Ricardo Silva is the Chief Marketing Officer of Follow Inspiration. He talked to me about his company and about their main project, wiiGO, an autonomous and self-driven shopping cart aiming to change the paradigm of mobility. From the technologies that make it possible, to his views on the Portuguese startup scene, here is our conversation.
In a nutshell, what is WiiGo and how did the idea come about?
The wiiGO is a disruptive technology, consisting of an autonomous and self-driven shopping cart, that helps people carrying their purchases on supermarkets. It was originally thought for people with reduced mobility, but it can be used by everyone. The idea came from Luís de Matos, CEO of Follow Inspiration. Luis is in a wheelchair from the age of 14, and every time he went to a supermarket, it was quite hard for him to drive a shopping cart while pushing his own wheelchair
What are the technologies that make wiiGO possible?
The wiiGO works based on image recognition. The device is equipped with 3 3D cameras, allowing not only user identification but also obstacle detection. The wiiGO also has several distance sensors that help the device keeping a safe distance from the user.
What are the main advantages for future users of this technology?
The wiiGO is all about changing the paradigm of mobility. Besides providing real comfort to end-users, the wiiGO also gives them a new sense of freedom. But we’re also thinking about creating added value to our clients retailers: We’re developing extra services / applications to ease the whole shopping experience. From real-time advertising and interaction with clients, shopping list synchronization, automatic payment, among other possibilities. The reason we’re doing so is that we want the wiiGO to be the improved customer’s in-store experience.
When can we expect to see the robot in shopping spaces?
We’re now starting to produce the first units for commercialization. After very successful demonstrations with retailers in Portugal, Spain, France, and Denmark, we have ongoing negotiations for the implementation of this technology. Nevertheless, you can already find the first units in some Intermarché supermarkets in the south of France.
What other significant projects has Follow Inspiration implemented?
The wiiGO technology is the first and biggest project ever of Follow Inspiration. Apart from its application to retail, we’re also developing other versions of the wiiGO that can be applied in different domains (industry, warehouses, logistics), with a clear purpose of improving businesses and speeding up processes.
If you were starting right now, what would you do differently?
More than five years have passed since the company has been founded. We’ve learnt a lot along the way. For sure, we’ve made some mistakes as a part of the process. We’ve learnt from our mistakes. Having said this, I strongly believe we’d do everything again.
Where do you see the Portuguese startup scene in five years?
I can only see it growing very rapidly, assuming an increased importance in the international scene. Now, more than ever, investors are looking at Portugal with confidence: we already have some very good examples of Portuguese entrepreneurs that have reached success overseas. This has opened the door for the startups to come. Thinking local, acting global – it has never been so accurate to say so.
Find out more at http://followinspiration.pt/