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.
Japan's Answer to the Amazon Echo is a Holographic Girl in a Jar
Digital assistants housed in smart speakers are becoming more and more popular with consumers, with Amazon's Echo one of the most sought-after new devices of the year. However, it pales in comparison to the Gatebox, a Japanese speaker that includes a holographic avatar.
The Gatebox incorporates a screen and projector that it uses to bring life to Azuma Hikari, a holographic character that can interact with users. The device also has microphones, cameras and sensors for detecting temperature and motion, so that it can monitor the room its placed in.
The Gatebox doesn't include the Echo's voice-activated controls, so Hikari has to be controlled using messages in a controlling app, but she can recognise your face and voice, and is designed to wake you up in the morning, provide you with a daily itinerary and welcome you home when you get back from work.
In addition, the Gatebox acts as a smart home hub, enabling you to control other connected devices around your living space. It includes Bluetooth and internet connections, and can even be linked to your TV using an HDMI connection. In the future, more functions will be added to the Gatebox, and additional characters to function as avatars.
University Preps Robot Bees to Pollinate Plants
One of the more worrying trends of recent years has been the continuing decline of bee populations due to Colony Collapse Disorder, given the crucial role that the insects play in pollinating most of our plants.
While others seek to slow or prevent future bee deaths, scientists at the Warsaw University of Technology have been working on a back-up plan: robotic bees called B-Droids that can carry out the same pollination role.
After four years of work, the team has produced two different versions, one that travels on wheels and another that flies, both of which are capable of autonomously finding and pollinating flowers. In fact, a test this summer saw the wheeled robot successfully pollinate both garlic and strawberries.
The flying model uses a quadcopter-style design with a separate control computer and array of external cameras that maps an area then provides it with a route to pollinate each flower. At the moment, the team is focusing on getting the more energy-efficient wheeled model to a state of commercial testing, but we could soon see a variety of robotic forms working alongside bees to ensure our crops continue to grow.
US Navy Builds Autonomous 'Swarmboats' to Overwhelm and Confuse Enemies
The US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) has revealed its latest breakthrough in creating autonomous boats, which use a combination of radar and environmental sensors to perform dangerous or routine missions with little human supervision, either onboard or remotely.
The most recent demonstration of these 'swarmboats' was carried out in Chesapeake Bay off the east coast of America, and saw a fleet of the ships patrol a large area of open water then converge on an unauthorised intruder to check if it was a threat.
“This demonstration showed some remarkable advances in autonomous capabilities,” said Cmdr. Luis Molina, military deputy for ONR’s Sea Warfare and Weapons Dept. “While previous work had focused on autonomous protection of high-value ships, this time we were focused on harbor approach defense. This technology allows unmanned Navy ships to overwhelm an adversary. Its sensors and software enable swarming capability, giving naval warfighters a decisive edge.”
Meet GLAdys, Glasgow Airport's All-singing, All-dancing Robot
Travellers at Glasgow Airport will have someone new to keep them company before their flights this Christmas period, in the form of an autonomous android designed to sing carols and tell stories.
GLAdys, named for Glasgow Airport's international code, is part of the airport's Digital Passenger Experience Project, which aims to enhance customer engagement and communication through digital technology. The Pepper robot sings and dances to three different Christmas songs, tells young passengers three different stories, and can even take selfies with travellers using a camera mounted in its hand.
"We are always looking for new and innovative ways in which we can further enhance customer experience at Glasgow and believe the introduction of GLAdys to be a first for a UK airport," said Mark Johnston, operations director at Glasgow Airport. "GLAdys will be a fantastic addition to the terminal team and will prove to be an extremely popular feature with passengers commuting through the airport."
Get Perfect Packaging Every Time with Slimbox
If you've been ordering your Christmas presents online, you may be getting sick of oversized cardboard packages filled up with styrofoam peanuts or brown paper stuffing. This wasteful approach to shipping could soon be a thing of the past, however, thanks to Slimbox.
The laser cutter enables companies to produce boxes perfectly sized to individual items. Simply measure the object using the included guide and enter the dimensions into the Slimbox's accompanying app.
Then its just a matter of feeding a flat piece of cardboard through the device, which uses a laser to cut out a customised template for you. With a few folds, you have a box that's a perfect fit for whatever it is you're shipping, ensuring that you waste as little packing material as possible, and get the most out of any cargo space.