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. An app that 'translates' news for children
Newspapers were definitely not designed with children in mind. However, a new smartphone app from the Tokyo Newspaper has found an incredibly smart way to speak to both parents and children.
The augmented reality app literally "translates" news stories into a format that is kid-friendly. For example, difficult Japanese characters would be translated into simpler characters. To make complex topics more easy to understand and fun to read, animated cartoon characters provide kid-friendly commentaries alongside pop-up headlines. Advertisers have even begun to create both adult and kid versions of their ads for the app.
This is as brilliant and practical an implementation of augmented reality technology as I've ever seen. What else can we apply this real-time "translation" to in order to encourage better communication with our kids?
2. 'Hello, Lamp Post!' The city is about to talk back
If you could have a conversation with your corner mailbox, what might that sound like? Perhaps the box might ask you what it looks like, or where your letter is going. And what stories would it have to tell you from its vantage point on the corner? Sound like something out of Harry Potter? Well, this summer in the British city of Bristol, everything from postboxes and lampposts to storm drains and manhole covers will gain the power of speech.
As part of a quirky project called “ Hello, Lamp Post!,” you'll be able to converse with these everyday city objects via text message. The winner of Bristol’s first-ever Playable City Award, the goal of this project is “about people sharing ideas and playing together.” As a huge fan of the play trend that is traversing the globe right now, I can't tell you how much I love this project.
3. The jeans innovation you didn't ask for
OK, ladies, I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Wrangler is launching a new line of jeans called Denim Spa, and these pants are actually lined with moisturizing ingredients that can supposedly help reduce cellulite.
Here’s how it works: The anti-cellulite ingredients are embedded into the very fibers of the pants itself, in the form of microcapsules that burst as you slide the jeans on. Each pair will last for 15 days before you have to re-apply with a spray (which comes in Aloe Vera, Olive Extract or Smooth Legs). Let’s be honest... I know the temptation for a quick fix can be pretty strong, but is this something you'd realistically try out?
4. Soda from your smartphone
Watch out: Impulse-buying is about to get a whole lot more difficult to control, with mobile wallet developments in progress. Coca-Cola isn't about to make it any easier on us. The company is piloting a series of vending machines that will accept payments via your smartphone (I mean, not all of their machines can accept hugs as payment). With already 200 of these machines installed in Austin, Texas, Coke says it will launch “tens of thousands of the units nationwide” throughout 2013. I thought I was doing a great job avoiding impulse purchases by never carrying any cash around. Looks like I might be in trouble!
5. A drive-thru elevator for drinks
Why hasn't anyone thought of this before? In Brazil, where there's a steady increase in daytime consumption of energy drinks, Red Bull decided to take over and convert an entire floor in an office building into a Red Bull floor. When you stop on that floor for an energy drink break on your way to a meeting, the vending machine is already waiting for you as the doors open, and you don't even have to get off the elevator to get your fix. What an incredibly fun and effective way for Red Bull to get their message across to just the right demographic!