What happens in Vegas: Turkish start-up stand-outs at CES

This past week in Las Vegas, the usual troves of high-rolling gamblers and bachelorette parties making their way down “The Strip” were replaced by 170,000+ members of the global tech community. From some of the world’s largest corporations to seed-stage ventures, the annual Consumer Electronics Show continues to host the largest and most diverse tech exhibition in the world. I was thrilled to see a large number Turkish entrepreneurs, investors, and executives in attendance. Here are a few of the Turkey-based startups I saw exhibiting at CES:

Toyji is the world’s first smart toy platform. While there are certainly a lot of educational toys targeting all ages, Toyji is especially exciting for a few reasons. One, it brings together the digital world (via tablet-based games) with the physical world (via game pieces on a Toyji trackpad) – meaning it enables development across a wide array of skills, from spatial visualization and motor skills to math and coding. Two, as noted in their Kickstarter campaign, the nature of the 3D-printed pieces make it customizable, so kids can not only create their own characters digitally but also easily bring it to life in durable plastic form. Lastly, it has “smart” features not only for kids, but also for adults: parents can adjust settings in the game center to set mealtimes, bedtimes, and more – so kids’ virtual friends can accompany them and encourage good habits.

Monument lets you effortlessly store and manage all of your photos. The device’ hardware shell is simple and sleek, letting you store multiple external hard drives in one physical location. But what’s really exciting is the software – its AI algorithms organize and sort your photo content, and even recognizes and tags your friends. The ability to have multiple members of the same Family account also solves the eternal problem of sharing photos in a household – distributing to others while still maintaining your own private photo repository. The kicker is that unlike other cloud-enabled storage, this offers the benefits of auto-upload and backup without any monthly fees.

Ekin Bike Patrol is a bicycle-based mobile technology that detects license plates and speed / parking violations. A unique proposition for public and private security enforcement, the device is compatible with any type of bike. Its sophisticated connectivity your centralized digital map cuts first response time in case an incident scene is identified. Taking a step back, the Bike Patrol is the latest in innovations from Ekin Technology, which has deployed its proprietary “Safe City” OS in other use cases such as for automotive patrols and tower-based monitoring. By automating key activities like license plate recognition and speed limit / traffic light adherence, Ekin’s portfolio is geared toward increasing efficiency in a number of public safety levers.

It’s a testament to the growth and ongoing improvement of the Turkish startup ecosystem that the companies above (and many others I missed) merit the global recognition of an institution like CES. Anecdotally, I was delighted – but no longer surprised – how often I heard Turkish being spoken in CES hallways, at booths, and at other events. We have no reason to be surprised; although we still have many institutional and cultural hurdles to overcome, Turkey rightfully deserves its place as a hub of innovation, among technology luminaries at a global level, as it proved in no uncertain terms at #CES2017.

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