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Innovation Lab: Musical Card Games, Mixed-reality Caves and Talking Fish

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.

Card Game Lets You Compete to Make the Best Music


If the name Harmonix rings any bells, it’s probably because you spent time playing the Rock Band games at the start of the decade, which used instrument-shaped peripheral devices to enable users to play along with songs on consoles. Now, the company has returned with a game that blends low and high technology for a new musical experience.

Dropmix, which is scheduled for release in September, is a card game where players compete to create the best possible mix of music using elements from different songs. Thanks to embedded technology in the cards and a specially designed play board, the mix actually adapts and changes in real time, depending on the cards played.

The board connects to an Android or iOS app, and enables you to dock your smartphone or tablet to it so you can watch your score change based on the cards you play, as well as hearing the mix change according to what songs you introduce. Cards can represent a beat, melody, vocals and more, or have special functions that alter the game flow.

Players will be able to share the mixes they create on social media, and the initial release will include over 300 cards including artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Run-DMC, Skrillex, Weezer and The Jackson 5, with Harmonix planning additional waves of card releases over time.

Sony’s SXSW ‘Wow Factory’ Demonstrates Cutting-edge Tech

Rez Infinite, one of the VR experiences on offer within the Wow Factory

Sony was among the many firms exhibiting at the annual South By Southwest technology and culture festival in Austin, Texas, but it was the only one whose demonstrations took the form of a ‘mixed-reality cave’ involving interactive projections and climbing walls.

The ‘Wow Factory’ was designed to showcase a wide variety of Sony’s most innovative technologies, all hosted within one single room. The space used wall-mounted projectors to create a changing, interactive environment, and groups of six were guided through the experience, getting hands-on with a variety of devices and technology.

Among the technology on show was an immersive music visualiser that worked in concert with a connected exercise bike, a game of ‘tag’ using headsets where you not only saw from your own point of view, but from three others as well, and wearable devices that enabled you to create and adapt music based on your own movements.

The area also saw a number of brand partnerships, with an interactive experience using Sony’s haptics technology based on the Resident Evil series of games, and a climbing wall promoting the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming film that used Sony’s moving projector technology.

Scared of Needles? This Injection Device Does Away With Them

Staying with SXSW, medical device startup Portal Instruments walked away with the festival’s Innovation Award for Health, Med & Biotech thanks to its ground-breaking needle-free drug delivery system which can deliver even high-viscosity biologic drugs through the skin using a jet the size of a strand of hair.

The Portal drug delivery technology is fast and computer-controlled, adjusting the injection velocity up to 1,000 times in the half-second it takes to completely deliver a 1ml dose. It also automatically collects and transfers data on the user’s injection schedule and health status to both them and their healthcare provider.

“We are delighted to receive this prestigious Interactive Innovation Award from the SXSW community, further validating our break-through technology and mission to make needles and syringes a thing of the past, and to empower patients with a transformed therapy experience,” said Patrick Anquetil, CEO of Portal Instruments.

Turn Your Favourite Place Into Your Favourite Jewellery
Jeweller Talia Sari has been making necklaces, rings and other accessories based on maps for several years, but now she is taking to Kickstarter to fund 'You Are Here', a larger-scale production method that would enable anyone to select a significant spot on a map, from their home to their favourite holiday to the place where they proposed, and transform it into jewellery.

Using an online interactive map, customers can enter any address or place, zoom and drag to finalise their frame, and then select 24K gold or silver for the finish. Designs are available as necklaces, rings or brooches, and can be upgraded to include a natural pearl ‘pin’ on a specific spot. The creation process then uses a technology called ‘photo etching’ to create the designs, which are hand finished before being shipped.

“I started with a collection of nine cities close to my heart,” said Sari. “Over time, I started getting requests to create new places outside my familiar territories. I’ve designed ‘You Are Here’ so that anyone can create a one-of-a-kind piece of map jewellery while keeping the price very affordable. Following a year of development, and an experimental pilot that brought to life the most beautiful designs, I found myself in love with places I’ve never been to and telling stories of people I’ve never met.”

Meet the Future of Digital Home Assistants

Okay, perhaps it isn’t the future, despite what the video title may claim, but you have to admire the ingenuity of the person who took Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant technology and combined it with the late 90s novelty item Big Mouth Billy Bass, large numbers of which are doubtless stowed away in lofts or languishing unsold at car boot sales across the country.

The maker has even managed to synch up the mouth movements of the talking fish to match those of Alexa’s pleasantly neutral voice, so that it really appears to be relaying the weather, confirming your music choices or enabling you to make purchases.

Given that Alexa’s capabilities are constantly expanding (the technology now enables you to command your Roomba, so if you’re the sort of person who has embraced the connected home, you can now order your vacuum cleaner to get to work), we’re now facing a future where everything within your home can be controlled simply by yelling at a fish.