Discovering innovations that matter since 2002

Beer is generally bad for the body — it's high in calories, can cause liver damage and makes the brain make bad decisions when drunk. As the nutrient-rich Lean Machine Ale has already proved, however, beer can be healthy if it's brewed the right way. Similarly, The Problem Solver beer claims to help drinkers reach their creative peak, so long as they don't drink too much.

Beer is good at helping people lose their inhibitions and according to studies, creative thinking peaks at an alcohol level of 0.075 percent. Created by CP+B Copenhagen and brewed by Rocket Brewing Co., The Problem Solver is an India Pale Ale that helps drinkers reach just that point. Since everyone has a different tolerance for alcohol dependent on their body size, each 75cl bottle of the 7.1 percent ABV beer comes with an indicator that shows drinkers when they've reached the optimum level for solving problems with creative thinking. As the beer goes down, the scale shows drinkers when they should stop, according to their weight. For example, a 60kg woman only needs half a bottle, while an 85kg man can finish the whole thing to reap the effects.

Obviously, those who decide to keep on drinking after that point can't be guaranteed to remain in a perfect state of creative thinking. The campaign is also organizing local community brainstorming sessions using the beer to solve problems. Are there other food and drink products that could be tweaked to help consumers to safely improve their mental capacity?

Many businesses are now realizing the value of engaging customers with an experience they won't forget, by turning the usual mundane processes into fun ones. Dutch bank ABN Amro recently helped a customer to sell their house by building a fully-functioning rollercoaster inside of it to give prospective buyers a unique tour around the property. Now online life insurance company Beagle Street has launched its Positive Prints campaign, which brightens up policy documents with artworks by noted illustrators.

Life insurance is unfortunately a serious business, which means that applying and securing a deal can become a dour task. Not only that, but policy documents can get shoved in a file and forgotten about, making them difficult to retrieve when they're needed. Believing that taking out life insurance should be a more positive affair — it does after all secure support for family members in the case of death — the UK's Beagle Street wanted to make the process more enjoyable.

Working with artists Rose Blake (daughter of pop artist Sir Peter Blake), Supermundane and RUDE, the company has created 3 bright designs printed on high quality paper that feature the slogan 'Enjoy life'. Each print features the customer's life insurance policy on the back. The idea is that the prints can be hung in the home so that customers never lose their important documents.

The campaign adds an element of pleasure and surprise to the dull process of taking out a life insurance policy. Are there other mundane business process that could be brightened up with positive design or experiential elements?

Hot on the heels of our recent coverage of Medigo, the platform that helps patients find the best healthcare abroad, we've discovered another service that's making medical tourism easier for those who want to get specialist or improved treatment outside of their own country. Based in Indonesia, Tab a Doctor is a community that enables patients to liaise with doctors and hospitals in neighboring countries, as well as arrange appointments.

Currently offering information about healthcare professionals in Singapore and Malaysia, the site lets users search for the treatment they need or the location they want to receive it. Tab a Doctor then connects them with verified clinics and doctors that patients can review. If they're interested in learning more about each hospital, they can initiate an online chat with the relevant staff, who will give them an estimated cost, give them more information about the procedure or the location and even help them get a visa for travel. If they're happy after liaising with a doctor, they can even book the appointment through the site.

According to Tech In Asia, the company is working on delivering video conferencing and mobile chats directly between doctor and patient. Given the clear need for medical tourism in many countries, is there a way for travel companies to make more of partnerships with reputable medical institutions to further facilitate comfortable trips for those seeking treatment abroad?

The new industrial centers of the world — such as China, India and Brazil — as well as other major cities, all have one common problem and that's pollution. It's detrimental to residents' health, but not widely recorded or reported. We've already seen devices such as Netatmo, which lets homeowners monitor the air quality where they live, and now Breathe is a wearable sensor that helps users keep track of pollution levels wherever they are.

The device itself takes the form of a small white clip that can be attached to any item of clothing. It measures the levels of toxic elements in the air as users travel through different environments. When connected to the companion app, users can track the air quality at the locations they've visited throughout the day, providing them with data to help them avoid pollution hotspots. If the air quality becomes a significant risk to wearers' health, Breathe sends an emergency alert to their phone.

As well as having personal benefits, the Breathe sensor sends all of its collected data to a crowdsourced database that in the future could provide real time information about pollution levels around the world.

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Breathe makes it possible to track environmental metrics that are otherwise impossible to detect, despite the huge effect they have on our health. Could wearable tech be designed to monitor other invisible safety hazards?

In Jingle All The Way — perhaps one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, at least in Springwise's opinion — Arnold Schwarzenegger goes to absurd lengths to get the must-have toy craze Turbo-Man after they've sold out in stores. Zeitgeist products from the Furby to Pet Rock will always give parents a headache at Christmas time, but a bigger trend in the ascendancy is the Maker movement, which aims to get consumers creating their own personalized gadgets and playthings. In line with that philosophy, Modio is an app that makes it easy for kids to bring their own imagination to life in the form of a 3D printed superhero or monster figure, based on their own design.

Available as a free app for both iPhone and iPad, Modio lets users pick from a huge digital library of 3D parts – heads, bodies, legs and accessories — that can be combined with one another to create unique characters and creatures. Each piece can be customized down to color, pattern and texture, and a detail mode lets kids with a penchant for art to draw their own emblems. The finished design can be played with via the app to test the different poses they can make.

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When they're happy with their creation, those with access to a 3D printer can either quickly print their figure in one piece or print each part individually. Individual parts simply snap into place and they twist and bend just like they did in the app. Since each action figure is essentially modular, users can replace any broken parts, or change up their character by simply printing more. The app supports any 3D printer, although it comes optimized for the MakerBot and its Cloud Library out of the box.

Watch the video below to see the app in action:

Although using Modio to its full potential requires both an iPad and a 3D printer, it allows for a lot more freedom, as well as potential enjoyment and learning for kids than a store-bought toy would. Are there other typically mass-produced products that could be designed and manufactured by consumers using a similar platform?

Regular readers of Springwise may remember our recent article on the ambulance drone, designed to offer faster response times and hopefully save more lives as a result. Now looking to target less life threatening situations, our most recent spotting is the creation of London-based Bizzby, which is looking to create the first fleet of courier drones for private individuals.

While there has been much talk of major logistics and delivery companies taking advantage of drones to offer faster delivery times, there has been little activity surrounding the possibility of a similar service for individuals. The Bizzby Sky, however, is just that. Equipped with a small on-board compartment measuring 25 cm (H) x 40 cm (W) x 120 in (L) that can carry up to 500g, the drones enable individuals to send and receive small items across crowded cityscapes.

To order a drone, users fire up the Bizzby app on their phone and enter details of the item they are looking to deliver, the location they wish to deliver to, and the time they would like the collection to take place. They can enter a pick up location, or let the drone pick up from their current location. Once the drone has arrived and the item has been placed on board, the vehicle will set off for its destination, flying up to 400 feet. On-board sensors are designed to prevent collisions in the air, while cameras give both the sender and receiver real-time tracking capabilities — pixelating any sensitive material for privacy reasons. In the event that the drone begins to run low on batteries, it will automatically return to its home GPS coordinates.

However, low batteries may actually be the least of Bizzby’s worries, as the Civil Aviation Authority does not currently authorise the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles over populated areas. Undeterred, Bizzby has created a petition urging the UK government to allow the use of these drones, calling for regulations and controls similar to those already used by air traffic control. Should they be successful, what other opportunities would that new legislation open up?

While air travel is usually regarded as a symbol of mankind’s great achievements, the carbon footprint those planes produce has, to date, left a serious taint on that accomplishment. What many wouldn’t have expected, however, is for another of modern society’s “vices” to arrive on the scene as a solution to the problem.

Solaris is an energy-rich, nicotine-free, GMO-free tobacco plant developed by Italy’s Sunchem Holding — the first South African crop of which is soon to be harvested, before oil is extracted from the plant’s seed. It will then fall on South African Airways (SAA) and aeroplane manufacturer Boeing to trial the resultant biofuel under their new Project Solaris.

Over 50 hectares of the Solaris seeds have already been planted as part of SAA’s plans to increase its use of biofuels to 20 million liters by 2017, with an aim of 400-million liters by 2023. As well as benefiting the environment — Solaris biofuel can reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by 50 percent to 75 percent — the project will also reduce fuel costs for SAA, which makes up approximately 40 percent of the airline’s total operating costs.

How else could air travel clean up its act for a greener tomorrow?

Driven by innovations such as 3D printing, the fashion industry is currently undergoing a major shakeup. There’s been a noticeable push to give consumers more control over the clothing they wear — letting them customize and personalize their garments both before and after purchase. It’s no surprise then, to see that same trend carried over into more performance focused garments such as NuDown’s new range.

Rather than using traditional insulating materials such as natural down or synthetic insulation, NuDown garments feature inflatable air chambers, designed to be filled with Argon gas to capture and store body heat. The advantages to such an approach over more traditional insulation materials are numerous. Firstly, unlike down from animals, the NuDown jackets won’t lose their insulating properties in wet weather. Secondly, the jackets have a superior warmth-to-weight ratio in comparison to similar premium products using traditional down. The jackets also offer a suitable alternative for those who prefer to avoid animal products.

By far the most intriguing feature of this new approach, however, is that the wearer can pump up the garment for extra insulation should the weather become colder, or release the gas if it’s becoming too warm. It’s an approach that will appeal to ultra-light explorers as it reduces the need to for extra layers, as well as offering a more convenient way to regulate temperature quickly without having to stop.

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The NuDown Fall 2015 collection includes six technical outerwear styles — 3 for men and 3 for women — with the men’s range available in 7 colorways, while the women’s will be available in 9. Prices will vary between USD 400 to USD 600, and a pack of 3 Argon refill canisters will cost consumers USD 20.

As garment manufacturers continue to innovate to create opportunities for consumers to customize the fit, design, or performance of an item, what lessons could other industries learn from the example being set?

We’ve seen 3D printed maps, shoes and even urns, but this next innovation may have just trumped them all.

It was at this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show that we saw the launch of the world’s first 3D printed car, created by Local Motors. The Strati was the result of four and half months work and 44 hours of actual printing time, but according to reports, future models could be created in as little as six weeks, with actual printing times reduced to 24 hours.

The car consists of 49 parts, which is a huge reduction on the thousands found in standard cars. Of course, not all of those components are printed — the battery, engine and suspension aren’t, for example — but the chassis and interior features are all ABS plastic reinforced with carbon fiber.

As impressive as the innovation is in its own right, equally as impressive is the time frame the Local Motors team are looking at to bring the vehicle to the public. Consumers can already subscribe via the Local Motors website to be notified once the car is in production — which is estimated to be at some point during the next twelve months — when it will retail for between USD 18,000 to USD 30,000.

There are numerous advantages to 3D printing a vehicle — proving this is far more than a novelty. It could lead to cheaper repair parts being printed on demand, or for customized versions of the car being printed for differing conditions, depending on the location of the production plant. And with advantages such as these on offer, entrepreneurs everywhere would to well to consider what other industries are already overdue their own 3D printed disruption…

Christmas has always been a time for sharing and connecting with family, and every year marketing agencies across the globe take it upon themselves to remind consumers of this fact. Once in a while however, a campaign comes along which sets itself apart from the rest, making it harder for consumers to react with cynicism… and maybe even eliciting a heartfelt smile instead. Telecoms company O2’s recent Xmas Card campaign, which saw the launch of the world’s first greeting card with the ability to make a phone call, may have succeeded in doing just that.

Developed in collaboration with German creative agency Interone, the campaign created a greetings card that features an integrated mic, speaker and SIM card that’s pre-loaded with a number chosen by the sender (typically their own). When the card is opened, the technology immediately dials the number and establishes a connection. The sender of the card can then use their phone to chat to the recipient in real time. You can see the card — which has now been filed as a patent — in action in the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cPLdBpBNhQ

How else could innovative uses of technology give Christmas campaigns a boost to help them stand out from the crowd?