Innovation Lab: Samsung Droids, Food Catapults and DNA Memory

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.

Samsung's Personal Assistant Robot is Otto-ly Adorable
Devices that host a digital assistant are becoming increasingly popular, from Amazon's Echo to Samsung's new Otto robot, a prototype revealed at the company's developer conference this week in San Francisco.

Unlike the Echo, which resembles an advanced speaker, the Otto leans more heavily into personifying its personal assistant with a digital display that resembles eyes, and would look at home among the robots seen in Pixar's Wall-E.

The device relies on Samsung's ARTIK Internet of Things platform to connect to a range of other smart home devices, enabling owners to control everything from lights to thermostats to music through a central hub, as well as providing news, weather and other information when prompted through voice commands.

In addition, the device includes an HD camera that can live stream footage to your smartphone, essentially working as a security camera for users when they are away from home. However, some critics have raised concerns over the idea of an internet-connected device that is capable of both watching and listening to those in the room.

Throw Treats to Your Dog From Across the Country

Pet cameras aren't the most recent invention, but the creators behind Furbo have gone a step extra and made a device that can catapult treats to your dog when you're away from home, enabling you to interact and keep your pet active.

The Furbo, which is currently seeking funding on IndieGoGo, has all the functionality you'd expect from a traditional security camera, including a 120-degree wide angle lens, night vision, zoom function, the ability to take photos and record video, and a microphone/speaker combo that enables you to speak to your pet.

Beyond the usual, however, is the device's treat delivery system, which you can fill from the top with small biscuits or other treats and, with a click of a button on your smartphone, can send a treat firing across the room for your dog to fetch.

There are a number of other pet cameras that already have treat-dispensing features, but Furbo is the first we've seen that literally launches the snack across the room, integrating some basic exercise into the process and, hopefully, a little fun for you and your furry friend.

argentina football chipArgentinean Football Club Wants to Install Chips in Fans
One of the most popular chants for loyal supporters at Argentinean football games translates as "I carry you inside me", but one football club is choosing to take the sentiment literally in a new innovation aimed at easing match day queues.

Club Atletico Tigre, one of Argentina's biggest football clubs, is exploring a radical new way to manage fans entering its Buenos Aires stadium on match day by offering people an implantable microchip that would enable them to move through the gate turnstiles faster.

The chips, which will carry basic information about the fans, have yet to be cleared by the Argentine Football Association, as well as various health and security agencies, but that hasn't stopped team director Ezequiel Rosino acting as a guinea pig and implanting a chip under his club tattoo.

Swimming Robot Snake Can Fix Undersea Pipes

A huge amount of the invisible infrastructure of the internet, not to mention the telecoms and energy industries, relies on undersea cabling and pipes, all of which can be incredibly difficult and expensive to maintain and repair.

That's where Eelume comes in. The device, created in partnership between the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Konsberg Maritime and Statoil, is designed to reach areas that other remotely operated vehicles cannot, making regular maintenance and inspections much more cost-efficient.

"Eelume is a good example of how new technology and innovation contributes to cost reduction," said Elisabeth Kirkland Kvalheim, chief technology officer of Statoil. "Instead of using large and expensive vessels for small jobs, we now introduce a flexible robot acting as a self-going janitor on the seabed."

shutterstock_242111533Microsoft Uses Synthetic DNA to Store Information
We've moved from floppy discs to the cloud, but Microsoft is already investigating the next step in information storage that could see its data retained for thousands of years by encoding it into synthetic DNA strands.

According to the IEEE, the company has converted a portion of data into DNA nucleotides, then worked with startup Twist Bioscience to make 10m synthetic DNA strands with the specified sequences. Through a combination of an encryption key and DNA sequencing, Microsoft can encode and recover digital data from synthetic DNA with 100 per cent effectiveness.

The process is a long way from any kind of commercially viable product, but it could represent not just the next step in terms of data security, but also one of the most effective methods of data storage, with a team of Harvard scientists working on a similar process in 2012 able to store 704 terabytes of data in a single gram of DNA.