TechCrunch Disrupt landed in the City by the Bay this week after making a pitstop in New York earlier this year. Startups went to battle, hackers toiled into the night at the Hackathon, and some big names in tech spoke about their plans for the future. Here are all the highlights.
25 startups threw down at TechCrunch Disrupt SF’s Battlefield this year. Six made it to the final round, but of course, only one startup came away with the Disrupt Cup and $50,000.
We’ve already seen how it’s now possible to hire coaches to help level up your Pokémon Go skills. Mobalytics offers a more sophisticated approach to e-sports training, using visual analytics to provide gamers insights into their performance; they’re kicking things off with analytics for League of Legends players. Metrics such as survivability, aggression, teamplay, and versatility are taken into consideration to compute a Gamer Performance Index (GPI). The statistics give gamers a clear idea of where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
It’s worth noting that the winner of TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 Battlefield was also an e-sports related service. The industry is expected to make $1 billion in revenue by 2019, so it’s understandable we’re seeing greater innovation from such startups.
There’s consensus by now that passwords are a really inefficient means by which to authenticate individuals’ identity. UnifyID replaces a secret string of characters with a system that uses “implicit authentication” to grant users access to their accounts online. The app collects data from regularly used devices to create a profile of your behavior, such as walking speed, the keystroke timing while typing, location etc. UnifyID believes that this information, when aggregated, gives each user a unique identity.
The app takes the available data into consideration each time you attempt to log in to an account, processes it locally, and grants access based on the likelihood that the person and account are a match. Their gait detection algorithms have been shown to identify individuals within four seconds of collecting data on how they walk. The system on the whole has shown 99.999% accuracy in tests so far.
Austin-based EverlyWell is making it possible for people to take laboratory health tests without having to leave their homes. The service lets you order a test online, the kit for which soon shows up at your doorstep along with instructions. Once the required sample is collected, it’s sent to an accredited national laboratory for testing. Results from the lab are made available online after they’ve been reviewed by a certified physician. Among the tests EverlyWell currently offers are a sleep and stress test, cholesterol and lipid test, women’s health and fertility test, and a food sensitivity test.
One more health startup made it to the finals at Disrupt SF 2016. Carbon Health is a platform that aggregates all the health-related information patients have accrued from lab tests, pharmacies, and doctor’s visits over time. Further, the startup’s mobile app can be used to schedule appointments with doctors, pay for them, and add the most recent updates to existing health records. Carbon Health will introduce its private practice in San Francisco as an introductory service. They plan to on-board third-party medical practitioners to the platform early 2017 onwards.
Sqreen is a French startup making it a lot easier for web developers to secure their applications. The software plugs in easily to existing code through the addition of a few command lines. It then takes over and automatically scans for security threats in real time. Fixes are recommended whenever a threat is detected. Sqreen plans on using machine learning to automatically implement the most pertinent security measures in the future. The service is currently compatible with Python, Ruby, Rails, and Node JS apps.
This one’s for anyone who’s lost hours of their lives waiting for SQL queries to execute. BlazingDB is a high-performance SQL database that’s built to deal with petabyte scale data. It uses graphics processors to take advantage of their parallel co-processing capabilities. The result is a highly efficient query-processing system perfect for a time when big data is all the rage. It makes sense that BlazingDB is already seeing interest from Fortune 100 enterprises after opening to customers just in June this year.
TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 Hackathon Winner: PointShop.space
The hack that won the $5,000 prize at Disrupt SF 2016 was PointShop.space, by Anuj Agrawal and Yosun Chang. The mobile app displays contextual information overlaid on a product being viewed through a phone camera. Their demo showed how pointing a camera at an iPhone leads to the app displaying information such as a product listing, competing products like the Samsung Galaxy S7, a size comparison with an augmented reality iPad, and the closest Apple retailer that sells the product.
Facebook Trending Topics to Borrow News Feed Tech to Combat Fake Stories
Facebook’s much beleaguered Trending Topics feature has been in a state of upheaval the past few weeks. The trouble started earlier in 2016 when allegations were made that the stories picked to fill the ‘trending’ section had a strong anti-conservative bias. Facebook responded by abruptly firing the editorial team that curated news stories and replaced them with an algorithm. The algorithm showed a bias of a different kind—for fake news. Most notably, a fake story about Fox anchor Megyn Kelly having a liberal bias and a 9/11 conspiracy theory were seen trending after the algorithm took over.
Head of Facebook News Feed, Adam Mosseri took to the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 to reveal that work is ongoing to make Trending a more dependable source for the most current and important news stories. The process will now involve borrowing some of the software that has made News Feed less prone to sensationalist stories and clickbait. As much as that’s a step in the right direction, maybe the real problem is that some of us actually use Facebook to get our fix of daily news.
Hyperloop One Targeting Overseas Market
Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are both based in LA, but they’ve both got their eyes set on getting a foothold in international markets. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies co-founder Bibop Gresta—who spoke with SnapMunk in its UnCorked Founder Interview series—has stated that the company is making steady progress towards installing the futuristic transportation system in countries like Germany and India. Shervin Pishevar revealed at Disrupt SF 2016 that Hyperloop One is also likely to debut overseas and are building partnerships in Russia, Finland, and Dubai. Hyperloop One has raised $130 million in its short 18-month existence. The company is sure to need a lot more capital to make their dream of sonic speed travel a reality.
Stephen Curry, Startup Founder
Kobe Bryant isn’t the only big name in basketball making inroads into technology investments. Stephen Curry told the audience at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016 about his own venture, Slyce. The startup has created a social media platform that connects athletes and fans, while also giving brands a way to leverage influencers and run targeted campaigns. Curry also spoke of his involvement with UN Foundation charity Nothing But Nets. The organization works towards fighting malaria in different parts of the world. Curry pledged to donate three malaria nets for every 3-pointer he makes a season. Let’s hope for the sake of malaria prevention and the Warriors that he keeps his hot hand.
Prateek Jose is a writer and engineering undergrad from India with an unhealthy obsession for obscure historical trivia. Conversations about absurdist fiction and the technological singularity make his day. He’s already uploading parts of his brain to servers by writing for websites such as this one.
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