Starlab Space and Mass Factory stand out for their innovative proposals in an event with lack of variety, full of I-am-smarter companies.

This week I visited the Smart City Expo World Congress. In general, exhibitors could be divided into two groups, startups presenting new technology and large companies showing their capacity to manage infrastructure and big data.

From my perspective, the most interesting group was on the side of the startups. All them presented innovative applications and technology, focusing on very specific and varied areas. Certainly, it’s a great source of innovation and ideas.

However, the overall picture that can be drawn from it is that of a completely fragmented sector: Small companies specializing in tiny plots of a Smart City. If cities were determined to be totally smart tomorrow, they would face a unmanageable multitude of suppliers. This doesn’t sound very smart at all.

Thanks to the emergence of big data, it appears that these technologies make magic, gaining the attention of everyone, but in a few years it will not surprise anyone. Cities will resort to those big companies that managed to stay updated and absorbed a wide variety of smart technologies.

On the whole, the exhibition area seemed an I-am-smarter competition. It was difficult to see what was the real offer of value of each company and differentiate them. There were, however, two companies that caught my attention:


i-arbol starlab

Starlab Space Engineering developes space sensors and mission concepts with a focus on radar remote sensing. i-árbol (i-tree) is a tool for urban green management to maximize the benefits that green areas provide to citys, creating better urban environments and increasing wellbeing. Based on satellite images analysis and information, i-árbol can map health and distribution of plants in urban areas.

I found especially interesting this combination of technology and green areas. When the vast majority of projects focus on vehicles, people and equipment, Starlab Space uses Satellite Earth observation to monitor urban trees. Plants can also be smart!


mass factory

Mass Factory is a high-tech company, spin-off of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), that develops systems based on mobile applications with geolocation, improving mobility for groups with special needs.

App&Town Compagnon is an intelligent guidance system that allows people with mild or moderate cognitive disabilities to travel autonomously in public transport. A supervisor creates routes and the App guides the user, travelling autonomously with precise and customized instructions. Meanwhile, it’s possible to monitor the user’s trip in real time.

In this case, App & Town Compagnon caught my attention due to its focus on an unusual user. It’s a very interesting example of technology applied to extreme users which could also be very useful for any kind of users without special needs.