New public-private agency to incubate defense technologies in Ukraine

Last month saw the launch of the Innovations Development Platform (IDP),  Ukraine’s first agency dedicated to the incubation and development of innovative defense projects.

Inspired by Israel’s Chief Scientist’s Office, this public-private partnership initiative aims to bring together developers, experts and investors “to develop innovations for the Ukrainian army and foreign partners in transparent commercial conditions.”

Developers with the most promising ideas will be selected from local higher education institutions, R&D organizations, design bureaus and enterprises. They will benefit from the agency’s expertise and equipment.

Priority will be given to projects that can be implemented by the military in less than two years.

Investors will be involved in each of the selected projects to ensure serial production.

In the future, an industrial park to manufacture the devices developed by the platform residents will be created in partnership with Technology Companies’ Development Centre.

The IDP was launched by Spetstechnoexport, a state enterprise for arms import-export, in partnership with industry association Ukrainian Defense Industry and Kyiv-Mohyla Business School.

Ukraine is a sizeable player on the global arms market, with a share of roughly 3% between 2010 and 2014. However, the country’s sales decreased significantly after 2014.

As reported last year by the Kyiv Post, industry analysts point out the lack of facilities to manufacture products that are in demand in the market. The reputation of some Ukrainian suppliers on the international arms market also leaves to be desired.


An end to overhearing annoying phone calls? This mask silences private conversations

Abizarre black mask that blocks the sound of its wearer’s voice so nearby listeners can’t hear could be the latest way to protect your private phone calls – as well as silencing loudmouth colleagues.

The Hushme, a device that fits around its user’s mouth and connects to a mobile for phone calls, claims to be able to mute a caller’s speech to anyone in their vicinity.

Although marketed as a product to keep conversations private, it could also be a godsend for anyone fed up of listening to their colleague on the next desk prattle on, or commuters sick of that one train passenger who doesn’t understand the meaning of quiet carriage.

The device is currently a prototype CREDIT: HUSHME

The Hushme, which was showcased at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, connects to a phone via Bluetooth and includes a pair of earbuds for listening. But the core of the technology is the microphone-enabled mask that snaps together in front of a user’s mouth.

As well as insulating voice, users can pick one of several recordings to drown out any remaining sound leakage. They include staples such as wind, ocean and rain, animal sounds like birds, monkeys and squirrels, but also the sound of Darth Vader’s heavy breathing or R2-D2’s bleeps.

A promotional video for the Hushme shows an office worker casually wearing the device around his neck like a set of over-ear headphones, although it is almost certain to draw some odd looks if used in public.

It can be worn round the neck when not in use CREDIT: HUSHME

It has been compared with Darth Vader and Batman villain Bane, but Hushme – a group of Ukrainian engineers based in the US – is hoping there will be enough demand from a crowdfunding campaign for a production run.

The device is set to retail for less than $200