The Future is Now

The Future is Now


Motor mood managers

Are you sick to death of seeing little stick families on the back windows of cars? How about sick of traffic in general?

With MotorMood drivers have an easy, safe (and amusing) way to share their feeling with other drivers – no hand gestures or hooter communication needed.

Backlit smiley, angry and winking faces that attach to your window via a suction cup can be turned on and off by a small remote control that attaches to a car’s sun visor – each face having its own activation button. MotorMood is a small start-up in California seeking funding on Kickstarter and faces are not yet on the market.

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Our Expert Says

Car stickers have been around for years. Why are the family stickers successful? They focus on positive values in a world overshadowed by negativity. The niche market is families with young children… why else would you deface a R500 000 car?

Displaying a mood sign on your back window is an interesting novelty, but you need to ask what purpose this product would serve?  If I am cut off, would I rather express myself by displaying a hand gesture or pressing the ’unhappy face‘ on my remote? There is also the safety element to consider. We need South Africans to concentrate on driving, rather than pressing buttons on a remote control every time their mood changes.

Pizza vending machine


What if you could have fresh pizza in three minutes flat at the push of a button? Inventor Claudio Torghele created a pizza vending machine that makes a 23cm pizza with loads of topping choices for $5,95.

Already a success in Europe, UK and the US, it can be placed in malls, airports, hospitals and universities. How does it work? Ingredients are vacuum-packed and stored in a refrigerated compartment. When an order is placed inner gadgets make fresh pizza dough that’s rolled out, sprayed with organic tomato sauce and layered with topping. It’s then blasted with infra-red to bake while the serving box is being folded. Customers can watch it being prepared. The machine offers disposable cutters, has capacity for 100 pizzas and takes
45 minutes to clean.

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Our Expert Says

The fact that this concept has taken off elsewhere means there’s a market for the product. It would be worthwhile to contact machine owners abroad and ask them about their critical success factors and their lead times for market education.

Key things to consider are: Product pricing compared to going to a standard pizza take away? How much market education is needed on the quality and convenience of the product? What would be your best position for maximum penetration? A local pilot study at a university or a mobile unit at a sports event will be beneficial before moving the product out to a broader market. Finally, how you would roll this out in South Africa and control the quality of ingredients?

Recycle to ride


A Beijing company has developed a vending machine to encourage recycling of PET plastic bottles in exchange for discounts on subway travel – turning a green activity into an economic activity. Donors receive approximately 16c discount on their travel fee for each PET bottle. The machine then sorts and crushes the bottles according to colour and type.

The company responsible for the machine, Incom, currently processes 50 000 tons of plastic bottles a year, mostly from informal collectors. Waste trade experts believe the PET recycling industry is worth billions as its true value is underestimated. Incom hopes to create extra revenue from government subsidies and selling advertising space on the machine’s screens.

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Our Expert Says

On the surface this looks like a great concept that could be modified to include glass and tin cans etc. It would make access to recycling easier and reward good practice. But we need to understand the demographic differences between China and South Africa. To get a take up one should consider the needs of the mass market in South Africa.

Food coupons could be one offering but aligning this offering to a mobile wallet managed on your cell phone could also be a potential or alternative solution as the users can purchase whatever they want with the income generated, such as electricity or airtime.

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Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.