Innovation Lab: Drone Racing, Quantum Gaming and Virtual Westeros

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.

EE Goes Drone Racing Over Wembley Stadium

London's iconic Wembley Stadium saw a sporting event of a different kind earlier this week, as EE and Qualcomm Technologies teamed up to host a Freestyle Drone Racing event that was live-streamed over EE's network.

A bespoke freestyle course was constructed by the European Rotor Sports Association and included slaloms through the players' tunnel, bank turns around corner flags and barrel rolls above the royal box. Competitors used Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight-powered drones with onboard cameras that streamed footage to multiple screens around the stadium and online.

"This superfast new sport is the perfect test for our superfast 4G network and Wembley Stadium provided the perfect racetrack, as well as putting these amazing drone pilots on the world's biggest stage," said Spencer McHugh, brand director for EE. "Being able to stream the breath-taking action live over 4G to screens online and around this great stadium takes the sport of drone racing to another level."

First person view drone racing involves live video being streamed directly to the pilot's headset, enabling them to make split-second manoeuvres at speeds of over 90 mph. The EE event was one of the first times that this thrilling perspective was also made available to spectators through the company's 4GEE Action Cams.

Help Solve Quantum Physics with Video Games

Quantum physics is one of the most complicated and controversial areas of science, with even top researchers disagreeing over how subatomic particles interact with each other, and how they affect the larger universe. While progress is being made all the time, one group of scientists has found a unique way for the public to help out.

Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark are using a game called Quantum Moves, where players are challenged to move liquids around in specific ways, to develop new techniques for moving atoms and approaching specific quantum physics problems.

The gameplay for Quantum Moves is modeled on the way actual scientific equipment called 'optical tweezers' operate, so researchers can study the way top scorers interact with the game and copy the techniques they use to improve their experiments.

"We show that human players are able to find solutions to difficult problems associated with the task of quantum computing," wrote the research team in a paper on the study. "Players succeed where purely numerical optimisation fails, and analyses of their solutions provide insights into the problem of optimisation of a more profound and general nature."

smart fabric spiralSmart Textiles Will Improve Your Phone Signal
Researchers at Ohio State University working on wearable electronics have had a breakthrough, developing a technique that enables them to embroider circuits into fabric with 0.1mm precision, the perfect size to integrate electronic components such as sensors and chips into clothing in natural ways.

Thanks to this advance, the team is aiming to take the next step toward functional textiles that can gather, store and transmit digital infomation. One prototype is a spiral-shaped pattern that can act as antennas to improve the signal for your smartphone or tablet, but the researchers also have ambitious plans for fabrics that can monitor health, fitness and even brain activity.

"A revolution is happening in the textile industry," said John Volakis, director of the ElectroScience Laboratory at Ohio State. "We believe that functional textiles are an enabling technology for communications and sensing – and one day even medical applications like imaging and health monitoring."

360-degree Game of Thrones Map Gives You Dragons-eye View

US cable channel HBO has teamed up with Facebook, Oculus Rift and visual effects firm Elastic to promote the premiere of the new season of fantasy series Game of Thrones by giving fans an opportunity to explore the show's iconic opening titles in 360-degree vision.

Elastic, who created the original opening titles, created a version that takes users over iconic show locations such as King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall and Braavos, all rendered in the distinctive clockwork-style graphics of the title sequence.

The video is viewable within Facebook's iOS and Android apps, as well as on mobile browsers, but perhaps the best way to view it is within the Oculus Rift VR headset, yet another example of Facebook encouraging interest in the technology it acquired for $2bn (£1.4bn) back in March 2014.

nanobotCloud of Nanobots Could Clean Lead out of Oceans
Due to years of industrial runoff and dumped electronics, heavy metal pollution in our oceans is a serious threat to the environment and to our health, with metals like lead, mercury and cadmium causing damage to marine life's DNA and passed on to humans through the food chain.

There hasn't been an easy answer to this problem in the past, but scientists working at various universities in Spain and Germany have teamed up for one hopeful solution, that will use nanobots smaller than a strand of hair to absorb lead out of the water.

While the graphene oxide exterior removes lead from the water, a platinum coating works as an engine, reacting with hydrogen peroxide to propel the nanobots forward. Meanwhile, scientists use magnetic fields and the bots' nickel core to direct their movement. According to the researchers, the nanobots can clear water of 95 per cent of lead within an hour, which can then be recycled, and the bots put to work again.