Lex lets you park it anywhere

A company named Astride Bionix has Kickstarted a “wearable chair” they call Lex that lets you drag around a bulky thing around the city for those few minutes of the day when you’d rather be sitting. The Lex will retail north of the $300 rate on Kickstarter.

“The lightweight, 2.2-pound exoskeleton legs retract when they’re not in use, giving you the ability to move around easily and without any restrictions.” (Digital Trends)

https://www.facebook.com/insiderpresents/videos/699287137097216/

Story on ZDNet

Why It’s Hot

No more fighting strangers on the subway for a seat. Just plop one of these down anywhere you want.

LEGO builds a drivable Bugatti

“Made from more than a million pieces, it’s the first fully functional, self-propelled life-size LEGO Technic car ever built.”

The real Bugatti Chiron “has 1,500hp (1119kW) and a top speed in excess of 261mph (420km/h); the LEGO Technic Bugatti makes just 5.3hp (3.9kW) and tops out at 12.4mph (20km/h).”

Can’t wait to see someone in Connecticut driving one of these in the fast lane on the I-95.

Story on Ars Technica

Why it’s Hot

While the car is totally undriveable, the stunt is a good way to promote both brands simultaneously.

Sony tries to render real pets obsolete

As announced earlier this year Sony has brought back it’s robotic dog, Aibo. First released in 1999 but discontinued in 2006, it took Sony 12 years to update the Aibo and make it extra super cute.

One of these very good boys will set you back $2799.

 

 

For comparison’s sake, below is the original model (ERS-110) from 1999…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and the final model (ERS-7) before being discontinued

Why It’s Hot

Not sure anybody will buy these but with the toy robot space getting crowded, it’s interesting to see Sony trying to win the war by ratcheting up the cuteness factor, not by designing new features.

Samsung claims unbreakable phone screen. Challenge accepted.

Samsung has developed a U.S. military-grade unbreakable phone screen….(about 10 years too late).

The days of having to strain your eyes looking through your jacked-up Galaxy screen seem to be over.

 

Here’s the proof:

Why it’s Hot

While other phone makers have been spending R&D dollars to make stronger and harder screen glass, Samsung zags and develops something flexible. Well played, Samsung.

Swing, or a miss?

Hate those terrible, ugly earbuds that came with your iPhone? Wish there was a better way to carry those things around without getting the wires tangled in your pants pocket? Well now there’s Swings Bluetooth earring headphones. You’re welcome, society.

Product listing on Kickstarter

Why It’s Hot

Not mentioned in the pitch is that those wireless earbuds are really easy to lose. The Swings can help with that. Plus, there’s an opportunity to promote brands such as baseball teams or shoe brands with a logo on the face of the dangling part.

For people without pierced ears, there could also be a clip-on version.

Lithium batteries in shoes…what could go wrong?

At long last someone has designed a digital smartshoe. Cue the obligatory eye roll. And a pair of these can be yours for the whopping cost of $599.

Digitsole Smartshoe integrates street style with wearable technology, featuring auto tightening, accurate tracking, and individual coaching based on your movements.”

The shoe has a lot of features, including smart heating, activity tracker, cushion monitor, stair counter, pedometer, speedometer, calorie counter, auto tightening and an app that analyzes your stride.

Why It’s Hot
Well, I never said it was hot. I guess the shoelace tightener is kind of cool.

To be fair, the company has also developed a product that fits into any shoe as an implant, which is a much better idea.

Why It’s Not so Hot
Where to begin? Shoe styles are highly subjective and the cost is very prohibitive for an item that most people have more than one of. Seems like over-engineering. It’s a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist.

Who doesn’t want to play amateur Maury Povich?

The 23 & Me craze has spilled into the animal kingdom for pet owners who want more info on their pet’s breed and medical predispositions. Companies such as Embark and AnimalBiome will gladly take your money to test your dog or cat’s dna. Is it worth it? Probably more for dog owners curious about their breed, but don’t spend too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to see video.

Why It’s Hot

While there’s nothing wrong with digging into your pet’s dna, it does feel like someone is taking advantage of a larger trend.

Ziggy invades the subways

Spotify and the MTA have joined forces by creating a David Bowie subway takeover at the Broadway/Lafayette station in NYC as a way to promote the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

 

In addition to the various visual elements, the MTA came through with 5 different David Bowie metrocards sold at the station; 250,000 of them, to be exact.

 

My wife managed to snag 2 different designs after waiting in line for over 1.5 hrs on Saturday (!!!):

 

Why It’s Hot:

Books like The End of Advertising remind us that traditional advertising methods are not only played out, they can be intrusive and irritating. When brands think of alternate ways to advertise their brand, it can be a lot of fun.

 

Source of chronic pain for millions of Americans soon to ease

A YouTube channel called The Brick Wall, which is a “place of Lego Technic changes and modifications” has created a “Roomba” for Legos. The machine itself is made out of Legos.

With tongue firmly in cheek, this machine is absolutely not hitting store shelves anytime soon.

Story on Sploid

Why it’s Hot:

It’s an idea whose time has come. Just ask any parent of toddlers.

I’m so ready for the next extreme weather event

These days, innovation means taking a traditional product and making it “smart” by connecting it to the internet or collecting tons of data on the user. Sometimes you just want a better version of the product that doesn’t fall apart after 2 uses.

A New Zealand company called Blunt makes an apparently indestructible umbrella that even Mary Poppins would be impressed with. The umbrellas “can withstand winds of up to 72 mph” according to the manufacturer, though reviews on Amazon are mixed (4 out of 5 stars, but some complaints about the cheapness of the plastic parts). It retails for around $60; you’ll pay $80 if you want it in green camo.

Why It’s Hot

Sometimes improving an old design is better than re-imagining it.

MIT goes into the deep end with a fake fish

MIT researchers created a robotic fish in order to study sea life. It was modeled after a real fish in order to blend in with the sea life.

“We view SoFi as a first step toward developing almost an underwater observatory of sorts,” says Rus. “It has the potential to be a new type of tool for ocean exploration and to open up new avenues for uncovering the mysteries of marine life.”

Story on Popular Mechanics

Why It’s Hot

Hopefully the next gen SoFi’s will be able to go deeper into the ocean and explore things out of the reach of humans.

Robots find new way to suck the fun out of living

A couple of dudes named Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo “have smashed the previous record for solving the Rubik’s cube robotically. Their machine solved the puzzle in 0.38 seconds—a 40-percent improvement over the previous record of 0.637.”

Story on Gizmodo

Below is the old record from 2016. Slackers.

Why It’s Hot

This has obvious implications for the future of work. Imagine how many iPhones this thing will be able to crank out in the future.

KFC: We do chicken wrong

Due to a change in KFC’s supply chain in the UK, the fast food giant recently ran out of chickens in the UK….which is really bad if the entire business model relies on chickens.

Some Brittons have lost their ever-loving stuff and one woman’s whine about “having to go to Burger King” went viral. See below:

But the fiasco gave KFC an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. The food chain ran an apology ad in the paper with the letters on the bucket spelling FCK instead of KFC.

Why it’s Hot

It’s hot because they were able to use humor instead of some stock pr apology, though it might take the woman in the viral video a bit longer to get over it.

Robots make presence known at Winter Olympics

Robots have made their presence known at this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Luckily, none of them have killed anyone…yet.

We knew that South Korea was going to feature tech very prominently…and that robotic fish tank did not disappoint.

Story on The Verge

Story on Futurism

Why It’s Hot

It’s interesting to see the robotic presence against an event that defines the human spirit at times.

 

Welcome to your dystopian future

Hiding behind a locked door won’t save you from rogue killer robots anymore thanks to Boston Dynamics’ new innovation. These new models can handle a doorknob pretty well as evidenced by the company’s new teaser video.

Story on TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot from the perspective of technological achievement. It’s not so hot if you ever need to hide from one of these.

Your Leaning Tower of Pisa pics: not as hilarious as you think they are

Think your Instagram travel photos are as unique as your quirky sense of humor? Think again.

“Using public Instagram accounts and hashtags, filmmaker Oliver Kmia was able to assemble this entertaining compilation of unoriginal travel photos.”

Why it’s Hot

It’s an interesting crowdsourcing exercise for sure. It goes to show that we can find macro trends anywhere if we try hard enough.

KFC is making chicken fly again

KFC has turned its box o’ chicken into a drone, which it is calling a KFO — Kentucky Flying Object. The promotion is in celebration of the new smokey grilled wings.

The clever packaging is only available in India today and tomorrow.

The drone is controlled via an app available on iPhone or Android.

Story on Geek

Why it’s Hot
KFC has been known to periodically release these types of interactive, tongue in cheek promotional items. Anything to distract customers from the taste of the “food.”

Not all corporate training videos are boring as hell

Wendy’s created some training videos in the 80’s but instead of using the same boring HR training talking head style that everyone else was using, they decided to have some fun with it.

These are truly spectacular time capsules of the 1980’s. Yes, millennials, this is how we lived life every single day.

Why It’s Hot
These videos give us some insight into the corporate culture that has resulted in the current social media sass machine that we see today.

Laundry folding robot? Yes, please.

FoldiMate debuted a prototype of its laundry-folding machine at CES 2017, but it has yet to actually deliver a product to market, though it has an updated the design that will be unveiled at CES 2018 (a few days from today).

The product video below is all style, no substance with no actual images of laundry being folded but it’s meant to be a teaser.

Why It’s Hot

If the concept works, it will probably excite the average Joe so much more than another bulky VR headset because it is practical.

Or, hear me out, we can just go back to having cubicles…

A Ukranian design company called Hochu Rayu has created a noise-cancelling helmet designed to block out sound for persons who work in noisy open space offices. According to CNet, “The design company came up with the Helmfon while trying to work out ways employees can Skype at their desks without bothering their co-workers.”

Giant helmet can cancel noise

Would you wear this?! (via In The Know)

Posted by Yahoo News on Saturday, November 25, 2017

Story on CNet

Who wore it better?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot

This can be really useful for people who seek to improve their productivity when they’re surrounded by a wall of constant noise (*cough* 4th Floor *cough*), though, obviously, the design needs some work.

New device allows Americans to remain blissfully monolingual

A startup called WT2 has created a wearable that can translate languages in real-time.

Real time translator breaks down language barriers

Real time translation makes travel abroad easy as A-B-C.

Posted by Futurism on Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Story on Futurism

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot in cases where you need to understand someone quickly in another language, especially for people who work in service-oriented fields. It’s not so hot if the main use case is to replace the learning of new languages.

Google improves the quality of Street View images

Now the delivery truck parked in front of the address you Google Mapped will look as clear as can be.

In addition to using new and better camera technology in its Street View cars, Google is also improving the software that ‘stitches’ the panoramic images together.

Story on TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Most of us have gotten used to the busted up images and less-than-perfect experience of apps like Google Maps, because the utility is what’s important. But it is nice to see that the company is minding the little details.

Ford has a robotic butt

Ford has found a way to simulate how well their seats hold up over a ten-year period by creating a robotic butt that ‘sits’ in the seat over 25,000 times in a 3-week period. Valuable data is gathered along the way to ensure that the design holds up well.

They call it the Robutt [insert laughter].

Story on TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

It’s hot because it’s one job a robot can steal without much protest from humans.

Saudi Arabia gives a fake person real citizenship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A robot built by Hong Kong-based Hanson Robotics named Sophia has been granted citizenship by the government of Saudi Arabia. Nobody is saying exactly what that means but, according to Futurism, “The move seems symbolic, at best, designed to attract investors for future technologies like AI and robotics.” Saudi Arabia has been trying to up its credibility as a tech player to compete with neighbors such as the United Arab Emirates.

Sophia was “designed to look like Audrey Hepburn” according to the robot maker. I see.

Sophia’s announcement is below:

Story on Popular Mechanics

The stunt was not viewed positively to all as some have made valid points about foreign workers’ inability to gain similar citizenship status despite their own contributions to Saudi society.

Here is the full video of Sophia’s (awkward) address to the Future Investment Initiative conference, held at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Why It’s Hot

This announcement adds fuel to the debate about what rights, if any, robots will have in our society. It also calls into question if countries such as Saudi Arabia have a moral responsibility to treat their female citizens and foreign workers equally to- or better than robots.

Honda’s road stunt is tone deaf and off key

Honda wanted to put grooves in a California road that would play “The William Tell Overture” as drivers rode across them because….um, nobody really knows, but they screwed it up, TWICE.

The original grooved road had to be moved due to a noise complaint, so they had a chance to fix the surface to sound the way it was supposed to, but they didn’t.

Why It’s Hot

It’s a lesson for marketers and brands who want to do something really cool to garner attention. When it doesn’t work it could be really embarrassing.

Caspar making new comfy sleep stuff, just not for you

Caspar has teamed with American Airlines to design and supply the massive airline with a slew of new sleep products. The 8 new products include “a mattress pad that fits over your seat, a regular pillow and a lumbar pillow, a pillowcase, a duvet, a blanket, pajamas and slippers.”

No, this is not a dream. It’s also not available for coach travelers. The products are solely for business class and first class travelers. You know, the people who need it the most.

You, however, will still be unable to sleep on the red eye on account of the demon toddler kicking your seat from behind during the entire duration of the flight. Happy trails!

Story on TechCrunch

Why it’s Hot

It’s hot for Caspar because it gives them bigger name recognition in the very competitive next-gen mattress space.

Target makes its brick-n-mortars less painful to navigate

Target is putting beacons in their stores that will allow users to find the locations of specific items on shelves and even indicate if the item is on sale.

Target’s redesigned app “shows your location on the app’s map as you move throughout the store. The technology…will be live in about half of Target’s stores in time for the holidays.”

Why It’s Hot

Solving customer frustration at retail locations via digital is an idea that was overdue.