Business Technology

6 smart products that are not afraid to take charge!

8 min read

13 September 2013

From giving you cooking advice, monitoring your heart beat and forcing you to smile, technology is quickly forming a mind of its own.

Here are six intelligent products that aren’t afraid to take over your life!

1. The pill that texts the doctor from inside your body

This miracle pill was developed on the basis that medicine often needs to be taken every day at set times. Let’s face it, most people don’t do very well when it comes to that and, as a result, a large number of drugs is wasted each year. So, how do you make sure a forgetful relative is taking their medicine on a regular basis? By having the tablet tweet you when it his the stomach, of course!

The key is a sensor that transmits a signal to a patch worn by the patient when the sensor itself hits the stomach acid after being swallowed. The patch will then send the data via text message or e-mail to family and doctors, confirming that the pill has been taken.

Andrew Thomson, chief executive of Proteus Digital Health, likens the procedure to that of a potato battery. “If you stick a bit of copper and a bit of magnesium in a potato and you wire it up you can power a lightbulb. What we have done is to take two absolutely required dietary minerals, one is copper and one is magnesium, and put them on a grain of sand that’s less than a millimetre square in a way that means that when we combine it with a drug, when you swallow it you become a potato.”

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2. You better smile or your fridge won’t open!

Scientists in Tokyo have come up with their own Pavlov’s dog’s theory to making people happy – it involves forcing people to smile in exchange for their food. The “Happiness Counter” aims to naturally encourage smiling in our every day lives. Equipped with a built-in digital camera and smile-recognition technology, the device scans a person’s face as they stand in front of the fridge and detects whether or not they’re smiling – if you’re sad, the door becomes very difficult to open.

Better yet, it’s proved to have a genuine effect on users’ mood. After conducting a series of trials to test its effectiveness, researchers found that participants were more likely to smile forcefully in the first few days of using the system, compared to day ten when people were more likely to smile naturally.

They also believe the “Happiness Counter” has the potential to boost productivity and morale in the workplace. By using the same device strapped to the fridge and transferring it to a meeting door, only those who smile will be allowed to enter.

3. Driving with no hands just got easier!

Being driven around by a robotic chauffeur is quickly becoming a reality. Cars that are able to drive around by themselves are already being taken for test runs by Oxford University and Google. Through the use of lasers and small cameras to memorise regular journey’s – such as commute’s to work – engineers and researchers are looking to produce a low-cost system that will take the strain off drivers.

Self-driving cars wouldn’t depend on GPS, but will know where they are because they recognise their surroundings. The car will know where you work, where you live and which route you prefer to get from point A to point B. To put it simply, the car learns and gains experience through time.

The car will be driven by a human, but when it goes on the same journey again and recognises where it is, it will send the driver a prompt to a built in iPad in the dashboard, offering to let the car “take the wheel.”

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4. Microwave ovens with electronic recipe-books

Another nifty appliance from Japan, Matsushita’s latest microwave ovens feature an electronic recipe-book function that lets you load in recipes via a Secure Digital card, which was developed through the collaborative help of Toshiba ans SanDisk.

The 8MB memory card can store up to 365 recipes and can be accessed through a 3.8-inch colour LCD panel at the front of the microwave. The oven automatically identifies cooking temperature, microwave power and cooking time.

But that’s not what makes the product stand out. It will, in fact, offer you advise. When the oven identifies what you are cooking, among it’s arsenal of advice tips, it will suggest a number of side dishes!

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5. Clothes that can monitor your heart beat

Smart textile fabric can control the physical state of an organism. In Madrid, scientists from the University of Carlos III have invented a t-shirt that watches the health of its owner. Electrodes have been implemented in the fabric that react to heart beat, body temperature and level of physical activity. Most importantly, despite all the technology embedded in its core, the t-shirt can easily be washed.

To say the least, the fundamental job of clothes has changed and has become highly competitive ground for scientists. Europeans can already buy jackets that produce electricity so that you can listen to a built in mp3 player. A Canadian University is also working on a project – dubbed Karma Chameleon – where clothes will adapt colour and shape depending on the wearer’s movement.

Lunar design’s BLU Jacket uses organic fabrics containing semi-conductors in order to display your mood through signs and colours. That’s not all though, if someone asked you for directions, you could theoretically project a map onto the jacket’s sleeve.

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6. The right information at just the right time

Google Now is not afraid to mange your day before you even get started! While you sit at work, Google Now is already calculating traffic conditions and alternating routes for when you go home, all according to what it perceives to be your next likely destination. This also includes real-time transit updates when transportation mode is set to public transit. When you have an appointment, Google Now will send you a notification in advance to let you know when to leave and the route you should be taking.

When you are near a bus stop or train station, Google Now will instantly display what buses or trains are next. And when you’re on the go, Google Now will suggest bars, restaurants and places of interest. If you see something you like, you can get more information, see previous reviews or make instant reservations. It will also alert you are passing a popular area for taking photographs.

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