Masterclassing

Innovation Lab: Sweat-powered Sportswear, Owl Cameras and Robot Graffiti

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.

MIT Labs Designs Sweat-powered Smart Jacket


Researchers and designers at MIT's Media Lab are working with the Royal College of Art and sportswear brand New Balance to put all that sweat you produce when working out to good use with a set of bio-activated garments that transform as the humidity around them increases.

The technology is based on Bacillus Subtilis natto, a microorganism that has been used in Japanese fermentation processes for over a thousand years. The bacteria expands and contracts relative to atmospheric moisture, enabling scientists to grow living actuators. These are used to synthesise responsive bio-skin that uses humidity as a trigger.

Micron-resolution bio-printing is used to integrate the bacteria into the garments created by the project, with the synthetic bio-skin causing flaps around heat zones to open, enabling sweat to evaporate and the body to cool during exercise.

Beyond sportswear, the bio-skin has also been used to create bio-hybrid flower blossoms that change shape and colour, tea bags that unfurl leaves when the brew is ready and a lampshade that transforms thanks to the heat of the bulb.

uloMeet the Most Adorable Surveillance Device Yet
As more and more smart devices compete to fill our homes, new contenders need a unique selling point to make and impact, and Ulo by French designer Vivien Muller certainly boasts that. The home security camera is shaped like a cute cartoon owl, with two eyes that follow you around the room.

The Ulo may seem like a disposable toy, but it packs a 1080p HD security camera and motion sensor within its tiny pear-shaped body, along with a speaker, microphone, orientation sensor and wi-fi module. It is compatible with IoT platform IFTTT, meaning it can be programmed to interact with other smart devices around your home.

Even the giant eyes have a purpose beyond endearing the device to prospective owners. The device can convey information through their LCD displays, for example looking sleepy when the Ulo needs recharging and growing wide when 'Alert Mode' is activated.

The device comes with an accompanying app and multiple modes, able to stream live video, take pictures on command and capture GIFs of any motion which are then emailed directly to you. It can also be programmed with different emotions, animations and eye colours, all of which can be based on other smart home sensors.

Wondering How to Land Your Drone? The Answer is More Drones


We've now got so many drones in circulation, we're piling them on top of each other. At least that's what Boeing subsidiary Insitu is doing, with an innovative new launch and recovery system that aims to solve the problems inherent in landing fixed-wing UAV drones.

The 'Flying Launch and Recovery System', or FLARES for short, uses a massive quadcopter drone to act as both the launchpad and retrieval vehicle for a fixed wing vehicle, which tend to have larger operational areas than rotor-driven drones.

Once in the air, the low weight version of Insitu's ScanEagle warms up and launches from the quadcopter, which can then return to operators to be outfitted for retrieval. When the UAV begins heading back, the quadcopter once again takes to the air to use a skyhook retrieval system that plucks the smaller drone out of the air, absorbing the momentum and lowering it safely to the ground below.

starship deliverySkype Founders Want to Deliver Your Groceries by Robot
While Amazon, Google, DHL and even Walmart are scrambling to develop flying drones that can deliver your latest purchases right to your, two of Skype's founders are taking a more Earth-bound approach with a six-wheeled autonomous robot that can deliver groceries.

The robots are 99 per cent autonomous, meaning that while they'll drive themselves, there will be human oversight present just in case they get confused. According to Starship Technologies, the company behind the robots, they can deliver 'two grocery bags' worth of items (weighing up to 20lbs), which are safely stored in a cargo bay which can be unlocked with the recipient's mobile phone.

The company is planning to start pilot schemes in the US, UK and elsewhere next year, with multiple hubs used to service cities. According to the firm, the robots use less electricity than most light bulbs and can deliver items for over 10 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery solutions.

Smart Spray Paint Can Lets You Print Graffiti
sprayprinter
If you've always wanted to leave your mark on buildings around town, or just create cool designs on your own walls, but don't have the necessary art skills, the SprayPrinter has a solution for you, transforming any can of spray paint into a handheld dot matrix printer that can reproduce any design you imagine.

The device consists of a can attachment that controls the nozzle, releasing bursts of paint at precise moments, and an accompanying app that converts images into pixelised form that the spray can can easily recreate. The app also uses the smartphone camera to track your progress, meaning that the can always knows how much paint to release and where. It can be a slow process if you're determined to be perfect, but its also cheaper and easier than a custom sensor array.

The device is still being refined and isn't yet available to the public, but the creators are planning an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the near future which will allow anyone to become the next Banksy, as long as they've got a steady hand.