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Innovation Lab: The Biggest Ideas in Tech This Week

Tim Maytom

If you've been to one of Dot Media's events, you'll know that our Innovation Lab hosts companies presenting cutting-edge technology that's poised to transform the market with groundbreaking ideas and solutions.

In that spirit, we've taken a step beyond the world of apps, ads and handsets with slightly bigger screens, in order to share some of the tech world's most 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.

tattoo printerFrench Students Turn 3D Printer into Computer-controlled Tattoo Machine

Students at the renowned Paris design school ENSCI Les Ateliers recently took part in a workshop organised by the French Ministry of Culture to produce mashups from video, music and other public domain media. Two of the students went beyond the original remit and produced a hack of a desktop 3D printer that enabled it to trace images taken from a bank of information onto skin.

While the machine made on the day of the workshop simply used a pen, the two students continued to work on the device, developing it to incorporate an actual tattoo stylus, practicing on artificial skin and eventually enlisting actual volunteers to be tattooed by the machine.

brain to brainResearchers Connect Two Brains for Mind-to-mind Communication

Researchers at the University of Washington from the psychology, computer science and bioengineering departments have teamed up to enable two humans to communicate and co-operate on a task in separate locations, using only signals transmitted directly from one volunteer's brain to the other.

The trials of the 'Brain-to-brain Interface' used EEG headsets to monitor brainwaves, with one participant, the 'sender', viewing a simple computer game that required them to shoot certain targets and ignore others. When they wished to fire, their brain impulse was sent through the internet to another participant, the 'receiver', who had a touchpad control for the game, but could not see the screen.

Across three pairs of participants, the receiver successfully hit the targets an average of 48 per cent of the time, compared to 0 per cent accuracy in the control tests. The participants also avoided the decoys 81 per cent of the time.

Cocoon Uses Infrasound to Detect Intruders in the Home

The Cocoon security system includes all the usual sensors one would expect to find in a smart home security device – motion detectors, microphone, HD camera with night vision – but also incorporates something unusual. The advanced microphone can also detect extremely low frequency sound, and having learned what is normal within a home (including allowing for pets), can detect intruders through closed doors and in other rooms, using noise and vibrations that would be undetectable by human ears.

The device, which includes an accompanying app, was developed by a group of serial technology entrepreneurs in the UK and is currently being funded on Indiegogo to enable large scale manufacture.

moff-col-1Moff Wearable Transforms Everyday Items into Toys

Tokyo-based company Moff hopes to encourage both kids and adults imaginations with its new wearable band that transforms everyday objects into toys. The wearable smart toy reacts to gestures to create sounds, generating everything from clanging swords to strumming guitars.

The sounds are controlled using an accompanying app for iOS. There are already over a dozen options, with more to be added over time, as well as an Android version. The device, which was originally funded using Kickstarter, is on sale in the US for $55 (£34).

Bionic Bird, the App-Controlled Drone that's a Real-Life Flappy Bird

Bionic Bird, which is currently raising money on Indiegogo, has been described by its makers as a "furtive drone", meaning it mimics the movement of actual birds, close enough that actual birds and cats are convinced. However, unlike real birds, it's constructed from elastic foam and carbon fiber.

The device is controlled using a Bluetooth 4.0 link that enables it to fly up to 100 metres from the smartphone or tablet being used to control it, and while the initial version is simply a toy, the developers have plans to release models with finer control and an integrated HD video camera with live retransmission.

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