Innovation Lab: Army Hoverboards, Relocating Australia and Dog Poop Apps

At Mobile Marketing were proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions, whether its 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 worlds 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.

US Military May Be in the Market for Hoverboards

When most of us hear hoverboard, we picture the mini-Segways that caught on fire, first figuratively then literally, last Christmas. But one major defence contractor clearly has more faith in the technology, and is in the process of acquiring the company behind a record-breaking flying machine.

Zapata Racing makes hoverboards that actually hover – jet-powered platforms that recently smashed the world record for furthest distance travelled on such a device when founder Franky Zapata flew over 2km using the companys Flyboard Air design.

The designs have drawn the attention of Implant Sciences, which specialises in developing technology for the US Department of Homeland Security and other military institutions. Impant Sciences has signed a letter of intent to acquire Zapata Racing and believes its products have “commercial, defence and homeland security technology applications”.

Quite what that means is yet to be revealed, and while we may not about to see US troops flying through the air on jet boots, Zapata said in an interview with Digital Trends that Implant Sciences has plans for flying medical stretchers, personal jetbikes and “floating rescue stations, scaffoldings and unmanned heavy payload delivery drones.”

australia on globeAustralia Set to Move to Fix Sat-Nav Gap
Its not very often that an entire nation jumps almost two metres to the north, but thats whats about to happen to Australia, as the country shifts its official longitude and latitude to address a gap between local co-ordinates and those from global navigation satellites.

Australia moves north by around seven centimetres a year due to tectonic activity, which has led to a gradually increasing discrepancy between local co-ordinates, used to make maps and measurements, and its actual global position.

The difference may not be huge, but with the growing reliance on GPS systems for navigation, especially with autonomous cars and farm machinery, the 1.5m difference between local maps and GPS data could lead to errors or even accidents.

The gap will be corrected on 1 January 2017, when the Geocentric Datum of Australia will shift the countrys local co-ordinates 1.8m to the north. The over-correction means that the local co-ordinates and GPS position will line up perfectly in 2020, when a new system that takes changes over time into account will be implemented, eliminating the need for such big jumps.

Picking up Dog Poop? Theres an App for That

Proving that literally everything is monetisable in the brave new world of the sharing economy, Pooper is a new app that enables you to draft in someone else to pick up your dogs messes for you, sparing you the trouble.

The app is currently beta-testing, with plans to release it in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York later this year. Users simply take a photo of their dogs poop using the app, which attaches a geo-location tag, and a Scooper is sent along to pick up after your pet.

While some have suggested the app is a joke or prank, co-founder Ben Becker has insisted it is real. “I am a real human being and a dog owner,” said Becker in an interview with the Washington Post. “It is our intention to solve a problem in a unique way.”

formula pi racing.Formula Pi Racing Pits Autonomous Cars Against Each Other
While Google, Tesla and a variety of auto manufacturers invest hundreds of millions of dollars in self-driving cars, a company in Cambridge is letting you build and test your own designs for as little as £35.

PiBorg is hosting the worlds first autonomous car racing international grand prix, with small vehicles powered by the Raspberry Pi Zero microprocessor and Raspberry Pi camera. Contestants receive these two components, along with a customisable lid, and must create coding that will help their car race around the track as quickly as possible without colliding with other vehicles.

The competition, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, hopes to attract a mix of talent, from first-time coders looking to get started to advanced teams using technology like neural networks to shave seconds off their lap time.

Robo-builder Lays 1,000 Bricks an Hour

Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics is looking to take 3D printing to a whole new level with its giant bricklaying machine that can construct a house four times faster than a human builder.

The Hadrian, the companys flagship robot, is an end-to-end bricklaying robot that automates the labour-intensive process of laying bricks, with the latest version boasting a 30 metre long arm that can place bricks at a rate of 1,000 per hour.

The robot uses construction adhesives to stick the bricks together, is able to deal with different brick sizes, and can even cut, grind and mill bricks down to fit the structure before it lays them. A laser-based smart tracking system guides the robot, and allows it to make room for doors, windows, wiring and plumbing as necessary.

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