

    For making hosteling hip

  • 33

    BeMyGuest

    For taking Asian travelers off the beaten path

  • 34

    Social Capital

    For building a 21st-century change agent

  • 35

    Hudl

    For changing the game with mobile video

  • 36

    Box

    For becoming the backbone of major businesses

  • 37

    Fitbit

    For taking health tracking mainstream

  • 38

    Snapchat

    For creating a vibrantly addictive alternative to traditional TV

  • 39

    Sama

    For redefining what it means to be a not-for-profit business

  • 40

    Midroll Media

    For transforming podcasting from passion to phenomenon

  • 41

    Affirm

    For offering credit that doesn’t suck

  • 42

    Earnest

    For building a better student loan

  • 43

    Aspiration

    For using transparency to rebuild trust in banks

  • 44

    Vail Resorts

    For creating the ultimate travel loyalty program

  • 45

    Noora Health

    For improving the lives of surgery patients in India

  • 46

    Shyp

    For eliminating the hassle from sending packages

  • 47

    Shopify

    For enabling businesses to pursue retail everywhere

  • 48

    Babbel

    For helping anyone hablar como un local

  • 49

    Jaunt

    For becoming the first VR media company

  • 50

    Hasbro

    For mastering the modern art of corporate storytelling

The Most Innovative Companies of 2016

 

 

Can chatbots help build your next website?

Can chatbots help build your next website?

Can chatbots help build your next website?

Small businesses have their pick of affordable DIY website-building platforms: Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and Strikingly, to name a few. But these “no coding skills required” platforms struggle to acquire and retain customers. While the UI of these platforms is often beautifully designed, it’s still too much work — and for business owners, who has the time?

A fresh crop of website-builder startups noticed that the “build a website from your browser” pitch is not enough to attract non-technical business owners who have no interest in becoming their own web designers. These startups are leading a “death of DIY” movement that is putting the power of design and development back into the hands of experts. The bet is that the full-service, i.e. “do it for you,” model is a better approach than asking small-business owners to do all the hard work themselves.

In addition to providing human expertise, these startups are employing new AI and chatbot technologies to optimize the website-building process. The goal is to provide enough time savings and professional design support to lift the burden off the small business owner, making them more satisfied and more likely to stick with the service.

I’ve used some of these AI/chatbot platforms in beta and have found the chatbot experience to be convenient and fast. Admittedly, it’s fun to chat via a messaging interface about changes to my website. And the chatbot excels at simple tasks like responding to basic questions, such as how many visitors my site had today.

But, so far, I’m not convinced chatbots and AI solve a real problem for small-business owners. As with all aspects of service, quality and personal attention through human conversations are more important than the convenience of quick answers to simple questions.

During the website setup experience, responding to a chatbot’s questions is not that much different than filling out a form about your project. For example, what is the name of your site? What color do you want? What is some text you’d like on the home page? Answering these questions in chat format instead of via a web form did not necessarily save me any time or effort — it’s just a slightly different interface.

And it’s not clear how to edit the decisions that the chatbot makes on my behalf. While it’s appealing to give the chatbot a command like “edit text” and write new text, it’s not clear to which line of text I’m referring.

For initial setup of a website, the chatbot does a good job of simulating the experience of talking to a professional web designer about the goals of my business website. But getting to a generic first template and adding my title and text are not the hard part of the process. The hard part is customizing, polishing and fine tuning, which could be a stretch with a chatbot.

Additionally, once the initial template is set up, a chatbot cannot compete with an intuitive WYSIWYG for editing existing content. The point-and-click experience is very intuitive and hard to beat. An ideal solution will most likely combine chatbot support for some uses cases, and a point-and-click editor for other use cases.

Chatbots could have the opposite effect of their intended benefits.
But let’s be honest, many small-business owners have no interest in logging into their website and making changes themselves — they’d rather tell someone the changes they want. In that regard, the chatbot provides a hand-holding experience that is more approachable than the website editor interface. For those who have no interest in touching their own website, a chatbot has the potential to take your commands. Whether those commands are properly interpreted and executed remains to be seen. Perhaps those more difficult requests are escalated to a human support person who can better interpret and execute them.

Here are a few new startups pioneering the chatbot-driven “death of DIY” movement:

Opla

Opla uses Facebook Messenger to chat with you about your website project. Opla is “your friendly website ninja. Opla your virtual assistant handles your website using natural conversation with you.” Opla is in private beta.

Webware.io

Webware uses an AI bot named “Harley” to chat with you over email about your website project. “Harley is your AI-powered personal assistant to help you build your website and grow sales. Chat with Harley over email to complete the initial setup of your website. Once your website is up and running, she will continue to be your point of contact as you manage and grow your website. No logging in. No useless dashboard. Just Harley.” Harley is currently available for paying customers.

B12

B12 is a freshly funded startup. “Machine intelligence and automation enable design teams to work faster, smarter, and better. Cost and time savings are passed to our customers.”

While a few post-DIY startups like PageCloud, The Grid and Mopro have in the past few years teased AI as the future of website building, it’s too early to tell if automated design approaches are proving effective for real customers. Many of these startups have not yet launched (The Grid); others are still in the experimental phase.

While automated support via a chatbot may have obvious benefits, many traditional website building platforms are rejecting the notion of chatbots altogether. The secret sauce to relationship and technical support may be human touch, not impersonal AI support. Weebly, for example, promises that their support channels will always be manned by a real person. When I asked them about their chatbot strategy, they responded: “We do not utilize chatbots for support. You always receive a real live person. It has always been this way and always will be.”

Indeed, chatbots could have the opposite effect of their intended benefits. Support from a robot may be as unappealing as talking to an automated phone support from an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. In many ways, my brief experience with chatbot support was reminiscent of talking to the cable company’s IVR system — it failed to understand the context of my question, and couldn’t do anything other than basic tasks.

As with any new consumer-facing computer system like Amazon Alexa, there is a learning curve as the operator learns how to make the system do what they want it to do. Learning to interact with a chatbot instead of a DIY website editor interface could turn out to be more work in the long run — just another interface to learn.

If chatbots are the future of telling your “web guy” what you want from your business website, we may all be typing “REPRESENTATIVE” at our chatbots just like we yell it at IVR support systems that are equally as difficult to use.

Can chatbots help build your next website?

12 Amazing Tech Innovations You’ll See at the Rio Olympics

12 Amazing Tech Innovations You'll See at the Rio Olympics

12 Amazing Tech Innovations You’ll See at the Rio Olympics

The Olympics are a global stage for the world’s most elite athletes, which means they’re also a prime venue for premiering new tech. From host cities racing to build new infrastructure to networks adding more immersive viewing experiences, the Summer Olympics serve as an impetus for innovation.

In Rio, competitors are taking advantage of new gadgets and gear designed to improve their speed, agility and focus. Military-inspired surveillance systems are keeping spectators and support personnel safe. Data and information companies are developing new ways to make it easier for fans to follow the events from anywhere.

Related: Why Riding the #Rio2016 Wave Could Land Your Business in Legal Trouble

Here are 12 solutions that aim to make the 17-day event run more smoothly and elevate athletes to the top of their game — and the number-one step on the podium.

1. NIKE AEROBLADES

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Since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Nike has been outfitting track and field athletes with gear designed to make them more aerodynamic. This year in Rio, the company’s solution is, of all things, spiky tape.

Nike’s Sports Research Lab has long been developing texturized gear for runners to help them reduce drag, but its newest invention is AeroBlades, which will make their first Olympic appearance in Rio. Nike’s AeroBlades are “formed nodes” that look like tiny hooks or spikes and reduce wind resistance by influencing the movement of air around athletes. The sports brand has produced leg and arm sleeves covered in AeroBlades, along with adhesive patches.

Related: Olympic Athletes Turn to Crowdfunding for Travel Expenses, Training Gear and a Ticket to Their Dreams in Rio

To test the drag-reducing performance and determine where patches should be placed on the body, Nike stuck AeroBlades to mannequins and placed them in a wind tunnel. They were then able to develop placement instructions for athletes, from sprinters to marathon runners, with the goal of helping them cross the finish line faster.

2. HYKSO PUNCH-TRACKING SENSORS

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The Canadian boxing team hasn’t won an Olympic medal since 1996, but they hope to improve their record this year after practicing with punch-tracking system technology from Y Combinator startup Hykso.

Fighters place lightweight sensors under the tape on their wrists, which send data to a mobile app that counts punches and measures intensity and velocity. The app can even distinguish between the types of punches they throw.

The U.S. and Canadian boxing teams have been using Hykso’s technology during sparring and training. Previously, Boxing Canada Head Coach Daniel Trepanier had been using a manual clicker to count all of the punches. Now, he can analyze strategy, recognize previously undetectable punching patterns and help his team adjust them.

“Having access to this added layer of knowledge gives our team a huge competitive advantage heading into Rio this summer,” Trepanier said in a Hykso testimonial.

Hykso’s tracking systems are currently available for pre-order by the general public.

3. SOLOS AUGMENTED REALITY GLASSES

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For training cyclists who want to check their vital signs and boost their performance mid-ride, Solossmart glasses provide an augmented reality view of the info, “heads up and hands free.”

Solos, an official sponsor of the U.S. Cycling Team, has partnered with the athletes to create a pair of shades that display stats such as cadence, heart rate, speed, distance, duration and more, layered over the road ahead.

The glasses, developed by Westborough, Mass.-based Kopin Corporation, are designed to be aerodynamic, stylish and comfortable. They also contain a speaker, which delivers an audio feed of the cyclist’s stats, and connect to a mobile interface.

While the U.S. Cycling Team has trained with Solos, they won’t be able to wear them during the races in Rio.

As of July 12, 2016, Solos had raised $128,179 via Kickstarter, and the company is on-track to ship pairs to non-Olympian backers this fall. The crowdfunding campaign launched on May 25 and reached its goal of $50,000 within 24 hours.

4. OMEGA UNDERWATER LAP COUNTERS

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Watchmaker company Omega has been the official timekeeper for all but three of the Olympic Games since 1932, but this year, it’s expanding its role beyond official data-handling.

When swimmers are racing back and forth across the pool, they often have trouble keeping track of the number of laps they’ve completed. To eliminate this distraction and replace the human officials who previously displayed numbers at the pool’s edge, Omega has developed underwater lap counters.

Installed at the bottom of each lane, the counters update every time a swimmer touches a pad on the wall. The numbers will be visible to swimmers without requiring them to look up from the pool. They’re designed solely for in-the-moment use by competitors, rather than official timekeeping for the races, Omega clarifies on its website.

Omega premiered the lap counters at the FINA World Swimming Championships in Doha, Qatar, in December 2014. In Rio, the devices will be used in the 800-meter and 1500-meter freestyle swimming events, according to Rio2016.com.

5. VISA PAYMENT WEARABLES

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Visa has teamed up with Brazilian bank Bradesco to create a bracelet that allows spectators at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to pay for things by waving an arm over a sensor. All 4,000 point-of-sale terminals at Olympic venues are equipped with near-field communication tech that will power these transactions. NFC is the same type of system that powers Apple Pay and Google Pay.

In addition, Visa is providing all of the 45 Olympic and Paralympic athletes it sponsors with wearable rings they can use to make purchases in the same manner. The rings are water resistant to depths of up to 50 meters, and they don’t contain a battery or require recharging, according to Visa.

6. LOGOS TECHNOLOGIES SURVEILLANCE BALLOONS

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To keep athletes and spectators safe, Rio has spent $8 million on a contract with Logos Technologies to provide aerial surveillance.

While Logos originally developed its technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, this is the first large-scale civilian application for its sophisticated imaging system, Simera. Logos has installed four 40-pound balloons, tethered to the ground, each with 13 high-resolution cameras affixed to them. All cameras combined are capable of capturing three photos per second of the surrounding area, with each balloon covering about 55 square miles, according to Sport Techie

Operators can zoom in on an unlimited number of areas, connect to security cameras on the ground and communicate with law enforcement officers. While the cameras lack facial recognition technology, the system does archive video so operators can retrace a suspicious person’s path.

Despite privacy concerns, Simera’s test-run at Rio could pave the way for Logos to provide surveillance at more large-scale events and commercial areas in the future.

7. IMAGESAT INTERNATIONAL SATELLITE SECURITY

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Security systems are also stationed outside the Earth’s atmosphere for Rio. The Eros-B satellite, owned and operated by Israeli company ImageSat International, is providing detailed inspections of Rio de Janeiro during both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Eros-B has been in low Earth orbit since 2006, taking pictures of the Earth’s surface. But now the commercial satellite, which can capture high-resolution images of up to one and a half feet in an area of approximately 31 miles, is helping to identify people, cars and even goods during the games, according to Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Previously, the Eros-B has been used for disaster, urban, maritime and military monitoring.

8. GOOGLE FOR THE GAMES

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When you enter an Olympics-related query, Google will display a chart featuring a variety of information about the games at the top of your search results. You can click through to get information about particular sports or countries, as well as find TV schedules and medal wins. In addition to the usual bio that appears in the right sidebar when you search for a person, Google has prepared special overview pages for Olympians.

If this system isn’t convenient enough, you can also register to get automatic updates through the Google mobile app.

As for Google’s other services, it’s partnered with official broadcasters for YouTube streaming in more than 60 countries. And thanks to advances in mobile livestreaming, 15 YouTube curators will also be broadcasting from their phones.

To better represent Rio de Janeiro, Google Maps has added its previously absent working-class favela neighborhoods –including several businesses within them — and produced a 360-degree virtual tour of the city for people around the globe to explore.

9. GETTY IMAGES CURATION AND SHARING

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Getty Images has launched a new platform specially designed for the Olympics — and for the everyday user.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games platform organizes the Getty library, which contains more than 200 million images, into multiple searchable galleries. The platform also includes pages highlighting individual athletes, sports and countries, as well as an archive section featuring photos from 1896, the year of the first modern games.

A team of more than 120 Getty photographers is present in Rio, and Getty expects them to gather more than 1.5 million images over the course of the Olympics. Many of them are being taken with 360-degree cameras and both overhead and underwater robotic cameras.

The images will appear live on the Getty website within two minutes from the moment of capture, according to the service. Getty has also improved the ease with which its users can share the images on social media in close to real time.

Beyond these features, Getty’s iOS and Android apps now support 360-degree images and Google Cardboard, according to Getty.

10. NBC AND SAMSUNG VR PROGRAMMING

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Olympic Broadcasting Services, NBC and Samsung have partnered to stream 85 hours of Rio Olympics coverage in virtual reality.

The opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball, gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing are all being made accessible in VR to anyone with both a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and a Samsung Gear VR headset via the NBC Sports app. Samsung customers with a TV provider can also see the VR content via TV Everywhere. One sport per day will be available to users in the U.S., from Aug. 6 through Aug. 22, on delay.

This is the first time Olympics programming will be available in VR. NBC first tested the capability during the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, this past February, according to NBCOlympics.com.

11. FLEXTRONICS ILLUMINATED FLAG BEARER BLAZER

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Michael Phelps, 22-time medal-winner and designated flag bearer for the opening ceremony, is leading Team U.S.A. around the track at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium in style.

Polo Ralph Lauren worked with Flextronics to embed electro-luminescent panels into Phelps’ blazer. The panels are located on both the front and back of the jacket, and they light up the U.S. Olympic Team logo and “USA” with the flip of a switch hidden in the pocket, according to a Ralph Lauren blog post.

Related: Follow These 9 Olympic Athletes on Instagram for Some Epic Inspiration

12. UNDER ARMOUR 3-D-PRINTED SHOES … FOR MICHAEL PHELPS

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But wait, don’t swimmers go barefoot during races?

The shoes are for marketing purposes. Under Armour created them to generate buzz around the company’s UA Architech 3-D-printed shoes, which premiered earlier this year.

The midsoles of the UA Architect’s — and Phelps’ new sneakers — is 3-D printed. But Phelps’ pair contains a special touch: the insole features a footprint of Phelps’ infant son, Boomer, according to Fortune.

Perhaps the most prominent shoe-wearing athlete the company sponsors is 2015 and 2016 NBA MVP Steph Curry, who has opted to skip this year’s Olympic Games in order to rest after a knee injury.

12 Amazing Tech Innovations You’ll See at the Rio Olympics

 

Israel is opening an innovation center to showcase Israeli technology and inspire young entrepreneurs

Israel is opening an innovation center to showcase Israeli technology and inspire young entrepreneurs

It’s no secret that Israel is a hotbed of technological innovation. Just over the past few years the country has given birth to popular consumer startups like Waze, Viber and Fiverr. Plus, Israel also is the birthplace of many hard science inventions like USB Flash Drives and coronary stents.

But Israel is at a crossroads of sorts. While the country wants to proudly show off these technology “wins”, they are also mindful of the fact that there’s no point in remembering the past if they can’t continue to drive innovation going forward.

The solution? Using tales of the past to inspire the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs.

One way Israel is accomplishing this is through former President of Israel Shimon Peres’ new Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Peace House in Jaffa.

Announced today, the center will highlight inventions and companies already created in Israel as well as future Israeli technologies yet to be developed.

But the point of the center isn’t to just brag about Israel. In fact, President Peres noted that the main point is to ensure that Israel never stops innovating:

The primary focus will be on the path to the future. We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers. Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians –to engage in science and technology equally.  Here we will emphasize that we can promote peace from childhood, and we will spark the imagination of every boy and girl and enrich their dreams.” – Former President Shimon Peres

So how will it achieve this? Firstly, part of the center will dedicated to “showcasing leading Israeli companies”, and Israeli inventions that span across different industries.

But more importantly, the rest of the center will serve as a community space. It will be a place for entrepreneurs to meet, work, learn and even participate in hackathons. Peres emphasized that it will be a place to gain hands-on learning experience not found in a traditional school or university.

The former president sees technology as the best way to better society and create peace in the world, and wants to make sure the next generation of makers and entrepreneurs are both inspired and trained to be able to do so.

And judging by the guests of honor at the dedication it’s safe to say that this will be the flagship technology center for the entire country – the event was attended by the country’s three most important people – former President Peres, current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In fact, all three tried virtual reality headsets on at the ceremony. President Peres told us that trying VR was “something totally new,” and could help create the dreams that create a new reality”.

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Israel is opening an innovation center to showcase Israeli technology and inspire young entrepreneurs

These Are the Best Startup Accelerators in the U.S.

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These Are the Best Startup Accelerators in the U.S.

Startup accelerators can too easily be black boxes. There are close to 200 of them, and they all make similar claims: That you’ll emerge from their programs smarter about business, better-connected, and better able to raise financing. Your company, meanwhile, will make progress at a speed just not possible anywhere else.

So how do you choose between them?

The recently released Seed Accelerator Rankings, compiled by a team of professors from Rice University, University of Richmond, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are a good place to start. In October, the researchers contacted about 180 accelerators, asking them about the state of their portfolio companies, all of their funding rounds, valuations, and exit information.

They asked graduates of accelerator programs to fill out surveys about their experiences, including questions about valuations, exits, and their general satisfaction with the program. “We get a lot of very honest feedback,” says Yael Hochberg, an entrepreneurship and finance professor at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and managing director of the rankings.

One thing Hochberg and her team are not looking for: incubators. While the terms “acclerator” and “incubator” are often thrown around interchangeably, to Hochberg and her team, they mean very different things. Accelerators accept companies in distinct cohorts, for a finite period of time. “It’s a bootcamp type program where everyone works very intensively over a period of time,” she says. “With accelerators, companies either die quickly or take off quickly.”

She looks at incubators as co-working spaces with services. “We know what those look like,” she says. “On average, startups stay there for four years and don’t grow much.”

This year, the researchers did not assign the accelerators numerical rankings, as they have in the past. Hochbergs said that’s because the accelerators’ scores tended to be in specific clusters, making it very hard to make a clear call between, say, number eight and number nine. “I’m not going to declare one program i better than another without statistical significance,” says Hocherg. “I’m not going to declare a ranking based on a third decimal point.”

Instead, the team grouped accelerators into tiers. Here are the nine accelerators, listed in alphabetical order, in the highest tier:

500 Startups, which runs four-month programs in Mountain View, Calif., and San Francisco.

Alchemist, a San Francisco-based specialized incubator for enterprise startups.

Amplify.LA, an incubator for tech startups and based in Los Angeles.

AngelPad accepts startups–mostly tech, and mostly b2b–for residencies in both New York and San Francisco

Chicago New Venture Challenge has separate tracks for businesses looking to make a social impact, global businesses, and businesses started by University of Chicago students.

MuckerLab accepts companies to its Los Angeles-based program for anywhere from three to 18 months

StartX is an incubator for Stanford founders in any industry.

Techstars runs 20 accelerator programs in cities from Atlanta to Cape Town to New York. Some of its programs have an industry focus, such as healthcare, media, retail, or cloud computing.

Y Combinator brings a large number of companies–in its last class, 107–to Silicon Valley for three months of intensive development.

Finding Fit

Hochberg has some other advice for entrepreneurs looking at incubator programs. Outside of the very best accelerators, she says, you might be better off with an industry-specific accelerator if there’s one that is a good fit for you. “The very top programs can almost always bring in someone in your industry,” she says. The middle-of-the-pack ones might not be able to.

And she notes that accelerators are changing their own business models. The “virtual accelerator” is one variation, but Hochberg is not a fan. “We don’t see that these work, and the programs we see don’t wind up in the top of the rankings,” she says. “The things that have the most effect are the mentoring and the cohort nature of the program, having startups in one place going through the program at the same time together. The breadth and depth of mentoring really matters. You don’t get that in a virtual program.”

The financial model is changing, too. Just five years ago, she says, just about every accelerator took the same size stake in its companies and offered the same amount of cash. That has completely changed. This year, on average, the accelerators gave their companies $39,470 for 5.5 percent of equity. But some offer up to $175,000, and some don’t take any equity at all.

Accelerators are learning that long-term, they can’t live off of 5.5 percent stakes in their companies. That’s leading to consolidation, says Hochberg, and programs like TechStars where a variety of backers get together under one model. Others are adding venture funds to make follow-on investments. Says Hochberg: “That’s the only way you’re going to have a meaningful stake by the time the company exits.”

These Are the Best Startup Accelerators in the U.S.