by Lauren Brousell

Ten Signs Technology is Everywhere

Nov 28, 20116 mins
Enterprise ApplicationsInnovationIT Leadership

IT is showing up in the most unusual places, from touch-screen tables at a London restaurant to virtual-reality therapy for soldiers returning from Iraq. Check out these tech applications compiled by CIO magazine editors.

Pick Paint Like Martha Stewart…Literally

PPG Industries created a way to select paint colors using a desktop/mobile application called ColorClix. Want those pink walls from The Royal Tenenbaums? Upload a screenshot and the app will match it to a palette of available paint colors while a calculator helps you determine how much paint to buy. ColorClix Visualizer also lets you see what the color will look like in your room and share the look through Facebook. Chris Caruso, global business IT director at PPG says “We want to create a road map that goes beyond selecting color.”

The Future of Human Computer Interfaces

Braved the Black Diamond? Now You Can Prove It

Ski goggles made by Recon Instruments contain a GPS and a peripheral LCD screen that shows skiers their speed, altitude and vertical distance traveled as they make their way down the mountain. After they are done, skiiers can plug the goggles into their computer to view their stats for the day’s run, as well as overlay the data on Google maps to see points of interest. The data can be uploaded to HQ Online, which is Recon’s online community. There, skiiers can share their stats with friends and enter online contests for free lift tickets and other prizes.

A Jetsons-Style School Cafeteria

High-tech vending machines at Miami-Dade Public Schools require no cash to purchase lunches; only student ID numbers. A variety of healthy food options inspired by Miami chefs, like wraps and yogurt parfaits, are sold and dispensed within 20 seconds of purchase. Parents and students can log in through the school’s online portal to view their accounts and track what was bought. IT monitors cost, inventory and sales for over 45 high schools and 10 middle schools in the district. Debbie Karcher, CIO of Miami-Dade Public Schools says, “We like the idea of a cashless prepaid account, it’s clean and easy to track.”

Project Runway: Is There a Kardashian in the House?

What’s more important than the clothes on the runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York? Which celebrities you have sitting in the front row for your show. IMG, the company that produces the shows every fall, ditched paper RSVP lists and invites for email and a drag-and-drop tool used to assign seats (Heidi Klum and Posh Spice, front and center please). Upon arrival, guests scan a bar code at a check-in kiosk to get their seating assignment. The system then automatically updates with who has arrived allowing more time to schmooze important clients. The data can also be used for post-event follow ups and future campaigns.

Bytes With Your Bites: Dining Out Gets Gadgety

Instead of regular tables and menus, Inamo, a restaurant in London, features touch screen tables with overhead projectors connected to PCs. Images are projected onto the table and customers tap buttons to communicate with waiters. Patrons can view photos of menu items, place orders and take a look into the kitchen without interacting with a human. While waiting for your meal, you can play with games and applications, such as changing the table top pattern. You can also tap the table to request the check or book a taxi when you’re leaving.

The Future of Human Computer Interfaces

Bin Laden-Hunting Hound Dogs

When Special Forces raided Osama Bin Laden’s complex in May, 2011, a specially trained K-9 unit was there to help. These crime-fighting military dogs were equipped with a high tech, K-9 Storm Intruder vest that not only protected them from gunfire but provided surveillance through high-definition video cameras. The video is transmitted to handheld monitors over radio frequencies up to 1,000 feet away and through barriers as thick as steel or concrete. The vest also allows handlers to transmit commands only audible to the dog to ensure instructions can’t be intercepted.

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Strawberries Always in Season, Even in Morocco

There’s more than meets the eye behind a display of Driscoll’s berries at the grocery store. A Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP system and a homegrown warehouse-management system ensure the timely shipment of the freshest fruit. Driscoll’s moves as much as 3.8 million pounds of berries a day by refrigerated trucks to their destination. Tom Cullen, the company’s CIO, said they’re now looking to consolidate its three global ERP systems to keep produce moving where it’s grown around the world: “If the fruit backs up and we can’t cool it, that’s a big problem. We’re looking at a system that can run anywhere, no matter how remote.”

Gaming for Good: Can Call of Duty Be Used for Therapy?

Okay, so they’re not actually playing the game but some Iraq war veterans are now using virtual- reality therapy exposure when they return home. The soldiers wear head-mounted displays that project CG images of the battle environment while also handling joysticks and virtual guns. Clinicians, running the therapy at the Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology, introduce related sounds, odors and movement as the veterans talk about memories. They also monitor heart rate, sweat and skin temperature to see how veterans respond.

Big Brother: Closer to Home (But Not Any Better to Watch)

Grey’s Anatomy fans can download a free iPad app that lets them interact while watching the show and lets Nielsen (the company that developed it) track your viewing habits. The app syncs with a show’s audio watermark, a code embedded into the audio track, and provides special content. For example, during a scene in the OR, an image may appear in the lower third of the screen with a poll asking viewers what they think will happen next. The app also includes bios, quizzes, games and can be integrated with Facebook and Twitter allowing viewers to interact with fellow fans online.

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Track a Firefighter: New Tools For First Responders

The Precision Personnel Locator tracks firefighters to show their exact location when responding to an emergency. The transmitter is attached to their air tanks and controlled by commanders who use their finger or a stylus to sketch a rough outline of the burning structure on a rugged laptop screen. Over radio, the commander can communicate with the firefighters to tell them which way to go through the smoke and darkness. The transmitter also tracks the firefighters’ heart rates and respiration to indicate how long they can stay in the danger zone.

Photo courtesy of the CPTC