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Innovation Lab: Connected Launderettes, Smart Suitcases and Police Drones

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.

cyberspin laundrette
"Connected Launderette” Lets You Pay with Tweets
A new business in London is putting a high-tech spin on a very traditional service by creating what it calls the world’s first ever “connected launderette” where consumers can pay to have their delicates washed using their social media presence.

The CyberSpin launderette is equipped with a dozen top-of-the-line industrial washing machines which precisely weigh each individual load to tailor water and electricity consumption, and customers can download an app that alerts them when their washing is done, and integrates Apple and Android Pay on the respective versions.

The launderette also enables users to pay for using the dryers in a unique way – through Twitter. An integrated touch-screen on each machine enables customers to share a tweet mentioning the launderette, and for every ‘like’ and retweet it receives, the customer gets 30 seconds of tumble-drying time.

“The laundry industry has barely changed over the past 50 years, and it’s ripe for disruption,” said Steve Crubber, founder and manager of CyberSpin. “We’re aiming to democratise the act of washing clothes, making it something anyone can access and moving it forward into a cashless economic model.”

Sneeze ManDutch Researchers Want to Map Your Sneeze
Scientists in the Netherlands have unveiled a specialised high-speed camera that can accurately map the distribution of moisture and particles in an individual’s sneeze, which they claim could form the basis for a new method of biometric identification.

The engineers at the Rotterdam Institute for Science & Technology (RIST) have worked for seven years on the camera, which integrates humidity and moisture sensors and uses a complex algorithm to track the progress of a sneeze second by second.

“When the human body experiences a sneeze, there are hugely complex changes in pressure throughout different areas of the nasal cavity, mouth, windpipe and lungs in a matter of seconds,” said Dr Albert Ergich, chief researcher for the project and associate professor of medical engineering at RIST. “Air escapes from the nose at over 100 miles per hour, and particles can be propelled several feet.”

According to the team’s research, each individual has a distinct ‘sneeze pattern’ that could be used to identify people. The team is also investigating whether different causes for sneezes produce distinct patterns, which could help in diagnosing infections, viruses or allergic reactions.

smart suitcaseSmart Suitcase Will Follow Your Around the Airport
If you’ve ever struggled to juggle your passport, tickets and hand luggage during a trip through the airport, the new SmartCase by Boston-based startup Aerobotic Engineers may be your ideal travelling companion.

The ‘smart suitcase’ integrates a motor, battery and navigational system, enabling it to move of its own accord, and once tethered to your phone, it can be set to trundle a short distance behind you as you make your way to your flight.

The case, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, also includes a secure smart lock which lets you know whenever the case is opened and an integrated scale which alerts you when you reach your weight limit. Unfortunately, due to the various integrated components, the case can only carry around 500g of luggage, but Aerobotics is working on miniaturising some of the components.

Police Drones San DiegoSan Diego Equips Police Force with Drones
In a bold pilot programme, San Diego Police Department is equipping every police officer with a remote control drone, in a move it claims will improve both the safety of officers and public trust in the police force.

Approximately 2,100 officers will each be issued an individual drone, with patrol cars also equipped with a larger model with an improved range and longer operational time. Officers will undergo extensive training on how to use drones to assess dangerous situations before acting, and will be expected to deploy their drone in ‘follow mode’ when not actively directing it to provide a video record of their actions.

The move has been opposed by privacy advocates, who claim that providing every officer with a mobile camera could lead to massive breaches of civil liberties, and the department has also drawn criticism for the cost of the program, which is estimated to be around $2.5m (£1.73m).

Nathans Hot Dog Eating ContestGoogle AI Prepares to Challenge Humans at Hot Dog Eating Competition
First it was noughts and crosses. Then chess. And most recently, the Chinese game Go. Now an AI is preparing to compete against a human competitor in the famous Nathans Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, which takes place annually on 4 July.

The AI, built by Google, is called Chompy, and its developers claim that thanks to machine learning algorithms, it is able to eat hot dogs at least twice as fast as the current human record, which is 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. The machine has analysed the tactics of previous champions Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut as part of its ‘training’.

“I just don’t understand,” said Matt Stonie, the current men’s champion. “I asked if it was a robot, but apparently it’s just a computer program. It doesn’t even have a mouth. How is it meant to eat the hot dogs?”