Programmatic Lunch

Innovation Lab: Laser-powered Mice, Cardboard Drones and Smelly Porn

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.

mouse hunting
Scientists Activate Killer Instincts in Mice Using Lasers

Scientists at Yale University have combined advances in gene therapy and optogenetics to terrifying effect, producing mice that can be triggered into a predatory state using specially designed helmets.

Previous research found that the amygdala, an area of the brain involved in producing and regulating emotions, was activated while rats hunted. Building on this, neurobiologist Ivan de Aruajo infected mice with a virus that made neurons in their brains sensitive to blue light.

The mice were then equipped with tiny fibre optic helmets that shined a blue laser on the amygdala. The researchers found this prompted the animals to tense their jaw and neck muscles, and engage in hunting behaviour on anything they were presented with, from prey like crickets to inanimate objects like bottle caps.

"The first thing we thought was, maybe this was just generalised aggression," said de Araujo. "Or maybe we just made the mice very hungry." However, when activated in the presence of another mouse, the test mice instead became more curious, but didn't attack, suggesting the experiments were indeed triggering predation behaviours, not hunger or aggression.

icarus droneUS Military Funds the Ultimate Paper Plane
The Inbound Controlled Air-Releasable Unrecoverable System (or ICARUS for short) might just be the most advanced paper plane ever created. Designed by R&D design group Otherlab, the cardboard drone is designed to deliver supplies to dangerous areas, then be destroyed.

The design is based on research by DARPA, the US Department of Defense's technology group, into self-destructing electronic devices that could stop military equipment falling into enemy hands, and was funded by the military too.

The ICARUS is designed to be released in mid-air by larger aircraft, and operates like a glider, with no internal engine or motor, just a guidance system enabling its path and destination to be controlled.

As well as transporting military supplies, the ICARUS is intended for use delivering humanitarian supplies to remote areas where retrieving drones would be difficult, or for loads where minimising human exposure was wise, such as transporting blood, vaccines or other medical supplies.

UV sticky tape
UV Controlled Adhesive Unsticks in a Flash

A team of German scientists have created a strong adhesive that can quickly stick and unstick with a flash of light. While the initial use case is building precise microelectronics, manipulating parts without leaving a sticky residue, the eventual aim is to let humans climb surfaces just like Spider-man.

The material combines a tape inspired by gecko feet adhesion with a porous, light-sensitive film that curls up when exposed to UV light. By turning the UV on and off, it controls how much of the material is touching a surface at a micrometre scale, triggering the stickiness on and off.

The researchers were able to pick up and move surfaces including glass plates and spheres, and the material left no more residue than a rubber band on the objects picked up. The material would be especially useful in clean room environments where contamination was a major concern, but the truly exciting application is in human-sized adhesion, especially as a 20cm square should be sufficiently strong enough to pick up a adult male.

ohroma-girl-hdWebcam Site Introduces Scent Mask Integration
NSFW cam site CamSoda has announced the OhRoma, a VR-compatible scent mask for those looking to insert an extra level of immersion into their VR webcamming experience. The mask, which costs $69.99 (£57) can be loaded with cartridges to recreate the smell of anything from perfume and a meadow to perfume and private parts.

"Here at CamSoda we remain steadfast in our pursuit of technology that challenges the boundaries of what is imaginable and to provide our fans with as many dimensions of sensory stimulus as possible," said Daron Lundeen, CEO and president of CamSoda. "Virtual reality figures to play a pivotal role in 2017 and we wanted to enhance the experience for our fans by introducing OhRoma which now allows users to smell what they are seeing and hearing."

The mask will come with an accompanying app that connects to the device via Bluetooth, and when it is used, it will heat up the cartridges to produce the various aromas matching the VR experience they are viewing.

wef anti drone cannon
Swiss Police Deploy Anti-drone Cannons at World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum at Davos attracts its fair share of controversy every year, gathering together as it does the world's governmental and financial leaders, and with that comes a number of security concerns. With the advent of consumer drone technology, those security concerns take on a new high-tech angle, and according to Bloomberg, local police have been preparing HP 47 Counter UAV Jammers to ensure drones don't get too close to the venue.

"While drones have great potential, they have – just as every new technology or aspect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – also a potential downside," said Georg Schmitt, spokesperson for the WEF. "The forum takes the safety and security of its participants seriously. It is therefore normal that we take any potential issue into account and prepare for it."

The HP 47 can disable drones from up to 1,000ft away, preventing operators from accessing video feeds or remote controls, and trapping the machines within an 'invisible fence' that enables them to easily capture or destroy them.