Innovation Lab: Electro-plasters, Printable Fudge & Silent Rickshaws

Tim Maytom

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.

cur workoutSmart Plaster Eases Pain with Electricity

Chronic pain is a problem for around one in four people, so any device that can successfully alleviate suffering is bound to find an audience. The new health wearable Cur is hoping to be one such invention.

The smart device resembles a large plaster, and uses TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) to relieve pain, sending out electrical currents that stimulate nerves, soothing acute or chronic pain.

While TENS' effectiveness varies from condition to condition, it's a popular alternative to painkillers, but most machines that can offer it are large, cumbersome and include wired electrodes that would be a challenge to take care of while out and about.

Cur aims to package the same effect in a much smaller form factor, with a smart module meaning the device automatically adjusts based on how the user's muscles react, as well as enabling owners to adjust the stimulation using an iOS or Android app.

Connected Cat Feeder Outsmarts Greedy Pets and Curious Toddlers

Cats can be tricky creatures to wrangle, so pet owners who have seen their food go stale as it is ignored, or hogged by one pet while the other goes hungry, will not doubt be interested in the latest creation by SureFlap.

An automated pet feeder, the device keeps the food covered until the pet with the appropriate microchip implant or RFID collar approaches, at which point the cover withdraws, enabling the cat to eat freely.

The cover delays food drying out or going stale, and prevents other hungry pets from hogging the food come mealtime, and curious toddlers from playing with it (or worse). The feeders can be customised with different coloured mats and trays, and are perfect for preventing your Top Cat from turning into a Garfield.

bocusini octopiRetrofit Your 3D Printer to Produce Fudge

There are already dedicated 3D food printers, but given that a standard model will already set you back around £500, you may not be keen to shell out again on a whole new device to be able to pipe out caramel and cream cheese.

German startup Print2Taste are looking to solve that issue with its plug-and-play 3D food printing solution Bocusini, which can be retrofitted onto a 3D printer you already own, replacing the plastic extruder with a food one, and using cartridges filled with everything from jelly to paté.

The device is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and includes a tablet app that enables you to draw freehand designs to be printed, or download existing schematics for more ambitious 3D models.

Glasses Open Up the Spectrum to Colour Blind Wearers

Red-green colour blindness affects around 300m people worldwide (roughly eight per cent of men and 0.5 per cent of women with Northern European ancestry), turning both colours into a dull grey and warping the rest of the spectrum.

EnChroma glasses uses special corrective lenses to improve colour vision for those with colour blindness, actually filtering out a part of the visual spectrum to 'drive a wedge' between the signals for red and green and forcing the brain to differentiate between the two, which they are normally unable to.

As the above video shows, suddenly being able to see the world in full colour can be a powerful experience for people who have spent their lives missing out on a fundamental aspect of life the rest of us take for granted. The EnChroma glasses aren't perfect, working best in bright daylight and poorly with computer displays, but you're unlikely to hear complaints from those people seeing the true colour of their children's eyes for the first time.

zar motors z5Zar Motors Aims to Electrify Asia's Rickshaw Taxis

You can find rickshaws in most countries in South and East Asia, serving as a cheap means of public transport for locals and tourists alike, and the boxy, three-wheeled vehicles have become an icon of the region.

However, anyone who has visited a crowded street in the area will know that they tend to produce a huge amount of exhaust fumes, and even higher levels of noise as the engines tick over. Rickshaws on Pakistani streets have been recorded rivaling jets with volumes above 100 decibels, damaging the hearing of passengers, passers-by and drivers alike.

Japanese company Zar Motors is hoping to solve both of these problems with the E-Trike, an electric rickshaw that has already been introduced to Nepal, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, and is now being expanded to India and Pakistan. The new Z5 model can be charged via a standard outlet, with seven hours of charge equally 60 miles, and the roof includes solar panels for additional charging while on the move.