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Have your cake & interact with video on it, too!

  • This week's 5 most fantastic innovations and ideas!
  • Disney files a patent for augmented reality birthday cakes
  • Is the future on hold? Potential roadblock for 3D printers
Augmented reality cakes may be coming to a birthday party near you soon!

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. 'Happy birthday to youuohhh my gosh! Coolest cake ever!'

Now that everything is becoming interactive, you didn’t think the food we put into our mouths was going to be exempt, did you? Think your kids would go nuts over a birthday cake that comes to life as a virtual, interactive storybook? That’s what Disney is betting on, too, and it has already filed a patent to make augmented reality cakes and other food products.

A small projector built into a cake topper, a computer and an overhead projector would be necessary for the magic to happen –- but the possibilities are endless. Just imagine waving a wand to interact with digital worlds and hidden treasures mapped onto the surface of your cake. Takes playing with your food to a whole new level, doesn’t it?

2. Career Day, any day

Even the name "Lifeswap" seems to promise something exciting and full of possibility. For anyone who dreams of not only having a job, but a job that you love, the prospect can be daunting. Lifeswap is a new startup that wants to make it easier for you by coordinating job shadowing opportunities (for now, only available in the Bay Area).

Basically, for a fee set by the host, you can connect with and shadow a professional in a field of your choosing for a predetermined length of time. Want to be a henna tattoo artist or a botanist for a day, or potentially for life? Lifeswap seems like a great way to get started, and to make more informed decisions along the way.

3. Watch out for those escalator joggers and tumbling oranges

Let’s be honest, who hasn’t wanted to pretend they were James Bond? Now, at Antwerp Central Station in Belgium, ahead of the new Bond movie "Skyfall," Coke Zero has staged an elaborate stunt to make that dream come true for a select few who accept the challenge. Passengers have 70 seconds to live the 007 dream by running through the station, dodging carefully orchestrated obstacles along the way, and emerge feeling superhuman (with "Skyfall" tickets in hand).

This video below is a must-watch. For those of us not lucky enough to be in Belgium, we’ll just have to live vicariously through these folks who got to experience the excitement in person.

4. De-teching: The allure of offline

Ah, a day without cellphones buzzing, emails demanding attention, viral videos beckoning. For every trend there’s a counter-trend, and this is one of my favorites: de-teching. When was the last time you were disconnected for more than a few hours?

Now, in tune with the growing demand to turn away from the perpetual state of hyper-connectivity, brands are tapping into the desire to log off, at least for a while. For example, McDonald’s Arabia declared September 28 as “A day offline… no phones, no emails, no distractions… family time forever.” In Sweden, Telia has created an app that literally disables your Internet for a set amount of time.

5. A vaccine breakthrough?

3D printing continues to get more amazing. This week, we learned about the possibility of biological 3D printers: in the future, we may be able to download digitized vaccines from our home computers, print them out on a “3D printer for DNA, a 3D printer for life” and administer those medicines at home. I know, I can hardly believe the words I just wrote.

Technical and regulatory challenges aside, what an amazing vision for the future of health care!

On a darker note, for those of us who have been talking about 3D printing as being the next big thing, the revolution may have just hit its big inevitable roadblock: DRM (digital rights management, which are access control technologies that attempt to give a seller control by limiting the usage of digital content and devices). A former Microsoft CTO has filed an expansive patent on 3D printing DRM, wherein before you can print anything, a system is in place to make sure you have authorization to print that object. Sound familiar? If you’ll recall, that’s exactly what happened to music in the wake of Napster. The revolution is about to get a whole lot trickier.

Let’s end with this challenge: Do nothing for two minutes. Be honest: Were you able to do it?

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