Innovation Lab: The Biggest Ideas in Tech This Week

Tim Maytom

At Mobile Marketing we're 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 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.

Tweet a St. Bernard to Bring you a Phone Charger at This Year's SXSWmophie st bernardIt's probably slight hyperbole to compare it to being stranded up a mountain, but running out of smartphone power when you're on the go can be a real pain. While there are many portable chargers available, Mophie have gone one step further and are using a team of St. Bernards to deliver chargers to attendees at this year's South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival.

If you are in the area of the Austin, Texas tech festival on Friday, Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you can tweet a screenshot of your dying battery to the company with the hashtag #mophierescue and the company will dispatch a dog from the St. Bernard Rescue Foundation equipped with one of its Mophie Power Reserves to charge your phone.

"We've activated at SXSW for several years and saving the batteries of attendees' mobile devices has become our reputation during the week in Austin," said Ross Howe, vice president of marketing at Mophie. "This year, we tossed in a new element and partnered with the National St. Bernard Foundation for some added assistance to our rescue efforts, while also making the adoption of these lovable dogs easy. The idea is: Mophie and the St. Bernards save the people of SXSW. The people of SXSW save the St. Bernards."

Home-made Smart Mirror Takes Android Through the Looking Glass

With the rise of connected appliances and smart homes, we're seeing technology increasingly integrated into everyday objects. However, this often involves adding screens and touchpads onto all manner of objects, which is fine if you don't mind your house looking a little like a Star Trek set, but can be disruptive if you want a more classic look around your home.

The prototype smart mirror created by engineer Nick Nothom offers an elegant solution, integrating Android Wear functionality into a mirror that otherwise blends into any room. The smart mirror responds to voice commands, and can play music, rely notifications and provide information like weather and news.

"The mirror will solve a problem that many people experience each day and night; getting information without distraction," said Nothom on his website. "Before bed, the user may want to know whether it will snow the next morning so they can plan their commute. When using a computer or mobile device, the user will often become distracted in other media. In the future, the user will glance at their wall to find that information instantly."

noke ulock smart bike lockSmart Bike Lock Deactivates When You're Nearby

Smart locks have been around for while now, but have mainly been confined to front doors. The Noke U-Lock by Fuz Labs takes the same principle and applies it the traditional bike U-lock, creating a way of securing your bicycle that doesn't need keys or a code.

Currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, the Noke integrates a Bluetooth sensor and, when activated, searches for your phone. If you're within a few feet, it instantly unlocks, allowing you to be on your way, without the need to even remove your phone from your pocket.

For the security conscious, the auto-unlock can be disabled, and instead require actually interacting with the app, and the device also incorporates an alarm that sounds if someone shakes the lock for over three seconds, and GPS tracking so you'll never forget where you locked your bike again.

rocketbook app cloudStore Your Notes in the Cloud then Erase Them With a Microwave

When in the early stages of a project, some of us prefer to write down ideas the old fashioned way, pen to paper. However, if you then elect to transfer the notes to a digital format, you're left with the time-consuming job of retyping them, and a bunch of waste paper.

Rocketbook aims to solve both of these problems with the combination of a special notebook and mobile app. The notebook features icons on each page which can be assigned to folders within Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs or even different email addresses, and the dot grid pattern and patent-pending image capture technology in the app enables users to capture pages in a matter of seconds.

What's more, when used with Pilot FriXion pens (one of which is supplied with the note book, with additional colours and replacements available), the notebook can be placed in a microwave for 30 seconds and erased once all the notes have been uploaded to the cloud, enabling owners to reuse it over and over again.

Robert Downey Jr. Presents Iron Man Fan with 3D Printed Prosthesis

Limbitless Solutions is a community of bionics and engineering experts who help give low-cost prosthetics to children in need, using 3D printing technology to dramatically reduce the cost of the devices.

It's latest creation, for seven-year-old Alex, who was born with a partially developed right arm, was a special one. The young superhero fan was presented with an Iron Man-themed arm from movie star Robert Downey Jr, who portrays the character in Marvel's film series. Downey Jr compared the arm to his own robotic suit, and judged it to be "even better" than his own after he and Alex explored what it could do.

Limbitless Solutions is connected to the Enabling The Future foundation, which provides resourceful builders with downloadable instructions enabling them to create bionic prosthetics for around $350 (£237), far cheaper than traditionally made devices.