Innovation Lab: The Best of the Smart Home

At Mobile Marketing were proud to help tech companies showcase their cutting-edge solutions; the Startup Showcase at our Mobile Marketing Summits gives a platform to those companies, and brings audiences one step closer to ideas and developments that are breaking new ground in the market.

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 worlds innovative ideas.

This week, we take a look back at some of the creations weve covered so far this year, with a focus on smart home technology, and how everything from your alarm clock to your cat bowl will soon be connected, quantified and controllable via your smartphone.

Sesame Smartlock Lets Your Open Doors With a Secret Knock

Smartlocks are already big business, but the Sesame smartlock by Candy House aims to improve on many of its competitors with easier installation and the ability to recognise an individuals knock to let them through a door.

The Sesame works with almost every deadbolt available in the US, Canada and Australia thanks to five patented self-adjusting mechanisms, and can be installed onto doors in a matter of seconds, with no tools required.

As well as enabling users to lock and unlock the door using an accompanying app, the Sesame keeps records of when it is activated, and can send notifications letting you know when someone enters your property.

Perhaps most impressive though, is the apps voice control features, which enable users to unlock their door simply by knocking on their phone in their pocket, or even by having the lock recognise they are approaching, and listen out for a distinctive knock pattern.

Control Your Home with a Contextual Cube

As the smart home becomes more and more advanced, with an increasing number of devices connected into an electronic ecosystem, so do the options for controlling it. While several big firms, including Apple and Google, have tried to simplify things by gathering controls into a single app, German design studio Family of the Arts has taken a different approach, with an intuitive, tactile device.

The Cube is a plain black box that could be mistaken for a rather plain paperweight, but when it is tapped, each blank side has a backlit icon appear, enabling users to control a different aspect of the home. Simply turn the cube so the desired function sits on top, then use gesture controls like turning clockwise or anticlockwise to interact with lighting, music, heating and more.

The Cube isnt available yet – the designers are searching for manufacturers – but its a fascinating concept that grounds the new age of digital connection in an elegant, physical object.

wake alarmSmart Alarm Can Wake One Person at a Time Using Directed Sound
The Wak? alarm clock by Lucera Labs aims to solve one of the enduring problems of traditional alarms – how do you wake up one person, if the person beside them wants to sleep in?

Successfully funded using Kickstarter, the Wak? uses a body heat sensor to identify the person to woken, and then uses a focused stream of light and sound to rouse them without disturbing anyone next to them.

The device apparently works even if you are right next to someone, and includes an accompanying app that enables you to set the time, customise the sounds you are woken with, and hit the snooze button when you want to sleep a little longer.

SmartPlate Pairs with App to Know Exactly What Youre Eating

Philadelphia-based startup Fitly is aiming to ensure youre always aware of whats on your plate with its SmartPlate system, which uses machine learning to identify foods and provide you with nutritional information, from calories to trace elements.

The device, which met its funding goal on Kickstarter, uses load-sensors to weigh the amount of food on the plate, while in-built digital cameras take pictures of the food on the plate. Both sets of information are then uploaded to a cloud-based machine learning program, which can identify whole foods with 60-90+ per cent accuracy, and mixed foods like casseroles and wraps with 70-90+ per cent success.

As well as providing you with nutritional information, the SmartPlates accompanying app can warn you if a meal contains something youre allergic to, or monitor certain ingredients like sugar or sodium if you have health conditions that require your intake to be tracked.

microsoft autochargeMicrosoft Developing Ceiling Lamps That Recharge Your Phone with Light
Wireless charging, once the stuff of science fiction, is becoming increasingly popular, with brands like McDonalds and Starbucks introducing it to their restaurants to enable customers to charge their smartphones without the need for plug sockets or clunky, easily tangled chargers.

However, Microsoft is working an even more futuristic system called AutoCharge, which uses solar charging to power phones through a light beam projected from special lamps on the ceiling. The lamps even include cameras that track the phones location within the room, focusing the charging beam on devices automatically.

The system is still in its early days, but a working prototype has been constructed. It can recognise when a phone is in need of charging or if its already full, and even prioritise multiple devices in order of need. It takes around two-and-a-half hours to charge a standard 2000mAh battery, faster than standard solar charging thanks to the straight light beam used which improves efficiency.

The biggest hurdle would be persuading manufacturers to include solar charging systems within phones, which would be required for the system to work. Microsoft have said they dont envision the system replacing traditional charging, but as a home system it would add a level of convenience and ease.

Connected Cat Feeder Outsmarts Greedy Pets and Curious Toddlers

Cats can be tricky creatures to wrangle, so pet owners who have seen their food go stale as it is ignored, or hogged by one pet while the other goes hungry, will not doubt be interested in the latest creation by SureFlap.

An automated pet feeder, the device keeps the food covered until the pet with the appropriate microchip implant or RFID collar approaches, at which point the cover withdraws, enabling the cat to eat freely.

The cover delays food drying out or going stale, and prevents other hungry pets from hogging the food come mealtime, and curious toddlers from playing with it (or worse). The feeders can be customised with different coloured mats and trays, and are perfect for preventing your Top Cat from turning into a Garfield.

Petcube Lets You Tease Your Cat Over the Internet

Anyone who has spent any amount of time with a cat and a laser pointer knows that it can lead to hours of hilarity as they chase the uncatchable red dot. Petcube taps into exactly that effect to create a device that not only allows you to monitor your pets while you are away from home, but also interact with them.

The Petcube incorporates a wi-fi enabled camera that offers streaming video and two-way audio communication via the accompanying app, letting you chastise your pets when you notice them scratching the furniture from afar. The device also includes a built-in laser point that you can control by sliding your finger across the screen.