Urban-X’s investors showcase features high-tech face masks, navigation for the blind and more

The Urban-X investors showcase is a closed-door event that
shows off eight different incubated startups to potential
investors and press. I stopped by earlier this week to see what
the fuss was about.

Of the eight companies in Urban-X’s 02
, I picked four that tackled problems relating
to pollution, the visually impaired, urban deliveries and
maintaining public cleanliness: O2O2 Facewear, WearWorks,
Upcycles and Sencity, respectively.

Haptic navigation for the blind

Perhaps the potentially life-changing of the products and
services demoed at the Urban-X showcase is by WearWorks. Their prototype
wristband is a proposed solution to GPS-based navigation for
the blind and visually impaired.

Using haptic feedback, the WayBand uses a powerful motor to
give you tactile sensations about where you are and what
direction to walk in.

WearWorks has been working with a number of visually impaired
individuals to test the Wayband, including an ultra marathon
runner who will be competing in this year’s NYC marathon.

If the marathon test proves successful, WearWorks will
begin seeding more devices to early adopters before moving
forward with a public launch.

Modernizing the face mask

Modern facewear company O2O2 is
capitalizing on what they’re calling a “multi-billion dollar
industry”. They’re focusing first on cities like Beijing, where
pollution and air quality is among the worst of the world’s
major cities.

Oddly, O2O2 didn’t allow attendees to try on the mask (claiming
that it was only formulated for the creators’ facial structures
for now). However, O2O2 is promising four different facial
molds at launch with customizeable modules (the unit you see
above is an engineering prototype) that include the sensors,
filters and batteries.

The coolest feature about the mask is that it’s possible to
monitor your vitals (I’m assuming this is your VO2 breathing
stats), as well as monitoring the air quality data with a
companion smartphone app.

The resulting data collected by O2O2 mask wearers can then be
used to tackle the pollution problem in a given area, including
determining which parts of town have the most pollution
from day to day.

Simplifying urban delivery vehicles

The first thing Upcycles said on-stage is that they’re human
centric and anti-robot. This piqued the interest of the crowd,
but what actually made people curious was the Yax, a new type of urban delivery

Designed to carry up to 500 pounds of equipment up and down
tight city streets, the Yax is a weird looking tricycle with a
flatbed. A delivery person riding the Yax has full
visibility above and around their seating position, with the
ability to secure the Yax like you would any other bike.

The age of the..digital trashcan?

Perhaps the most niche of presentations came from Sencity, with the TetraBIN. Some of
Sencity’s design work has been used at embassies and malls in
Australia – at heart, they are a design firm. Now they’re
looking to tackle cleanliness in city streets by making trash
cans interactive and visually appealing.

The TetraBIN does this with sensors, a speaker, microphone and
a full LED screen wraparound, so it’s perhaps the most
high-tech trashcan you’ll ever see. A passerby can not only
throw trash and get a fun visual to look at, but ask for
directions to get a cup of coffee, or be visually guided on
which of the bins to throw in recyclables and regular trash.

How useful this will be in a city like NYC, time will tell.
 My main concern with such a product is that it could

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Urban-X’s investors showcase features high-tech face masks, navigation for the blind and more

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