Caught our eye

Slotcar bots, ultrasonic power and heated people


Innovative flat share

Interactive furniture, talking household equipment, networked rooms

On 1 October, designer Thomas Petrig (28, left) and ICT specialists Daniel Geppert (29, middle) and Johannes Neumaier (27, right) moved into an old building in Berne and what is surely the most unusual flat share in Switzerland. As part of “Project 365d” by Swisscom, the three men work on ICT projects in the Swisscom innovation department four days a week. On the fifth day, they stay at home and work on designing the flat of the future: “Who knows, maybe the three of them will develop a fridge that knows whether I still have butter. Or a coffee machine that starts itself before I get out of bed,” says Judith Oldekop, Head of Personnel Marketing at Swisscom. As the name “Project 365d” reveals, Swisscom is providing the young men with rooms in the shared flat and jobs for 365 days.

Unusual personnel marketing

The three were selected in an unusual assessment. In the online advert for the place in the shared flat and the job, there was a specially created knowledge quiz. “Only those who are knowledgeable about IT could answer the quiz as the questions were quite complex,” explains Judith Oldekop. For the students, this was a playful element and Swisscom was able to test who actually had programming skills. The aim of this project is namely to fill ICT vacancies with the right people in the shortest time.

On the ICT blog, the three are documenting their time in the shared flat. Do you have ideas about which gadgets the flat geeks should connect with one another to make everyday living easier? Then you’re welcome to contribute on the blog.

Further information and the blog

And on the fifth day, they deal with the future at home.While on the other four days, the young specialists from the innovative flat share work in the Swisscom Innovation department.


StartUp Challenge

Journey to the Mecca of IT

In October, the five winners of the Swisscom StartUp Challenge – ScanTrust, eSMART, Geosatis, Hoosh and CashSentinel – travelled to Silicon Valley for a one-week mentoring programme. During this time at the most important location for the IT and high-tech industry worldwide, the start-up companies were able to establish contacts with international partners and experienced investors. They had the opportunity to have their project scrutinised by industry experts and venture capitalists. dialogue spoke to Rikke Blix Hagemann, CEO of Hoosh, the start-up that has developed an intelligent marketing tool, and inquired about her experience of the trip.

How did you benefit from travelling to Silicon Valley?

It was a very productive trip for us. It was exciting to find out about the investment possibilities in Silicon Valley and have the chance to get to know interesting new companies. Somehow everything there seemed to be much bigger than in Switzerland.

Were you able to bring anything specific back home for your start-up company?

Yes, not only in terms of potential strategic partnerships, but also in terms of promising customer contacts in the sales area.

Where will things go from here in your company?

Sell, sell, sell is the main focus during the start-up phase, which is where we are at the moment. We were able to establish numerous valuable contacts in Silicon Valley and have already planned several follow-on meetings over the next few weeks.

What was your personal highlight of the week?

The meetings with Salesforce and Oracle were my highlights of the week. I also found it very good that other great start-ups were there.

And what was the greatest surprise?

Hmmmm ... good question. I am not quite sure whether it was actually a surprise, but I was extremely impressed by the power of networking in Silicon Valley.

More about the winners of the StartUp Challenge


Virtual Reality

See with the eyes of a surgeon

The Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses that Facebook purchased a few months ago open completely new perspectives for doctors. A French surgeon filmed a hip operation using a headband equipped with two synchronised GoPro cameras. Converted to an Oculus Rift virtual reality file, the film now allows students to gain an impression of how cutting and sealing takes place, and not just from the edge of the operating table. Rather, in the virtual reality they can follow precisely in the greatest detail just what the surgeon himself sees during his work. This example shows the immense possibilities that gaming virtual reality technology like Oculus Rift also opens up for visualisation in the professional area.

Oculus Rift in the operating theatre



Charge your smartphone in your trouser pocket

No more charging devices and no more pads on which you have to place your ever-present mobile in order to recharge it with electricity for the following day. The US start-up company uBeam has patented a technology that can be used to charge smartphone and tablet batteries without any additional effort – in your trouser pocket, briefcase or on the desk. This is to be made possible by means of ultrasound. A small converter on the wall socket transforms the electrical energy into ultrasound waves. These are then received by a second mini-converter within the device and converted back to electricity. However, the ultrasound wave technology has one disadvantage: it cannot travel through walls. Therefore, a separate charging infrastructure is required for every room. uBeam co-founder Meredith Perry does not see this as a problem. She is convinced that her technology will soon be as widespread as WLAN. As the mobile electronics would be connected to the electricity network more or less continuously, manufacturers could, for example, reduce the size of their batteries – and the dismayed glance at the battery indicator on leaving the office would become just a dim and distant memory.

uBeam on the InternetIt works …



Warming up people rather than walls

With sensors and clever programs it is possible to do things that go beyond the limits of current thinking. For example, the manner in which rooms – or more accurately the people in them – can be kept warm. A team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) presented a heating system in Local Warming that doesn’t simply heat up a room, but specifically warms the individual people. If nobody is at home or in the office, the premises are not heated. And heating the walls and ceilings is just as unnecessary for achieving a comfortable room temperature. This should reduce energy consumption by up to 90 percent. Local Warming uses WLAN signals to track a person’s position in the room. Infra-red heaters are used as targeted sources of heat.

Local Warming in actionSetting up the system in time lapse



Slotcar bot and virtual reality with cardboard glasses

When 350 crack developers from throughout Europe meet for 40 hours for a programming marathon, amazing things happen. At HackZurich, the largest Hackathon in Switzerland until now, organised by students from the university and technical university of Zurich, the main prize was awarded to an app that turns a smartphone and a cheap pair of cardboard glasses into a virtual reality face display in the vein of Oculus Rift. Swisscom and Zühlke Engineering awarded a special prize to the team that programmed the fastest bot for the Carrera model racing track that allowed the racing cars to be controlled fully automatically. The real-time data from acceleration sensors was available to the software drivers in the cloud. The algorithms then had to slowly learn how to optimally and, above all, proactively, accelerate and brake around the circuit. The title of virtual slotcar champion was eventually won by a team from the University of Warsaw.

The excitement is greatAll about the Hackathon