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Digital gumball machine doles out virtual goodies

  • Digital gumball machine doles out goodies like apps, ebooks
  • Wallpaper used for more than just decoration?
  • A self-playing piano takes your requests
Digital gumball machine doles out virtual goodies

Editor's Note: Karyn Lu is Turner Broadcasting's Manager of New Media Insights & Inspiration. She scouts out amazing innovations, cutting edge technology and, well, just really awesome stuff from around the world and shares them right here every week. Before it goes mainstream, it's probably going to be one of her favorite ... 5 Things From The Future!

5. Digital gumball machine gives you virtual goodies for your money
Here's a neat project that marries the physical & virtual worlds together in a really whimsical way. Digital Gum Goods is a NFC-enabled gumball machine that hands out digital goodies in return for your money. Simply insert your coin, turn the lever, then tap your smartphone against the machine in exchange for treats such as apps, movies, songs and ebooks.
Android devices already support NFC functionality. And when it's released later this year, the iPhone 5 will purportedly support NFC as well. If that turns out to be true, we can expect to see this technology take off in a big way and many more interesting inventions like this digital gumball machine, for sure.
On a related note, our love of gumball machines spawned another fun project recently. Sweet Tweet also marries the physical & virtual worlds by playfully offering a gumball for each new Twitter follower.
4. Get real-time approval from Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Tim Gunn
If you're a fan of "Project Runway," you'll probably love this new installation in celebration of the show's 10th anniversary. Next time you're in New York, take a stroll on the High Line between 15th & 16th streets, where Lifetime has turned the park into a virtual runway. Life-sized digital versions of Heidi Klum, Michael Kors and Tim Gunn will, via a remote operator (a student from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts), actually react to your outfit in real-time with expressions ranging from boredom to ecstasy.
The fashion world has always loved new technology (see: Ralph Lauren's 4D projection mapping experience, virtual fitting rooms using augmented reality) and this installation is no exception. So, if you've always dreamed of getting a standing ovation from your favorite "Project Runway" celebs, this is your chance!
3. Brazilian club hosts a night of music for the hearing-impaired
"Sinta o Som" in Portuguese roughly translates to "Feel the Sound," a lovely concept for a unique event. In São Paulo, an entertainment venue called Clash Club recently held a night of music specifically for the hearing impaired. In order to do so, the club's sound system pumped out music with strengthened bass to help everyone feel the soundwaves, while visual projections were also highlighted.
According to the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, close to one million people are functionally deaf in the United States. This is an incredibly creative concept that reaches out to an underserved population, and one to be inspired by.
2. High-tech wallpaper protects more than your walls
Would you outfit your home with a Wi-Fi-blocking wallpaper if it means that wallpaper can help protect your health, equipment and data? Researchers at France's Institut Polytechnique de Grenoble have invented a product called metapaper that does just that.
Not only can this special wallpaper selectively filter, reduce or reflect electromagnetic waves, it can also help to ensure that signals inside your home are more secure.
Bonus: It comes in a snowflake pattern. I've been seeing a lot of inventions for homes of the future (e.g. Corning's A Day Made of Glass), and this is one of the most practical ones to date. 
1. This piano plays itself, and it will take your requests
The world's first social, interactive self-playing piano has a name, and it's Stanley. And he takes requests via Twitter, of course. Stanley was created for Seattle's Capitol Hill Block Party, a music festival featuring more than 100 bands and DJs. Stanley knows at least one song from each of the bands. And if he doesn't know your song, Stanley can "learn" it. This is probably one of my favorite finds in a while. The music festival is over now, but you can still catch Stanley on Twitter.

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