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Innovation Lab: Uber Breathalysers, Focused Alarm Clocks and Smart Hair

Tim Maytom

At Mobile Marketing we're proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions; the Startup Showcase at our Mobile Marketing Summits gives a platform to those companies, and brings audiences one step closer to ideas and developments that are breaking new ground in the market.


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.

Uber Breathalyser Offers Drunk Canadians a Free Ride Home



Uber drivers are no doubt aware that one of their key audiences is late night revelers hailing a ride home. Uber Toronto's team decided to tap into that group with a clever marketing stunt aimed at promoting safety, along with encouraging new users to try the ride-hailing service.

The company set up an 'Uber Safe' kiosk on one of the city's streets which featured a built-in breathalyser. Passers-by could blow into the machine and, if they were too drunk to drive, the kiosk would automatically summon an Uber driver to the location and provide them with a free drive home.

The stunt, developed in conjunction with creative agency Rethink, is not the first novel marketing effort that various Uber teams have rolled out. In the past, various cities have promoted Uber by delivering Christmas trees direct to homes, or offering on-demand ice cream trucks.

wake alarmSmart Alarm Can Wake One Person at a Time Using Directed Sound

The Wak? alarm clock by Lucera Labs aims to solve one of the enduring problems of traditional alarms - how do you wake up one person, if the person beside them wants to sleep in?

Currently halfway to its funding goal on Kickstarter, the Wak? uses a body heat sensor to identify the person to woken, and then uses a focused stream of light and sound to rouse them without disturbing anyone next to them.

The device apparently works even if you are right next to someone, and includes an accompanying app that enables you to set the time, customise the sounds you are woken with, and hit the snooze button when you want to sleep a little longer.

IoT Headphones Curate Your Playlists For You

With the growth of wireless headphones, streaming apps and wearables, it was only a matter of time before someone made the leap to a pair of headphones that contain everything you need to play music.

Aivvy Q headphones interact with a cloud-based streaming service, enabling wearers to play music without the need to be connected to the Internet, with the device selecting and caching songs when it charges.

The device lets you skip and 'like' songs, learning your preferences and even tailoring playlists to locations, and starts and stops automatically when it senses it is being put on or removed. An accompanying app can be used to customise different channels and view what's playing, and if you decide to switch from listening to music to watching a video, the device also works as a traditional pair of headphones using an audio cable included with the package.

onion omegaTiny Dev Board Aims to Power Internet of Things Revolution

The Onion Omega is a hardware development platform that is making considerable waves in the world of connected devices and IoT programming. A quarter the size of a Raspberry Pi, the processor nonetheless includes built-in wi-fi and runs the full version of the Linux operating system.

Aimed at IoT device creators, the Onion Omega enables users to build hardware using tools such as Git, pip and npm, and make use of programming languages including Python, Javascript and PHP.

The creators have also built an Onion App Store for the device, enabling users who have built programs to share them, and less technically confident users to download software and create devices easily. Among the connected devices created using the Onion Omega are robot arms, smart digital photoframes, spy cameras, drones and automatic cat feeders.

Smart Hair Extensions Can Activate Apps with a Touch



Just as smart devices are sneaking into every aspect of our homes, wearable devices are getting more and more integrated into our daily life. However, you'll have to go pretty far to find a device more seamlessly placed into the everyday than Hairware, a set of smart hair extensions that can control electronics.

Created by Brazilian inventor Katia Vega, the extensions are actually plated with thin layers of conductive material that can detect when they are being touched, despite looking exactly like normal hair.

An Arduino micro-controller with a Bluetooth transmitter picks up the tiny changes in the extensions' electrical charge caused by touch, and relays this to your smartphone, which can use to input to send a pre-set message, record a conversation, share your location, take a photo or all manner of things, all without the user visably interacting with the phone.

Vega hopes Hairware can be commercialised as a personal security tool for women, but says there are also applications for behavioural scientists and even intelligence agencies. The software even includes an algorithm that can learn the difference between intentional and accidental hair stroking, so you don't unthinkingly send out an SOS message.

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