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Innovation Lab: Backpack Hearts, Virtual Ghosts and AI Playwrights

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.

Man Lives for 555 Days on 'Heart in a Backpack'


Stan Larkin, a 25-year-old from Michigan, is celebrating a successful full heart transplant, an event that would be notable enough, but is made all the more incredible by the fact that his original heart was removed over a year and a half ago.

Stan and his brother Dominique were both diagnosed with familial cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart condition that can cause heart failure with no warning. After years on the donor waiting list, both siblings had their hearts removed and were fitted with an artificial heart device called a Syncardia.

"They were both very, very ill when we first met them in our intensive care units," said Dr Jonathan Haft, associate professor of cardiac surgery at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. "We wanted to get them heart transplants, but we didn't think we had enough time. There's just something about their unique anatomic situation where other technology wasn't going to work."

While Dominique only needed to use the technology for a few weeks before receiving a full transplant, Stan spent more than a year on the waiting list. So he could leave the hospital and maintain a normal life, he was equipped with a 6kg portable device that connected to his vascular system to keep oxygenated blood pumping around his body, which he wore in a backpack.

ghostbustersSony Pictures and Madame Tussauds Team Up for Ghostbusters VR Experience
Ahead of the release of the new Ghostbusters film, Sony Pictures has partnered with Madame Tussauds New York, Ghost Corps productions and virtual reality tech specialists The Void to produce a multi-sensory VR experience.

Scheduled to open to the public on 1 July, the VR experience will launch as part of the Ghostbusters Experience at Madame Tussauds New York. Visitors will be able to see authentic props, costumes, gadgets and even the iconic ECTO-1 car, before taking part in a ghost hunt of their own, saving New York from a paranormal villain.

Visitors will track and trap their supernatural foe in an environment modelled on a New York apartment that combines physical props and sets, real-time interactive effects and virtual reality technology to enable them to interact with characters from the upcoming film.

"Ghostbusters has an incredible, passionate fan following, and now VR technology allows the fans to become a Ghostbuster themselves within Madame Tussauds New York," said Ghostbusters creator Ivan Reitman. "The technology is breathtaking, the experience is thrilling, and what better way is there to use VR than to let audiences inhabit the stories they love."

Mobile-based AI Writes Sci-fi Screenplay


10 years ago, artificial intelligence seemed like an idea limited to science fiction films. Now, it turns out that AI are attempting to write those very same films, or at least that's the task a researcher at New York University set one up to do.

The AI, called Benjamin, is based on similar technology to that found in smartphone keyboards that suggest the next word you are likely to type. Ross Goodwin, who created the AI, trained it by feeding in screenplays from dozens of science fiction films, mostly from the 80s and 90s.

The screenplay the AI created, called "Sunspring" was then filmed as part of a 48-Hour Film Challenge at the Sci-Fi London festival, starring Thomas Middleditch, best known for tech industry satire Silicon Valley. Benjamin has already moved on to its next project, producing short film synopses, which it posts on its Facebook page.

south china seaChina Plans Lab 10,000 Feet Underwater
Chinese developers have already constructed several artificial islands on reefs in the South China Sea, for use as military barracks, lookout towers, runways and even a lighthouse, but the next big project planned for sea isn't on top of the waves, but beneath them.

According to Bloomberg, China is accelerating plans to design and build a manned deep-sea platform that would primarily help hunt for minerals as far as 3km beneath the ocean, but may also serve a military purpose in what have often been disputed waters.

In China's five-year economic plan, released in March, the oceanic 'space station' was ranked second in its top 100 science and technology priorities. Authorities have recently examined the project and decided to speed up efforts to help it exploit the natural resources that exist on the seabed, as well as strengthen its claim over the widely-used shipping channels that run through the area.

This Machine Will Fold, Steam and Perfume Your Laundry for Only $800


Household appliances like washing machines and fridges are getting smarter and more connected all the time, but there are still a few chores that technology has yet to find an automated solution to. We can cross one of those off the list, though, thanks to the FoldiMate.

The three-foot-high machine, which will retail for $700 to $850 (£485 to £590), can fold one item of clothing in 10 seconds, and also steams, perfumes and sanitizes them. Users simply have to clip their items into the machine, which has a capacity of 15-20 articles of clothing, and let it go to work.

There are some disclaimers, however. The FoldiMate can't deal with large items like linens, or small items including socks, and the manufacturers warn that there is a chance (albeit less than one per cent) that the machine could do "something other than fold your clothes", which is a more polite way of saying it could irreparably mangle them.

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