Create the Future. Today

Hardcore sports fans may share the lows and highs of their favorite teams on a weekly basis simply by watching the games, but nothing beats getting the chance to personally connect with the athletes themselves. While Egraphs — the service that gets sports stars to record unique personal messages for fans — has gone some way to achieve that connection, gaming platform OverDog is offering fans perhaps the ultimate dream — giving them the opportunity to beat pro athletes at their own game.

While it may never happen in the real world, taking down an NFL player like Ray Rice or dribbling past New Orleans Pelicans’ Al-Farouq Aminu to score a slamdunk is entirely possible in the virtual world of gaming. Fans downloading the OverDog app first select their favorite sports and teams. The company currently has a roster of more than 350 pro athletes who regularly log on to challenge fans. If a star from a chosen team sends a challenge, users have 3 minutes to enter themselves into the draw. The winner is then sent the details they need to get into the game through their Xbox or PlayStation. According to the company, many sports stars are also gaming addicts and users can end up playing titles ranging from sports games such as Madden, FIFA and NBA2K to shooters like Call of Duty, Halo and Battlefield. The athletes aren’t typically paid for playing against fans, instead receiving early access to games and free merchandise, which keeps the network free for users. While they’re holding out for Adrian Peterson to set up a one-on-one challenge however, users can also throw down the gauntlet with other fans. The video below offers an example of the OverDog experience:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dibl0hviezM

OverDog offers a unique way for fans to connect with their idols, in a way that’s much more fun than waiting in line for an autograph. How else can celebrities use the web to offer fans a truly personal experience?

Although unwanted telemarketing calls are much more associated with landline phones — whose numbers are publicly available — than smartphones, those with mobile devices are likely to have experienced some unwanted contact from companies. Now the PrivacyStar app has introduced an alert system which lets users know the likelihood an unknown number will be a blacklisted company or scammer.

The creators of the app, who collect the numbers of telemarketing businesses and allow users to identify calls and texts before they answer them, have now introduced a new feature to its Android version which lets those users file complaints from companies not yet listed. Using these reports, PrivacyStar then ranks the numbers according to users’ negative responses. Unknown numbers that aren’t connected to a telemarketing company come through as a green call, yellow calls are from known cold callers that haven’t been reported as offensive, and those identified as scammers are flagged with a red color. The app immediately lets users know if they should avoid the call or not. The video below explains more about the app in general:

PrivacyStar joins platforms such as SMC4, which specializes in blocking abusive Twitter users, in enabling users of new technologies to curate the types of communication they receive through them. Are there other ways to help customers take greater control over the content they’re exposed to through online and telecoms services?

While startups such as Boxbee aim to turn customers self storage assets into a shareable library of goods among friends, a new project in Switzerland is taking a similar concept into the public sphere. Boîtes d’Échange Entre Voisins — or Neighborhood Exchange Boxes — are a network of brightly-decorated repositories where residents can leave books, toys or other items they’d like to give to the community.

The idea, which was conceived by public art organization Tako in collaboration with the City of Geneva, is a fairly simple one — boxes big enough to hold objects such as books, DVDs, games and household items are installed in public locations. The boxes can be identified by their often artistic decorations bearing the name of the project. Any member of the public can then leave unwanted goods in the boxes for anyone else to take. The idea takes inspiration from schemes such as Bookcrossing and Little Free Library, which both focus more narrowly on book sharing. However, there is no restriction to what can be left in the project’s boxes, so long as it fits — users have even seen one generous neighbor leave an unwanted Apple TV.

There are currently around 20 Boîtes d’Échange Entre Voisins across Switzerland, and anyone can join in by setting up a box for their own neighborhood. Could this work in your part of the world?

Considering the amount of time the typical office worker now spends staring at a screen, it’s no wonder that complaints such as computer vision syndrome, which apparently causes dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches, have become a reality. We recently wrote about Vigo — the headset that detects drowsiness and lets users know if they should take a break — and now Japanese glasses manufacturer Masunaga has developed a pair of spectacles that fog up at regular intervals to encourage computer users to blink.

Designed for those who use computers for an extended period of time — either as part of their job or through gaming — the lenses of the black-framed Wink Glasses 2013 turn from transparent to translucent for around 0.2 seconds every ten seconds — brief enough to avoid distracting wearers, but nevertheless causing a blink reflex. The glasses contain a small battery in the left arm, which sends an electrical current across layers of liquid crystal inside the lenses. When powered, the liquid crystals align and let light through the glass as normal — a momentary drop in current causes the particles to disperse, creating a brief, translucent flicker. According to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, users can adjust the duration of each fogging by intervals of 0.1 seconds using a switch on the right arm. The video below offers a demonstration of the Wink Glasses 2013:

Costing JPY 15,750, it’s believed the glasses could help fight the optical strain and dry eyes that blight those who overuse their computers. Are there other ways to ensure screen users avoid damage to their health?

For some coffee drinkers, finding the perfect brew is akin to searching for the Holy Grail. We’ve even seen the Bonaverde offer the ability to make a cup from unroasted beans in minutes. Now Canadiano is a crafted eco filter that absorbs coffee essence every time a new cup is made, imbuing the next with extra flavor.

Much more bulky than paper coffee filters, the Canadiano is a block of wood that sits on top of the cup to create a brew in the pour-over fashion. Users simply place their grind into the well and fill it up with hot water. After 2-4 minutes, a cup of coffee will have filtered through the metal mesh at the bottom. The filter is unique in that the wood absorbs the coffee oils exuded by users’ favorite grind, which in turn are fed back into the drink every time a new cup is made. The Canadiano comes in three different woods for specific types of roasts — the Walnut edition for darker roasts and earthier flavors, the Cherry edition for beans with slight citrus hints and the Maple edition for those with a nutty taste. As a bonus, the filter simply needs to be rinsed after use and doesn’t involve waste paper. The filters cost between CAD 45 and CAD 60, depending on the wood selected.

Users probably won’t experience the perfect cup until they’ve worn it in with several brews and the device does require some special maintenance, meaning it’s not for everyone. However, it certainly gives coffee hipsters an extra edge over the competition. How else can homeowners raise the standards of their home-brewed coffee?

Relationships between landlords and tenants can sometimes become frayed when personalities clash or expectations aren’t adhered to. Dreamroomer is a new startup from Russia that acts as a matchmaking service for renters and property owners based on shared interests, with the hope of avoiding such conflicts.

Rather than the typical model of landlords using estate agents as a platform for showcasing their properties to potential tenants, Dreamroomer gets those looking for a home to set up a personal profile, adding a photo and pulling in other data from social networks. They also add information about the type of house and location they’re interested in. Landlords can then browse the tenants matching their properties and get in contact with those they think they’d like to have in their homes. The system bypasses any realtor and sets up a direct connection between tenants and landlords. According to the website, one music-loving landlord even found a househunter with similar tastes and now they’re starting a band together. The startup also took first prize at TechCrunch Moscow 2013 in December. The video below explains the service in more detail:

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Similar to platforms such as RentMineOnline — which lets landlords find tenants through Facebook, Dreamroomer turns the househunting model on its head to help establish a greater connection between each party before a contract is signed. Are there other professionals that could benefit from being able to connect to potential clients before pen is put to paper?

It’s always exciting to hear about the progress made by businesses that we’ve previously featured. Here are some updates from founders who have all got in touch to share their latest news:

Cyclodeo
It’s all very well planning a cycle route on a map, but there are several factors that they don’t take into account — just how steep is that road? How many potholes are there? How heavy is the traffic on average? Cyclodeo, which has set out to crowdsource video documentation of popular cycle routes across a number of European cities and New York, has now launched a version for mobile devices. On top of this, San Franciscans can now also enjoy video of rides around the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos Avenue, and 90 others in the US city.
Coffee Joulies
In 2011, we wrote about Coffee Joulies — small stainless steel stones that can be placed into coffee mugs to keep the drink at the right temperature. One of its creators — Dave Jackson — has since returned to Kickstarter with a new project, the Wrap Wallet. Intended to reduce the footprint of the money-keepers, the wallet works by wrapping notes around any cards kept inside it, while also containing a window for IDs or driving licences. With an initial funding aim of USD 6,000, the project ended up raising an astonishing USD 164,000 — 2,700 percent of its target.
Zapaday
Zapaday has been keeping journalists up to date with the days’ happenings and future events in one place since we wrote about it in 2011. Now ANP — one of the leading news agencies in the Netherlands — has launched a platform for its own client users and staff, comprising of almost 1,000 journalists and newspaper workers, based on the Zapaday system. Following a trial of the free news calendar, its editorial staff began using the service on 23 January — the second European news agency to team up with Zapaday after the Baltics-based BNS.
Cyclodeo
It’s all very well planning a cycle route on a map, but there are several factors that they don’t take into account — just how steep is that road? How many potholes are there? How heavy is the traffic on average? Cyclodeo, which has set out to crowdsource video documentation of popular cycle routes across a number of European cities and New York, has now launched a version for mobile devices. On top of this, San Franciscans can now also enjoy video of rides around the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos Avenue, and 90 others in the US city.
Coffee Joulies
In 2011, we wrote about Coffee Joulies — small stainless steel stones that can be placed into coffee mugs to keep the drink at the right temperature. One of its creators — Dave Jackson — has since returned to Kickstarter with a new project, the Wrap Wallet. Intended to reduce the footprint of the money-keepers, the wallet works by wrapping notes around any cards kept inside it, while also containing a window for IDs or driving licences. With an initial funding aim of USD 6,000, the project ended up raising an astonishing USD 164,000 — 2,700 percent of its target.
Glove Love
A matchmaking service for the gloves that have become accidentally separated from their partners, Glove Love has recently teamed up with global telecoms company Nokia for a joint marketing campaign. For those who have lost gloves after taking one off to use their smartphone — no doubt now a common problem — the campaign offered a free pair matched by Glove Love in return for their single ones. At the same time, the initiative promoted the Nokia Lumia’s sensitive screen, which works even with gloves on, reducing the chance of losing the hand warmers. A video of the campaign can be seen here.
Zapaday
Zapaday has been keeping journalists up to date with the days’ happenings and future events in one place since we wrote about it in 2011. Now ANP — one of the leading news agencies in the Netherlands — has launched a platform for its own client users and staff, comprising of almost 1,000 journalists and newspaper workers, based on the Zapaday system. Following a trial of the free news calendar, its editorial staff began using the service on 23 January — the second European news agency to team up with Zapaday after the Baltics-based BNS.
Cyclodeo
It’s all very well planning a cycle route on a map, but there are several factors that they don’t take into account — just how steep is that road? How many potholes are there? How heavy is the traffic on average? Cyclodeo, which has set out to crowdsource video documentation of popular cycle routes across a number of European cities and New York, has now launched a version for mobile devices. On top of this, San Franciscans can now also enjoy video of rides around the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos Avenue, and 90 others in the US city.
Coffee Joulies
In 2011, we wrote about Coffee Joulies — small stainless steel stones that can be placed into coffee mugs to keep the drink at the right temperature. One of its creators — Dave Jackson — has since returned to Kickstarter with a new project, the Wrap Wallet. Intended to reduce the footprint of the money-keepers, the wallet works by wrapping notes around any cards kept inside it, while also containing a window for IDs or driving licences. With an initial funding aim of USD 6,000, the project ended up raising an astonishing USD 164,000 — 2,700 percent of its target.
Kinsa
The thermometer is the most common piece of household medical equipment, and it used to be the most humble. Kinsa — whose smart version of the basic health monitor enables families to track their wellness over time and even see if there’s a bug going round their neighborhood or school — has now received FDA approval. The company is currently accepting pre-orders for the device, which connects to users’ existing smartphones, and is currently beta testing the product. It expects the first shipments to be delivered in March or April.
Glove Love
A matchmaking service for the gloves that have become accidentally separated from their partners, Glove Love has recently teamed up with global telecoms company Nokia for a joint marketing campaign. For those who have lost gloves after taking one off to use their smartphone — no doubt now a common problem — the campaign offered a free pair matched by Glove Love in return for their single ones. At the same time, the initiative promoted the Nokia Lumia’s sensitive screen, which works even with gloves on, reducing the chance of losing the hand warmers. A video of the campaign can be seen here.
Zapaday
Zapaday has been keeping journalists up to date with the days’ happenings and future events in one place since we wrote about it in 2011. Now ANP — one of the leading news agencies in the Netherlands — has launched a platform for its own client users and staff, comprising of almost 1,000 journalists and newspaper workers, based on the Zapaday system. Following a trial of the free news calendar, its editorial staff began using the service on 23 January — the second European news agency to team up with Zapaday after the Baltics-based BNS.
Cyclodeo
It’s all very well planning a cycle route on a map, but there are several factors that they don’t take into account — just how steep is that road? How many potholes are there? How heavy is the traffic on average? Cyclodeo, which has set out to crowdsource video documentation of popular cycle routes across a number of European cities and New York, has now launched a version for mobile devices. On top of this, San Franciscans can now also enjoy video of rides around the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos Avenue, and 90 others in the US city.
Coffee Joulies
In 2011, we wrote about Coffee Joulies — small stainless steel stones that can be placed into coffee mugs to keep the drink at the right temperature. One of its creators — Dave Jackson — has since returned to Kickstarter with a new project, the Wrap Wallet. Intended to reduce the footprint of the money-keepers, the wallet works by wrapping notes around any cards kept inside it, while also containing a window for IDs or driving licences. With an initial funding aim of USD 6,000, the project ended up raising an astonishing USD 164,000 — 2,700 percent of its target.
Kinsa
The thermometer is the most common piece of household medical equipment, and it used to be the most humble. Kinsa — whose smart version of the basic health monitor enables families to track their wellness over time and even see if there’s a bug going round their neighborhood or school — has now received FDA approval. The company is currently accepting pre-orders for the device, which connects to users’ existing smartphones, and is currently beta testing the product. It expects the first shipments to be delivered in March or April.
Glove Love
A matchmaking service for the gloves that have become accidentally separated from their partners, Glove Love has recently teamed up with global telecoms company Nokia for a joint marketing campaign. For those who have lost gloves after taking one off to use their smartphone — no doubt now a common problem — the campaign offered a free pair matched by Glove Love in return for their single ones. At the same time, the initiative promoted the Nokia Lumia’s sensitive screen, which works even with gloves on, reducing the chance of losing the hand warmers. A video of the campaign can be seen here.
Zapaday
Zapaday has been keeping journalists up to date with the days’ happenings and future events in one place since we wrote about it in 2011. Now ANP — one of the leading news agencies in the Netherlands — has launched a platform for its own client users and staff, comprising of almost 1,000 journalists and newspaper workers, based on the Zapaday system. Following a trial of the free news calendar, its editorial staff began using the service on 23 January — the second European news agency to team up with Zapaday after the Baltics-based BNS.
Cyclodeo
It’s all very well planning a cycle route on a map, but there are several factors that they don’t take into account — just how steep is that road? How many potholes are there? How heavy is the traffic on average? Cyclodeo, which has set out to crowdsource video documentation of popular cycle routes across a number of European cities and New York, has now launched a version for mobile devices. On top of this, San Franciscans can now also enjoy video of rides around the Golden Gate Bridge, Point Lobos Avenue, and 90 others in the US city.
Coffee Joulies
In 2011, we wrote about Coffee Joulies — small stainless steel stones that can be placed into coffee mugs to keep the drink at the right temperature. One of its creators — Dave Jackson — has since returned to Kickstarter with a new project, the Wrap Wallet. Intended to reduce the footprint of the money-keepers, the wallet works by wrapping notes around any cards kept inside it, while also containing a window for IDs or driving licences. With an initial funding aim of USD 6,000, the project ended up raising an astonishing USD 164,000 — 2,700 percent of its target.

Those in poverty or without a home don’t enjoy the same privileges as everyone else — while the average US consumer spends nearly USD 2,000 on fashion items each year, the poor can barely afford a coat for the winter months. In South Africa, social inequality means that more than half of children live in poverty despite it being the wealthiest nation in the continent. Giving homeless people the same dignity afforded to paying customers, The Street Store is a rent-free temporary store that provides poor neighborhoods with free clothes and fashion advice.

Rather than rely on brick and mortar, The Street Store instead uses cardboard branding to set up its outlets in public venues and on the sidewalk, after gaining council permission. Each store is stocked with donated clothes, and the cardboard doubles as stands and hangers to present the items much like a typical fashion store. Although all of the items are free for the poor to take, volunteers are on hand to give customers advice on which fashions might suit them best. On the day of the first store opening on Somerset Road in Cape Town, around 1,000 homeless people visited and walked away with a new outfit — for some, the first they’d been able to choose themselves for a long time.

The concept relies on charitable donations, but those wanting to get involved can either volunteer for existing Street Stores, or even pledge to set up their own by simply printing off the branding available from the website.

The Street Store isn’t the first innovative fashion pop-up we’ve seen — The Exchange is another store that doesn’t accept money, only pledges to donate organs for medical purposes. How else can the retail model be re-appropriated for charitable causes?

While wearable technology is bringing smart devices even closer to home, another emerging field is the development of electronics that actually sit inside our bodies. We recently reported on TruTag — ingestible nanoscale electronic tags that could help tackle pharma fraud — and now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created edible batteries, that could be used to power biodegradable devices located inside the body.

Developed by professors Christopher Bettinger and Jay Whitacre, from the materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering department at the institution, the idea stems from the need for a power source for biodegradable electronic materials that could have a number of medical benefits — timed drug delivery or health tracking, for example. The result is a non-toxic sodium ion battery that uses melanin derived from an organic material — cuttlefish ink. Since the ink is fairly commonly available, the cost of the edible batteries is low. The team says that the devices could be ingested in much the same way as a pill, without the need for prior sterilization, and any casing is biodegradable and deteriorates in the body. Combined with other technology, the batteries could have wide-ranging use — both medical and otherwise.

In the near future, Bettinger imagines that humans could be taking his battery pills once a day in order to keep internal devices running. What possible inventions could be brought about thanks to this development?

While travel review sites and Lonely Planet guides can give holidaymakers some sense of their destination, truly personal recommendations can’t be beaten. We’ve already seen For You The Traveller — the print brochure that includes real residents’ phone numbers — help guide tourists around a new city, and now Jauntful is a service that enables friends to create their own personalized, printed and digital travel guides for guests visiting their town.

Tourists who have a contact in the city they’re visiting almost always benefit from their unique knowledge and experience. With this in mind, Jauntful enables users to easily and quickly curate their own guides for their friends simply by selecting their favorite locations and venues on a map of the city. Creators can add their own recommendations for each place of interest and Jauntful then produces a professional-looking pocket-sized pamphlet ready to send to friends for their trip, including a useful map and all of the personal liner notes. Tourists can either use the print version or download an interactive version to their smartphones. Using the digital option, city residents then get notified when visitors check off the locations they recommended.

Currently in early preview, the service mixes online and offline tech to make truly unique travel guides that help guests make the most of a new city. Are there other ways to personalize the tourist experience?