3D printed maps could help the blind navigate their city

Modern technology has turned many of the things we consume from physical objects into pixels on a screen. While this has benefited the majority of us, those with sight difficulties don’t get along well with visual stimuli or touchscreen devices. In the past, we’ve seen Yahoo! Japan develop Hands On Search, a project that lets blind kids carry out web searches with 3D printed results. Now the country’s governmental department GSI is creating software that will enable those with visual impairments to print out 3D versions of online maps. READ MORE…

This brick could save Californians 67 million gallons of water a day

California is facing one the worst water droughts in history, and with many towns facing problems with water resources the importance of being thrifty is becoming very clear. We’ve already written about Everydrop LA, the app that enables citizens to report instances of water leakage in the city. Now another project is encouraging Californians to Drop-A-Brick into their toilets to save water and money at home. READ MORE…

Interactive radio ads let listeners speak back

We’re now used to interactive media, but many ads — even online ones — still feel like a one-way message. Platforms such as AdYapper have previously provided a platform for consumers to comment on TV spots and help advertisers get feedback on their work. Now XAPPmedia wants to turn Internet radio ads into a conversation, enabling listeners to speak back to take part in offers and discounts. READ MORE…

Intelligent yoga mat could replace your instructor

Technology is changing the way we exercise — whether it’s wearable fitness trackers or apps such as FitStar, which acts as a digital personal trainer that reacts to users’ workout performance. Bringing these capabilities to yoga, the SmartMat uses sensors to intelligently measure users’ posture and balance to deliver personalized advice and help improve their practice. READ MORE…

Platform lets users share documents with real-time audio comments

The platforms that businesses most commonly use to communicate with both colleagues and clients — phone, email, face-to-face meetings and video chat — are typically only used one at a time. If it’s just a quick chat, you pick up the phone, if you need to send a document you send an email. But is there a way to make multimedia collaboration more seamless through a single platform? We recently wrote about Talko, which aims to make voice calls more like emails. Now a similar service, Blrt, is offering both real-time and anytime sharing of documents, with integrated drawing and voice commenting tools. READ MORE…

High fashion comes to hi vis

As any urban cyclist will know, trying to get from A to B in one piece can be a dangerous task, especially in Western cities that will soon see it get dark at rush hour. It’s generally considered a wise move to wear some high-visibility clothing, but many don’t bother for fear of looking silly. In order to remedy this, London-based Henrichs has developed a range of hi vis cycling gear with a touch of glamour. READ MORE…

At Düsseldorf Airport, a robot called Ray will park your car

Airport parking lots can be a hassle. Every driver knows the experience of spending the better part of an hour searching for a spot, only to find one that’s miles away from the terminal entrance. Those flying from Düsseldorf Airport may no longer have this problem thanks to a new robotic employee. Ray is a robot valet that will safely store travelers’ cars and have it ready for them when they return. READ MORE…

Dress lets women change clothes in public without getting naked

Working hard to look great in a bikini can do wonders for self-esteem, but that can all be undone when it comes time to awkwardly change clothes at the beach without accidentally flashing passersby. Hoping to put an end to this important problem, The Undress is a portable changing room that protects women’s dignity when they need to swap outfits in a public place. READ MORE…

Software add-on makes your Tesla smarter

While companies such as Google are still working on their driverless vehicles, true smart cars are still some way from consumer driveways. Earlier this year we saw theBDLink MX WiFi kickstarter campaign successfully fund a small widget that retrofits any car with smart capabilities. For Tesla owners, Smartcar is now enabling them to personalize and automate their car’s climate and charging settings using their smartphone. READ MORE…

Hotel guests get luxury upgrade for volunteering at local nonprofits

There are some things in life that are a luxury not everyone can afford — first class travel, penthouse suites and gym membership to name a few — but that’s not to say they can never be experienced by those on a shoestring. We recently wrote about work-trade programs that have popped up at several New York gyms, enabling cash-strapped customers to exchange volunteer work for workout sessions. Now the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington has launched an offer that gets guests involved in community projects during their stay, in return for a host of complimentary perks. READ MORE…

In-game rewards for outdoor exercise

The mobile gaming industry is huge, and titles such as Farmville and Candy Crush Saga are proof that gamers are willing to cough up real cash for extra virtual lives and progress to reach the next level. For parents, this just adds more worry about kids using up their pocket money on top of spending too much time on their devices. In China, the creators of the popular mobile game Timi Run Everyday are now hoping to solve both problems, by forcing players to exercise in order to unlock special in-game rewards. READ MORE…

Solar powered trikes deliver food to local businesses without the emissions

The major problem with the modern food industry is how much it relies on oil. Consumers demand food from all around the world, even when they can get seasonal fruit and veg from their local neighborhood. Startups such as FreshRealm have already aimed to reduce the number of trips produce makes by delivering it straight from farms to consumers by mail. Now Amsterdam-based FOODLOGICA is using sustainable e-trikes powered by the sun for ‘last mile’ food transport from city farmers’ markets to local catering businesses. READ MORE…

Scanner lets shoppers perform in-store search for physical items

Regular readers of Springwise may remember our recent coverage of Partpic, the visual search app that lets consumers scan components to work out what they are and where to buy them. Bringing this capability to high street stores, Germany’s Findbox is a device that enables shoppers to quickly find what they’re looking for by scanning similar items. READ MORE…

A crowdfunding site for late stage development

While most people may connect the crowdfunding phenomenon with giants such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, there’s a whole range of budding platforms with a twist on the concept. We’ve previously seen Singapore’s Haystakt let the crowds determine the prices of its crowdfunded goods, for example. Now Crowdlaunch.it is focusing on entrepreneurs and innovators who have a fully-built or late stage product or startup and need the funds to bring it to market. READ MORE…

Comedy club charges customers per laugh

Entertainers, much like the publishing industry, are facing a much more tough environment for making profit in an age where it’s easier (and often cheaper) for consumers to get their kicks online. We’ve previously seen the literary world respond with ideas such as Total BooX — the Israeli startup that charges readers by the page, rather than for entire titles. In a similar way, Spain’s Teatreneu has now trialled a system that uses facial recognition to track audience responses and charges them according to how much they enjoyed the show. READ MORE…