Is NZ still a nation of inventors?

As New Zealanders we love to know that amongst our small population of 4.5million or so, we’ve contributed to technology that have impacted millions.  In New Zealand’s history we’ve seen the electric fence developed by William Gallagher, to jogging (yes it was developed as a technique by running coach Arthur Lydiard), Invented the humble eggbeater patented by Ernest Godward, to disposable syringes by Colin Murdoch.  We even split the atom courtesy of Ernest Rutherford.  But can we claim to owning an inventor crown?  Or as a Nation claim to even supporting our inventors?

Now due to the advances of technology assisted by our predecessors, Kiwis around New Zealand are getting their hands dirty with some ingenuity of their own and hoping that websites like Indigogo or Kickstarter will give their projects exactly that…a kickstart.  Kickstarter and Indigogo enables our budding future Nobel Peace Prize winners, a boost in their research & development.  Or what we New Zealanders would refer to as ‘a day in the shed’ to perfect, market and sell their inventions through crowdsource funding.  However it can be a tough market on both these sites as NZ’ers compete with the rest of the world for investors.

Kickstarter launched in NZ on Nov 13 in 2013 and since then 420 projects have been uploaded to the site, around 38 projects per month. Out of those projects 29% receive more than the 100% funding required. Only 11% (around 55 projects)  of those projects submitted however are technology based. While overseas some great stories have emerged from the success of kickstarter technology projects (like the oculus rift which was eventually sold to Facebook for $2b) NZ hasn’t really had that defining moment to claim back our invention crown.

Well I decided I would take a look and see what’s happening on Kickstarter NZ and Indigogo to see what NZ’s inventors currently have or had on offer in the tech sections of these sites.  Because of the quantity of projects I just chose 3 (otherwise this story will never end). These three tech contributors aren’t necessarily the best or the most interesting, but it does give you a sense of just how broad our contributions to technology is.

 

EyeChamp turns your phone into a macro camera
EyeChamp turns your phone into a macro camera

EyeChamp is a  low cost medical device capable of taking high quality images of the eye. Using a small clip on device EyeChamp instantly converts your phone camera into a macro camera capable of taking high quality pictures of the anterior chamber of the eyes.   Designed with Doctors in mind, EyeChamp sells itself by explaining the uses of itself such as being able to photograph disease of the eye.  Tracking conditions such as conjunctivitis, cornea oedema or scarring, hyphaema, foreign body, penetrating eye injury, scleritis/episcleritis, iris lesions etc.  EyeChamp even boasts its use of tracking dermatological conditions. It is capable of taking high quality photos of any skin lesion with high magnification. A good way to keep track of your patient’s skin condition especially if you are monitoring a naevi for its colour and other characteristic. – No surprises, this project was fully funded

 

Sensorjet - The Smart home safety system
Sensorjet – The Smart home safety system

SENSORJET touts itself as solving one of the biggest risks to homes (fire) at the lowest cost.  Rather than paying thousands to insert a sprinkler system,SENSORJET uses your current plumbing and heat sensors. The SENSORJET system has two components: a heat sensor on the ceiling, and a small, bench-mounted water jet, that pops up and sprays a fine mist of water when the ceiling sensor detects a fire. And because it’s smart, it can turn off again when it’s safe – ready to go again if needed. Sprinklers, by comparison, have a head that ‘bursts’ and stays on, usually flooding the place. – At time of writing this was 1% funded

Raspivoice
RaspiVoice – a text to speech device to add voice easily to arduino, gadgeteer or any other microcontroller project

RaspiVoice is designed “to use a low cost RaspBerry Pi mini computer as a text-to-voice device for Arduino boards or any other microcontroller  The main purpose of this project is to make a community based low cost but truly versatile text to speech device that allows anybody to add speech to any project.”  Featuring 9000 words in female and male speech.  Its not designed for E-book reading, but more for short sentences like “movement detected” or “Im hungry” – RaspiVoice is currently fully funded at the time of writing and still has 27 days to go.

These are just a few and such a small portion of our technological contributions from NZ inventors.  There have been Virtual Apps using Augmented Reality.  Hunting Safety Prevention Technology to detect hunters so you don’t accidently shoot them, a camera that gave you the benefit of hindsight and raised $94K out of the $50K it needed!

NZ inventors are still out there, still making a difference and contributing to the advancement of technology.  And now we have the benefit of helping them.  If you’re not the inventive type then why not be the supportive type and contribute to technology by supporting our own tech inventors and masters.

 

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Charis McAwesome

Charis McAwesome is the full time writer of hashtagme and was previously a social media manager/advisor to companies including Microsoft, Intel, Lenovo, Deloitte, Tertiary institutions, banks and many more. Charis still provides digital strategy and big data analysis as a consultant.

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