• Amelia W

Technology for unexpected purposes and real life invisibility cloaks

November is long gone and the countdown to Christmas is in full fledge. But let's take a break from the holiday ads and instead look at the weird and wonderful things the past month had to offer.

Celebrating Freddie Mercury and Storytelling on Tinder

Swipe Right On Swipe Night - Tinder's Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Campaign

In October, Tinder debuted their new interactive digital experience, Swipe Night, which greets users in the US every Sunday night (6pm to midnight) as they open the app. It’s basically a choose-your-own-adventure curated by the dating app. ⠀⠀ Here’s how it works: Every Sunday night, users can opt into the interactive experience, which follows three characters who find themselves at a party—one that happens to be on the night of the end of the world. Users use the app’s swiping feature to navigate the characters through different moral dilemmas and practical decisions as they attempt to survive the apocalypse. After each episode, the app matches users who viewed the same experiences and allows participants to display three of their choices on their profiles, which can serve as icebreakers for potential dates. ⠀⠀ Swipe Night is aimed at Tinder’s youngest users—ages 18-25, as they make up for half of the app’s user base. And it seems like it worked, Tinder said in late October that matches on its app jumped 26% compared to a typical Sunday night, and messages increased 12%. ⠀⠀ Following this, Tinder has said that they will make Season 1 of Swipe Night (a hint there’s more to come) available soon as an on-demand experience, and will roll out the product to international markets early next year. ⠀⠀

Does this mean Tinder is moving into video streaming…? We’re sure we will find out soon enough!

Sing like Freddie with YouTube's FreddieMeter

Think you can sing? Well now you can test your talent with the FreddieMeter on YouTube. The platform partnered with Google Creative Lab, Queen, Universal Music Group and Hollywood Records to create an AR experiment allowing users to test just how closely their voices match that of Freddie Mercury’s. ⠀

⠀ The technology analyses users’ pitch, timbre and melody and asses the match on a scale of 1-100 (100 being a perfect match). There are four songs to choose from - “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Somebody To Love” and “We Are The Champions”. Once given a score, users can share their results on social media and challenge their friends using the hashtag #FreddieChallenge. ⠀⠀

The FreddieMeter was launched to celebrate Queen’s first ever live performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool 44 years ago. ⠀

⠀ Well, we may only sing 46% like mr Mercury, but that won’t stop us from trying.

The Unexpected Use Cases for Technology

Wired For Purpose - A Statement Against Borders We love anything that f*cks with border fences or walls for the good of society (scroll back a to April’s posts to read about the Canadian artist who made a wall of Mexican cheese if you don’t believe us..) ⠀⠀ Well, this time it’s the border fence between Russia and Georgia that’s been made into a statement radio transmitter. Georgia native designer Irakli Sabekia has developed a device that uses the fence as an antennae, allowing the specially tuned transmitter to broadcast the names and coordinated of villages that were erased during 2008’s Russo-Georgian War, in Morse code. ⠀⠀ Sabekia said about the project "Behind the razor wire fence, Georgian villages are deliberately burned down, demolished, and then even the ruins completely removed from the area. In an attempt to rewrite history, the traces of the population in this area were completely erased. The fence keeps being moved further into Georgian territory, trapping more than 30 more villages since the war. " ⠀⠀ At the moment, the transmitter is being presented as part of Sabekia's installation Voicing Borders, which also includes a series of projections, showing satellite images of the South Ossetia region. Sabekia allows visitors to explore this evidence via an interactive installation, which shows bird's eye views of empty landscapes. However when standing in front of the projections, the shadow cast on the wall reveals the villages that used to stand in those places – the same ones whose coordinates are sent out via the radio transmitter.

VR Headsets For ...Cows As our future appears increasingly dystopian, virtual reality headsets have become more popular, allowing people to immerse themselves in everything from videogames, to movies and even traveling into other galaxies. Well, it seems now the VR hype has spread to the cow farming industry. ⠀⠀

In a curious experiment based on the studies showing that happier cows produce more nutritious milk, a farm near Moscow has tested specially devised VR headsets that can be worn by cows to "improve conditions". A team of developers, vets, and experts produced simulations of summer fields specifically designed to appeal to cows. What’s the objective you ask? The goal is to increase the welfare of cows by looking after their emotional state and not just their physical needs. And the technology seems to show that the overall mood of the herd increased after using the VR headsets. ⠀⠀ But, making the technology ideal for cows wasn’t easy. First of all, there was the challenge of the headset. Cows' eyes are on the side of their heads, which gives them 300-degree vision but limits their binocular vision to just 25 to 50 degrees. They are also quite particular when it comes to colors, so the simulation was created to match their sensitivities. Cows can distinguish most colors and are especially good at recognizing shades on the red end of the spectrum, like red, orange, and yellow, but less so with green, blue, and violet. Taking this all into consideration, the developers created a unique summer field simulation, which evidently pleased the cows. ⠀⠀ The test is still ongoing and researchers are hoping a comprehensive long-term study will show clear results of the effect of VR on milk production, both quantity and quality. No word yet on if the cows will be able to choose their VR experience in the future, but watch this space to find out.

Make Your Own Algae With The Spira If you want to eat like NASA astronauts, you need to look into getting a Spira. The countertop device, created by recent University of Leeds graduate Rob Russell, can grow spirulina at home using light to cultivate microorganisms. ⠀

⠀ Spirulina is so nutrient-dense (proteins, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants), that it’s used by NASA as a key food source for astronauts on long space flights. Russell designed Spira for daily harvesting of the microalgae, and using the device would produce two tablespoons (4.5g in dried form) of fresh spirulina on the daily. He suggests adding this recommended daily serving to sauces, smoothies or salads – although it’s tasteless in its fresh form, few people like the taste of dried spirulina.

⠀⠀ The Spira was born out of a desire to reimagine the way we produce and consume nutrients, and cut individual greenhouse-gas emissions by replacing (or reducing) meals with home-grown algae. Russell’s hypothesis is that people will cut down on the overall amount of food they need to consume by using the device, thereby reducing land- and water-intensive livestock and crop farming. ⠀⠀ How does it work? Two acrylic tubes make up the body of the device, with seven LED strips providing five watts of light per litre of solution for 16 hours per day. A heater in the base maintains an even temperature of 35C inside the tubes. Then, to harvest their spirulina, users push a button that causes the solution to pass into the removable harvester beneath, where it is filtered through a stainless-steel mesh. As a bonus, the bioreactor purifies the air in the home, as the spirulina converts carbon dioxide into oxygen during photosynthesis. Fresh.

And The Invention We've All Been Waiting For...

The Invisibility Cloak! Who didn’t want an invisibility cloak of their own after watching Harry Potter? Well, the technology is truly wonderous because now it’s become a reality! ⠀⠀ Canadian camouflage company Hyperstealth Biotechnology has patented the technology behind a material that bends light to make people and object near invisible to the eye. The material, called Quantum Stealth, is currently still in the prototyping stage, and was primarily developed for military purposes to conceal agents and equipment such as tanks and jets in the wild. ⠀⠀ The material doesn’t just conceal people and objects from the naked eye, but also from infrared and ultraviolet imagers. The beauty of this specific camouflage material is that, unlike most materials that only work in certain conditions (forests, deserts), this one works in any environment or season, day or night. It uses a lenticular lens, which basically bends light like a glass of water does when a spoon or straw inside it looks bent. ⠀⠀ The CEO of Hyperstealth, Guy Cramer, explained that the material will not be available to use in clothing yet for a while due to the stand-off distance required, but would give it about an 80% probability at some point in the future. We are already thinking about what invisible outfits to wear once Quantum Stealth is being used in garments.

To learn more about the weird and wonderful things happening in culture, check our Instagram @world__wide__weird

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