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.

Lexus' Smart Billboards Know What You're DrivingLexus_NX_Smart_Outdoor.medAs part of its 'This is the New Lexus' campaign for the NX Crossover model, the car manufacturer has worked with creative agency M&C Saatchi to deploy smart billboards at key high traffic sites across Australia that can identify the brand, model and colour of passing vehicles to target them with personalised messages.

The campaign aims for a playful tone, with the digital display delivering messages like "Hey white Audi driver, it's time to Crossover. This is the New Lexus NX." The format also tailors messages based on factors like time of day, weather and traffic conditions.

"It's quite epic to have a 42 square metre billboard having a chat to you as you drive past," said Ben Welsh, executive creative director at M&C Saatchi. "It was an ambitious idea that Lexus really went for, brilliantly brought to life by APN Outdoor and TMS."

irish passport app and cardIreland Introducing Selfies on Passports

The Irish government is set to introduce an app that will enable citizens to take a selfie for an official passport-style ID card that will enable travel throughout Europe without the need for a full passport.

The app will enable users to enter personal details and take the photo for the ID card, and if it meets the necessary requirements (meaning no duck face or crazy accessories), the user will receive the official identification, which will be valid for five years.

The app will be launched in July of this year, and purchasing a card will cost 35 (£26). Like the driver's licence app planned for use in Iowa, it represents governments becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of integrating mobile into official documents.

Forcite Alpine Smart Helmet Integrates Action Camera and Much More

As action cameras like the GoPro and Contour become increasingly popular, the question of the best way to mount them when taking part in extreme sports becomes more and more important. Australian startup Forcite have avoided this conundrum by placing the camera directly into its Alpine Smart Helmet.

As well as the 1080p camera which shoots at 120fps, the helmet will include GPS tracking, motion and impact sensors, wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, microphone and integrated speakers, and a lithium polymer battery to give the whole set up a six to eight hour life.

An accompanying app will enable wearers to review their footage, check their GPS tags and more. The helmet is set for release in winter 2015, just in time for all the snowboarders, skiers and snowmobiliers looking to record their thrills and spills.

armill wearableChristophe & Co Build Luxury Self-Charging Smart Bracelet

If you've got £100,000 burning a hole in your pocket and hate the idea of having to charge your wearable devices, the Armill smart bracelet by Christophe & Co is the perfect piece of tech for you.

Produced in collaboration with Italian design firm Pininfarina, best known for customising Ferraris, the Armill has a lightweight carbon fibre core accented with 18k gold, precious gems and custom engraving that every client can personalise to their own taste.

The device uses a similar mechanism to self-winding analogue watches, taking advantage of the movements of the wearing to power the battery. According to Christophe & Co, the Armill will keep running with a power reserve of at least a year.

Part of that is due to the lack of touchscreen, GPS, vibration or most other features associated with wearables. The Armill is intended to pair with a smartphone and act as a tool for wireless contactless payments and electronic ID, but those of you wavering on whether or not to splash out will be happy to know it also features a button which you can use to send alerts to your personal assistant's phone, letting them know you require their presence.

Novalia Create Printed Decks for DJ QBert's Album Cover

Printed tech experts Novalia have collaborated with DJ QBert to create the world's first interactive DJ decks in an album cover, utilising Bluetooth MIDI decks and controls that connect to an iOS app to enable users to play, mix and more.

The cover includes two decks, a cross fader and a selection of sound effects buttons, incorporated into artwork by Morning Breath and printed onto a paper-thin electronic interface.

"We believe the future will look more like the past than the present, where beautiful old school things we love and are nostalgic about will not die as many have said," said Dr Kate Stone, creative scientist at Novalia. "We hope to breathe life into things like books and album covers, keeping the creativity in physical products alive."