It can never be certain from exactly where ideas and innovation blossom. If you know anything about the tech scene, whether in Turkey or across the world, you'll know you don't have to be in Silicon Valley to come out with an exciting new project or endeavor. But if proof were ever needed, then it pays to look at a recent development from Erciyes University in the Turkish city of Kayseri.
MIPS Home Health Solutions, recipient of the TL 50,000 prize at the ITU Seed Big Bang 2019 entrepreneurship contest, has touched on a topic of great importance by keeping up with the trend of “bringing preventive maintenance and laboratory processes home.”
Şule Başarslan, a co-founder of MIPS, a company that offers “biomedical” solutions for couples having problems with conceiving, explained the artificial intelligence-backed home sperm test they developed.
Some "1.3 million people are struggling with infertility in Turkey. One in every four couples has the same problem. We have had over 350 patient interviews so far. We are expanding our network by meeting with hospitals and doctors,” she said. “Sperm tests are special tests performed only in hospitals and laboratories. What would you feel if you were a male and had to have a sperm test at a hospital? We came up with this project on this exact feeling. (Having) sperm is not just about being a father; it's much more. It is a health test. However, it's one that can't be run everywhere in Turkey or the world. Our solution offers early diagnosis and treatment follow-up and provides a more comfortable testing experience. Thus, we created a pre-doctor's step and support them to go to the hospital.”
Başarslan said she came up with the idea of an at-home testing kit after seeing how uncomfortable male patients were. She says they aim to start mass production in the short term. After receiving TÜBİTAK 1512 support, MIPS Home Health Solutions first started off at Erciyes Technopark Sera Kuluçka and then was included in the ITU Seed process following R&D work. The project was certified in April 2019 with the support of Bayer G4A.
Chatbot use spreading rapidly
While mobile internet users direct their communication with applications such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger all over the world, chatbot technology also offers companies the opportunity to interact with their customers through these platforms. While the world chatbot market is expected to reach $1.25 billion in 2025, the chatbot's weight in customer relationship management is increasing day by day, as chatbots provide customers with advantages such as getting information and processing it fast. Thanks to chatbot technology, companies are able to provide fast and efficient support to their customers 24/7, significantly reducing customer support costs and workload.
According to research firm Gartner's estimates, as of 2022, 70% of white-collar employees will be communicating with chatbots on a daily basis. Oğuz Küçükbarak, the CEO of Istanbul-based SmartMessage, said that the growing popularity of chatbots was no surprise.
“As a brand that did the first prototypes in the pre-chatbot period in Turkey and actualized it, we expected an increase in interest,” he said.
“The banking and finance sector with which we work particularly closely in our country is one of the sectors that make a difference in adopting and implementing new technologies. As a global company, we have observed an acceleration in Turkey's chatbot integration. We expect chatbots to become one of the fast-adapted communication channels of retail, one of the strongest sectors of our country, together with finance and banking. It will not be surprising to see this spread to other sectors in the first half of the 2020s.”
According to Küçükbarak, with the advance of artificial intelligence chatbots will develop even more natural dialogues and understand the language better.
“Advances in AI, machine learning, image recognition and natural language processing will further improve the customer experience quality of chatbots," he added.