Season 3, Post 30: Better brains, better coffee, better navigation. More bugs.

Readers of this Blog may be forgiven for wondering what is the link between the above things. The simple answer is that after just over a week of vacation…

Season 3, Post 30: Better brains, better coffee, better navigation. More bugs.

Readers of this Blog may be forgiven for wondering what is the link between the above things. The simple answer is that after just over a week of vacation, your author has finally had a chance to go through his inbox (as well as a visit an insect farm) and was impressed to learn about developments in all these fields.

Few problems come bigger than how to live longer and better. Longevity science, a theme we first discussed in 2019 is seeing ever-growing sums of venture capital committed to it. It’s exciting then to learn that a brain-computer interface company is entering clinical trials for its implants in the US for the first time. Synchron announced recently that it had received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to test its product in human patients. Although the trial is billed just as an “early feasibility study”, it will be essential in proving that implants can work safely. The company plans to place a device smaller than a matchstick in the brain to help paralysed patients control digital gadgets (such as a computer cursor) via their thoughts. Although still early days, Synchron believes its products could be on the market within three to five years.  

Another novel technology development might be available sooner, which can help the visually impaired. Many pedestrians (but those with sight problems in particular) often struggle with navigating routes to unknown destinations. It’s common either to concentrate too much on the directions and fail to pay immediate attention to the surroundings, or do the opposite and be lost. Do not fear, a new device pioneered by Honda can be integrated into user’s shoes that deploys haptic vibrations to guide them as they move. The device is linked to a smart watch/phone which can be pre-programmed with the destination. A beta version is set to launch soon with a full service available in 2022, costing around $20/month for a subscription.

If technology is, in general, all about making our lives easier, then surely there must be some appeal in a coffee machine that has a built-in voice assistant (provided courtesy of Amazon’s Alexa). Manufactured by Lavazza, its ‘A Modo Mio Voicy’, which will retail for ~$350, is the first coffee machine in the world which allows you to make a cup of coffee without touching the machine. Ask Alexa to make you a cappuccino or change the temperature of your drink, and the command will be executed.

While still on the topic of food and drink, your author found the time in the past week to visit Horizon Edible Insects, an urban farm in west London. Our June Blog post on bugs was one of our most commented upon ever, with an almost equal number of positive and negative responses to the notion of including insects in our diet. At Horizon, the case was made again for why bugs constitute a valuable source of protein and our group had the opportunity to prepare the likes of bug bruschetta and crispy chocolate mealworm cupcakes (pictured left and right respectively). Both dishes were highly tasty. We will be writing more on the future of food later this year. 

6 August 2021​​​​​​

The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.

Alex Gunz, Fund Manager


The document is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute investment advice or any recommendation to buy, or sell or otherwise transact in any investments. The document is not intended to be construed as investment research. The contents of this document are based upon sources of information which Heptagon Capital believes to be reliable. However, except to the extent required by applicable law or regulations, no guarantee, warranty or representation (express or implied) is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this document or its contents and, Heptagon Capital, its affiliate companies and its members, officers, employees, agents and advisors do not accept any liability or responsibility in respect of the information or any views expressed herein. Opinions expressed whether in general or in both on the performance of individual investments and in a wider economic context represent the views of the contributor at the time of preparation. Where this document provides forward-looking statements which are based on relevant reports, current opinions, expectations and projections, actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. All opinions and estimates included in the document are subject to change without notice and Heptagon Capital is under no obligation to update or revise information contained in the document. Furthermore, Heptagon Capital disclaims any liability for any loss, damage, costs or expenses (including direct, indirect, special and consequential) howsoever arising which any person may suffer or incur as a result of viewing or utilising any information included in this document. 

The document is protected by copyright. The use of any trademarks and logos displayed in the document without Heptagon Capital's prior written consent is strictly prohibited. Information in the document must not be published or redistributed without Heptagon Capital's prior written consent. 

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