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Innovation Lab: E-Ink Lorries, Digital Downing Street and Drone Surfing

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.

Digital Out-of-home Goes On The Road with E-Ink Display Lorries
Electronic paper truck displays
Digital display billboards are big business, able to deliver dynamic content to consumers and easily updated with new ads, unlike their time-consuming paper counterparts. Now, Mercedes-Benz, working with E-Ink firm Visionect and RoadAds Interactive has found a way to make these billboards mobile.

Truckside ads generate 2.5 times more attention than static billboards, and can result in up to 70,000 daily impressions,  but up until now have been limited to printed or painted images. In fact, EU legislation means that backlit LCD and LED displays are illegal in traffic, as well as requiring excessive energy to run and placing strain on trucks' batteries.

E-Ink displays, however, can be seen clearly in direct sunlight and only require power when changing, making them ideal. The displays developed by Visionect measure three-by-five foot, using four linked E-Ink screens, and have built-in 4G, wi-fi and GPS connections.

This means the screens can be updated while on the move, not just with location-targeted advertisements but with traffic information, road safety weather warnings and more. Five E-Ink displays will be used in a pilot scheme this November, with 1000 more expected to become commercially available next summer.

10 downing street vr tourGoogle Takes You Inside 10 Downing Street
If you ever wanted a private tour of the Prime Ministers' residence and office at 10 Downing Street, now's the time to get it, thanks to Google Arts and Culture, which has added the building to its collection of virtual reality tours.

Users of the Google Arts and Culture app are invited to explore the historic rooms and hallways of the heart of British government, getting up-close looks at more than 50 photographs and paintings exhibited around the building while enjoying an audio tour on 10 Downing Street's history, architecture and art.

The tour includes the cabinet room where the Prime Minister has held weekly meetings since 1735, the grand main staircase lined with portraits of the building's famous inhabitants and even the gardens where Winston Churchill liked to nap.

The VR tour is supported with two online exhibits, one highlighting three of the building's most historic rooms, and the other providing viewers with an introduction to Winston Churchill and Harold Wilson.

The World's Newest Sport? Dronesurfing


Forget water skiing, wakeboarding or even kite surfing, the latest extreme sport is dronesurfing, at least according to drone manufacturers Freefly, which sent someone out on the water to demonstrate the power of its ALTA 8 octocopter.

The drone, which is designed to carry camera payloads of up to 20lbs, can happily replace the traditional kite in a kite surfing set up and tow users behind it during calm weather conditions.

However, if you're interested in taking up this latest hi-tech sport, you'll need a fair amount of cash. The ALTA 8 will set you back $17,500 (£13,300), so maybe you're better off sticking with a kite and a stiff breeze after all.

vr crime university of westminsterUniversity of Westminster Places Law Students in Virtual Crimes
Criminal law students are the University of Westminster are getting closer than ever to crimes, thanks to a virtual reality experience designed for the course that recreates case studies from their textbooks via an Oculus Rift.

Real and Virtual Reality Law (REVRLaw) enables students to participate in scenarios that have been rendered using the Vr Unity engine, analysing pieces of evidence and even interacting with characters to build a case.

"We hope that this new proposed platform will bring a new immersive learning experience to the Law students and provide them a completely different perspective from understanding law entitlements," said Markos Mentzelopoulos, senior lecturer from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Westminster.

WasteShark Will Eat Your Floating Garbage


Water pollution is a huge problem, affecting everything from wildlife levels to human health, so anything technology can do to improve the level of pollutants in the ocean is a step in the right direction.

WasteShark, created by South African inventor Richard Hardiman, is one such step. The aquatic drone is essentially a Roomba for the sea, able to intelligently navigate the ocean using a variety of sensors and collect up to 400lbs of rubbish and contaminants in a single session.

The drone has a machine learning element that helps it identify spots where rubbish collects due to tidal or wind patterns, enabling it to prioritise problem areas while doing its job. The WasteShark is currently being trialled at the Port of Rotterdam, with plans to expand worldwide next year and even develop a 'Great WasteShark' that can swallow more than twice as much rubbish.