The Future of Mobile

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.

Ford Smart Bike Knows When You're Worn Out and Takes Overford MoDe pro ebikeThis week was the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, an annual gathering of the most cutting edge solutions and products in the mobile world. You can find our coverage of the big announcements here, but the Innovation Lab is about casting an eye on some of the more niche discoveries, like Ford's new MoDe:Pro electric bike.

The eBike (or 'commercial multi-modal transport system' if you're not into the whole brevity thing) was the result of an internal design competition at Ford, and can pair with a heart rate sensor-equipped wearable, letting the bike know when you are struggling so its electric motor can kick in.

The bike, which can reach up to 15mph and has an hour and a half of continuous use battery life, is intended as a commercial fleet product for delivery firms, couriers, tradespeople and even government services. It can be folded up and placed in a dock within a van which charges the battery, and the accompanying app includes route-planning, tracking and scheduling features, as well as a voice-activated system for checking battery charge and stats.

"There are so many ways to get around a city, but what is really needed is a way to connect all of these transport options together," said Ken Washington, vice president of research and advanced engineering at Ford. "Being able to seamlessly move between cars, buses, trains and eBikes and react to changing traffic situations can make a big difference both for commuters and for those delivering goods, services and healthcare."

kinsa-smart thermometerSmart Thermometer Tracks Illnesses Around Schools

Smart thermometer firm Kinsa has launched a new feature for its iOS and Android apps that enables parents to better monitor the overall health at their child's school, giving them a better chance of treating illnesses and stopping the spread of infections.

By joining the Kinsa Group for their school, parents can share symptoms and temperature, either by using the Kinsa smart thermometer or by manually entering data into the app. The health data in anonymised and used to create a 'health report card' for the school, showing how many children are sick and what symptoms are common, enabling parents to make more informed decisions about healthcare and doctors make quicker diagnosis.

Future updates to the Groups feature will enable people to create their own custom groups, for neighbourhoods, offices or groups of friends. Kinsa's overall mission is create 'health weather' – a real-time understanding of the local health situation, enabling communities to better track, treat and stop the spread of illness.

invisibility glasses AVGAVG Reveals 'Invisibility Glasses'

Internet security firm AVG has designed a set of 'invisibility glasses', aimed at helping wearers to protect their visual identity in the digital age. Through a combination of technology and specialist materials, the glasses make it difficult for camera and other facial recognition techniques to get a clear view of the wearer's identity.

The glasses, which are still in the prototype phase, were designed by AVG Innovation Labs and combine infrared LEDs around the eyes and nose to break facial recognition technology with retro-reflective materials which send a camera's flash directly back towards the lens, which can disrupt the Dynamic Range of the camera sensor.

The glasses are aimed at those worried about the increasing use of smartphone cameras in public places, big data projects like Google's Streetview, and advancements in facial recognition tech used by private corporations to track identities across the internet.

Looking for a Unique Smartphone? This One is Round and made of Woodruncible smart watchMost of the debates in smartphone design nowadays seem to be centred around plastic vs metal, and whether to have curved edges or not. The Runcible, a smart pocket watch by design firm Monohm, avoids those questions completely with its circular design and wooden case.

The device aims to bridge the gap between smartphone, smartwatch and wearable, and is clearly meant to be a conversation piece, with ornate digital watch faces, maps that take users on more 'scenic routes' and plans for accessories like watch chains and leather cases.

The Runcible runs on Firefox OS, and includes a camera comparable to the iPhone 5's, which users will be able to zoom and focus by rotating the device in their hand. While it includes functions for calls and texts, and wifi and Bluetooth connectivity, it is not meant to replace a regular smartphone, but "create a more civilised relationship with your digital life". The covers will be swappable, with plans for various woods as well as copper, tin and brass cases.

Cinder Grill Ensures Your Steaks Are a Rare TreatCinder Sensing Cooker with AppThe Cinder Sensing Cooker promises precision-temperature cooking at home with its smart countertop kitchen grill that uses patent-pending sensing and control technology to enable home chefs to prepare food to an exact temperature and even sear their steaks from afar with an accompanying iPad app.

The Cinder comes with an enclosed cooking chamber and two non-stick aluminium cooking plates, and can reach target temperatures within seconds and carefully maintain them, sending a notification when food is done.

"In developing the Cinder Sensing Cooker, we literally drew up rocket science used in spacecraft to create a wholly down-to-earth cooking experience for people who want to combine the best parts of home cooking – the creative and sensory experience – with the best part of fine dining, which is the perfectly cooked, delicious food," said Eric Norman, CEO and co-founder of Cinder.