The Future of Mobile

Innovation Lab: Expanding Clothes, AR Teeth and Space Cling Film

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 newest ideas. They might be interesting, disruptive or just outright strange, but these are the stories that have caught our eye over the past week.

Clothes That Grow with Your Child Win National Innovation Award

A project by an engineer to design garments that could expand to keep up with a child’s rapid growth has won the UK edition of the James Dyson Award for Innovation. Petit Pli, created by Royal College of Art graduate Ryan Mario Yasin, was made as part of a masters programme in Innovation Design Engineering.

Children often grow seven sizes within their first two years, and the average parent will spend over £2,000 on clothing before their child turns three as a result of the need for new garments. The clothing range designed by Yasin employs a type of material that becomes thicker perpendicular to the force applied to it when stretched, enabling it to grow without becoming thinner. The phenomenon, known as the Negative Poisson’s ratio or auxetics, is also used in aeronautical engineering and biomedical implants.

Yasin’s designs aim to address the waste generated by the fashion industry, as well as helping parents save money. The materials are fully recyclable, and are also coated with a hydrophobic treatment, making them waterproof. Yasin will receive £2,000 for being one of the designs to win the UK Dyson prize, and will go on to compete for the international award, where £30,000 is up for grabs.

“It’s an honour to have won the UK James Dyson Award, it’s just great to have that backing and recognition of my solution,” said Ryan. “In addition to supporting my R&D, it will help me form an interdisciplinary team of experts to take Petit Pli to the next level: putting it in the hands of parents worldwide, and making a tangible difference to the way we consumer resources in the fashion industry.”

Smart Mat Detects Warning Signs of Diabetic Foot Ulcers
Infected foot ulcers in patients with diabetes can result in serious health problems, up to and including amputation of the foot. Now, a hackathon at MIT has resulted in a smart mat that can detect the minute spikes in temperature around the foot which precede the formation of ulcers, resulting in early diagnosis and more effective treatment.

The mat was created by Jon Bloom, who was inspired to make the mat by time spent completing his residency in anaesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in the mid-2000s, when he helped oversee a large number of amputations on patients that could have been prevented by earlier diagnosis. The smart mat only needs users to stand on it for around 20 seconds every day to detect potential ulcers.

The mat is already in more than 500 homes, and in recent research published by Bloom’s startup, Podimetrics, the firm was able to demonstrate that the mat detected 97 per cent of incipient ulcers around five weeks before they were diagnosed at the doctor’s office. When detected, the mat sends an alert to the user’s doctor, who can advise treatment.

“[Foot ulcers] are so costly and have high mortality rates, yet all innovation has been on the treatment side,” said Bloom. “We wanted to prevent them from occurring.” Bloom called the five week head-start on diagnosis “an enormous hump in time, where patients and physicians can put a plan in place with the goal of preventing the foot ulcer from occurring.”

‘Virtual mirror’ Provides Dental Patients with AR Preview

Patients will soon be able to see how their dental surgeries and reconstructive work will look ahead of time, thanks to new augmented reality technology from a Swiss startup called Kapuna. The company, which span out of Swiss technical university ETH Zurich, has worked with Disney Research to create the AR app which helps to give patients insights into how they might look.

The technology works by matching 3D scans of people’s mouth cavities, which are already taken by many dentists before operations, to existing sets of good teeth. The software can lock onto the existing teeth and overlay them with repaired versions, which users can then tweak, managing how close together they are, adjusting tooth shape and more, all in real time.

The software isn’t yet ready for consumers, but the company has focused on dentists and other dental health professionals instead, and has seen great success among this audience. “Within the space of just 18 months, we have managed to become the leading provider of augmented reality in the dental industry,” said CEO Roland Mörzinger.

NASA Awards ‘Space Cling Film’ Innovation Prize
A spacecraft design that resembles a large sheet of cling film designed to wrap around debris and lower it into the atmosphere, where it will burn up and be destroyed, has been awarded the 2017 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Phase II award. The solution aims to address the problem of ‘space junk’ made up of spent rocket stages and defunct satellites, which pose an increasing threat to active spacecraft as time goes on.

The concept design, known as the Brane Craft, is a flat 3-foot by 3-foot spacecraft that is less than half the thickness of a human hair. Exceptionally light, manoeuvrable and fuel-efficient, the concept uses an experimental ionic liquid thruster system to give it a very high thrust-to-weight ratio as well as enabling it to travel long distances. Beyond space debris removal, the craft could also be used to retrieve mineral samples or explore.

“Brane Craft prospectors could land on any near-Earth asteroid, Phobos, Deimos, a wide variety of main belt asteroids, or orbit Mars or Venus, and return,” said Dr. Siegfried Janson, the Brane Craft’s designer. “Brane Craft could access just about any obit within cis-lunar space (between Earth and the moon) several times, with propellant to spare.”

Connected Clock Lets You Track Your Family’s Location

In the Harry Potter books, the Weasley family keeps track of its various children using a grandfather clock that, instead of showing the time, shows each individual’s location. Well, good news muggles, we’ve got our own version, thanks to the Eta Clock, a new creation from a husband-and-wife team of MIT-trained engineers.

The Eta Clock features a series of icons that are associated with locations or behaviours, ranging from being at set family, friend or work addresses, to being at a major hospital or airport, or even travelling at any speed faster than 3mph. The clock’s hands are then assigned to family members, each of whom has the accompanying app on their phone. Locations are automatically updated, without any need to check in from the user.

The clock, which is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, was designed to combine a modern desire for information with respect for traditional analogue design and a certain level of privacy. The modular device, which comes in oak or walnut, is meant to serve as a home hub for information, and was designed with human-centric engineering principles that make it easier to understand at a glance than many app-style solutions.