Robot dog, flying taxi, virtual reality gloves: 10 curiosities not to be missed at VivaTech, the great innovation fair in Paris

VivaTech, the largest European exhibition dedicated to innovation and startups, opens its doors to the general public on Saturday, June 19. A brief overview of inventions straight from the future.


A humanoid robot capable of cooking a dish and serving it to you. Visitors wearing virtual reality headsets sitting at the bend of an alley. An imposing electric helicopter proudly enthroned on its stand. Welcome to VivaTech, the first event dedicated to tech in Europe but also the first to physically welcome the public since the start of the health crisis. After three days reserved for professionals, the show is open to the public on Saturday June 19 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. With 25,000 square meters and no less than 500 exhibitors, there is no lack of curiosities in this fifth edition. Present at the show since its opening to professionals on Wednesday, Franceinfo has selected for you 10 stunning creations not to be missed.

Reachy, an endearing and multitasking humanoid robot

Antennas that move to interact with you, big eyes that analyze the environment – and your requests – and a pair of arms capable of carrying out a thousand and one missions: here is Reachy, an ultra-expressive and endearing little humanoid robot. But it is especially in the service to the person that this companion to artificial intelligence is illustrated. Able to cook you a bolognese and serve it to you with a spoon or to welcome you to the hotel, Reachy is multitasking. Equipped with cameras, sensors, microphones and speakers, this creation by Bordeaux startup Pollen Robotics can be controlled remotely. The robot has the particularity of being relatively inexpensive compared to its competitors: (only) 20,000 euros. Its inventors want to deploy Reachy on the market in the years to come and ultimately make it the leader in the personal service robot sector.

Spot, the robot-dog, the best friend of construction professionals

Like a dog, Spot walks, pretends to sniff you, hops in place, and may even perform small dance steps. But this robot with a canine silhouette designed by Boston Dynamics does not stop at figuration. Its true vocation: to inspect and secure industrial environments or construction sites by collecting data. For example, it can map its environment, search for gas or water leaks or any other anomaly and thus determine whether a site is accessible to humans. A mission that he is able to fulfill thanks to ultra agile legs, 360 ° cameras and multiple sensors. Even more impressive: Spot was sent to Chernobyl in 2019 to measure radiation levels. Price of this little marvel of technology: 74,500 euros.

A 100% electric flying taxi by the Chinese company Ehang

You thought it was possible only in Star Wars, the Chinese company Ehang did it: a 100% electric and autonomous flying taxi, which you can order on an app like a VTC. This funny machine is equipped with 16 batteries, one in each propeller for more safety: if one breaks down, the device continues to operate normally. An Uber of the future which has been on the market for three years and has carried out experimental flights in no less than 40 countries: Austria, United States, Japan, Korea… For the moment, its marketing as a taxi is not (yet) possible in Europe: China is the only country to have authorized this kind of use. The vehicle can also lend itself to other uses, in particular for logistical transport or even medical equipment.

Sense gloves, virtual reality gloves to smell fake objects

When virtual reality approaches reality… With Sense gloves, it is possible to touch and feel false objects. The principle behind this Dutch creation: a virtual reality headset connected to gloves that allow you to feel the shapes, textures and size of virtual objects. You can then manipulate them, make them move and watch them come to life. These gloves are mainly intended for training in the areas of assembly, maintenance or even medical. And the Sense gloves already have prestigious clients: among them, the Dutch army, which uses it on its military training …

Ender Ocean, a robot sea cleaner controlled by gamers

A project that combines robotics, environment and gaming? You do not dream. Ender Ocean is a small robot capable of picking up underwater waste, all while being piloted from a video game available online on the French startup’s website. The players come from far away, from Scotland to Tahiti via Dakar. Ender Ocean has two missions. The first is to raise public awareness of the ecological cause. “We fight plastic pollution: every year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean”, explains its co-founder Denis Bled. But Ender Ocean is far from being a gimmick. Thus, it is very useful on specific missions. For example, the robot is able to descend to a depth of 100 meters, where a human being is limited to 50 meters. In Corsica, Ender Ocean has already hauled up a 2 km fishing net! This innovation should be marketed next summer.

Da Vinci, the robot surgeon

How about becoming a surgeon for a few minutes? This is what the 4th generation of the American robot Da Vinci offers you, to be tested at the show on Saturday – on a fake patient, don’t worry. The principle: sit down in the “operating room”, then operate the surgical instruments from a distance while following the operation from a screen. On the other side, a machine performs the gestures for you on the patient. The advantages of this technology: an improved vision in 3D with a zoom times 10, greater precision of gestures and a less invasive procedure, requiring fewer incisions. Da Vinci is used in 180 French health establishments for abdominal surgeries.

The Farmcube: an eco-friendly mini-farm capable of creating new climates

Creating climates that do not exist on Earth to assess the impact of climate change or to vary the tastes and colors of food endlessly without resorting to GMOs, these are the futuristic promises of the Farmcube. In this 15-square-meter miniature farm, you can grow up to 5,000 plants by ultra-precise adjustment of various parameters such as water and nutrient supply and temperature, then study the results with a mini robot that adjusts itself. moves inside. This can be remotely controlled by a virtual reality headset. The farmcube is also an ecological innovation: it uses 99.8% less water than agriculture in soil, with a better yield. A prodigy enabled by a cultivation technique from space, aeroponics, used by NASA to cultivate plants during space missions.

Didimo: your digital twin in less than 2 minutes

“Human beings in high definition in less than 90 seconds”, this is the promise of Didimo, an ultra-sophisticated Portuguese 3D modeling platform. The instructions: take a selfie, and in just a minute and a half, Didimo – whose name means “twin” in Greek – is able to create an ultra-resembling animated avatar. Skin texture, face shape, eye color: it’s all there, just with a photo. The objective: to become the new generation of more realistic avatars for digital exchanges with “More connection, more emotion”, according to its marketing director Jim Franzen. Didimo is already working with gaming companies and wants to sell its product for office use by 2022. A very practical device if you don’t want to show your face in a meeting …

La Vitre, an immersive videoconferencing tool boosted by the Covid

A videoconference in XXL format, do you like it? With La Vitre, a touch screen on a human scale, you would think you were in the room of your interlocutor. The objective of its creators: to rebuild social ties and promote more spontaneous, warmer exchanges. As on Teams or Zoom, screen shares, filters and animations are possible. Marketed since 2019, this creation was boosted by the health crisis: “People have gotten used to remote meetings, the Covid has shown that it is possible”, explains its co-founder Romuald Boulanger. La Vitre is ideal for business use, but in the future could also be used in the hospitality sector or in the medical sector.

The Glass on display at VivaTech live with another Glass on the premises of the company in Nantes.  (Faustine Mazereeuw)

Japet, an exoskeleton to put an end to back pain in the office

The solution to solving back pain at the office, the new ailment of the century? This is the mission of the Iapetus exoskeleton. Its manufacturers want to defuse fantasies: the goal is not to increase the capacities of humans to turn them into cyborgs, but quite simply to provide an answer to musculoskeletal disorders caused by work. The concept is all the same revolutionary, since these ailments constitute the first cause of occupational diseases according to Public Health France. Equipped with small motors, Japet is placed at the level of the lumbar region and stretches your back, absorbs shocks and accompanies you in your movements – in particular to carry heavy loads. Thus, Japet adapts to many professional environments: seated work but also construction or personal care.

Office work, construction, personal service ... The uses of Japet are multiple.  (Faustine Mazereeuw)

VivaTech 2021, from June 16 to 19, 2021 in Hall 1 at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles and digitally broadcast on the show website,


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