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.
Adidas Makes Rubbish Trainers for Climate Change
Sportswear brand Adidas has showcased a prototype trainer design made entirely from yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste at a UN event focused on climate change.
The shoe is the result of a partnership between Adidas and Parley for the Oceans, an organisation aimed at raising awareness of climate change and environmental damage being done to the world's seas.
The event, hosted by Parley Talks, included environmentalists, creatives, scientists and entrepreneurs, brought together to be given a briefing on the dire state of the oceans and examine some of the innovative solutions being proposed to combat this.
The concept shoe is meant to illustrate Adidas' commitment to the project, but will also serve as a first-look at the kind of consumer-ready ocean plastic products the brand has planned for later this year.
'Smart Harness' Teaches Old Dogs New Tricks
Researchers at North Carolina State University have been looking into the potential for computer-mediated communication with animals, through the use of wearable smart harnesses for rescue dogs, assistance dogs and even family pets.
The harnesses can enable instructors to give commands to working dogs at much greater distances, and integrate haptic elements like vibration to reinforce instructions. In addition, the harnesses enable instructors to monitor a dog's health and environment, even when they are out of sight, using video, audio, accelerometers and more.
"We're using this technology to ask some very fundamental questions about the nature of the way that animals can perceive computer-mediated communications and the way they can interact with computers in order to send digital signals across wireless communication links to handlers," said Dr David Roberts, assistant professor of computer science at North Carolina State University.
The hope is that not only can the harnesses aid training in dogs, but they can also help humans better understand what dogs are experiencing while at work and when at home.
Transmit Your Wi-fi Through Your Light Bulbs
Currently, wi-fi routers tend to use radio waves to transmit data to your various devices, and most of the time this works fine. However, many people struggle to get reliable signal in various parts of their house without the use of a booster. A team at the University of Virginia thinks it has a solution: transmit it through your light bulbs.
The Optical Multiuser/Multichannel Communications Lab at the university's School of Engineer & Applied Science is looking into the practicality of using light waves from LEDs to send signals to devices that would not only be faster, but also more energy efficient.
The solution wouldn't replace wi-fi, but would augment it and offer a variety of access points to a network as LED lights could be positioned around a home or workplace, ensuring even coverage. The plan could also impact Internet of Things products, with any LED-equipped item able to communicate with the network and other similar objects.
Smartwatch Strap Clip-on Unlocks Motion Controls
The Aria is a tiny piece of technology that clips onto the watchstrap of a smart watch, but it has the potential to radically transform the market by enabling intuitive gesture controls for not just watches, but phones, cameras and even the smart home.
The device, created by Deus Ex Technology, is available as a clip for Android Wear which connects via Bluetooth, or as a custom strap for Pebble Time watches, which connects directly with the device. Once calibrated, users can control the device with just a few simple actions.
While the primary use is as a smartwatch control, the fact that most smartwatches connect to phones means that the Aria can also control smartphones, devices like GoPro cameras and even IoT devices around the home. Deus Ex are also releasing an API for the device, enabling programmers to create their own applications for the technology.
Bluetooth Reaches the Final Frontier with Star Trek Communicator
As useful as Bluetooth headsets might be, there's something slightly nerdy about the sight of someone talking into a tiny little earpiece. Well, if you're going to be nerdy, you might as well go all the way, and get yourself a Star Trek communicator that does the same thing.
Based on structured-light 3D scans of the original series props, the functional prop even makes all the blips and boops that it did on the show, in addition to enabling you to pick up calls from your smartphone while you're out with the away team.
The device was created by The Wand Company, which has a knack for integrating technology into props – you can also by universal remotes which look like Star Trek phasers or Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver from the company.