Innovation Lab: Robot Snakes, Light-up Cabin Crew and Hover Submarines

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.

Robotic Snake Could Transform Everyday Interactions with Tech

At first glance, the Lineform created by MIT's Tangible Media Group appears to be an academic exercise in design, creating a robotic serpent that can take a wide variety of forms, but on closer inspection the shape-shifting device could actually aid in a variety of consumer and business needs.

Thin, flexible robots have already been put to use in medical procedures to place microscopic cameras in hard-to-reach areas, and in search-and-rescue operations to navigate tight spaces and blocked-off areas. The creators of the Lineform built upon these existing devices, but took the technology to a whole new area.

Two sizes of Lineform have been created. The smaller can operate as a wearable that provides haptic feedback, a data cable that moves to show data moving through it, or make use of pressure sensors embedded in the spandex covering to simulate a smartphone-style touchscreen.

The larger version can function as an intelligent combination of stencil and ruler for design work, have a bulb fitted to function as a lamp, or even work as a larger wearable that can aid in rehabilitation and physical therapy, recording movements on one user to recreate them on another.

easyJet wearable tech 2 (photo Nathan Gallagher)easyJet Celebrates 20 Years with Smart Cabin Crew Uniforms

Budget airline operator easyJet is marking its 20th birthday this year, and as part of the celebrations it has unveiled a series of futuristic new uniforms for its cabin crew members that incorporate wearable technology.

The new designs, made by CuteCircuit, use smart textiles and microelectronics to integrate tiny LEDs into the lapels that can display the flight number, destination and other useful information, as well as additional lights into the shoulders and hemlines that can activate during emergencies to provide extra illumination.

Built-in microphones in the uniforms will enable cabin crew to communicate with staff, pilots and passengers while moving around the aircraft, while ground staff jacket cuffs will incorporate LEDs that help them guide aircraft movements on the ground.

"We're delighted to be celebrating easyJet's success over the past two decades," said Carolyn McCall, chief executive of easyJet. "Althought today we're celebrating 20 years of generation easyJet, we're even more excited about the future. We will continue to challenge conventional thinking and we look forward to where the next two decades could take us."

Robot Will Patrol Stores Checking Stock Levels

Simbe Robotics is launching an autonomous robot called the Tally that aims to remove some of the pain from everyday shopping for consumers and retail workers by keeping track of stock levels and more.

The Tally can patrol the store, monitoring stock and even checking prices are displaying correctly, sending an alert to staff when a particular item is running low, out of stock or even placed in the wrong area.

The device can operate during normal business hours thanks to obstacle avoidance technology, and even has a Roomba-style charging dock so it can stay topped up with energy throughout the day. The robot is currently being tested with a number of North American retailers, and could soon be available for companies to buy.

deepflight dragonLive Out Your Thunderbirds Fantasies with this Submarine Racecar

Engineering firm Deepflight are focused on transforming personal submarining in style, and their new design the Dragon is a unique vehicle that looks like something International Rescue would deploy from Thunderbird 2.

The submarine is an easier-to-use version of the firm's Super Falcon, using the same technology to enable you to fly and hover underwater but made so simple that almost anyone can pilot it without extensive experience.

The quadcopter design enables complete freedom and control underwater, while the hydrodynamic design means it is incredibly efficient. In addition, the fixed positive buoyancy means that the craft will always float back to the surface without any need for a ballast system or drop weights.

Alpha 2 Will Teach You Yoga, Play Your Voicemail and Read You A Bedtime Story

At only 17 inches high and with adorable light-up eyes, Alpha 2 isn't the most intimidating figure, but it manages to cram an impressive amount of functionality into its aluminium alloy and ABS plastic body.

The consumer robot designed by UBTech aims to be a family assistant, wandering around the house delivering wake-up calls, reminders and weather warnings. It mimics a lot of the functions of a smartphone, able to play voicemails, take photos and translate languages, but its articulated body means it can dance and even teach yoga.

It can even link up to other smart devices in your home, turning the small robot into an Internet of Things hub that can turn off your lights and lock your doors as it boogies on your kitchen counter. It's currently seeking funding on IndieGoGo, and is retailing for $600 (£395).