2013 will be year of crowdfunding and brain controlled computing

It’s that time of year again. The tech journalists at IT World Canada are gazing into their crystal balls once again and prognosticating on what developments the tech industry will see in 2013.

It’s always fun to guess what the future holds. This year, we’re doing a series of articles with predictions from each writer and editor at IT World. Watch out those predictions, read mine below, and weigh in with your own predictions – or whether you think I’m right or wrong in the comments section.

Brain Computer Interfaces will become ‘normal’ in 2013.

Crowdfunding will become legal practice it at least one Canadian province and an online platform will be launched to support it.

This past year, Sherwood Neiss and his Startup Exemption organization architected a piece of legislation that made its way through the U.S. federal politburo and received endorsement from President Obama. The JOBS act will allow non-registered investors to make small investments in startup businesses looking to raise money, in exchange for a small amount of ownership in that firm. Regulations still have to be made around the law, but it is expected to take force during 2013.

In Canada, the path to equity-based crowdfunding legality is less clear, but perhaps even more needed. A shortage of capital is a problem stymying innovation efforts in every major city. Yet without a central body for securities regulation, crowdfunding will have to be negotiated on a province-by-province basis. Still, it looks like there is a real chance this could be accomplished soon. The Invest Crowdfund Canada campaign has organized a cross-country effort to move the discussion forward with regulators and politicians alike. Now it appears like New Brunswick is on the cusp of breaking ground on the issue, and the Ontario Liberal government voiced their support in the movement Nov. 22.

Talks are also underway in Quebec, and other provinces. Expect at least one to allow an equity-based crowdfunding exemption next year, with an online platform to support that.

The first commercial Brain Computer Interface products will hit the market and create more than a niche market for this futuristic method of computer interaction.

In The Game, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the crew of the USS Enterprise is bewildered by a new alien technology. Wearing it like a headset, the game invented by the aliens reacts to the player’s brainwaves and also creates an augmented-reality style playing field appears in front of them. The actual purpose of the game is simple – shoot discs into moving whirlpools that appear in a 3D space.

The fictional crew of the Enterprise had to wait until the 24th century to be amazed by brain computer interface (BCI) technology. But in the real world, you’ll probably get a chance to pull one off a retail shelf next year.  Toronto-based Interaxon’s Muse headband successfully raised more than $250,000 on Indiegogo. Its headband is subtle enough to wear that you won’t feel like some sort of cyborg uber-nerd, and it comes with an app that will run on smartphones and tablets.

The first app that will come with Muse is designed to focus on your brain health and improve your awareness of your mental states. It’s also releasing an SDK for developers to tinker with, and Interaxon’s own development has proven its ability to program fun games for BCI. I got the chance to play its version of The Game two years ago, just like the Enterprise crew. (Thankfully, I was not brainwashed by aliens as a result. I think.)

The fact this will be released as an accessory for the iPhone and is actually being described by stylish shows society is ready to embrace BCI. Interaxon isn’t the only company pushing the technology onto the market. NeuroSky also creates brain-sensing headbands that have already been used in mass market products – remember Star Wars Force Trainer?

Toronto-based Influitive will be acquired by Salesforce.com

This one is clearly a bit pointed, but I wanted to throw in at least one startup acquisition prediction. Influitive is an advocate marketing platform founded by Mark Organ, also the entrepreneur behind Eloqua. Organ launched his product back in September at Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce.com conference.

Salesforce.com has been acquiring more firms in a bid to grow horizontally and own just about every aspect of the workflow process. The cloud-based software firm announced its Marketing Cloud product offering this year, combining the services of acquisitions Radian6 and Buddy Media. AdvocateHub would fit nicely into that product offering, and would extend Salesforce.com’s in-house assigning and task sharing capabilities from colleages to customers in a logical way.

Influtive’s solution also integrates with the Salesforce.com suite, such as a Chatter integration that sends out a message when a customer completes an AdvocateHub challenge. That will make it even easier for Salesforce.com to swallow up.

On the record, Organ says he’s looking to rasie a Series A seed fund in the next 18 to 24 months.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at ITBusiness.ca. E-mail him at [email protected], follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jacksonhttp://www.itbusiness.ca
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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