FS Fives: Friday, March 20

Welcome to the latest FS Fives – FutureScot’s lunchtime round-up of Scottish digital news.

First up, we bring you news from the very well attended #EIE showcase last week in Edinburgh, where a little droid called ‘Marty’ charmed investors. Alexander Enoch, CEO of Robotical, has been managing interest from several potential ‘angels’ since the event at the Assembly Rooms, and is in active talks to try and secure £200,000 to take his educational toy to the mass market, writes Kevin O’Sullivan.
“There’s probably three who are my favourites,” says Enoch. “Either because they are people who know the space quite well and are interested in the technology and the company, or because they have some expertise in the area of bringing these kind of products to market. And one because they have an interesting funding model which is non-equity based. So there’s a few front-runners.”
Enoch, who has a PhD in Walking Robotics from Edinburgh University, is also about to launch a crowdsale on Indiegogo to pre-sell the Wifi-enabled robot, which can be programmed via a smartphone to walk and dance using simple Scratch code, through to the more sophisticated C++ and Python languages.
The company will also be pitching at next month’s Scottish Edge Fund, where it hopes to secure a £96,000 entrepreneurial growth prize.

Continuing with the robot theme, students and researchers at Edinburgh University’s School of Informatics are working with one of four robots built by NASA as part of a mission to colonise Mars. The NASA Valkyrie is one of the most advanced human-like robots in the world. It was constructed by NASA last year and delivered to the university in March. Weighing 125 kg and standing 1.8m tall, Valkyrie will enable breakthroughs in humanoid control, motion planning and perception. PhD students and researchers from the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics will carry out research using the robot. The group is part of the School of Informatics and the centre is a joint initiative with Heriot-Watt University.

Scotland’s politicians have been posted missing in the biggest technological revolution of our lifetimes: the internet, says (subscription required) The Times Scotland columnist Kenny Farquharson. Scotland could have been pioneers, he writes. “You would have thought that maybe, in the 18 years since [devolution], Scottish politicians would have woken up to the fact that a key element of contemporary society was outwith their political and legislative control. Surely, I hear you cry, the SNP wanted to get its hands on such an important part of the fabric of 21st century life? Apparently not … Westminster will shortly deliver the digital rights that Holyrood could have delivered years ago. This will not be one of the finest moments for Scottish politics.”

The DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is working on a digital driving licence for smartphones, to serve as an “add-on” to the existing plastic card. DVLA chief Oliver Morley tweeted a snapshot of the prototype driving licence on his iPhone, later adding that security was a priority in its development. What could possibly go wrong, asks The Register.

And finally from the Department of Should You Really Care About This Kind of Thing? The folks at theSkimm, the kind of daily newsletter that could only come out of America (what, us, envious of its 3.5m subscribers?), have alighted upon a story about Scott Disick, he of Keeping Up with the Kardashians fame apparently (come on, keep up). Seems Scott failed to notice that he had included a sponsor’s emailed instructions to him about what to say about their product on Instagram … IN THE INSTAGRAM!