Google’s AI Bot Wins Again!

Proving that it’s no fluke, Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo won its second game of Go yesterday by beating the #2 human Go champion in the world. Go is described as the world’s most complicated game and it was thought that humans would still prevail when matched against AlphaGo.

As reported in cnet.com, world champion Lee Sedol said, “Yesterday I was surprised (at losing) but today it’s more than that, I am quite speechless.” Two wins in a row was virtually unthinkable. The match is being held in South Korea as part of the Google DeepMinds Challenge. Millions of people around the world are watching as part of a live stream of this five-game competition.

“To put it in context, it’s a game for people who think chess is too easy. The victory has also come as a surprise to everyone, as it wasn’t thought that artificial intelligence, the science of computers that more closely mimic human smarts, was ready to take on humans at Go just yet. It’s a sign that AlphaGo is smarter than we thought.”

Why It’s Hot

AI was not thought to have advanced to the level of winning Go, the world’s most complex game. But it’s now done so twice. Time to worry about AI vs the human brain? According to Mark Zuckerberg, we have nothing to fear. As mentioned in the cnet.com article, he pointed out that we’re “nowhere near understanding how intelligence actually works,” never mind replicating and beating it.

Human-like robots edge closer to reality

If you’ve lived in fear of a futuristic robot rebellion, the newest creation from Google-owned Boston Dynamics won’t do much to ease your fears. The Atlas humanoid robot is probably the most lifelike, agile and resilient robot built to date.  As the video shows, it can walk on snow and keep its balance, open doors, stack 10-pound boxes on shelves and even pick itself up from the floor after being knocked down. And that’s where things get a little frightening.

Even though this is only a demonstration, Atlas’ handler abuses it by knocking boxes out of its hands and then shoving it in the back with a stick so it falls on the floor. But much like a ninja fighter, it springs back up and keeps on going. If you hearken back to Robo-cop, all this robot needs is a weapon to turn the tables on its human tormentor.

Why It’s Hot

Robots such as Atlas will some day be doing much of the back-breaking labor humans now do — picking crops, construction, fire fighting. But as the author of the cnet.com article where this appeared says, “Elon Musk once warned that Skynet (the evil artificial intelligence from the Terminator movies) could only be a few years off, and Google is increasingly looking like Skynet.” So while Atlas may act pretty cool and have good applications, it does have its ominous side.

Virtual Reality to help stroke victims

2016 could become the year that virtual reality lets you do more than just see incredible images and play games. A Swedish research company, MindMaze, has received a $100 million investment to use virtual reality in the treatment of stroke victims. Use of VR goggles for such treatments has already won regulatory approval in Europe

As an example of Mind Maze’s potential, imagine that a stroke victim has lost use of her left hand but can use her right hand. With the Mind Maze goggles, she sees an avatar of her left hand that moves when she moves her right hand. “That triggers areas in the brain to say, ‘Wait, let’s regain control of the hand,’ says CEO Tej Tadi. And that process of tricking the brain into seeing something that’s actually not there in the real world accelerates recovery.”

Why It’s Hot

VR technology is in its infancy and has enormous potential to impact all types of fields, including,medicine, undersea exploration, and product testing. We are barely scratching the surface and VR will be as ingrained into society as smartphones are today. It has the potential to greatly reduce product development costs and time, and as this article shows, advance human health through the treatment of illnesses and conditions that were not treatable before.

Tesla cars get even more driverless…and more scary

The somewhat scary world of self-driving cars moved closer to reality this month with Tesla’s introduction of several new features of its self-driving technology: smarter auto-steering that can navigate even when road lines are faded, and Summon, which allows drivers to summon their Tesla within 39 feet or as Tesla CEO Elan Musk predicts, coast-to-coast within two years.

Through software upgrades, the Tesla Model S electric car can change lanes at the flick of a turn signal, as well as navigate more easily in stop and go traffic.  It can also back out of a garage without anyone inside and open/close the garage door while doing it.

Why It’s Hot

Imagine getting yourself ready for work in the morning and then summoning your car once you are ready to leave.  You get to work, park far away, but summon your car when you are ready to leave. That’s the future and Tesla is making it happen probably quicker than most imagined.  Along with true driverless features and self-park, can the day be far away when you send your car to pick up prescriptions, get groceries or bring friends/relatives to your house (or elsewhere) for get togethers, parties, dinners, or anything that requires getting from one destination to another, even without a driver?

Follow-you drone rakes in $34M in pre-orders

Lily, a self-driving drone that is actually a flying camera, has pulled in a sky-high number of pre-orders worth $34 million by the end of 2015.That’s about 60,000 units.

The flying camera can fly about 50 feet up, is waterproof and comes equipped with a 1080 HD camera. It can either follow you, take leading shots in front, or output HD-quality slow motion.Lily uses tracking device technology to follow you and take the perfect shot.

 

Why It’s Hot

While perhaps easily dismissed as the most extreme selfie, Lily is much more. Its video capability allows us to record incredible imagery not only of ourselves, but anything that can be tracked, tagged or documented. Imagine the learnings for environmentalists seeking to protect endangered animals by better understanding their habitats.Or following soldiers into battle to keep them safe.Judging by the interest Lily has already generated, the applications for drones seem almost as boundless as the images it can record.

No boundaries for 3D printing

If you thought 3D printing was only for small toys, plastic parts and foods, the possibilities of what can be actually created were on display when NASA recently tested a rocket engine that produced flames and an amazing 20,000 pounds of thrust.

Built with nearly 75% of 3D printed materials, the engine “burned fuel at temperatures above 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the fuel pumps supplying liquid hydrogen were as cold as -400 degrees Fahrenheit,” as reported in gizomodo.com. “With the pump running at 90,000 revolutions per minute, the engine generated over 20,000 pounds of thrust. One of the runs even lasted a full ten seconds.”

Why It’s Hot

It seems that 3D printing holds the possibilities for printing anything.  It could render traditional manufacturing obsolete. Picture whole factory floors of giant 3D printers producing cars, walls for building a house, even airplane parts. We’ve already seen how 3D printers are used for creating artificial skin and other biomedical uses.  With the capabilities of 3D printing accelerating, the efficiencies of manufacturing almost anything will have profound impacts on economies, employment and discoveries of new products. Hold onto your 3D printed seat belts. We’re about to have another manufacturing revolution.

Create secure passwords easily

With password security high on the minds of everyone, the challenge is to generate secure passwords for all the sites you visit. Many people esort to a single formula for all their passwords, but cracking the code on one password means cracking the code on all.  Or we take the easy way out and generate simple passwords like “password.”

Now a company has invented Qwertycard, a wallet-sized plastic card that lets you generate passwords through random codes assigned to each letter of the alphabet. The card itself displays a keyboard, and every card has a unique set of alphanumeric codes, along with a unique password. No two cards are alike, and users add on their own unique password to the coding to ensure the passwords remain secure. That means even if the card is stolen, the addition of the user’s own password keeps the code secret.

Why It’s Hot

This low-tech solution to creating an unlimited number of secure passwords makes it easy to keep your data secure without having to remember hundreds of passwords.  Just refer to the card to re-create the passwords. And if you lose the card, each comes with a copy you can keep in a safe place. It’s simple, doesn’t require a battery, and makes it harder for hackers to get past your password protection, all for $4.95.

Tattoos to monitor your health

 

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Imagine wearing a tattoo that can monitor your health and transmit data to a smartphone app for diagnosis. Using the skin as an interface, the temporary tattoos would monitor temperature and other vitals and provide that information to your doctor. Developed by mobile development company Chaotic Moon, the tattoos, or Tech Tats, consist of electroconductive paint and miniature circuitry. Rather than coming in for a doctor visit, the tattoos would monitor your vitals and transmit the information to a doctor, who can then contact you for consultation.

According to Eric Schneider, creative technologist, the tattoos can also be used for storing ID and credit card information, along with monitoring children in a playground or even tracking soldiers’ vital signs on the battlefield.

Why It’s Hot

In the latest evolution of biowearables, Tech Tats offers a technology that can have significant impact on healthcare costs by cutting doctor visits and perhaps unnecessary health procedures. Plus the technology has application far beyond health–finance, the military, even how parents monitor their kids.Tattoos have become very common and there should be an easy entry into the use of this product, provided the technology delivers as advertised.

Buy your car from a vending machine

Imagine putting a coin into a 5-story tall vending machine and having it dispense the car of your choice.  That became reality this week when Carvana unveiled a giant car vending machine in Nashville, TN.

The vending machine glass tower can hold up to 20 cars at a time.  And while it’s not quite a simple as walking up and choosing a car, it’s close.  Buyers first select and purchase the car on the Carvana site.  They then go to the vending machine and search for their name in a kiosk.  To complete the transaction, they insert a special coin to start the process and watch as their car is delivered to them.

Why it’s hot

Cars in a giant vending machine creates a fun experience for the buyer and takes some of the stress out of the process.  And while the process is not much different than researching a car online and then making the purchase, the pickup experience is much more satisfying and memorable.  It’s a clever way to create a big impression with a new car and leverages the basic human instinct of inserting a coin in a machine and watching what magic happens.

Car manuals made simple through AR

Perhaps the only thing more confusing than the buttons, displays and lights on a new car is its manual — that 100+ page booklet of details, photos, and instructions that are enough to make you dizzy and vow never to read it, unless you need to know what that strange glow on your rearview mirror is.

Here comes Hyundai to the rescue. In the first of its kind, the car manufacturer is introducing virtual manuals that rely on augmented reality to explain your car. AR is first being introduced on the 2015 Hyundai Sonata, but will soon be compatible for other models.

Using a smartphone or tablet, car owners will be able to recognize “more than 45 major features of the Sonata and contains 82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images that appear once users scan different areas of their vehicle, and more than 50 informational guides,” according to the post in psfk.com. Users position their device over the part they want to learn about and AR will provide information about warning lights, Bluetooth phone pairing, brakes, fuse box, etc.

Owner’s Manuals Should Come In Augmented Reality Form—According to Hyundai

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Why it’s hot

As cars become more complicated, augmented reality can take the mystery out of key features of your car and educate the owner on conditions, DIY repairs and an overall understanding of how their car works.  Eventually, AR technology will be used in other electronics manuals, such as household appliances and electrical devices, helping to make wordy, poorly written manuals a thing of the past.

Internet-beaming balloons to launch over Indonesia

In an ambitious project to bring Internet service to million of Indonesians, Google will soon launch balloons that will beam high-speed signals from 60,000 feet up. The service could connect 100 million people from clusters of balloons that effectively serve as cell towers in the sky. Although Indonesia has 319 million smartphones, most don’t connect to the Internet because of costly data plans or live in remote areas that can’t be served by Internet service.

Project Loon, as its called, has been launched over the past two years in Australia, New Zealand and remote areas in California and Brazil. According to the AP article, the service will provide not only services and entertainment offered online, it could also “enrich Google by expanding the potential audience that can query its search engine, watch video on YouTube, correspond through Gmail and click on digital ads.”

Why It’s Hot

Project Loon represents a true expansion of Internet service to remote areas or people who cannot afford high-priced data plans. It will bring technology and access to data, entertainment and other communications to people who cannot otherwise have this experience. And with that can come economic growth, a higher standard of living and job opportunities to thousands of people around the world.

Baseball becomes Databall with new stat system

For those watching the baseball playoffs this season, they will see stats, stats and more stats.  Stats on how high and far balls are hit, ball velocity leaving the bat, speed of the ball hit to a player, speed of a player reacting to a ball coming at him, hang time of a thrown ball, reaction time of outfielders, run time of a base stealer and more.

According to an article in Yahoo:Tech, the system Statcast takes idea of data “and runs with it, so to speak. By way of high-resolution optical cameras and radar equipment installed in each ballpark, Statcast tracks the location and movement of the ball and of each player on the field — on every play — with startling precision.” It’s the same system that has been showing us the strike zone superimposed over the catcher and where a pitched ball is caught by the catcher.

The impact of Statcast is an astonishing amount of information available for managers and for the viewers. And probably no limit on the stats we’ll begin seeing for football, basketball, hockey and other sports.  How soon will we see tortured stats for high school Friday night football, little league and basketball pickup games?

Why It’s Hot

Although Statcast will be like catnip to baseball fans, it’s another example of the amount of data we’re exposed to. And it’s not always relevant. Do we care how fast a runner steals second base, or are we just getting all this data because we can?  How long will it be before activities in our lives will be measured with this excruciating detail, perhaps robbing us of the pleasure of just enjoying something without measurement, judgment or comparison? When is data too much?

Ad blocker pulled citing harmful impacts to publishers

The most popular ad blocker app has been pulled by its developer citing concerns it would hurt Web businesses and publishers. Marco Arment, a Tumblr co-founder and developer of the “Peace” app, said he didn’t feel it was his responsibility to determine what content should be blocked. “Adblockers come with an important asterisk: while they do benefit a ton of people in major ways, they also hurt some, including many who don’t deserve the hit,” Arment wrote (as reported by the NY Times, 9/19/15).

The app was released September 16, 2015, once the new version of the iPhone’s operating system became available. Arment claimed the $2.99 Peace app was the best-selling app over two days. And according to Apptopia Inc, a Boston-based company that tracks app store downloads and revenue, the Peace app generated $113,521 in gross proceeds in the 36 hours it was live.

According to the NY Times, ad-blocking tools are designed to help Web pages load much faster by stripping out so-called scripts and trackers that are used to serve the ads. However, many feel these tools hurt publishers, particularly smaller ones, by forcing them to develop dedicated iPhone apps, rather than relying on mobile-friendly websites.

Why It’s Hot

Studies reported by e-Marketer and others have consistently shown that people do not like mobile ads, which slow page loading times and interfere with customer experience. But Arment has advocated on the side of publishers in seeing the benefit of such ad blockers. Despite the end of Peace, blockers will continue to be popular and will put further pressure on publishers to create ad-related user experiences that complement page viewing rather than hinder it.

Flash banners banned from Google Chrome

Google has instituted a new policy of preventing Adobe flash banners from auto-loading, auto playing and inducing the wheel of death that’s notorious on so many of the sites we innocently visit.  Now when you want to view an Adobe flash banner through Chrome, you’ll need to click on it.

The decision is hardly a novel one. Mozilla just instituted a similar policy on its browser and Amazon will no longer allow flash ads on its ad network. And according to an article on Yahoo:Tech, “People have been increasingly turning to browser add-ons that block advertising (and the creepy tracking and security vulnerabilities that come along with many of the ads). By preventing people from seeing ads, blocking software will cut off $22 billion in advertising revenue this year, up 41% from last year, according to a recent estimate from PageFair and Adobe.”

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Why It’s Hot

This move could have a big impact on advertisers, who will be forced to reconsider their ad strategies. Reduced load times and fewer invasive practices (such as auto loading) may be a few such outcomes, but for the consumer, the browsing experience should get better as they don’t have to suffer through ads they have no interest in.

Man caught sunbathing atop of wind turbine

You know privacy is taking a back seat to technology when you can’t sunbathe on top of a wind turbine without being discovered. Kevin Miller, vacationing in Rhode Island, was taking his drone for a spin in the countryside when he maneuvered it to the top of a 200-foot tall wind turbine. Hoping to capture some cool sights of the turbine against the blue sky, the drone instead spied upon a man sunning himself. The man took it all in good stride, sitting up and waving to the drone.

Why It’s Hot

Privacy is becoming a quaint notion, going the way of bygone eras like the horse and buggy, handwritten notes and family dinner time.  Soon there will be nowhere to hide, with drones everywhere, street cameras watching every move, and smartphones tracking our every movement.  Creepy perhaps, but it seems like it’s becoming more accepted in society.  Now you can’t even sunbathe on a wind turbine.

Dongle could be a car hacker’s delight

It was recently reported that a grand Cherokee that was hacked at 70 mph through its entertainment system. Now, researchers at the University of California at San Diego took control of a Chevrolet Corvette through a dongle inserted into an onboard port.The dongle, increasingly common for allowing consumers to monitor and diagnose their own cars, allowed them access when they sent SMS instructions to a specific phone number. By exploiting unsecured security keys stored on the device, they were able to engage the car’s brakes and even disable the brakes at low speeds.

Although the researchers took control of a Corvette, they claim they could hack any car that had a unsecured telematic’s dongle. In this instance, the specific device hacked was from a French manufacturer Mobile Devices and distributed by insurance company Metromile, which distributes the dongles as part of its pay-per-mile insurance program.

OBD-II dongles, stacked

Why It’s Hot

It’s become apparent that just about any vehicle can be hacked remotely, creating dangerous situations for passengers and pedestrians. Just as frightening is the thought this could become another exploited technology weakness by terrorists. Finally, this has to be given careful thought by our Verizon client as they get set to launch their own diagnostic tool fitted into a car’s onboard port. This sort of bad news can quickly dampen a launch and will need to be addressed as nervous consumers hesitate to adopt such products.

Swipe right for bacon

Not only can you swipe right or left on your smartphone for a date, now you can swipe for food. In a new app called Tender, users swipe to indicate whether they like a particular recipe.  Swipe right to indicate yes and the recipe gets saved to your file, which can then be accessed by a menu which allows you to filter your search. Swipe left and it disappears.

Modeled after Tinder, the photos show delicious food and inspire users to save them or not. “Food is about more than just calories, it is art,” claims Tender, as reported on psfk.com. This is what inspired the team behind Tender to create an app that will make it very easy for users to find the most beautiful and mouth-watering culinary creations on the internet.”

The app is simple to use. Only available through the Google Play Store or The App Store, you can sign in or log in via Facebook. Then let your culinary fancy take over and start saving beautiful recipes like Bacon Jam or Citrus Pulled Pork Tacos.

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Why It’s Hot

Marrying food and a swipe left/right interface made popular by Tinder means this app is incredibly simple to use and appeals to one of our basic instincts — food.  Look for the swipe application to become even more popular due to its simplicity and ease.  And put food in any equation and you’ve got instant success.

Google Maps shows you where you’ve been

Who knows all the places where you’ve been?  Besides your wife, husband or significant other?  It’s Google, who some will argue has way too much data on people.  If you’ve been a user of Google Maps or Google Now, the search giant announced a new feature this week called Google TImeline that shows you everywhere you’e been, by time and date.he feature is being rolled out on the web and Android operating system first.

According to a post in cnet.com, “The feature is also a reminder of how much data Google collects on its users. The company, which makes the bulk of its money on advertising, lives on knowing personal information about the people who use its services — like where they’ve been or what they’ve searched for online. Privacy advocates have criticized the company for already knowing too much about its users.”

The timeline can be edited to delete specific information, including location data or the entire timelines.

Why It’s Hot

Google Timeline can be used to retrace where you’ve been or recall specific locations, like great restaurants you’ve eaten at.  But it is also a vivid demonstration of the amount of data that Google collects on individuals, which some have called creepy at best and an intrusion on privacy at worst. Still, with the right safeguards, this can become a very popular product.

Kids build their own hand out of Lego-compatible prosthetic arm

A prosthetic arm built from Legos?  Why not, according to Carlos Arturo Torres, formerly of the Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden and now living in Chicago.  Carlos has created a prosthetic arm for children that acts like a platform for Lego creative projects from Mindstorm.

Explained Torres, quoted in an article that appeared on CNET.com, “What if kids could use their imagination to create their own prosthetics, their own tools according to their own needs? Learning. Creating. Being kids.”  The arm was a collaboration with the Lego Future Lab, its research and development lab, and CIREC, a foundation for physical rehabilitation.

According to the article, “The middle of the prosthetic houses a processing unit and an engine compatible with Lego Mindstorms, the toy company’s robotics line. The outside of the arm has several Lego tubes where Lego parts can be attached, and a tube is also placed at the tip of each finger. This means not only can the wearers build cool Lego things — they can build cool robotic Lego things.”

Lego-compatible prosthetic arm lets kids build their own hand

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Why It’s Hot

Products don’t always need to conform to traditional ways of thinking. This robotic arm, built around Legos and with kids in mind, shows the potential to inspire new thinking and new uses.  In this case, the technology is empowering kids to be comfortable with their disability and to conquer any limitations. That can breed confidence and self-esteem.

Mini-robots swim through bloodstream

Imagine the ability to clear arteries or deliver medications with tiny micro-robots that propel through your bloodstream.  Developed by Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, along with 10 other institutions around the world, including Drexel University in Philadelphia, these corkscrew-shaped “microswimmers” are made up of “inorganic biodegradable beads so they will not trigger an immune response in the body. And we can adjust their size and surface properties to accurately deal with any type of arterial occlusion,” says MinJun Kim, a bioengineering professor at Drexel.

According to an article in Fast Company, Kim also said these microswimmmers could replace traditional artery cleaning methods like stents and angioplasty. “Current treatments for chronic total occlusion are only about 60 percent successful,” Kim says. “We believe that the method we are developing could be as high as 80-90 percent successful and possibly shorten recovery time.”

Why It’s Hot

Advances in healthcare often occur through new and innovative uses of technology. Micro-robotics can have a significant impact on health outcomes for ill patients in need of new medication delivery systems, those suffering from high cholesterol or those with heart and other organ disease. This is a less invasive technique, as well, negating the need for surgery or prolonged hospital stays and possibly resulting in reduced costs to the patient.

Connected printers in Brazil help find missing persons

5 people a day go missing in the Brazilian capital of Rio de Janeiro, with 200,000 reported missing each year through the country.  Now, HP has partnered with a Brazilian agency, NGO Maes de Se, to help locate missing persons through innovative printer technology called ePrint that will print posters of the missing automatically.

When someone is reported missing, an email will go out to privately owned HP printers, which will automatically print posters. Owners can then hang the posters in an office or around the neighborhood and assist in the search. Printing is location based, so it is targeted to the locations where someone is reported missing or more broadly based. The first few hours after someone is reported missing are critical, according to Sao Paulo’s district attorney, Eliana Vendramini.

Why It’s Hot

Connected technologies are being used to bring people closer together, in real time. This innovative linking of printers by private owners should make a real difference in finding missing persons but can be expanded all different kinds of important news and events. On an opt-in basis, people can choose to be informed this way for a bigger impact than reading it through Twitter or hearing it through friends. It’s also a way of linking online and offline technologies (email and posters) for the broadest impact, especially in the case of finding missing persons.

Google will store your photos free and forever

At its Developers Conference, Google announced a new app that will store all of your photos for free and forever.  According to an article in Yahoo:Tech, the app uses machine learning technology to automatically identify what’s in your photos without requiring you to laboriously tag each one.  And it works across 20 social platforms.

Although the photos will be categorized chronologically by default, users will be able to recall photos by keyword, alphabetically, subject or location.  And it will use a Photo Assistant tool to create stories from photos taken during the same time period or location. “You will be able to edit each image and add filters; you can also edit the images it uses, add a soundtrack, change transition effects, and more,” according to the article.

Google Wants to Store All Your Photos for Free  Forever

Why It’s Hot

Storing and organizing photos on the web, where they can be viewed, edited or inserted into videos and stories, has not always been an easy task.  That just got simpler, and we can expect to find more photos online than ever before.  Who owns the rights to those photos and how they get used could become issues.  But for now, this is a great way to organize all those Instagram photos being taken.

Stick TVs on a wall like wallpaper

Although not yet available, LG is working on a TV so slim that its width is less than a finger and can be placed on walls like wallpaper.  At a recent Seoul press conference, psfk.com reported that LG unveiled a 55-inch color TV that was just .97 mm thick and was hung on the wall by magnets.

Called OLED (organic light-emitting diode), the screen is only a proof-of-concept at this time and LG doesn’t expect it to be widely available for 5-10 years.  But, according to psfk.com, “OLED screens promise the possibility of thinner screens because the organic compound used in the display also emits its own light, eliminating the need for any backlighting.”

Samsung and other manufacturers have stopped their OLED research, saying the technology is too costly and wasteful to pay out.  But LG claims to have brought the efficiency of OLED to an 80% yield after only one and a half years of research.  Similar yield gains for LCDs took 10 years.

Stick Your Future TV On Like Wallpaper

Why It’s Hot

Advances in technology continue to make things more compact, more portable and more affordable.  Imagine carrying around a TV in a bag or rolling it up for a presentation.  Or just taking a TV into any environment where you’d want one, unrolling it and flinging it up on a wall.  The evolution of technology and mobility continues, inevitably leading to more ways to view content or be free to move a big screen anywhere with much more ease — from educators to performing musicians to politicians to just about anyone.

Luggage checks itself in at airports

According to the Daily Mail, Samsonite and Samsung have been developing luggage that can identify itself, tell you if it’s being opened if you are not around and even follow you around.  Working through GPS locators, the luggage will sync with a smartphone app to keep you apprised of your luggage’s condition and location at all times. That means if you don’t see the luggage at the carousel when you get off a flight, you can immediately track it through your app.  It will also send an alert if it is moved or opened during the flight.

A built-in chip could also help bags check themselves in at airports.  The chip would ping the airport when you arrive, identify the luggage and remotely tag it with flight and destination.  You would then drop off the luggage at a carousel where it would be weighed and placed in line for onboarding.

Finally, the two companies are developing luggage that would follow about 6 inches behind you as you walk through the airport.  With a built-in motor and GPS tracker, the luggage would make walking through the airport or to your hotel much easier.

Samsonite’s Smart Luggage Can Check Itself in at the Airport

Why it’s hot

The ability to check your luggage automatically, track where it is and even see if it’s been opened are practical GPS applications that make your life easier and travel a little less stressful.  Once introduced, look for the trend in smart luggage to accelerate quickly.

3D projections wow sports crowds

In a collaboration with The Famous Group and Benchmark Productions, arenas throughout the country are projecting startling 3D graphics on basketball courts, ice-rinks and other venues before the eyes of amazed fans.  In the video below, the floor of the Staples Center drops away suddenly, replacing itself with a gigantic ball-pit right under the feet of the totally unfazed players.

The technology works by focusing eight high-definition (1080p) projectors onto the court, layering the images on one another. If a segment needs to look like it’s falling away, the projectors in charge of that transition kick in and act accordingly.

At the Staples Center, digital balls were hurled off-screen as attendants picked up and threw huge live ones into the crowd. Sequences of Chris Paul scoring threes and Blake Griffin dunking over his opponents tied the whole spectacle together. The effects worked—the crowd at the Staples exploded into rapturous applause and screams, all before even the player introductions, according to an article from psfk.com.

Why It’s Hot

3-D projection takes another leap forward in crowd entertainment, adding to the spectacle of concerts, sporting events and other venues. The technology is moving toward anything (and anyone) being a potential screen and heightening the live experience.

Pour a virtual Coke and get a coupon

For anyone watching the NCAA championship game between Duke and Wisconsin, they were treated to a commercial of a thirst-quenching pour of fizzing Diet Coke into a glass of clear ice.  But if they opened the Shazam app as prompted, they also saw the pour on the device’s screen as it synched up with the pour on TV. When the pour was done, they received a coupon for a free bottle of Diet Coke from a participating retailer.

This was part of a “drinkable campaign” from Diet Coke that also saw the company sponsor the Final Four with a 26 x 36 drinkable billboard.  According to psfk.com, “The first-of-its-kind structure features a massive contour bottle and a swirling straw, spelling out the words “Taste It.” Weighing in at 23,000 pounds, the billboard magically appears to pour out ice-cold soda into six drinking fountains for anyone at the sampling station.”

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Why It’s Hot

Coke is finding new ways to advertise  and create desire for its products while people are “in the moment.”  It’s letting consumer experiences products in ways they would not otherwise engage.  And in the process, perhaps creating new ways to distribute coupons and create consumption opportunities through out-of-home advertising.

Amazon Dash: Press to Buy

Amazon has introduced a one-click way to purchase products without having to access online or through an app.  Amazon Dash is a one-click button that orders the product it shows.  Need diapers.  Press the branded Huggies button.  Need detergent.  Press the button for Tide. Just place a button near where you use the product (laundry room for detergent, coffee maker for Maxwell House) and press when you need to replenish. There are 17 brands set to debut at launch.

Each button communicates on your home wi-fi network to communicate with Amazon. Setup is through the Amazon shopping app on your mobile phone, but after setup, you don’t need your phone.  If an order has been placed, Dash won’t accept a second order until the first is delivered. You can also turn off auto-ordering, so not everyone can press the button and automatically purchase the product.

 Why It’s Hot

Amazon Dash can either be considered brilliant through its one-touch ordering or a retail nightmare leading to a severe habit of impulse purchasing. Either way, it breaks down boundaries to ordering and builds brand allegiance.  If you have a Tide button, do you need to order from All?  It’s the latest evolution in one-click ordering that can eventually be applied to other products and services.  Wiper blades worn out? Click a button on your dashboard to re-order.  Want a slice of pizza? Click from Dominos.  It doesn’t get much simpler. Almost too simple.

Chevy Malibu feature keeps teen drivers safer

When the new Chevy Malibu is introduced at the NY Auto Show on April 1, it will boast some impressive safety features for teen drivers.  As the first-of-its-kind vehicle, the car will be able to monitor teen driving and even place limits on speed and the entertainment system through an onboard feature called Teen Driver.  According to Automotive News, the system can track maximum speed, distance traveled, stability control events, safety warnings issued, and anti-lock brake events. Parents can also set limits on how fast the car will travel, block explicit radio stations, block phone calls and text messages and lower the volume on the radio.

To activate the system, Automotive News wrote, “Parents can enable the feature by creating a personal identification number in the settings menu of their available MyLink system.  The PIN allows parents or adults to register a teen’s key fob, which is critical because the system’s settings are turned on only for registered key fobs.

The system will be standard with the Malibu Premier and offered as an option in other Malibu models.  It is not subscription based and will be a permanent feature.

Why It’s Hot

According to a new report from the Institute of Highway Safety, fatal crashes for drivers 16-19 are almost three times higher than for drivers 20 and over.  Distractions from text messages, phone calls and distracting in-vehicle conversations are leading contributors of these accidents.  Parents will now have a way to monitor their child’s driving and prevent some of these accidents. And although teen drivers will most likely find ways around the system, it will lead to heightened awareness of the deadly consequences of distracted driving.  Look for this feature to become standard on more vehicles.

Eye-Tracking Tech Allows Hand-Free Drawing

Eye-tracking technology that allows the user to draw a picture better than most people can do with their hands is on display at London’s Riflemaker Museum. The exhibit, “Drawing With My Eyes,” features artist Graham Fink creating striking portraits while he is sitting at a computer and keeping his head absolutely still — moving only his eyes.

How does he do it?  According to an article in discoverynews.com, an infrared light tracks his eye movements and filters them through complex algorithms that translate them into line drawings on the screen.  The tracking is extremely precise and the results are incredible.

Why It’s Hot

Eye-tracking technology has been around for years, but this new level of precision suggests it could be used for more than just drawing.  For people who cannot use their hands, it might open up a whole new world of communication. And other applications are just around the corner. Indeed, the company behind the technology, Tobii Technology, is working on eye-tracking devices for computer work stations, gaming consoles, even cars.

Preserving data in DNA for a million years

Imagine in a few years that storing data in disk drives will seem quaint and old-fashioned compared with the possibility of actually encoding it in DNA and storing in for millions of years.  That’s the hypothesis of a team of researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who note that disk drives are susceptible to heat, moisture, magnetic fields and general wear and tear.  In fact, 22% of hard drives are said to fail within 4 years.

So, taking inspiration from nature, the researchers have developed a technique to use actual DNA, which is so compressed it can store a million gigabytes of data in one cell. The DNA is then encased in glass. According to an article on mnn.com, ” For the test run, Switzerland’s Federal Charter of 1291 — the official document that originally bound Switzerland as a unified region —  and Archimede’s The Methods of Mechanical Theorems, were encoded inside DNA segments…”After storing the DNA for a simulated 10,000 years in the fridge at 4 °C [40 °F], about 80 percent of the sequences contain at least one error and about 8 percent of the sequences are completely lost,” Dr. Robert Grass, from the Swiss team, told Gizmag. “Still… we are able to decode the data without final error.”

Why It’s Hot

DNA can be the most potent form of data storage available.  We already have seen the DNA from  a 110,000-year-old polar bear and more recently a 700,000-year-old horse extracted and sequenced.  With the amount of data being produced daily, having the storage capability to preserve it all is crucial.