Innovation is the lifeblood of technology, and sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely of places.
Nothing illustrates this more than the development of the iPod. In October 2001 Steve Jobs revealed the world’s first iPod, a device that revolutionised the portable music scene and paved the way for smartphones. The genius behind this product was that it provided a sleek alternative to the clumsy MP3 players that proliferated the market. Audio players went from holding a couple hundred songs, to storing thousands – and best of all it could (finally) fit in a user’s pocket. The iPod was a perfect union of technology and design.
So where do the best technology ideas within Australia come from? Today’s post lists five Australian companies that should be on your innovation watch-list.
Planet Innovation has been named Australia’s most innovative company for the second time in three years by BRW.
The company was formed in 2009 by four biomedical executives who wanted to shake up the world of product development. In simple terms they wanted to do things better. Today the company develops inventive products across the biomedical, hitech and cleantech sectors. One such product is Zen, a thermostat that can be controlled from a smartphone. Zen exemplifies how connected technology can improve day-to-day activities by eliminating the need for unreliable, hard to locate, remote controls.
What’s more the company promotes a fun and creative environment in which people’s ideas are given due credence. They’ve implemented an internal initiative called the Eureka club where staff are actively encouraged to share new product ideas.
Seeing Machines was born from an innovative ambition; four researchers wanted to give robots the ability to see. While this ultimately proved unsuccessful, they did give computers the ability to recognise what a person was seeing. Today this technology is improving safety within the transport industry.
Seeing Machines monitor driver fatigue. The machines consist of a smart camera which uses algorithms to track a driver’s facial patterns. Once fatigue has been detected, the machine alerts drivers by vibrating the vehicle’s seat and sounding an alarm.
And the solution works.Last year, seeing machines curbed 112,000 accidents within Australia alone. While the company started out with an ambitious goal, they’ve applied the technology to save lives. It doesn’t get more inventive than that.
Xero makes our list because the company saw the potential value of small businesses, (and their administrative pain), when no one else did. As a result, Xero has experienced exponential growth. Its Australian customer base doubled to 158,000 between 2013-2014.
Xero produces online accounting software for small businesses with the core goal of simplifying financial admin. Xero Tax is a feature that’s proven to be popular amongst accountants. It allows tax professionals to review and lodge tax returns from the convenience of a mobile. The feature has seen fast adoption since it’s launch in 2015; over 450,000 tax returns have been lodged via the software. It goes to show that there’s untold value in knowing your customer base.
In the unlikely scenario you haven’t heard of this software powerhouse, Atlassian builds platforms and tools for businesses.
2015 proved to be a big year for Australia's software darling. In December shares surged 32% and the company was valued at $8 billion. They were also named the coolest place to work for a second year in a row by BRW’s Best Place to Work List.
The company is known for encouraging creative employee experiences. Among other things they have implemented personal “innovation” time. Staff can use 20% of their time to work on their own ideas for the company. In so doing they facilitate an entrepreneurial environment.
Nuix is a Sydney-based worldwide provider of information management technologies. They saw value in the fact that 85% of data stored by businesses is unstructured.
Their suite of tools are streamlining the eDiscovery processes by making evidence easily available for search. As a result IT, legal, investigation and security teams can work together to collect, process and review data. What’s more Nuix’s Web Review & Analytics product provides non technical users with a means of investigating and managing data. This is important in the age of big data because it gives organisations a means of drilling down, and making sense, of their information. The company provides data security and investigation software tools to the likes of the Australian Federal police, Department of Defence, U.S. Secret Service and Interpol.