The Best of the 2015 Web Summit Tech Fest

Wearables for cows, 3-D printed clothes, and virtual reality to treat Parkinson’s disease were showcased

25 November 2015

Apps and cutting-edge technologies that will make your life easier were presented at Web Summit 2015, held in November in Dublin. IEEE members and staff discovered apps that will locate health care professionals who will come to your house to treat a medical emergency, help organize your clothes closet, and obtain analytics about any website, even those of your competitors.

The annual summit attracted more than 42,000 attendees from 134 countries who got the opportunity to listen to 1,000 speakers, including IEEE members, who covered topics such as technology and fashion, intelligent transportation, smart homes, virtual and augmented reality, and wearables.


The IEEE Public Visibility Committee sponsored and hosted the invitation-only Enterprise X dinner where the committee’s chair, IEEE Member Diogo Mónica, delivered the opening remarks. The event brought together 150 of the world’s leading IT executives with entrepreneurs to share ideas on how to drive innovation. He also toured the exhibition hall where he highlighted several interesting startups in this video.

Mónica spotlights MUrgency, a free app developed by entrepreneurs in India. With a touch of a button, the app links patients who are experiencing a medical emergency with local health care professionals, reducing the time to be seen by a doctor from 30 minutes to 3 minutes. The Dairy Activity Monitor, developed by Connecterra, a startup based in Amsterdam, is a wearable device for cows that analyzes real-time data including the animals’ movements, location, and health to help improve dairy production and reduce labor costs.

IEEE Senior Member Kevin Curran was the master of ceremonies at the Machine Summit, which brought together the industry’s leading figures and owners of the world’s most disruptive startups to discuss the impact the Internet of Things will have on our lives. Curran also toured the hall and videotaped these apps that caught his attention.

SimilarWeb, based in New York City, is a “Google Analytics for the Web,” said Curran, because it allows anyone to analyze any website or app and gather analytics data, including traffic and engagement stats, with a single click. That means companies can gather information about their competitors. Garb Share, in St. Louis, is a personal shopping assistant app that lets you upload pictures of every piece of your clothing so that you can plan your outfits, better organize your closet and, when shopping, check out those photos to help you decide which new item will pair best with what you already own.


IEEE staff reported from several summits including those on 3-D printing and fashion, virtual and augmented reality, and wearables.

Designer and entrepreneur Ben Alun Jones, a cofounder of Unmade Studio, a digital manufacturing startup in London, talked about using 3-D printers to “publish” garments for about the same cost as those mass produced in factories.

“Just as we see an on-demand print model in publishing, fashion can also adapt to the same model,” Alun Jones said in the “3-D and Fashion” summit. By using a 3-D printer, consumers will be able to try on a garment for size and also play an integral role in its design, he explained.

In the “Future is a User-Created Reality” session, Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, in San Francisco, which created the virtual reality platform Second Life, discussed real-life applications of virtual reality. He shared a case study of an 88-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease who used virtual reality as a means of therapy. It afforded her the mobility she no longer had to exercise and interact with people, and stimulated her brain in such a way that minimized her symptoms. Altberg said VR is so immersive that the brain cannot distinguish between virtual or physical experiences. Over time, VR can even conjure up false memories that have the ability to improve physical and mental well-being. He said VR is being used to treat post traumatic stress disorder and phobias.

Sara Chipps, CEO of Jewelbots, in New York City, said wearables are sparking interest in science, technology, engineering, and math among teenage girls. Jewelbots are programmable friendship bracelets that teach girls the basics of coding. In the session on wearables, she said she hopes her product will encourage them to consider a career in STEM, similar to how Mindcraft spurred young women to pursue a career in video games. 

You can find summaries of all the sessions on IEEE Transmitter.

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