Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

It’s a well known fact that dog’s like to be entertained at all times, but there are always times when their owners need to leave them at home alone for a short period. While devices such as the camera-equipped Petzila have enabled owners to check up on their pet and feed them remotely, CleverPet is a gaming system that automatically rewards pets with treats for completing various tasks.

Currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, the console is placed on the floor and takes the form of a bowl for dispensed treats and three LED touchpads. Games come in different levels, with the first simply offering a treat for nothing. The second requires dogs to press any touchpad with their paw or nose in order to receive the treat. The third requires them to touch a particular touchpad, while advanced levels require increasingly complex interactions in order to get the treat. The console also uses voice commands to teach dogs new words such as ‘right’ and ‘left’, and owners can track their dog’s usage while they’re out through the CleverPet app. The device even enables an online multiplayer mode, which pits dogs against others in the CleverPet network and ranks them in a leaderboard.

Watch the video below to see CleverPet in action:

CleverPet acts as an educational tool for dogs, while also keeping them entertained and engaged when there’s no-one around to play with them. Backers can still pledge from USD 199 until 2 June to get their hands on the device. Are there other ways that technology can be used to keep animals entertained when their owners aren’t at home?

Kickstarter: www.kck.st/1ltEgaF

Public facilities are often developed with one purpose in mind, but with a bit of innovative thinking, they can be designed to change their form in different situations. Sports venues are particularly suited to this — many stadiums are already capable of hosting multiple different events. Now the Netherlands has opened the first Cablean Sportveld, a multi-surface field that can be turned into a sports pitch, an advertisement, or a solar farm at the push of a button.

The field is based on a trilon system, in much the same way that mechanical advertisement hoardings are able to switch the message they display. The pitch consists of strips that make up the full surface, and each strip is attached to a moving 3-sided axle. The first Cablean Sportveld to be installed is now in place in Eindhoven, and serves as a synthetic grass pitch, an astro-turf sports surface, and a solar farm, although the device could also serve as a billboard.

Watch the video below (in Dutch) to see the innovation in action:

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Just as the Netherlands’ Rabalder Parken skatepark doubles as a water reservoir in times of flooding thanks to its design, the Cablean Sportveld makes public space usage more efficient and even helps empty pitches generate energy while they’re not in use. Are there other public amenities that could be redesigned to ensure they’re still being useful when not in use?

Mobile apps have already enabled businesses such as retailers and banks to let their customers take advantage of services at times when physical branches are closed, and the healthcare industry is now moving to 24/7 models. We recently wrote about Talkspace, the unlimited and anytime therapy texting platform, and now Pager is letting New Yorkers call a doctor of their choice to their home at any time through their smartphone.

The free app, which is available on the App Store, is designed to offer an alternative to a GP visit and is suitable for a variety of non-emergency illnesses, chronic conditions or injuries. Users can browse the roster of board-certified health professionals, which can be sorted by proximity or specialism. When a doctor is chosen, a same-day appointment and payment can be arranged through the app. House visits typically cost around USD 300 for the privilege, and the service is currently limited to Manhattan. Calls can be made on weekday evenings and all day weekends, right up to midnight, although the Pager team is working on making it 24/7.

Are there other services that could be brought to the door on demand in this way?

Writers want their work to be read, but restrictive DRM ebooks are currently the only way to release a book digitally while ensuring they get remunerated for their effort. unglue.it is a crowdfunding platform that enables authors to charge for their ebooks until they’re happy enough to release them into the public domain.

The site features three ways authors can make money from their work. The first two are fairly established models: authors either release their work for free and ask for donations from those who enjoyed it, or they ask fans to pledge money towards the creation of a book before delivering the final product. However, unglue.it offers a third option, called ‘Buy to Unglue’. Writers with a finished piece of work can set a funding target they’d like to reach through purchases of the ebook. Fans can then help make the book free for everyone by paying for a copy. When the funding target is reached, the book is ‘unglued’ and moves to a Creative Commons license that enables anyone to make copies, republish, or adapt the work. The more copies sold, the earlier the ‘unglued’ date will be.

The site offers a unique way for authors and publishers to get paid while also avoiding DRM restrictions that can stop readers accessing their work on multiple devices or from copyright laws that keep works from the public domain for up to 70 years after the creator’s death, thus enabling a freer flow of information and ideas. Are there other funding models that can help sustain the ebook industry?

We recently wrote about Bamin, the modular bag that comes in several pieces to be zipped together and swapped around by the consumer. Bringing this model to footwear, PIKKPACK is a range of shoes that use just three pieces of material to enable anyone to assemble and customize them.

Designed by Hungary-based Sara Gulyas, the shoes take their inspiration from the bocskor, a type of Hungarian moccasin. Each shoe is made of three pieces — the sole, a leather upper and a ribbon that ties the upper around the foot. Instead of coming in a bulky box that won’t fit through the mailbox, PIKKPACKs are delivered flatpack since they are easy enough for wearers to assemble themselves. Customers can select either black or brown leather, along with their choice of ribbon color from bright green, pink, blue, yellow or gray.

Watch the video below to learn more about the project:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/330336128/pikkpack-diy-leather-footwear

The standard PIKKPACK kit offers the shoes, two shoelace colors, instructions on how to make them and a tote bag to keep them in. Backers can pre-order the shoes from USD 90 until the Kickstarter ends on 1 June. Are there other items of clothes that can be designed with DIY assembly and customization in mind?

Kickstarter: www.kck.st/1mlSglz

The travel and transportation sector is one that’s almost saturated with startups, from Airbnb and Hitlist to Uber and Lyft. There’s even FlightCar, which lets travelers make money by renting out the cars they’d otherwise leave in the airport parking lot for the duration of their trip. However, Mozio is moving into a previously untapped area, helping tourists to more easily plan their transport between the airport and their hotel.

Mozio operates much like other travel search engines — users indicate whether they’re traveling to or from the airport, their flight times, and their location and destination. The site then checks all possible routes including shared-ride shuttle, airporter, taxi, limo and public transit ride, and displays them sorted by price. Users can book and pay for their preferred ride through the site, adding gratuity if they wish.

Considering how often travelers don’t book the ‘last mile’ of their trip ahead, Mozio could help tourists save money by making them aware of the whole range of local services available to get to their hotel and back to the airport. The company aims to add extra features, such as ratings and reviews, in the future, along with the development of mobile apps. Are there other pre-bookable aspects of a trip abroad that have been overlooked by search engine and price comparison sites?

Being able to better communicate with animals has been a human fantasy even before Dr Doolittle became a popular culture character. In the past we’ve seen projects such as No More Woof use EEG to read dog’s thoughts, but now Voyce is using a smart collar and app to track their fitness and understand their health.

Voyce is designed to replace dog’s usual collars with its sensor-embedded device, which monitors vital signs such as heart rate and respiratory rate, and tracks how active the animal is over time. Using the companion app, owners can see if their pet is getting enough exercise or sleep, how many calories they’re burning, and if they begin to show abnormal heart and breathing rates that could be early indicators of health problems. The app also uses algorithms to analyze the data and offer personalized tips and articles that might help improve the dog’s wellbeing and their relationship with their owner. Users can also share photos, stats and achievements on social networks, or with their vet, straight from the app.

Watch the video below to find out more about Voyce:

https://player.vimeo.com/video/82587925
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Voyce proves that it’s not just humans that can get in on the trend for fitness tracking, enabling owners to know their pet better. Are there other pieces of wearable tech that could teach people more about their animals’ lives?

Although the threat of nuclear warfare dissipated somewhat with the end of the Cold War, there are still plenty of potential modern global crises — terrorist attacks, disease pandemics or financial meltdowns — that continue to sustain demand for protective underground bunkers. Recognizing this fact, Bunker Network is a marketplace that helps connect local underground buildings with those hoping to protect their families if the worst happens.

The site is a members’ network that details the existence of ex-military and privately-built underground bunkers in countries around the world, connecting sellers with buyers. For an initial charge of USD 47 and an annual subscription fee of USD 27, members can post and browse listings that detail the size, amenities and rough location (within a few miles). Each bunker is secure and typically already stocked in the case it needs to be used in an emergency. The site lists a number of reasons why such bunkers could provide a vital sanctuary in modern times — from critical resource shortages to “superintelligent AI”. For now, the site predominantly serves those looking for bunkers in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, although it also has listings for other countries. Users can also even look for others to help build new bunkers.

Much like Garrison Bespoke’s bulletproof business suit, such a service may be of limited appeal to the average consumer, but provides protection where otherwise none would exist. Are there other products that could be designed to help citizens if social infrastructure collapses?

While the traditional cookbook has been somewhat replaced by tablets and smartphones in the kitchen, and we’ve even seen custom recipes based on the items shoppers have bought printed on receipts, there’s still a problem when it comes to actually keeping cooking instructions in view when chefs are busy preparing their meal. I Tradizionali is offering a solution in the form of temporary tattoos featuring recipes that can be applied on the arm and washed off after cooking.

Created by designers Marina Cinciripini and Sarah Richiuso, the tattoos offer an illustrated version of a variety of Italian recipes, including Grandmother’s Artichokes and sundried tomatoes and anchovies spaghetti. On the back of each tattoo is a shopping list of ingredients for the meal that can be used at the supermarket. Once in the kitchen, chefs can roll their sleeves up and apply the tattoo on the other side to their arm. This enables them to continue cooking without having to consult a book or tablet, keeping their eyes on the food. When they’ve finished, the tattoo can simply be scrubbed off. Each pack includes four recipes, and there are also themed packs for seasonal occasions and special dietary requirements.

Watch the video below (in Italian) to see the tattoos in action:

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A set of I Tradizionali tattoos can be bought for EUR 10. How else can recipes be customized to make it easier for amateur chefs to cook at home?

Humans produce an unfathomable amount of recyclable waste each year, but according to the EPA, some 93 percent of recoverable plastics don’t even make it to a processing plant. On top of this, the oceans often become the final resting place for reusable waste, harming the environment and sealife. In the past, we’ve seen the UK’s Studio Swine use sea debris to create the Sea Chair, and now California’s Bureo Skateboards is working with the Chilean government to create Minnow, a skateboard whose deck is made entirely from abandoned fishing nets from the country’s coastline.

According to the startup, plastic fishing nets are one of the most harmful and prevalent forms of waste found around the shores of Chile, despite the fact that the material is highly durable and recyclable. This fact led the company to set up Net Positiva last year, a fishnet collection and recycling program supported by the Chile government. The scheme collects enough regular waste to provide a continuous supply of material to create its skateboards. Once the nets are processed and broken down, the solution is poured into a mould that gives the Minnow board its distinctive fish shape and scale-pattern grips. The result is a 25-inch body with custom Satori wheels made of vegetable oil and recycled cores and 108mm Paris Trucks. For every board sold, 30 square feet of abandoned fishnets is removed from the ocean.

Watch the video below to learn more about Minnow:

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Bureo Skateboards helped fund the release of Minnow through a successful Kickstarter. The board can now be purchased from the company’s webstore for USD 145, shipping in August. Are there other ways to remove harmful waste from the environment and turn it into useable products?