Top 10 business ideas & opportunities for 2017

Spotted from countries all around the world, these businesses offer a taste of what’s to come in the year ahead. They will provide entrepreneurs with plenty of inspiration in 2017.

  1. Blockchain technology used for green energy

Blockchain is the public ledger technology underpinning Bitcoin but the technology has also spawned other innovations including a platform to reward the creators of user-generated content. We’re expecting to see many Blockchain-based innovations this coming year. A highlight from 2016 was Power Ledger, an Australian company using the tech to power a peer-to-peer renewable energy marketplace. Also of note was Storj, a decentralized cloud storage platform that is safe from cyber snooping. The technology is so versatile that we expect to see it applied across a huge number of industries this coming year — especially where there is a “middle man” to be replaced.

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  1. Driverless car insurance protects against hacking

2017 will represent a huge step forward for driverless cars as we move into a period of full automation, and with these advances will come a number of questions and opportunities. At the same time, there will inevitably be a number of ethical and security question to be answered. Adrian Flux is already offering insurance for all aspects of driverless cars, such as automated parking and the hacking of connected systems.

The startup has drawn up a policy that covers a range of scenarios, from physical damage that may occur as a result of assistive parking, to software issues such as protecting downloaded files and providing firewalls to prevent third-party hacking. Premiums also include coverage for in-car entertainment features. Driverless car insurance claims should be easier to prove than standard motor incidents, as the connected systems often save the vehicle’s data in a cloud storage.

What are some other issues around autonomous cars that could need insurance?

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  1. Wearable ring trains users to sleep better by waking them up

We expect 2017 to be the year when we see wearables move beyond simply tracking metrics. As they evolve, devices will increasingly look to actively and physically help train the wearer into better habits, in a very tangible way. Thim, for example, is a ring that trains users to sleep better by waking them up at regular intervals. The device is based on the work of Professor Leon Lack, whose research has shown that waking participants up at regular intervals for the first hour of sleep improves sleep quality and duration on subsequent nights.

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  1. In Japan, an artificial intelligence has been appointed creative director

Automation will cause further disruption to the labor market in 2017. Just as mechanisation has had a profound effect on manual labour, AI is now similarly impacting traditional “white-collar” professions. For example, AI-CD β is an AI that is being treated as an actual employee by McCann Japan, contributing to the agency’s creative strategy. With 2016 also seeing the arrival of Armenia’s ever-evolving Lifos bots, AI being used to predict epidemics (Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology), and a Chinese AI-powered chatbot that provides medical diagnosis (Baidu’s Melody), 2017 will be a year dominated by even more breakthroughs in AI.

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  1. Online ratings turned into one reputation score

The anonymity of the online world can provoke a lack of trust in both vendors and buyers. Positive ratings and reviews can make all the difference, but until now these have been confined to individual e-commerce platforms, meaning newcomers have to start from scratch on each new site. Deemly aims to fix this by enabling users to consolidate all of their scores into one reliable, shareable ‘trustworthiness’ rating.

To begin, users create a profile and connect it to their existing accounts — including P2P marketplaces such as Airbnb. Then, Deemly calculates an overall score between 1-100 using a unique algorithm, developed in collaboration with a statistician. Deemly takes into account factors such as how recently a score was given and assigns weighting accordingly. Then, newcomers can use their Deemly score to vouch for their reputation when using new services.

In the future, Deemly scores could be used in other fields such as in job applications, banking and dating. For example, Israeli social network PersonalHeroes rewards good deeds online with kindness points. Are there any other positive characteristics, which could be leveraged online?

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  1. Training people with disabilities to become drone pilots

To many, if you utter the word “drones” it will call to mind negative military and surveillance connotations, but over the coming year we’re expecting to see a number of drone innovations that counter this association by helping make the world a better place. Last year, HandiDrone was an initiative we spotted that enables those with mobility issues and disabilities to learn how to fly modified, first person drones. The aim of the program is twofold: to enable participants to experience the tranquility and control of being outside their own bodies through First-Person-View flying, and to expose them to the emerging job of drone pilots, which could be compatible with their disability.

In the UK, there is Pouncer — an eco-friendly humanitarian food aid drone adaptable to local dietary requirements.

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  1. Software uses big data to predict court decisions

Hand in hand with AI, Big Data will continue to have a profound effect on productivity and the labor market in 2017. Predictice is a fascinating innovation that provides lawyers with statistics and data on the likely outcome of commercial and social disputes, based on the history of the courts. Currently, in the US, Legalist uses an algorithm to vet commercial lawsuits and finance those with potential for success.

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  1. Could VR representations of news stories replace traditional forms of news media?

The future of media remains uncertain, and there are significant questions around the best strategies to monetise content — especially in print and news publishing. New platform, Emblematic, may offer a glimpse of the future, allowing those consuming news to be inside the story through VR simulation. This could lead to greater empathy among viewers, and change how to we consume and react to news stories in a profound way.

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  1. Energy efficient street lamps are also mosquito traps


To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, Researchers at University of Malaya developed street lights powered by wind and solar, which attract and trap mosquitoes using a ‘human’ scent. Smart cities are about much more than Big Data.

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  1. Robotic Store Assistant

A little over a month ago the internet blew up following the announcement of Amazon’s new brick and mortar store Amazon Go, which will enable shoppers to effortlessly self-checkout. Due to open early 2017, the store actually offers just a taste of the disruption still to come to physical retail spaces. In Germany and Silicon Valley, there are now robotic store assistants and scanners that let shoppers perform in-store searches for physical items. 2017 will be the year we see many of the benefits associated with online shopping replicated in physical retail environments.

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Originally Published on Springwise.com
Contents have been lightly edited.

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