Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ comes to life at French Tech Corner in Dubai

The interactive artwork can smile, frown and even wink at passers-by at an exhibition that showcases AI innovations from French start-ups

Eight start-ups from France are presenting artificial intelligence-powered innovations in Dubai including a digital artwork of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa that comes to life and can interact with passers-by.

The companies, which offer products for sectors as diverse as entertainment, mobility, education and health, comprise the French Tech Corner, a partnership between Business France, the agency supporting the French economy’s international development, and b8ta, the California-based technology concept store.

“France will introduce highly diverse start-ups to showcase their latest tech products. [They] will benefit from the ‘booster effect’ of Expo 2020,” Frederic Szabo, managing director of Business France Middle East, said on Sunday.

Expo 2020 Dubai is focused on innovation and sustainability and is seen as an opportunity for technology companies from around the world to show their products. Pavilions at the world’s fair have their own takes on these themes, an attraction for visitors that doubles as a business opportunity especially for tech-oriented firms.

The French pavilion puts great emphasis on sustainability, with its façade and roof made of solar tiles, spanning 2,500 square metres and producing 60 per cent of the energy it consumes.

The UAE and France have strong bilateral relations, with French exports to the Emirates valued at €405 million ($466.8m) in August, Trading Economics data shows. Last month, Dubai said it plans to strengthen trade ties with Europe’s third-largest economy, as trade between the two countries reached Dh8.5bn ($2.3bn) in the first half of 2021.

“The French brands that you see are all unique, having something new to offer. Every country has their own style of products, but with French products, everything is so synchronised, from the hardware, software and even the story and meaning behind them,” Ramit Harisinghani, general manager of b8ta in the Middle East and Africa, told The National on Sunday.

Here’s a closer look at the products on show and how they contribute to a smart life.

Interactive ‘Mona Lisa’

A familiar face at the Tech Corner is an interactive version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, one of the world’s most famous paintings. The digital artwork was created by French author and digital art specialist Florent Aziosmanoff and is equipped with gaming-grade motion sensors that react to the movements of passers-by. That means Mona Lisa can smile, frown or even wink – depending on her “mood”. “The Living Mona Lisa offers people the opportunity not to own an object, but to live and share the meaning of life with her,” Mr Aziosmanoff told The National.

EyeLights motorcycle helmet with HUD

The EyeLights motorcycle helmet, which comes with an integrated GPS and heads-up display, is designed for rider safety. It keeps the rider’s focus on the handles while providing essential information for a journey on two wheels. The HUD – like Google Glass – shows maps and step-by-step directions and allows users to make calls and play songs, all hands-free. More than 10,300 riders have used an EyeLights helmet since its inception in 2017.

Earsquared EarCity

Earsquared’s EarCity open-ear headset uses directional air conduction technology. Simply put, sound is carried by air waves from the outer ear and transferred to electrical waves in the inner ear. And don’t worry if it doesn’t actually go into your ears: the pitch here is to keep your ear canals comfortable and, more importantly, save you from danger. According to a report by AI company Audio Analytics, about 37 million people were at risk of “distraction danger” while wearing in-ear or over-ear headsets, exposing themselves to hazards such as bumping into others or being hit by a vehicle.

Prêt à Pousser indoor garden

For gardening enthusiasts who want to keep a close eye on their plants, Prêt à Pousser’s indoor autonomous garden automatically simulates the effects of sunlight and helps to regulate water supply to plants. The popularity of hydroponic farms is growing, especially when it doesn’t involve messy soil and pests, and saves up to 90 per cent water. It can also be an inspiration to address the “hunger” and ensure sustainable food security.

Y-Brush

Automated toothbrushes from Y-Brush were developed with oral health specialists and they are available in 50 countries. It claims to be the only toothbrush robot in the market that removes plaque with flexible nylon filaments and uses sonic vibration – brush heads that move from side to side at high speed. They are certified by independent laboratories in Europe and the US. And while not the only 10-second sonic toothbrush in the market, the Y-Brush’s design offers minimal intrusion and is perfect for people with special needs, such as those with limited dexterity.

Audiozen Morphee

Audiozen’s Morphee meditation and sophrology box has more than 200 guided sessions and helps disconnect users from their everyday tech life. Simply wind it up like an alarm clock to set your session and duration, and you’re good to go (to bed). A radio-like variant meant for children – My Little Morphee – is also available, with 192 relaxing music and nature sounds to help the little ones calm down and snooze off. It can also be helpful in beating stress and anxiety stemming from work, especially in an era when, for many people, the work-life balance has changed drastically.

SelfCare1 smart oils dispenser

Family SelfCare’s smart essential oil dispenser is the result of three years of research and is aimed at overall well-being. Sealed cartridges contain the eight of the “best pure and organic essential oils” recommended by an international committee of experts. It even has a coaching app that offers 50 care programmes and more than 1,000 oil combinations, ideal for relaxing or winding down after a hectic day.

Reenbow Mirabo

Reenbow’s Mirabo headset blends augmented reality and teaching for interactive child learning, even for those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Using fun and immersive games – more than 300 animations of pirates, animals, princes and princesses are incorporated – Mirabo complements school programmes and can even teach children new languages. Augmented reality learning is gaining traction, enabling children to experience a place even without going there.

Updated: October 13th 2021, 9:26 AM
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