A walk down TechCrunch Shenzhen’s Startup Alley

Video by Sky Gidge

What’s the opposite of memory lane? Try TechCrunch Shenzhen’s Startup Alley — a veritable future-fest, crammed full of startup hopefuls all aiming to become the technology of the future.

Shenzhen has been called the hardware capital of the world, and accordingly, many of the startups on display this week were gadgets: high-tech dog bones, skin scanners and skateboards.

Yi-Yuan Intelligence‘s AI device is a face-scanner aimed at beauty salon customers. Visitors place their heads into a sleek looking hood that takes five flash photos then uses machine learning to rate their skin on attributes such as oiliness, bumpiness and number of beauty marks or blemishes. The company claims the software can identify acne with a 98% accuracy rate. The company, based in Shenzhen and founded in 2017, has filed patents to use the device for cosmetic surgery.

Cheerble — a Shenzhen-based company founded in 2016 — focuses on creating pet-related smart gadgets. Their debut product, Wickedbone, urges users to play with their dogs by playing on their phones. Pet owners can manipulate the dog toy via bluetooth, and it rolls, shakes and lasts for four hours on interactive mode. The company received AUS$91,306 via Kickstarter this summer, and the product now retails for $169 on Amazon.

Walnutt, a company based in San Fransisco and Hong Kong, claims to offer the world’s first “posture-controlled” electric skateboard. Like a Segway, it moves as users shift their weight. The product gained some fame last year when YouTube celebrity Casey Neistat reviewed it in his blog, but his feedback was mixed. Of the hardware, he said, “I do think there’s a place for this little guy in the market. It’s incredible.”

But after multiple attempts, Neistat was unable to get the product to work, and he blamed the software. “If you’re making hardware don’t require a username and password to ride a skateboard,” he said. “That’s preposterous.”

Additional reporting by Sky Gidge.