Innovation Lab: Battle Bots, On-demand Charity Apps and Hoverboard Parks

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.

MegaBots Return to Kickstarter for Giant Chainsaw Funding

If you needed any more proof that we're living in a sci-fi future, here it is: next year will see a corporate-sponsored giant robot from America fight its Japanese counterpart for supremacy.

The MegaBots project first drew attention when it took its human-piloted battle robot project to Kickstarter at the end of last year, and while the initial funding campaign was unsuccessful, corporate sponsors stepped in to provide the team with cash.

Now the engineers are returning to the crowd-funding website with a more modest $500,000 (£322,000) goal aimed at ensuring their robot is ready for close combat with its Japanese opponent, Kuratas.

If successful, the funding will go towards improving the speed and armour of the robot, and equipping it with melee weapons to compliment its existing paintball cannons. Kogoro Kurata, lead creator of Kuratas, made hand-to-hand combat a condition of accepting the MegaBots challenge of a robotic face-off in 2016.

[caption id="attachment_58907" align="alignleft" width="300"]Komal Ahmad, CEO and founder of Feeding Forward Komal Ahmad, CEO and founder of Feeding Forward[/caption]

App Helps Deliver Leftover Food to Homeless Shelters
Feeding Forward describes its mission as "solving the world's dumbest problem" – the fact that one in six Americans do not know where their next meal will come from, but 365m pounds of edible food is thrown away everyday.

The startup was created following an encounter between CEO Komal Ahmad and a homeless veteran. Ahmad, at the time an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, started a program that donated excess food from the university's dining halls to local homeless shelters. Now, Feeding Forward attacks the same issue on a much larger scale, and with the help of mobile technology.

Businesses can sign up to Feeding Forward and use an app to alert the company when it has surplus food. A driver is dispatched to pick up the leftovers and deliver it quickly to local homeless shelters and food banks.

Feeding Forward provides the businesses with profiles on the people who are being fed by their donations, enabling them to see the impact they have made. While the company so far only serves the San Francisco Bay Area, it has managed to recover over 690,000 pounds of food, providing for over 570,000 meals and diverting more than 3.5m pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from landfills, where it would otherwise be headed.

Lexus Shows Off Slide Hoverboard at Specially-built Skate Park in Barcelona

Lexus unveiled its Slide hoverboard back in June, but we weren't able to see what its truly capable of until now, with the company letting several skateboarders take a spin on the board at a specially-built 'hoverpark' in Cubelles, Barcelona.

The board uses liquid nitrogen to cool superconductors embedded within the board to -197 degrees Fahrenheit, which enables them to create a powerful enough magnetic field to support a human being.

The park features around 200 metres of magnetic track, and allows users to pull off some neat stunts that would be impossible with a normal skateboard, like floating above water. However, until pavements and roads are equipped with magnets, we're unlikely to see the Slide in shops for everyday use.

clippa ladyHair Clip Multitool Includes Screwdriver, Bottle Opener and Nail File
The Clippa is an ingenious multitool that wouldn't be out of place in a spy thriller, combining a Swiss Army Knife worth of tools into a single hair clip that can be easily concealed and carried with you at all times.

The device was previously available in a silver model that included a 8mm wrench, two screwdrivers and a cutting blade. The new pink model has a bottle opener, scraper and nail file, as well as eliminating the chance that you might slice your finger as you're adjusting your hair.

At just $10, the multitool is perfect for engineers who are always losing their tools, outdoor enthusiasts and anyone who fancies living out their secret agent fantasies whenever someone needs a bottle opened.

Smart Helmet Kit Auto-alerts Contacts if You Crash

The Livall Smart Cycling Helmet is an impressive piece of kit, with integrated LED lights for safety, turn indicators, microphone and Bluetooth speakers. It enables users to keep in contact with each other through a walkie-talkie function, as well as receive calls and play music during their rides.

The kit that accompanies the helmet, all of which is currently seeking funding on IndieGoGo, includes a handlebar-mounted controller for the helmet, a customised phone cradle and an accompanying app that tracks your stats as your cycle.

Perhaps most importantly though is the 3-axis gravity sensor within the helmet that can detect if a user is in an accident. It automatically turns on emergency signals on the helmet, helping the rider to be located, and sends an SOS alert to your emergency contacts to make sure help is on the way.