Marblar, a firm that crowdsources market applications for emerging and existing technology, says it allows anyone worldwide to compete and collaborate toward reimagining how said technology might be applied.
"Since launching [six months] ago, we've had over 8,000 people join from around the world who have collectively collaborated on over 1,000 new market applications for a few dozen technologies," said Daniel Bayley, a member of the Marblar team. Bayley adds that the community is now approaching 10,000 scientists and innovators from over 100 countries around the world.
Daniel Perez, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Marblar, told GEN that he witnessed firsthand while going for his doctorate at Oxford that many technologies and research developed never got commercialized, frequently because the application wasn't so obvious. "When that's the case, the technology lies fallow and just gathers dust—never taking off," he added. "Our thoughts were, why not bring more voices into the conversation and allow more people to chew on the idea?"
When GEN asked Bayley if any challenges led to major new developments yet, he said that this is often a slow process and is ultimately down to the technology holder to choose the application they want to follow through with. However, he added, a competition around a compact, handheld spectrometer that was originally invented for use on Mars produced what he felt were many impressive ideas, one of which being the monitoring of oil wells. The technology owner is reportedly in talks with Shell Oil around this application.
"Our users never fail to produce ideas that even the most creative of us couldn’t imagine," Bayley commented, "This is what we expect and is a large part of what makes Marblar so exciting and appealing to technology holders. You’ll be very surprised at some of the amazing and interesting ideas the community puts forward."
Now, it's your turn to come up with some amazing ideas: Here are three Marblar challenges we think you, GEN reader, should check out:
- Micro-Mixer: Developed in Singapore by the SIMTech Microfluidics Foundry, this is a completely passive device that can mix liquids in microfluidic channels within milliseconds. When two liquids flow through very narrow channels (less than 1/10 mm), they run parallel to each other and don't mix, which is known as laminar flow. This can impede the design, function, and possibilities of microfluidic devices. The Micro-Mixer has a solution to this problem by pulsing the flow of one stream, converting laminar flow to oscillatory flow. Prize: $1,000.
- e-Gnosis chip: Developed in Prof. Mino Green’s lab in London, Bayley describes this device as "a bit like a blood glucose sensor on steroids." It can detect a range of substances in parallel using simple electrochemical readouts. In addition, the device is based on a small, inexpensive chip that can communicate through a smart phone or tablet. Prize: $750.
- Laser bloodhound: A laser spectrometer, developed in Oxford, that can allow real-time gas analysis in demanding environments with sensitivity, dynamic range, and robustness. This competition is currently in the Refinement phase, but you can still submit new ideas. Prize: $1,000.