Yesterday I was in Paris at the EIT Digital Innovation day on Digital Cities hosted by the EIT Digital Node in Paris.
A great day with the opportunity of meeting several young entrepreneurs pushing their ideas, trying to get us all excited on the market potential of their innovation.
I just mention one, not because it was the best one, it might have been to some of course, but because in a way it seems so down to earth and so far away from ICT, which of course it is not!
Kick scooter is a proposition of SamoCat, a start up that is working on socialising the idea of using shared kick scooter for moving in a city. Their scooter is robust and can easily fold so that you can carry it on metros and buses for longer "hops" and unfold in a blink of an eye once you hit the sidewalk again. And using it on a sidewalk is, for them, a winning proposition, since it differentiate it from bikes that have to be used on the streets and compete with cars for space.
So far there is very little ICT. The kick scooter is a mechanical object with some steel and some rubber. However, it is ICT that makes the whole difference. It is the ICT that makes sharing possible by letting people know where a k-scooter is available in their vicinity and by managing payments.
At the moment they are deploying a "docking station" that is connected to the Internet and that can handle the communication with the scooter and the client. In perspective, as communications technology will become cheaper they expect to make the kick scooter itself managing the communications so that they can have a free floating offer, you can basically drop the scooter wherever you are. To make this affordable you need cheap GPS receiver, cheap wireless transmitter and most important cheap battery and related electronics to recharge it. Solving the "economics" of this is something that still lays in the the future, probably by the end of the decade. 5G could bring a solution by creating really mobile networks based on smartphones that become network nodes. It will be up to them to "discover" IoTs with passive electronics as they roam around and let the system know their location.
I picked up this innovation because it really highlights the role of ICT as enabler, as a transformer of any object into a connected one that can participate to an ecosystem.
For the record. The Digital City Challenge was won by Green City Solutions, proposing a moss coupled to a smartphone!!! that could help purifying the air in a city. Another example of how ICT has become pervasive.