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.
Disney Promises "Next Step in the Evolution of Play" with Smart Toys Disney's consumer products wing has announced a new series of toys that aims to blend the physical with the digital, combining smart toys with wearable devices to encourage children to be active and imaginative.
The Playmation series of toys will be launched with a pack based on Marvel's Avengers franchise, and followed up with sets inspired by Star Wars and Frozen. The Avengers set will include two 'smart figures' as well as a pair of 'Repulsor' wearables mirroring Iron Man's equipment that will relay audio instructions on how to interact with the toys.
"Innovation and creativity are the driving forces behind Disney, and our goal is to inspire children to unleash the power of their imaginations through the stories we tell and the experiences we create," said Leslie Ferraro, president of Disney Consumer Products. "With Playmation, we're taking the next step in that tradition – bringing the worlds of play, storytelling, and technology together – in a new and very exciting way."
So far, very little has been revealed of what playing with the toys will actually look like, but the set resembles a home laser-tag, and will also interact with an app to provide additional content. Disney fans of all ages will be able to get a closer look when the first starter pack is released in October this year, with additional connected toys also available from launch.
Flying Tricycle Successfully Hovers in Test
The growth in drone technology and quadcopter capability over the last decade is sure to have left some people asking when we'll get one that can carry (or be ridden by) a human. The Hungarian team behind the Flike have been asking the very same question, and have gone some way towards answering it.
The three-propeller "all-electric personal flight device" conducted it's first successful test recently, enabling a test pilot to successfully hover in place for over a minute, keeping the device remarkably steady for the most part.
While the tricopter doesn't get very far in this test – drifting backwards a little before compensating for the wind – the objective for this test was simply to support the pilot's weight for a decent amount of time. The Flike team have big plans for a more refined version of the device, and if the initial version is anything to go by, we may all be flying through the air within the next 10 years.
Run Android on Your Coffee Table with Social Furniture
British technology specialists LifeSize Touch have introduced a new generation of stylish and interactive tables that come equipped with large touchscreens capable of running Android.
The KioCube and KioPro ranges feature completely flat surfaces, without inlaid designs or less durable bezels that can interrupt the flow of other smart tables, and can feature touchscreens anywhere from 19" to 55" in square or circular formats.
"Contemporary consumers (and in particular millennials) are all about technology and today they expect so much more from the businesses they choose to interact with," said Sheena MacKenzie, managing director at LifeSize Touch. "Our Android touch tables give our clients the chance to engage with their customers on a whole new level that opens up a myriad of opportunities. With its flawless blend of entertainment, information and data capture, the product is a must have asset for any customer oriented enterprise."
SmartPlate Pairs with App to Know Exactly What You're Eating
Philadelphia-based startup Fitly is aiming to ensure you're always aware of what's on your plate with it's SmartPlate system, which uses machine learning to identify foods and provide you with nutritional information, from calories to trace elements.
The device, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, uses load-sensors to weigh the amount of food on the plate, while in-built digital cameras take pictures of the food on the plate. Both sets of information are then uploaded to a cloud-based machine learning program, which can identify whole foods with 60-90+ per cent accuracy, and mixed foods like casseroles and wraps with 70-90+ per cent success.
As well as providing you with nutritional information, the SmartPlate's accompanying app can warn you if a meal contains something you're allergic to, or monitor certain ingredients like sugar or sodium if you have health conditions that require your intake to be tracked.
Open-source Cybernetic Hand Uses Smartphone as a Brain
It looks like something out of a science fiction film, but the HACKberry bionic prosthetic aims to make itself available to the widest possible audience by making use of 3D printed parts and open-source coding.
The device, created by Japanese firm Exii, enables users to make incredibly lifelike and expressive finger and wrist movements, and is powered by camera batteries, keeping it lightweight. The blueprints and source code needed to operate the device are all freely available, and the 3D printed parts that make up most of the device can be swapped out easily.
The prosthetic uses a smartphone as a computer 'brain', enabling fine motor control, and thanks to the open-source ethos, can be made for as little as $300 (£195), representing a significant saving over most devices that demonstrate similar advanced capabilities.