Innovation Lab: Shapeshifting Desks, Underwater Hotels and 360° Mario

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.

Shapechanging Desk Remembers Your Preferences

While there have been a innovations over the years, like the rise of the standing desk, most peoples' workspaces look more or less the same as they would have in the 1940s - a large flat surface cluttered with stationary. One of the latest projects from MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group is hoping to change that.

The Transform is a piece of adaptive and dynamic furniture, using moving columns to support a variety of physical activities by creating shapes on demand or by moving objects around. Transform aims to change the ergonomics, functionality and aesthetic dimensions of furniture, adapting to different work and home tasks.

The workspace can react to physical movements, mimicking gestures in real-time, or can react to objects being brought close to form bowls, containers, dividers or supports. It can augment music with tangible effects, and complement games being played on the surface. It can even take and deliver physical messages via smartphones.

"We are thinking of a few ideas for commerical products, but it takes many years, so we focus on concepts," said Hiroshi Ishii, one of the chief designers, in an interview with Business Insider. "We invented Transform to convey machine beauty in dynamic motions, to make people think differently, stimulate people to think outside of the box."

capture droneJapan Cracks Down on Drones, Using Bigger Drones
The exact regulations that govern drones vary wildly from country to country, and in most cases they're still being settled as regulators play catch-up with technology and seek to establish exactly what airspace, privacy and trespassing laws apply to unmanned aerial drones. Japan has just introduced strict national laws governing flying machines, and is planning to enforce them with, you guessed it, more drones.

The laws are designed to improve safety as drone flying becomes an increasingly popular hobby, and mean that unmanned aircraft over 200g can no longer be flown in designated urban areas, meaning that the entirety of Tokyo has become a drone-free zone overnight. The changes also mean that drones are forbidden near airports and at large events, and mean that where they can be flown, drones must stay below 150 metres and at least 100 feet from buildings.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is even planning on setting up a special anti-drone unit that will take down rogue drones, according to the Japan Times, and will use a large drone equipped with a net that will capture UAVs caught flying in areas like airports.

These harsh measures have been spurred on by a number of incidents in Japan, including the use of a drone to dump a batch of radioactive sand on the roof of the Prime Minister's office in protest, and a drone crashing into Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Solve Your Password Problems with Qwertycard

With internet security becoming an increasing concern for everyone, and analysts predicting that we'll see more and more large scale data breaches in the future, it's more crucial than ever that we use strong passwords. However, the trouble is remembering all of them for the dozens, if not hundreds, of websites that require log ins.

Qwertycards offers a unique cryptography solution with a wallet sized cypher card that can be used to ensure all of your passwords are strong, memorable and unguessable. The company issues cards that display the standard QWERTY keyboard, with a unique code that assigns the letters of the alphabet to random characters.

By combining a one-of-a-kind code printed on the space bar, your own master password and the name of the site, then running all of them through the cypher, the card ensures that you have a secure password that is easy to recall but impossible to guess.

planet ocean underwater hotelSpend Your Next Holiday Below the Sea with This Underwater Hotel
If you're looking for a unique destination for your next vacation, the Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel may be perfect for you. The 12-room boutique hotel will be situated under 28 feet of water, with fantastic views of Florida's marine life, and plans to be completed by the end of next year.

Visitors will reach the hotel through a sealed elevator from the water's surface, down to a large air-conditioned lounge which serves as a central corridor for guests. The rooms include all the standard features like showers, mini-fridges and king sized beds, but also boast a clear walls and ceilings giving guests amazing views of underwater life.

What's more, the hotel is technically a vessel, using an electromagnetic propulsion system to change locations during inclement weather, and ensuring that guests always have truly astounding views of life below the waves.

"I refer to it as inner space tourism, and the new industry is now ready to launch into the ocean frontier," said Tony Webb, managing director of the project. "We have selected a superior international location for our test site for the single unit hotel, and once the permit is issued then the count-down clock begins."

Play Mario in 360 Degrees in Real Life, With Seven Other Players

The engineering and computer science students at ETH Zurich are serious about technology, even when they're having fun, so when a team of them put their mind to developing a unique gaming system for a large event space, they created something truly unique.

The system makes use of a real NES, augmented with new technology, and allows eight players to take part at once, passing control from one person to the other as the game travels around the room, thanks to a 360 degree projection system.

The eight-way control encourages co-operation and socialisation and the constantly shifting projection creates a distinctive atmosphere within the room, while the special algorithm used to display the layout of the game beyond a single screen creates a unique sensation of a wider world.