London's Unbound festival offered a glimpse of new startups, from sensory pods to subscription jewelry

London's Unbound festival offered a glimpse of new startups, from sensory pods to subscription jewelry.

Unbound, the UK’s largest innovation festival, took place this month in the Truman Brewery in London for the fifth time. The two-day event focuses on connecting brands with European technology startups.

“Brands and corporates must embrace change if they want to remain relevant to their audiences,” said Daniel Seal, co-founder and CEO of Unbound. “There’s no room for complacency, and we’ve already seen disruptive new competitors emerge from the left field and shake up particular markets.”

Here are some standout ideas from the event.

Sensory reality

Dutch startup Sensiks has created a “sensory reality” pod. Inside, audio-visual experiences are coupled with variations in scent, temperature, air flow and light. When people experience these sensations together, Sensiks says, they may recall memories, reduce stress, or even experience euphoria. Sensiks wants to develop its product for multiple applications including in travel and retail, but perhaps the most interesting use is in mental healthcare. The idea draws on a growing body of research that suggests that VR could be useful in treating mental health disorders.

Sharing economy luxe

Glitzbox is a subscription-based rental service for luxury jewelry. For £39 a month, users can borrow three pieces, as chosen by a team of stylists. At the end of the month, items are either returned or purchased, with the £39 subscription fee applied as a credit if a customer purchases a product. The Glitzbox concept is part of a wider trend, the growing Uber-ization of luxury services, which we discussed in the 2016 edition of The Future 100.

One-for-one tampons

This year, Unbound introduced its first Female Founder’s Start-up Challenge to encourage investment in female-led initiatives in the UK. Currently, only 14% of founders and entrepreneurs in the UK are female, and just 10% of global investment goes to startups with a woman founder, according to Seal, Unbound’s CEO.

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