One day a drone might throw you a life preserver

Here’s a look at five ideas that could impact the way we live, work and play.

1. The drone lifeguard. Via Fast Company:

An Iranian incubator called RTS Labs has developed and tested a prototype of a battery-powered drone, called Pars, that could rush to a drowning victim and drop down a life preserver from the air. … RTS Lab director and engineer Amin Rigi came up with the idea for the “savior aerial robot” after hearing news reports about people drowning in the Caspian Sea (they note than 1,100 people have died from drowning over the last eight years). The lab first tested a sea-based robot, but realized that putting it in the air would be more effective.

2. Plants that communicate with usVia Wired:

In the not-too-distant future, we could see cyborg plants that tell us when they need more water, what chemicals they’ve been exposed to, and what parasites are eating their roots. These half-organic, half-electronic creations may even tell us how much pollution is in the air. And yes, they’ll plug into the network.

 3. Snowboarding may have peaked. Via Kottke:

Revenue from snowboarders is down, snowboard visits to resorts are down, sales of gear is down, the number of first-timers under 14 years old is down, etc.

4. Facebook launches a new more visual app. From the Verge:

Paper takes the standard Facebook News Feed and recreates it as an immersive, horizontally scrolling set of screens. It also provides a new way to post to Facebook (and Paper) with an elegant WYSIWYG editor that borrows the styling of Medium‘s and Svbltle‘s blogging systems. Finally, yes, it’s a news-reading app that owes some of its looks to Flipboard. It will be available for the iPhone in the U.S. (and only the iPhone in the U.S.) on Feb. 3. It’s also ad-free, at least for now.

5. The singing turtle that projects stars on your ceiling. Have a child who struggles to get to sleep? Cloud B’s Twilight Turtle Tunes is a glowing turtle that plays songs and projects light on ceilings to calm children and help them sleep. The days of attaching glow-in-the-dark stickers to a kid’s bedroom may be ending.


The turtle connects with smartphones via Bluetooth to let you pick what songs it plays, and for how long. (Cloud B/AP)

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland | January 30