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. "Like" someone? Send a squeeze
When people "Like" your Facebook posts and photos, does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Is there any reason why it shouldn't actually make you feel like you're getting a hug? Not at all, according to researchers from MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group.
The Like-A-Hug jacket is a "wearable social media vest" that exists in that fascinating, blurry space between the virtual and the physical. As each friend clicks "Like" on Facebook, the jacket physically squeezes you, as though that friend has virtually reached out from the Internet to give you a hug in real life. And I’m sure they would -- if they weren't so busy on Facebook, that is.
2. Kick for a cause
Don’t have time to give to charity or volunteer toward a social cause? Now, helping to make the world a better place can be as easy as playing a game of soccer. The Ludo ball, a fantastic concept developed by Uncharted Play, is a soccer ball containing a sensor that knows when it is in use.
Every time you play with it, points tally up inside your Play Fund, which can then be spent on social and charitable projects. For example, your points can earn new light bulbs for a poor community or tools for environmental projects. Staying active, playing a game of soccer and doing good at the same time: Now you really don't have an excuse.
3. Leave your car, take your dashboard
Last week at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, Nissan debuted a zero-emission SUV concept called the TeRRA. As sleek and futuristic as it looks, the most interesting thing about the vehicle, to me, is that it features a portable digital dashboard.
In the near future, it's not unlikely that we'll all carry around tablets with us, so why not a smart tablet that hooks into your car's systems and provides your entertainment while on the road? For that matter, why not a tablet that is so smart it is context-aware, so that it knows where you are and serves up different functions depending on whether you're at work, in your car or at home? I'm loving that idea.
4. Capturing the sound of the city
What would your neighborhood sound like if it was translated into music? And if you were traveling through the city, what would your journey sound like? That's the premise behind the "Make the City Sound Better" project in London. To explore this idea, a London black cab was outfitted with microphones and speakers, all designed to create music for passengers based upon the locations they are passing through.
Ambient sounds collected by the microphones during the journey are translated via an algorithm to create this music, and if you like it, you can play it back to hear your various journeys over and over again. A lovely and novel idea -- certainly better than listening to traffic.
5. Pop your top, and set off some fireworks?
Maybe that’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Strongbow has created what it calls the world's first digital bottle cap, called “StartCap.” What does that mean exactly? Because these caps are powered by RFID technology (i.e., when the bottles are opened, they trigger a signal which is picked up by scanners and translated into real-world actions), they can be linked up to any action on the premises.
So, by opening up a bottle, you can literally turn on the music, turn off the lights or even fire a cannon if you program it that way. While still a prototype at the moment, StartCap will be launching at events across Europe soon -– and parties will never be the same again.