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Innovation Lab: Biohazard Competitions, Coma Speakers and Fish Zappers

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.

Win $250,000 By Building a Better Biohazard Suit


The US Department of Defence has decided to reach out to the tech entrepreneur community in an effort to create the next generation of protective gear designed for biohazard situations.

The Proof Challenge aims to improve on current suits, which can be bulky, heavy and restrictive, and is asking experts from across a wide range of industries including survival, sportswear and fashion to submit ideas that could improve mobility and dexterity for users.

In addition, the challenge is also seeking ideas on heat management that could reduce the heat burden on wearers, actively cooling them, and those that could improve the seamless integration between components like the mask, helmet, gloves and boots.

The competition is being judged by two officials from the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, as well as a textile engineer and experts from ballistic armour firm Velocity Systems and sportswear brand Under Armour.

brainUltrasound 'Jump-starts' Coma Victim's Brain
Scientists at UCLA have used a revolutionary non-invasive technique for treating people in comas that could lead to a new low-cost therapy method for patients with a variety of severe brain injuries.

The technique, which was used on a 25-year-old man recovering from a coma, uses sonic stimulation to excite the neurons in the thalamus, an egg-shaped structure that serves as the brain's central hub for processing information.

"It's almost as if we were jump-starting the neurons back into function," said Martin Monti, UCLA associate professor of psychology and neurosurgery. "Until now, the only way to achieve this was a risky surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation, in which electrodes are implanted directly inside the thalamus. Our approach directly targets the thalamus but is noninvasive."

The technique, which uses a saucer-sized speaker to direct low-intensity acoustic energy into the brain, helped the man progress from showing minimal signs of consciousness and understanding speech to full language comprehension and consciousness within three days.

Scientists to Fight Fish Invasion with Killer Robots


The Gulf of Mexico is currently facing an ecological threat from an usual source – an invasion of millions of lionfish that are disrupting the local food chain, damaging coral reef systems and starving other native species.

The fish, which aren't registering as predators to the local wildlife and so are able to feed with dangerous impunity, are threatening habitats off the coast of Florida, Bermuda and the Carribbean. With such a large-scale problem to deal with, scientists who monitor the health of the Gulf environment are turning to a robotic solution.

Researchers at Robots in Service of the Environment have developed a concept robot that is capable of electrocuting lionfish using a pair of telescoping electrodes without scaring off the fish before it strikes. The robot is being tested in aquariums before it's deployed into the Gulf.

posb-singapore-video-teller-machine--963x644Singapore Bank Pilots Video ATMs
ATMs are able to provide a wealth of services to banking customers in areas without local branch, and without the staffing costs for banks, but there is still a limit to what they can do, especially for more complex requests or queries.

Singapore-based bank POSB is bridging the gap between ATM and fully-staffed branch with a new video teller machine (VTM) pilot scheme that connects customers with a remote assistant via video chat when needed, such as issuing new cards or purchasing internet banking tokens.

The VTM uses biometric identification, so users don't even need to have their card on them, and operators on the other end can be assured of who they're dealing with. So far, only one VTM is in operation (and with limited hours), but if it proves popular the scheme will be expanded.

Complete Your High-tech Hogwarts with this 'Magical' Spellbook


If you're like me, you're already thinking about what to do for Hallowe'en this year, and if you really want to impress your guests at a spooky shindig, you'll struggle to do much better than this spellbook which appears to write spells all by itself.

Created by designer decor firm Grandin Road, the book opens up to reveal an illuminated interior filled with mystical diagrams and creepy text, and also plays a variety of terrifying sounds to complement the atmosphere.

However, the most impressive aspect is the quill, which connects to a magnetic track embedded in the book to move as if wielded by some invisible hand, tracing a magic circle illustration in the tome. Perfect for setting an appropriately-magical mood at your Hallowe'en bash.