Innovation Lab: AR Cycling, Bumblebee Drones & Holograms in Space

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.

AR Cycle Helmets Combine with Smart Cities for Navigation and Safety

The connected car has seen huge growth in the past few years, as manufacturers race to integrate mobile functionality and data into cars, but the connected bike has seen less money poured into it. Future Cities Catapult is hoping to address that with an AR helmet that provides cyclists with important information.

The helmet features a visor which can be flipped down to provide a heads-up display that can improve biker's spatial and contextual awareness, providing them with maps, warning about blind spots, and even steering cyclists away from areas with air pollution or heavy traffic.

The prototype helmet helps cyclists navigate London's often-complex system of cycle lanes by highlighting the next direction on a planned route without the need to check a phone. The system could also interact with smart city technology like beacons or geo-fenced areas to produce even more useful information.

"The Internet of Things will change the everyday experience of our streets just as technologies through history have changed how we move, navigate and map our street network," said Claire Mookerjee, project lead at Future Cities Catapult. "IoT will support increased interactivity with our surroundings. We'll be living in fully responsive streets."

prototypeGoogle's Self-Driving Cars Hit the Streets

The latest version of Google's self-driving car prototypes have hit the roads around the company's Mountain View headquarters, representing another step forward in the firm's attempt to automate transport.

The cars aren't fully driverless yet – a safety driver equipped with a removable steering wheel, accelerator and brake is riding along during this stage of the test, able to take control if necessary, and the cars are limited to 25mph while in self-driving mode.

The company has also announced a project to solicit unique designs for the exteriors of the cars from local artists, turning the cars into "a moving art experiment" where artists will also get the chance to ride in the cars at an 'Open Garage' event.

Bumblebee Drones Deliver Honey Beer in Taiwan

Taiwan Beer has taken the concept of drones very literally with its latest marketing promotion, which has seen cartoon bees in flight around Taipei, delivering the company's new honey-flavoured beer to office workers.

Working with marketing agency Wunderman Taiwan, the company transformed several quadcopter drones into mechanical bees that could be used as part of a campaign promoting the launch of the new beverage.

"The liquor market in Taiwan is quite mature, and new products are easily overlooked," said Jeff Wen, vice president of accounts at Wunderman Taiwan. "Our client had also launched fruit-flavoured beer before, and was worried that the new Honey Beer would get lost in the mix. The challenge we faced her was having to draw consumers' attention and create social buzz before the product was even released."

Office workers were able to apply online to get six-packs of the new beer delivered to their workplace, with the bee drones sent ahead of Taiwan Beer's delivery to herald their arrival, creating a massive social buzz and demand for the service. 15,000 people signed up for the drone delivery offer within 10 days, and the campaign was covered in numerous media outlets, which resulted in Honey Beer launching with sales four times better than previous Taiwan Beer product launches.

Hololens in SPAAAACEMicrosoft's Hololens Heads Into Space

Microsoft's AR headset Hololens has already displayed some pretty sci-fi capabilities, but the device is going one step further this weekend, when two devices are blasted into space in NASA's latest delivery to the International Space Station.

The device, which has already raised its profile this month with impressive demonstrations at the E3 gaming convention, will be put to use by the ISS crew for a variety of purposes, including a 'Remote Expert Mode' which enables a ground operator see exactly what a crew member is seeing, and provide them with real-time feedback on complex tasks.

"HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station," said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS program at NASA.

Bubbles The Dachshund Gets Moving Again Thanks to 3D Printing

3D printing is revolutionising several fields, and bringing previously complex manufacturing processes into the home and the budget of consumers, but none more adorable than helping out disabled pets.

Bubbles the Dachshund was born without front legs, and her owner Trevor Byers was concerned about the impact it would have on her quality of life and health. However, thanks to 3D printing, her was able to construct a custom-fitted wheelchair harness that enables Bubbles to run alongside her canine friends with the best of them.

"After a few months had passed and many failed attempts at building a wheelchair more conventional ways, we purchased our very first 3D printer," said Byers. "Many many more failed attempts later, I have come up with a design that is perfect for Bubbles. It is light-weight and stable without placing too much weight on her extra long Dachshund back. She gets around in her cart better than any other small dog I have seen missing their front legs."

Byers has placed instructions for the designs online, and Bubbles has attracted over 8,000 fans on her Facebook page.