50 people to watch in 2018
We’ve scanned the land for the hottest young talent making waves in the worlds of business, fashion, food, sport, activism, art, design, film, TV, tech, media and music
Nikki Lannen, War Ducks
Virtual reality may still be taking hold with consumers, but for Nikki Lannen, founder and head of War Ducks, embracing the technology is paying off. The former Facebook employee struck out on her own in 2013 after more than four years on the social network’s gaming team, setting up War Ducks to design and develop games for virtual reality devices. The Dublin-based company has been busy in recent months, announcing in September it had raised €1.3 million to help expand its platform and add to its staff numbers. On the agenda for the coming months is expanding its popular Sneaky Bears series to Japan and China. There are also plans for a new series of games. Virtual reality may have yet to hit its stride, but when it does War Ducks plans to be along for the ride.
Jason McKeown and Paul McGeoch, Neurovalens
The weight-loss market is a multimillion dollar global industry, as increasingly sedentary lifestyles and changing diets mean average waistlines in the western world are expanding. But Belfast-based Neurovalens, set up by Dr Jason McKeown and neuroscientist Paul McGeoch, is hoping to reverse that trend with a simple headband. The product, Modius, uses a non-invasive method of neurostimulation that taps into a nerve that runs directly to the brain’s control centre for fat storage, metabolism rates and appetite. The premise is simple: wear it for an hour a day and potentially “reset” yourself. The first bands have already been shipped to customers, early backers through an Indiegogo campaign who are providing feedback to the company through an online community. That campaign raised $1.8 million. The company has also been running a trial in the US with TV show Doctors, following users of the band. McKeown sees Modius as the first generation of “careable technology”, rather than the wearables that have dominated health tech up until now.