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Innovation Lab: Delivery Blimps, Algae Necklaces and Connected Wine

Tim Maytom

At Mobile Marketing we're proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions, whether it's on our website, in our magazine or at our Mobile Marketing Summits. Giving a platform to companies that are breaking new ground in their market brings audiences one step closer to the ideas and developments that will shape tomorrow.


In that spirit, our Innovation Lab feature takes a step beyond the world of apps, ads and handsets with slightly bigger screens, in order to share some of the tech world's innovative ideas. They might be interesting, disruptive or just outright strange, but these are the stories that have caught our eye over the past week.

Delivery Blimp Will Suck up Your Precious Cargo


By now, we're mostly used to the idea that we'll soon see drones flying through the sky in cities, delivering objects. However, one company has an alternative, more elegant idea for airborne deliveries that could also take off.

Automation technology firm Festo has combined two of its existing solutions to create the FreeMotionHandling, a helium blimp that uses a unique alternative to a traditional robotic grabber to securely hold on to objects and dispense them.

The 54-inch sphere is neutrally buoyant and floats, meaning it can be manoeuvered with much smaller engines than a traditional drone, and for much less energy. A ring of battery-powered rotors around the sphere's equator move it through the air, and the company's FlexShapeGripper technology collects and delivers objects.

Currently the blimp requires a room of sensors and cameras to remotely track and steer as it floats about, but Festo predicts that developments in GPS and onboard cameras mean that the device could soon operate just as accurately outside.

goldie rox biolumeDesigners Filled This Jewellery With Algae to Make it Glow
Thanks to a collaboration between jewellery makers Goldie Rox, culinary designers Bompas & Parr and Simon Park, a professor of molecular biology at the University of Surrey, you can now wear a piece of living jewellery that glows in the dark, thanks to the bioluminescent algae contained within.

The necklace features a small glass globe with a tiny algae habitat, all hanging from a gold chain. Within the habitat, suspended in water, is a species of algae called dinoflagellates which are naturally bioluminescent when they are agitated. By shaking the necklace, or even just through the normal movement of wearing it, the algae will start to glow.

The algae use natural photosynthesis to 'recharge' the glow, so as long as the necklace is exposed to sunlight during the day, the necklace will be able to glow through an entire night. Of course, the algae also need some additional care, so each necklace comes with instructions on how to feed and take care of the dinoflagellates.

The necklace is part of a collection by Goldie Rox called 'The Mermaid's Lunchbox' which is centred around a theme of 'undersea opulence', and at $2,800 (£2,000) for the glowing pendant, it's certainly an exclusive item.

Smart Wine Dispenser Adjusts Temperature and Makes Suggestions


Synek made the news two years ago when the company launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for a smart countertop beer system. Now, the company is back, and taking on the grape, rather than the grain, with its Somm smart wine system.

The device holds around three standard bottles-worth of wine, and adjusts both temperature and aeration to suit the wine, giving you a perfect pour every time. The wine is ordered from Synek, and comes in a connected container that passes the appropriate data on to the countertop dispenser.

In addition, the device links to a companion app that enables you to keep track of how much wine is left, get information on what you're drinking, and recommends different wines as it learns your preferences and palate, with over 10 styles and 30 varieties available. Synek even has an in-house sommelier team handling selections, so you know you're in for the good stuff. The Somm is currently raising funds on Kickstarter, but has already hit its initial target.

burglar robbery security thiefAI Security Cameras Catch Burglar Red-handed
Connected security systems are growing ever more advanced and complex, and can now integrate previously professional-level tools like face recognition. One such system, Welcome by Netatmo, is celebrating after its cameras foiled a burglary thanks to this technology.

The Welcome system uses a state-of-the-art AI algorithm to identify and learn faces with high precision, and can alert users when an unrecognised person enters their home, which is exactly what happened to one owner, who was able to alert the police.

"It's thanks to the face recognition and the accurate and timely alert received on my smartphone that I knew a stranger was in my home," said the Welcome user. "I immediately understood that someone had broken into my house. I called the police at once, they went to my home and arrested the burglar straight away."

Researchers 3D Print Hydraulic Robots That Walk Off Printer


Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have developed the first-ever technique for 3D printing devices with both solid and liquid materials at the same time, resulting in robots that require almost no assembly to be fully functional.

"Our approach, which we call 'printable hydraulics', is a step towards the rapid fabrication of functional machines," said Daniela Rus, director of CSAIL. "All you have to do is stick in a battery and motor, and you have a robot that can practically walk right out of the printer."

To demonstrate the concept, the researchers have 3D printed a small six-legged robot that can move using 12 hydraulic pumps embedded within its body, as well as components for other existing machines like a soft rubber hand for the lab's research robot.

"Building robots doesn't have to be as time-consuming and labour-intensive as it's been in the past," said Rus. "3D printing offers a way forward, allowing us to automatically produce complex, functional, hydraulically-powered robots that can be put to immediate use."