Navigational Tech Inspired by Theseus and the Minotaur

Image

Students in Italy created an app to help the blind navigate using only their smartphone and sense of touch.

Various paths are mapped out through a building with colored tape on the ground, which the smartphone camera picks up as the user waves the phone back and forth. When the line passes under the user’s finger on the screen, the the smartphone will vibrate to provide a tactile indication of where the line falls.

via PSFK

Why I’m Curious

Tales of inspiration like this always seem a bit far-fetched to me. All that aside, this tech has many great applications. I have a hard time imaging this implemented as a visual aid, since many sidewalks don’t even have the regulatory yellow bumps. It could, however, be a fantastic promotional tool or form of branded entertainment. I imagine it best being used in a store: a little kid following a path to his favorite snack at the grocery store. Or at an event, where partygoers have to follow the hidden path to find the location.

Also, 3-D Printed Candy.

Like Being Trapped in a Horror Movie…

A new game created at USC’s Interactive Media and Games Division gets scarier and more difficult if the player shows signs of fear.

 

from Discovery News:

The game uses a Garmin cardio chest strap to monitor a player’s heart rate to gauge the gamer’s “fight or flight” response. Players assume the role of a “neuroprober” at the Neurostalgia Institute where gamers must recover the horrific, repressed memories of traumatized patients. Players must solve puzzles, find Polaroid photos and face nerve-wracking, terrifying scenarios to rid a patient’s subconscious of each memory. However, if the heart monitor detects the gamer is showing fear, then the game becomes more difficult.

Why I’m Curious:

This game combines so many things I’m fascinated by–horror, psychology, game innovation. Biofeedback is a powerful feature to make game experiences more realistic and immersive. With funding, this could be a powerful (and terrifying!) new feature in commercial video games. It could also be used in therapy for patients with phobias and anxieties.

The Buddy Cup

Budweiser doesn’t think grabbing some beers at a bar is quite social enough. Or at least not social network enough.

The company’s Brazil team has come up with the Buddy Cup- a cup that when tapped with another one of its kind allows the two cup holders to become Facebook friends. That’s right, no need to put down the beer, take out the phone, search for a name and then send a friend request.

So, how does it all work?  Similar to other connected objects, Manuel Rangel Macchiavello of Budweiser Brazil said. A computer chip with what Budweiser calls a “bump sensor”  is integrated into the bottom of the cup. Also on the bottom of the cup is a QR code, which works with a Budweiser app to link the cup to your Facebook account. When two people clink glasses, the friend request is sent from one to another.

“The Buddy Cup brings together the in-bar experience with Facebook, the most used social media channel for our consumers,”  Macchiavello told ABC News.

RELATED: Heinz’s Musical Fruit Now Includes Musical Spoon

The Buddy Cup joins some other connected food utensils. HapiLabs came out with its connected HapiFork at CES earlier this year. The fork pairs with your phone and warns you when you are eating too fast by vibrating. And in March, to promote new flavored varieties of their popular baked beans in the United Kingdom, Heinz released special spoons outfitted with tiny MP3 players.

But before you get excited about being able to make friends all over the bar, the prototype cups are just that, prototypes. However, Macchiavello told ABC News that a pilot event was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that it was an “instant success” and that the team is looking at taking this to bigger events in the future.

As for U.S. Bud and Bud Light drinkers, the company said this is a Brazil-only program for now.

 

Why I’m Curious: speaking from experience – think it’s interesting that they found a way to make a social behavior even more social. If they develop a beer that uploads your photos too we’ll be all set.

Hotel Lobby Turns in to Functioning Work Place

Photo: Marriott International

Courtyard by Marriot in Woodland Hills, California just launched a new hotel that is built specifically for the business tech savvy traveler.  The hotel accommodates the traveler with all the amenities needed to do work, track their flight, and connect to the online world.  Courtyard has worked with Four Winds Interactive to implement the GoBoard, which includes real time data for flights, local news, and can share the information to and from their phones.

Why I’m Curious?

This hotel is cool, not only because it is catered to tech business travelers but also because you can be connected at all times. There are computers with printers, outlets in every corner, and even has TV-featured media pods for privacy.  The hotel wants to provide an easy and innovative experience with their guests hoping that they will stay in the hotel and come back to use their services again and again.  It’s interesting how technology has moved forward even expanding in to the hospitality industry.  It will be exciting to see how other hotel brands explore this concept.

Magical Machine Finds the Perfect Pair of Jeans

xlarge

The days of tirelessly looking for the perfect pair of jeans are gone! Me-Ality is a machine that takes 10 seconds to tell you exactly which brands, styles and sizes are your perfect match. Bloomingdale’s recently installed Me-Ality sizing booths in the women’s denim departments of several of its locations.

The shopper enters a large white, glass-windowed booth and a big wand passes by twice to collect 200,000 measurements. The booth uses light radio waves (the equivalent of 1/1000th of a phone call, according to Me-Ality) to detect the moisture in your skin to sniff out your size. After 10 seconds, a kiosk on the side of the machine gives the shopper a custom barcode that holds all of their size data. When the barcode is scanned, a screen will show all the jeans that are supposed to be the right fit.

Why I’m Curious:

I think this is valuable technology for Bloomingdale’s and its customers. The customized results saves shoppers time and emotional burnout caused from shopping for jeans, and it’s a great way to drive people into the store. More importantly, when a shopper finds clothing that fits them, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Additionally, less time spent trying on jeans may translate to more time spent shopping for other items. The ultimate test will be to see if the results are accurate. Depending on its success and popularity with consumers, perhaps Me-Ality will consider creating a machine for finding the perfect swimwear.

Disconnect.me Lets You Control Your Data Online

Disconnect.me is a little app that makes the web a lot better by helping users monitor and block more than 2,000 websites from collecting their data online.

Why I’m Curious:

While security from hackers is a big concern for almost everyone, people don’t realize that marketers and publishers are tracking every move you make and collecting that information to inform business strategies, product development, and marketing initiatives.  Big data is a big business.   And although questions  about consumer privacy occasionally bubbles to the surface (usually when Facebook does something to annoy people), for the most part, people forget that it’s not just hackers who are interested in what they are saying, doing, sharing, posting, or saving online.  As more and more people become aware of just how much marketers really know about them  – MasterCard claims they can predict the success rate of a marriage within a 98% accuracy rate based on the data they collect on card members – there will be more demand for tools and apps that provide some type of barrier against data collection, which could have big implications for marketers.

The irony – the developer, Brian Kennish spent more than a decade working for DoubleClick and Google building the software that allows companies to track user data online. Only after he became a heavy Facebook user did he begin to think about what privacy really means:

“I really enjoyed using Facebook, but the fact that their social widgets were popping up all across the web meant that by virtue of my using Facebook, I was also giving Facebook a big chunk of my browsing history…That just seemed like a part of the deal that I didn’t sign up for.”

Bitcoin – The digital currency quickly gaining mainstream traction

– Jordan

Bitcoin is an entire digital currency that is posed as the future of monetary means. The currency is “mined” online through a complex system of algorithms and is a finite resource consisting of $21 million Bitcoins in total. Watch this 3min video for a detailed explanation.

Why I’m curious:

The idea of a self stabilizing currency is an amazing theory, and only time will truly tell if this can become a reality. Current speculation has been focused around Bitcoin and the ability for hackers to attempt to steal or slow down bit services. Every dollar was once backed by gold backing our bills with an guaranteed value, but now we no longer have that security  Bitcoin on the other hand is also backed by no precious metal, however it does have a finite amount of Bitcoins that essentially limited the ability to simply print more. THrough this lens Bitcoins stop sound crazy and start sounding crazy awesome.

Marketing That Also Solves a Real-Life Problem

The University of Engineering and Technology in Peru and MAYO-DRAFT FCB have constructed an advertising billboard that converts moisture from humid desert air into drinkable water.

From dmnews.com:

The city of Lima doesn’t usually get much in the way of rainfall, but can suffer from humidity as high as 98%. The UTEC/MAYO collaboration has come up with a novel way to help local residents who are only able to get drinking water from often polluted wells, while also generating interest in the study of engineering at the university, where admissions are due to start on March 3.

Located in the Bujama District near Lima along the Pan-American Highway, the billboard was strategically placed on the way to the beach during the summer season from December 2012 through February 2013 to generate maximum exposure and attract young adults headed to the shore.

Though the billboard concept seems deceptively simple, there’s hard science working in the background. The billboard counts on unique technology that captures the air humidity and turns it into drinking water. “Five generators capture the air humidity, through an inverse osmosis system, producing purified water, and they are able to store up to 100 liters per day.” In the few months the billboard’s been operational it’s already produced more than 9,000 liters of water for families in Bujama and in neighboring towns.

Following the campaign, enrollment at UTEC increased by 28%, and a video about the project posted on YouTube brought in more than 300,000 views in less than two weeks. But the results are about more than the hard metrics, Aponte says.

Why Am I Curious?

This is a great way to infuse technology into more traditional and analog mediums, and in this case a particularly good fit for the message. I wonder if it is possible to “digitize” OOH advertising that is somewhat mundane and old school and make it for exciting for our clients similar to the way UTEC did to convey their message. 

A Puzzle made of Glass

we know!

Google Glass was finally announced to the world. Yes, I’m sure we’ve all heard by now … What’s more interesting are the things Google is doing more quietly.

In addition to launching Google Glass, Google is working on various fronts to break down the main barrier to Glass – the geek factor. On the product design front, Google has reportedly started talks with the designer eyewear company, Warby Parker. More interestingly, they are also starting to seed a backlash against the smartphone.

Sergey Brin, in a recent TED talk, said it was “emasculating” to be seen using a smartphone. Interesting and surprising, given that Google is vying for smartphone dominance with Android, the Nexus line and purchase of Motorola.

Why I’m curious

In Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, the future is a place where iPhones are passé and the details of your life are freely available for all to see. I think this future is close, very close – especially after reading an article by Mark Hurst, (thanks, Lachlan) that details Glass’ feature of being able to record images, video and audio anytime, without notice. Creepy, right? Wait until the geek factor is gone and Glass is in a contact lens.

Smartphones have already changed the way we interact in social setting in both positive and negative ways. How will Glass-like technology effect human behaviors, interactions and concept of privacy?

Technology Ages in Reverse?

Nassim Taleb, author of Black Swan, contends in his new book Antifragile that technology ages in reverse. In it, he invokes a little known theorem known as the Lindy Effect to support his assertion that the longer a technology, or any intellectual artifact, has been around, the longer it’s likely to stay around. This would explain, for example, the longevity of the printed book, and would predict its likelihood of sticking around for many years to come.

Here’s a chart from an article Taleb recently wrote for Wired:

lindy_taleb1

Why I’m Curious?

While seemingly counter-intuitive (especially when stated as provocatively as in the title of this blog post), the more you think about it, the more it makes sense…The more robust a piece of technology demonstrates itself to be, the more we can expect that it’ll stick around.

Taleb’s argument provides an interesting lens through which to view digital marketing…It’s an often cited maxim that “digital is always changing.” For Taleb, of course it is…With new technology emerging everyday, how is anyone to know which tools will be around in five years time? Serves to illustrate that part of the challenge of digital marketing is knowing how to navigate this uncertainty.

Don’t Black Out

If the physical effects of binge drinking aren’t enough to remind you to slow down, perhaps an external cue–other than a bartender’s threats to cut you off–could help do the trick. MIT Media Labs researcher Dhairya Dand has created a prototype for a set of ice cubes fitted with LED lights that tell overly eager drinkers when to stop sipping, by flashing an alarming red. Drinkers who ignore the cubes’ warnings will trigger the cubes’ plan B: a warning text message to a friend that their friend might be getting sloppy.

Dand was inspired to come up with the design after a particularly bleak night of drinking. “Party at MIT. The music was pumping. I was having a good time,” reads the text on the ice cubes’ demonstration video. Unfurling atop a dark, blurry background, the words create the context for a somewhat nerdy horror story: It’s clear the tale won’t end well. “11:30 pm: I remember having three drinks. 7 hours later: I wake up at the hospital. I had an alcohol induced blackout.”

A few weeks later, Dhan created Cheers, the “alcohol-aware glowing ice-cubes” in response, by stuffing LEDs, an accelerometer, and other circuitry into a waterproof jelly cube. “The accelerometer motion data is used to calculate the sips. Along with the timer chip, the cubes can reliably guess how drunk you are.”

At first sip, the cubes will glow green, then orange during the second cocktail, and red during third, when drank in quick succession. The lights beat along to any ambient music, making you look extra cool in the club.

Of course, drinks vary in strength, a design oversight pointed out in the comments onVimeo. One strong drink could be just as potent as three week ones. But, regardless, drinking with training wheels probably isn’t a bad idea.

Why I’m Curious: While most people may not want to know how drunk they are, I think people will definitely be interested in the lights of other people’s drinks. As we are often seeing with the “quantified self” trend, people will no doubt be curious enough to measure one more activity or intake. Maybe this feature can be added to the Nike Fuelband!

source: www.fastcoexist.com

QR Code Makes Shopping Easier

Seven Jeans started utilizing QR codes at their store in Seattle. Seven partnered with Hointer, a technology company that creates solutions men who don’t like shopping, to attempt to make shopping pain-free for men.

From Springwise,

Customers walking into the store are greeted by a floor that contains only one pair of each model of jeans available. The jeans are tagged with a QR code that – when scanned using the store’s bespoke app – delivers a pair in the chosen size to a fitting room in the store and alerts the customer which room to go to. Once the jeans have been tried, customers can either send the jeans back into the system or swipe their card using a machine in each fitting room to make a purchase.

Why I’m Curious

QR codes just won’t go away. At times they are used for mundane things, but then something like this example, that solve a problem and enhances an experience is useful for consumers. But I’m curious as to whether they really are just here to stay, and we need to think of innovative and cool ways to use them, or the perception is already established and we need to move onto the next thing.

A Lightbulb for Touch

A Lightbulb for Touch 

Powerful computers are becoming small and cheap enough to cram into all sorts of everyday objects. Natan Linder, a student at MIT’s Media Lab, thinks that fitting one inside a light bulb socket, together with a camera and projector, could provide a revolutionary new kind of interface—by turning any table or desk into a simple touch screen.

smart.projector.bulbx299

Linder describes LuminAR as an augmented-reality system because the images and interfaces it projects can alter the function of a surface or object. While LuminAR might seem like a far-fetched concept, many large technology companies are experimenting with new kinds of computer interfaces in hopes of discovering new markets for their products.

Linder’s system uses a camera, a projector, and software to recognize objects and project imagery onto or around them, and also to function as a scanner. It connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi. Some capabilities of the prototype, such as object recognition, rely partly on software running on a remote cloud server.

LuminAR could be used to create an additional display on a surface, perhaps to show information related to a task in hand. It can also be used to snap a photo of an object, or of printed documents such as a magazine. A user can then e-mail that photo to a contact by interacting with LuminAR’s projected interface.

Why I’m curious: As many brands are creating new products for consumers to interact with, I am interested in seeing the innovations with products and surfaces already at our fingertips. Additionally, adding hands-on interactivity to any surface in a home or office could expand the way computers are used today.

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com

New Facial Recognition Software Brings Big Data to Any Retailer

– Jordan

From Engadget:

NEC has launched a $880 per month service in Japan that lets merchants profile customers using just a PC and video camera. The system uses facial recognition powered by the company’s cloud computing service to estimate the gender and age of clients, along with the frequency of their shopping expeditions across multiple locations. The firm developed the “NeoFace” tracking software in-house, claiming it was the highest ranked facial recognition system in NIST and that it plans to use it for other services like “intruder surveillance” in the future. NEC added that face data is encrypted so it can’t be “inadvertently disclosed,” and is strictly to help retailers fine-tune their marketing strategies.

Why I’m curious:

The big play up Google and Facebook’s sleeve is big data, they have it and other companies are attempting to snatch it up as well. It is becoming the greatest value asset one can have as the digital and physical worlds continue to collide together forming one Matrix-like world (see our post 2029: When Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact and Burberry’s digital store in London)

But before humans merge with the digital robotic community this application of face recognition can bring personalization to another level when it comes to consumer retailers. Imagine a store clerk that you have never met before knowing your name, age, gender, and what you previously have purchased at their store. With this information they could provide you and anyone else with that ultimate personalized shopping experience.

Seamless Interaction Through Gesture-Controlled Screens

The future of connected Tvs hasn’t been written yet, and Apple and Samsung are continuing to battle it out in the hardware war.

Gesture-controlled devices are often overshadowed by Microsoft Kinect and its dominance in the arena. Although another company worth taking note of is eyeSight, which is making news today for its technological involvement in the latest iteration of connected TVs, the nTobeBox – operated entirely by hand gestures.

The box turns any TV into a Smart TV, allowing you to stream online content, access apps, video calls and internet connectivity.

This set-top box runs on Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS with the help of Innodigital – the Android based solution company.

And because of eyeSight’s involvement, the set-top box is operated by gesture control, making interactions with the TV much more natural and seamless – as the video demo of eyeSight’s software suggests.  The company assures that the hand-tracking controls act as a virtual mouse and will enable complete command of the TV as if with a remote.

Why I’m Curious: I am interested to see how this will integrate or compete with the second screen fury that is engaging live television viewers with with interactive content. Additionally, I’m curious to see how this swiping behavior will continue to infuse how people physically interact with still objects and the increased expectation they will have for everything with a screen to come to life.

Source: 12Ahead

Send Data with a Chirp

Chirp.io is a new iPhone app that works like a link sharing service with musical versions of QR codes. Users upload whatever they want to share (whether it be a picture, video, or message) to Chirp’s cloud storage, which is then converted to a series of 20 musical notes. Any device that is enabled with Chirp within earshot of your phone can decode the melody and access the data being sent.

It’s a cute way to share photos, videos and documents between devices. But what makes Chirp stand out is that because it’s using sound, Chirp can reach much wider base of data transmitting devices to build from – like radios.

Why I’m Curious

I was first interested in Chirp because it seems like such a cute idea, but I’m curious as to how it can work differently from apps like Evernote that sync the same information on multiple devices. Also, by using sound to transfer data there can be great opportunities like mobile payments with sound but also big chances of problems like other noises interfering with a chirp.

 

Weather and Fashion Forecast

By Vicky

Wevther is a new website that shows the weather forecast for New York City as well as what you should wear for the day. The creator of the website found that weather sites would give people data on the temperature and if it may rain or snow, but never gave insight into what people should wear that would keep them warm or cool enough. Now, that problem is solved with Wevther. The recommended clothing of the day come from Svpply.

Why I’m Curious

I have been in situations where I would check the weather and wonder what that really meant in terms of if I should bring a cardigan along or not. With Wevther that problem is solved and it gives fashion forward recommendations for what people can wear. Though Wevther isn’t associated with any brand, I think it would be interesting if this was a brand extension instead of an individual project. Clothing brands could definitely tap into this to recommend what people should wear for the day. It would be even more convenient as a mobile app, so people could check the website for what to wear when they wake up.

Dress Shirt Adapts to Body Temp

-Kristie

No one likes the look of sweat stains, and with 2012 temperatures much higher than average, people are not only sweating on their way to work, but also freezing once in the office from the drastic changes in temperatures. Four former MIT athletes related to this cycle, and came up with a solution, the Apollo dress shirt.

From PSFK,

Using the same technology used by NASA in space suits, the Apollo dress shirt uses phase-change materials to pull moisture and heat away from the wearer’s body when it’s warm, meaning no more embarrassing sweat stains. The shirt then stores the captured heat and releases it back to the wearer when the temperature cools down- perfect for someone moving from the outdoors on a hot summer day to an overly air conditioned office.

The Future of Business Wear

Why I’m Curious

As I was sitting in the office freezing, but knowing once I hit 10th Ave, I’ll most likely be sweating (and potentially cursing), I’m interested to see if this will actually take off. There are currently over 1,000 backers and over $230k on Kickstarter, so it’s not off to a bad start.

Work out gear ranging from Nike to Gap Body to LuluLemon utilize fabrics for sweating, but it hasn’t crossed the line into the office. The technology of the shirt is innovative, but I’m unsure how retailers will respond to it.