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.
Robot-brewed Coffee Now Available in San Francisco
As the nearest large city to the technology hub of Silicon Valley, San Francisco has seen a number of innovative businesses open up to serve the hi-tech crowd, but Cafe X might just be the most futuristic. The coffee shop, located in the Metreon shopping centre, combines machine learning and robotics to ensure consistently great coffee.
In partnership with automatic coffee machine manufacturer WMF, Cafe X Technologies has developed a fully automated robotic cafe that integrates hardware and software to recreate the skills of barista, while also eliminating the potential for errors and unintended variations when making beverages.
"I've long been a big coffee consumer and there's never a guaranteed seamless experience," said founder and CEO Henry Hu. "In today's world, you have two options for getting a cup of coffee: you're either in and out with something subpar, or you're waiting in a 15-minute line for a great cappuccino. I started Cafe X to eliminate that inherent compromise and give people access to a tasty cup of coffee consistently and conveniently."
Customers can either order on the spot or in advance using the firm's app, then retrieve their beverage using a four-digit code that is sent via text or displayed within the app. The San Francisco branch is Cafe X's second location, alongside a cafe in Hong Kong, and the company is working with nearby roasters and suppliers to source local ingredients.
Flying Drone Snaps Into Your Smartphone Case
Drones are getting smaller and more convenient as more consumers look to integrate them into video and photography work, so it's no wonder that Selfly has proved popular. The flying camera can be controlled through your smartphone, and when you're done, it folds and snaps into the back of the specially-designed phone case, ready to fit in your pocket.
A far more advanced version of the now-ubiquitous 'selfie stick', the drone enables users to take videos and photos from a distance, with common drone features like motion tracking, 'follow' mode and face identification, as well as auto-stabilisation technology and 'fly by picture' piloting that makes it easy to use.
On top of that, the design (which is only 9mm thick) folds away quickly and easily when you're done with it, fitting into a cradle that also functions as a universal phone case, enabling you to carry it with you wherever you go, and have it ready at a moment's notice.
"We took all the technology, the high end technology, stabilising technology know today in the drone world and we packaged it into a thin phone case," said Hagay Klein, founder of Selfly. "It's your phone case, it's always with you. You don't have to think about taking it with you. You don't have to fly it because it's stable in the air."
Cross Into The Future on the World's First 3D-printed Bridge
3D printing technology has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years, and it's latest advancement is over a river in Spain, in the form of a 3D-printed pedestrian bridge in Castilla-La Mancha park, Alcobendas.
Designed by the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, the 40ft-long bridge is built from eight separately printed parts, made using fused concrete powder. It's the brainchild of a team of architects, mechanical engineers and structural engineers including Enrico Dini, the developer of the D-Shape 3D printer who has been nicknamed "the man who prints houses".
The bridge was developed using parametric design, which optimises the distribution of materials and minimises the amount of waste by recycling raw materials during manufacture, while also maximising the structural performance.
Netflix Prototypes Mind Control for Streaming Video
At Netflix's Hack Day Winter 2017, the company decided to help out 'the laziest man in the world' and cobbled together a device they called MindFlix that enables users to control what they watch, simply with the power of their thoughts.
Using a Muse headband to monitor brainwaves, the engineers were able to create a method that could navigate Netflix's menus by moving your head to scroll in various directions, and simply think "Play" in order to start a film or show.
You shouldn't get too excited though; a blog about the Hack Day activities reminds readers that the devices "may never become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or otherwise be used beyond Hack Day", so don't throw away that remote just yet.
Smart Body Armour Detects Soldiers' Brain Injuries
Explosions might look cool in movies, but to soldiers on the battlefield, they're not only dangerous because of shrapnel and fire, but the shockwaves and changes in pressure which can cause serious brain injuries with few external signs. A new system of armour is hoping to address this hazard.
The US Navy's Office of Naval Research is working on BLAST - the Blast Load Assessment Sense and Test system, which uses sensors in both the helmet and body armour to measure the shock pressure delivered to soldiers in the field. A portable scanner can then be used for a quick neurological assessment.
"A system like BLAST is vitally important because it can help recognise the signs of TBI (traumatic brain injury) early and tell warfighters they might need medical attention," said Dr Timothy Bentley, a program manager who's overseeing the research for the ONR's Warfighter Performance Department. "This reduces the likelihood of someone enduring multiple blasts and suffering more serious injury."