Posted 22nd July 2015 | By Ean Faragher, Operations Director

As it’s holiday season I thought I’d write a blog highlighting some cool tech things you can visit, see, use and be amazed by this summer - hopefully it can give you some inspiration to make the most of your time off!

Let's start off with travel – previously a bastion for the latest and greatest inventions it feels like the world of the web has left transport behind, we're all connected through the internet now so why would you need to travel anywhere?

How to travel

HotTug

Well what if one of the reasons for being in transit is for relaxation? I doubt you can find a more relaxing method of transport than the HotTug – a wood powered boat/hot tub that is the genius invention of Frank De Bruijn of the Netherlands. Available for hire across the summer for a journey down the Thames it seems like a great way to see a different view of London…and certainly more relaxing then the efforts Gabrielle and the Tower to Tower team put in to travel down the Thames.

A real life hover board?

Moving on from relaxing travel, how about something that is so futuristic that Back to the Future said they'd exist by now? Yup, it's the hover board – longed for by children from the 80's and expected for by the children of the 00's it looks like Lexus may well have cracked it! Powered using Magnetic Levitation (yes, the technology so good that it's going to replace large parts of the Shinkansen/Bullet Train in Japan) it does require that the surface on which you're hovering be magnetic so perhaps it's not ready for a consumer launch just yet. Still, it is an actual working hoverboard so let's not get too greedy!

Edit: Lexus have now released a full length video of the hoverboard in action. They have also published a few videos of the development of the board, something achieved in just over a year! You can find a collection of Hoverboard videos here, including ones covering the motivation for the board and how they built the skatepark. 

The Ampere Ferry

Moving away from the futuristic and back to the more traditional how about the standard car ferry? Well there’s not much standard about the Ampere ferry, developed by Siemens and running between Lavik and Oppedal, across Sognefjord in Norway. As the name suggests it’s an electric ferry – and because the area the ferry runs in is powered by hydroelectric plants it doesn’t emit any carbon dioxide, not even indirectly! The ferry makes the journey across the fjord 34 times a day and the batteries recharge for the ten minutes the ferry is docked and that is enough to power it’s daily running before a full charge overnight.

EasyJet Drones

Did you know EasyJet are already testing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles? Not for passenger transport but as part a cost cutting exercise that ensures their passengers safety and keeps their fleet of aircraft in the air. They are experimenting with using quadcopter drones to allow their staff to inspect the exterior of any aircraft that have been hit by lightning, a common occurrence with a plane being hit once a year on average. By using drones Easyjet have been able to reduce a task that previously meant a plane was grounded for at least a day to just a few hours. For all the problems that hobbyist drones are causing civil aviation at the moment (and there are lots and lots and lots!) it’s good to know that they have a useful purpose for the industry too!

How to pack

The easy way to live out of a suitcase

Away from transport now – how about the packing for your holiday, or more importantly the unpacking (or living out of a suitcase) once you arrive? That’s where ShelfPack come in. With an innovative design that pulls out of the suitcase to form a shelving unit you can live out of the suitcase without all of the scrambling through the suitcase to find what you want to wear.

The smart suitcase

It seems the humble suitcase is a target for innovation at the moment, with other manufacturers integrating batteries into their luggage, so that you don’t have to fight for a wall charger in the airport and GPS tracking devices so you know exactly where your luggage is (so when airline lose it you can at least follow its journey to Timbuktu rather than listen to carrier staff tell you they don’t know where it is!)

What to wear

A hi-tech bikini...

Never mind your smart watches or Google glass – how about something that could reduce the likelihood of you getting skin cancer? We all know how easy it is to be lazing on the beach or out swimming in the sea and have no concept of how long you’ve been out there. You forget to reapply sun cream because your 10 minutes in the sun has turned into an hour without you realizing. Introducing the Spinali, a range of smart bikini’s and towels that have a waterproof UV sensor and will remind you, via your phone, to either move into the shade or apply more sunscreen (you can even set it up to alert your partner's phone so they can apply sun cream for you!). The app can be modified to take into account your skin type to ensure if you’re fair skinned you get more regular alerts than someone with olive skin.

A magic band?

A visit to Walt Disney World can be made even more magical with the Magic Band and Magic+ app according to the marketing department at the worlds biggest theme park! Essentially they streamline everything for your visit - and allow you to plan in advance what you're going to do. You can load the bands with fast passes, dining reservations (even placing your order months in advance) and money allowing you to pay for drinks, merchandise and anything else just with a swipe of the wrist. Disney are refining their offering but one cool feature recently added is that the band links up any photographs or videos taken on a ride to you (you're wearing a tracking device, remember!) and automatically uploads them to your disney account ready for you to view and purchase prints. The bands can be personalised with your name and you can choose a colour just to add that little bit of extra magic.

The destination (other than Disney World)

Henn Na Hotel

So you’ve packed your wearable tech into your powered suitcase and are about to board your futuristic transport. But where are you going to match your technology obsessed lifestyle? How about the Henn Na Hotel in Japan, part of the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park and also the worlds first hotel staffed by robots. The entire hotel is based on the premise of facial recognition, guests are capable of opening their room door just by looking into a camera – this approach also means robots are crucial staff members as they are capable of calling into their shared database and recognizing each and ever guest, every time they interact. From the check-in staff (actually, check-in dinosaur!) to porters to cleaners, they are all robots of some form. Whilst humans are available for emergency situations it’s highly likely that a guest can go an entire hotel stay without seeing a human staff member.

Hub hotel - Covent Garden

If the idea of a robot hotel is just a little too much for you how about a more minor concession to technology in the hotel world. Premier Inn launched their ‘Hub’ brand last year, which allows you to check in via your smartphone and then go to your room and control the lights, temperature and TV from it. I stayed in the Hub at Covent Garden at the start of the year and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. Whilst the room was small it was fully featured with some good concessions towards the technology obsessed world we live in, like having several plug sockets near the bed – I’m sure we’ve all been rooting around behind the hotel bed to find a plug socket for a dying phone. As it was new there were a significant number of staff milling around the lobby to help people check in and out but I suspect that it’s the way things are headed and soon it will be weird to check-in with a human.

Alcoholic Architecture

If you do end up staying in London perhaps a little visit to the latest ‘innovation’ in drinking would be of interest – just a short tube ride away in Borough Market. Bompass and Par have recently opened a bar that dispenses with all that messy ‘selecting’ of drinks and then them being ‘created’ and ‘poured’ – when all everyone wants it to mainline alcohol into their veins, right? That seems to be their logic at least because what they’ve created is a bar that you pay on entry and then just inhale alcohol by breathing. Yup, it’s essentially the alcoholic version of a hotbox – they are creating a 1:3 alcohol to air mix and then sealing the room to ensure the only way for it to escape is by your body ingesting it, through your mouth mainly but also your eyes. Visibility will be less than 3 feet in the ‘bar’ which gives you an idea of the fog of alcohol being created.  They’re not crazy though, you are limited to a 50 minute session per day which supposedly gets you as ‘buzzed as one stiff drink’ and thankfully the no-smoking law should stop any ‘alcohol vapour filled room explosion’ headlines.

Do you have the time?

Make memories that last longer

If you’re pondering a holiday and think whether it’s worth it, now is the time to do it –before you age any more! Click the link above and discover a very good representation of one theory that explains why we perceive time to go faster as we get older. Essentially a year is 10% of the full life of a ten year old, whereas for a 60 year old it is 1.66% - whilst a year is a fixed length of time we don’t perceive that, we look at it relatively. So for a ten year old a year is a significant proportion of their life, for a 60 year old it’s barely worth reporting! So those 2 weeks you spend on holiday at 30 are, mentally, worth twice as much to you as they would be if you take them when you’re 60.

Make sure you ask the boss nicely for the time off!

Use the right tone

Here’s a little tool that can help you draft the perfect email to convince your boss. It’s a ‘tone analyzer’ for written communication. Concerned that email may be a little bit shirty, or that you’re not being assertive enough, or even too assertive? Paste it into this tool and it will analyse the message for overall tone and then suggest synonyms for certain words that will help alter the tone to match the approach you want.

Written by Ean Faragher Operations Director at ExtraMile Communications

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.

Ean

About Ean | Meet our Operations Director

Problem Solving Operations Director