Editor's Note: Karyn Lu is Turner Broadcasting's manager of New Media Insights & Inspiration. Each week she scouts out amazing innovations, cutting edge technology and, well, just really awesome stuff and shares them right here. Before it goes mainstream, it's going to be one of her favorite _ 5 Things From The Future! _
1. Border Elvis has a few questions for you
Could a virtual avatar nicknamed “ Elvis” be the U.S. government’s newest weapon against illegal immigration? Developed by researchers at the University of Arizona in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Elvis” is a sophisticated kiosk that can use speech to communicate, read passports, check fingerprints, and even (using cameras & a set of complex algorithms) determine if an individual is lying.
Currently already in trial use in Arizona, we may start to see versions of these so-called “helper” robots roll out not only in airports around the country, but in other capacities as well (per researchers: “in a coffee shop, as a barista or as a virtual helper in an instance where you would’ve been waiting in a long line”).
2. Your glasses are your translator
Inspired by Google’s Project Glass, which envisions a future in which our eyewear will augment every aspect of our waking lives, UK technologist Will Powell has hacked a pair of glasses to translate foreign languages into subtitles in real time.
Powell’s concept video demonstrates a conversation between himself (speaking in English), and his sister (speaking in Spanish) where remarkably, the Vuzix 1200 Star glasses are translating the conversation in real time. And it can do that between 37 different languages. Project Glass was met with mixed reactions (my favorite internet comment being: “It’s a Segway for your face”). However, once this real-time translation technology gets more polished, it will truly be a game changer –- not to mention a fantastic reason to actually wear augmented reality eyeglasses.
3. Deep-freeze encryption the KGB would admire
What’s the best way to encourage tourism to Russia? This may seem counterintuitive, but Russian airline S7 has decided to embrace the weather & make cold seem cool. Just how cool? You’ll have to place the ad in your freezer to find out.
In a wonderfully creative play to show the magic of Russia, S7’s print ad was created with thermochromatic ink that transforms from a blank sheet of paper to a full illustration the colder it gets. Once fully revealed, nestled among a winter wonderland of dancing bears, nesting dolls and even a “Lenin Man” statue reads the tagline “Russia: Where cold is cool. Welcome!” Just when we think there’s not much more that can be done with print ads –- brilliant!
4. Mural cleans up city in more ways than one
A new 59-foot mural in Bologna titled “Philosophical Tree,” created by Italian artist Andreco, is doing something remarkable for a piece of artwork. Not only does the striking five-story image contribute to the beauty of its environment, it’s actually working to clean up the city air, as well. Andreco used a special photocatalytic paint that actually reduces smog by decreasing the amount of nitrogen monoxide in the air. Artwork that is both beautiful AND fights air pollution? Sounds wonderful to me.
5. Text a 'cop,' get some beer
A fictional police officer who receives over 2,000 texts a day and buys you free beer in return for your text? It's all part of a clever, interactive ad campaign by Grolsch, an Amsterdam brewery. In the online ad, when you text Officer Jount, “the most notorious police officer in the Netherlands,” you’ll actually see your name pop up on his mobile phone, and when he texts you back, you’ve got yourself a link to redeem a free four-pack of Grolsch beer. I really like the idea of so many worlds colliding and being enabled to interact with a fictional character for a tangible reward. One to be inspired by, for sure.