The way we interact with our electronic devices has changed dramatically over the past decades. Those of us who still remember the early days of texting and the need to press on a key three or four times to get an “L” or an “S” often feel ancient, when confronted with the younger generations, born to touch screens and swiping. All of these little gestures have become part of our daily routine and we perceive them as natural, often unaware of the fact that there is reasoning, research and planning behind those actions. Interfaces have been designed to serve a purpose and the fact that we assimilate them effortlessly is proof that they have achieved it. Snapback is aiming at taking this whole process one step further. This Italian Startup has drawn conspicuous international attention by coming up with new ways of interacting with our smart devices, thus making them a part of our lives in ways that were almost unconceivable only a short while ago. Touchless interaction is an important part of the Snapback revolution and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for a rich and complex user experience. The Snapback team is small, compact and incredibly effective and every decision is a collective process, so much so that this interview is not with one individual, but with three members of the team, Claudio Capobianco, Ester Vigilante, and Giuseppe Morlino, answering as one.
Let’s start with a pitch: what is Snapback?
Snapback is a high tech start-up company developing ergonomic and multimodal context aware human-machine interfaces (HMI) for mobile devices such as smartphones, headsets, wearables, head units and so forth.
How does it work?
It is a software development kit, a proprietary asset that allow us to design and develop efficient and effective low-cognitive distraction applications for the mobile space.
The touchless technology market is growing fast and the competition seems to be increasingly fierce. How would you say you are doing, compared to other startups in the field?
Snapback’s uniqueness is in using multiple interaction modalities, namely gestures, voice and sounds, for a more natural interaction with machines, more similar to human-to-human communication. This muiltimodal interaction bring also a crucial advantage due to the low battery consumption of mobile devices. Last but not least, our focus on people’s safety makes our business even more unique.
Despite having attracted quite a lot of international attention, you are still based in Italy. Are you planning on staying or are you considering other options?
We have already started our internationalization process. We have an office in Canary Wharf, London, at Cognicity, a Level39 programme. We chose to be part of Cognicity since it aims to become the reference hub for European smart cities. Our presence in UK is also strategic for our internationalization process, given the high attention for hi-tech companies and the strong safety culture.
Entrepreneurship in Italy: what are the perks and the drawbacks of staying?
The principal perk of the Italian startup ecosystem is that is growing fast and is relatively easier to emerge as an interesting entity. The drawback is that innovation dynamics are still immature and this slows down business startups, especially in B2B models dealing with big corporations.
Snapback was born at the end of 2013. Nearly 3 years on, what is the most important thing you have learnt about being a startupper?
Since startups are 100% formed by people, the most important lesson learnt is that the relationships within the members of the team and with the network are key!
What is your background and how did you come to be a part of the Snapback team?
Since we have realized that the most important thing is the the team, we want to answer this question in a collegial way talking about the skills we have as a whole. These include various fields of cognitive sciences (linguistics, artificial life, ergonomics), design and product development (especially software but also hardware), and intellectual propriety handling. Snapback founders came together because they wanted to be game changers.
What keeps you focused?
The motivation to change the status quo.
In your opinion, what are the most important qualities in a startupper?
Tenacity, the ability to stay focused and a high flexibility.