Create the Future. Today

Designed by a chartered professional accountant who makes creative learning tools, Accounting Play’s latest accounting game is Tax Fight. Soon to be available for iOS, Tax Fight asks players to answer either deductible or nondeductible, or true or false to questions. As players progress through the 10 levels of play, different areas of taxation are covered, including individual and business.

Accounting Play has a range of other accountancy games already available, for both iOS and Android. There is a quiz app, flashcards and a debits and credits game, as well as a range of specialized topics for in-depth learning.

Taking paperwork online is an ongoing project in almost every industry, as is finding ways to organize that digital data. Luckily, some of the more onerous administrative tasks are becoming automated, like annual insurance renewals and business travel bookings. What other repetitive tasks could benefit from a robotics update?

Sorting trash from recycling just got a lot simpler with France’s Eugène. Made by Uzer, Eugène is a smart recycling and trash bin that tells users which items can be recycled and which ones cannot. Its two compartments make sorting easy, and the scanner removes all the hassle of guesswork.

Designed to help encourage residents in France to recycle more, the smart bin connects to an app that tracks consumption. Users can share their data with family and friends to compare recycling rates. And by listing each product that was scanned, the app helps users compile grocery lists for quick online ordering.

A lot of recycling work focuses on reusing waste products, like these fire logs made from coffee grounds and this DIY air conditioning unit made from old plastic bottles. How else could the processes of consumer recycling be improved through connectivity?

A number of projects are using technology to expand the sustainable capabilities of farming. A floating eco farm that uses cow manure to power production and a vertical farm that facilitates low water and low energy food production are just a few that we have recently covered. In Australia, Sundrop Farm is using mirrors to harness the sun’s energy and grow tomatoes more sustainably.

Launched on 6th October, Sundrop Farm spans 20 hectares in the South Australian desert. A field of 23,000 mirrors angled to direct the sun’s rays to shine on a central water tower, produces enough energy to farm tomatoes on an industrial scale. The energy is used for electricity and for the conversion of seawater to fresh water that can be used for irrigation. Piped in from the Spencer Gulf five kilometers away, the farm uses seawater as the sole irrigation source. The water is thermally desalinated and nutrients are added to nourish plants. Sundrop’s launch is the culmination of 2 years of piloting. The project has just secured a 10-year contract with Australian retailer, Coles, to supply 15,000 tonnes of tomatoes annually.

The farm isn’t yet entirely energy independent and relies on the grid for up to 15% of its power supply, particularly in winter when the sun is weak. Could this use of mirrors be adopted by other energy consuming sectors to make them more sustainable?

Coding is the language of the future and there are an increasing number of products being released that are designed to get children excited about learning to programme. Here at Springwise, we have covered several edtech innovations recently. Amongst them, these computer kits that allow children to build games and make graphics whilst learning the language of programming. And this speaker set that encourages children to learn about sound and frequency while assembling a speaker from scratch. The latest in the flurry of programming toys is Airblock, a modular toy that enables youngsters to build their own drone.

The product comprises of hexagonal, magnetic, modular parts that can be assembled in multiple variations around the core. Children use the accompanying Makerblock app to programme and control the toy to perform aerial stunts. They simply drag and drop different commands – like forward, pause, turn, and forward – and connect them together to create a sequence of movements. Made from lightweight engineered foam, the modular pieces are also durable.The toy is indoor friendly. If the drone does fly into a wall, it simply collapses and can be put back together again. The kit also comes with a hovercraft base so that users can also build a floating robot.

Airblock retails at USD 99 and is designed to teach basic knowledge of engineering, technology, and physics to children from 8 years old. Will we see more edtech innovations adopt modular building systems?

Virtual Reality is being used increasingly to augment entertainment media. Earlier on this month we looked at this US-based innovation, a social media platform that allows users to share content in VR. And before that we wrote about this eSports platform that allows fans to experience their favourite titles in VR. Now, livestreaming music content creators, Boiler Room, are launching the first VR venue.

boiler-room-are-building-the-first-virtual-reality-music-venue-1477416242

Boiler Room is a UK-based startup which broadcasts live events from underground music scenes. The organization has partnered with Inception, a creator of immersive VR content, to open the world’s first venue dedicated entirely to VR events. Open in Israel early next year, the space will be built specifically for content creators to capture music events in VR. Because of the specific design for the space, artists and creators will be able to produce music content that is conceptualized, designed and filmed with VR in mind. CEO Blaise Bellville outlines the aim of the space, explaining it will “bring people even closer to what it’s like being at a sweaty rave or an amazing concert half-way across the world.”

The partnership sets out to create interactive experiences for those watching, and aims to go beyond passive 360° viewing currently available. Content recorded at the VR venue will be available to stream via Inception apps. Could this model be used in other areas of the entertainment world?

We’ve seen how a smart harness could reduce training time with service dogs, and now a set of equine ear phones could help horse owners keep their animals calm and focussed.

HorseCom-horse-headphones-France-2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DL6JZ7mv39U

HorseCom have developed a set of headphones that sit on top of a horse’s head and cover their ears, like a bonnet. The headphones can perform two roles — users can communicate with their horse via a hands free comms device or have soothing music played into the horse’s ears (at safe audible levels). The headphones sync up to an app via bluetooth, with the bonnets featuring a mesh that helps reduce any effects of bluetooth exposure. HorseCom headphones are available for preorder beginning at USD 149, with a subscription service available for bespoke music and audio coaching lessons added each month.

Could other wearables assist owners with training their pets?

Red Bull Basement is an innovation platform that uses technology to make cities more inclusive and accessible. As part of a promotion campaign for its Brazilian Red Bull Basement Festival, the company linked a smart system to Sao Paulo’s 25,000 payphones. Residents dial a toll free number, and the system geolocates the phone that is being used. That location is then mapped against city transit information to identify the nearest bus stop. The fully automated system then tells the caller when the next buses are expected to arrive.

Now, any Sao Paulo resident – whether or not they own a smartphone – can dial up and connect to the city’s smart transport information system. As more and more people move to urban areas, cities are finding new ways to make old systems more accessible. Much work is being done to make large public transport systems more inclusive, such as providing priority seat badges for people with hidden impairments. And as cities improve their sustainability, cycling initiatives play a central role, like this solar-powered, glow-in-the-dark bike path.

Which urban communities are still waiting for their own niche transport hack?

Finding that great recipe just became a lot easier with Stash. An online bookmarking site, Stash uses machine learning to categorize webpages. Recipe, file, book, movie, video, job and many more categories make it easy for users to find the pages that caught their eye.

Users simply click the Stash icon and the system does the work. Sharing is easy, between devices and people. And when a user receives a bookmark from someone else, it is stored in an inbox until it is accepted or deleted. Users can also set reminders to look at something later. Stash has yet to be released, and anyone interested in using it can add their email address to the waiting list.

Getting and staying organized is on many peoples’ to-do lists, and a number of projects are helping. There is the browser extension that turns any online text into a task, and a phone call app that lets contacts know when users have a spare minute. How could organizational improvements be expanded to incorporate more areas of life?

Back in 2014 we looked at two new startups which make it possible to retrofit old heating units with smart technology. More recently we looked at these tents designed to fit over beds, helping warm air to circulate and reduce heating consumption. Now, French electrical products company, Netatmo, and designer Philippe Starck, have created smart radiator valves.

The product, designed to be compatible with European hot water radiators, allows users to change the temperature and heating schedule for each room. So, for example, the bathroom can be heated to 21℃ in the morning when it is being used, but not for the rest of the day while kids bedrooms are heated to 19℃ from 5pm on weekdays. The valves also come with a number of super smart features. Open window detection automatically stops heating a room when a window is open, and smart regulation calculates the number of people in a room, the house’s insulation, the number of appliances being used and adjusts the temperature accordingly. On top of that, the devices function with an accompanying app, which allows users to control and customize their settings remotely. The system is also compatible with Apple’s Home App voice assistant, Siri so can be controlled using the human voice.

Retailing at £59.99 each, the valves launched in September and claim to reduce energy consumption by 37 percent. Installation is simple as the device screws into radiators in the same way as thermostatic valves. Could similar smart technology be used to reduce water consumption in the home?

We’ve seen the implementation of synthetic skin within the cosmetic industry before, where a 3D printed skin is being used in place of animal testing, and now researchers have developed a cream that can effectively recreate the appearance of youthful skin.

MIT-second-skin-US-2

The team from cosmetics company Living Proof, MIT and others, use two polymers that combine to stretch out areas of the skin they are applied to, delivering a youthful elasticity while appearing effectively invisible. A ‘catalyst’ layer is first applied to the skin like a cream, with a second ‘crosslinking’ layer (XPL or ‘crosslinking polymer layer) then applied in similar fashion over the top, forming a tight, bonded material that can, for example, smooth out eye bags. The moisture-resistant layer remains effective for 24 hours after application, and, in clinical studies, none of the participants developed any signs of irritation. The research is reported in Nature Materials.

Being water-resistant, the second skin could be used to help treat dry skin conditions such as eczema — what are the other potential cosmetic and pharmaceutical applications of the cream?