Mirror Tech went to investigate the gadgets on display at the Future Tech Now conference in London
Soaring over a virtual forest while burning away tummy fat and sipping a “Poison Ivy” cocktail made of nothing but water are just two experiences being offered at a futuristic event in London this week.
Over the next few days the Future Tech Now conference is showcasing the latest inventions set to change the worlds of entertainment, health, food and drink, art, fitness and hospitality.
Among the cutting-edge tech on display is a revolutionary virtual fitness regime that allows you to feel like you’re flying - while actually helping you work out at the same time.
The Future Tech Now conference in London (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
There's also interactive virtual reality tech that helps stroke victims rehabilitate motor functions with specially-designed games. Another invention allows medical students to experience surgery in real time and could be used to train hundreds of doctors in the third world.
Based at the Business Design Center in north London, the event is open to trade for two days and the public on the final day. Here are some of the highlights of the show.
Food and drink
Mirror Tech editor Jeff Parsons tries out a "Vocktail" at the Future Tech Now conference (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
A "virtual cocktail" controlled by an app (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Sipping a “cocktail” that's nothing more than fizzy water might not sound appealing, but there's some smart tech in these glasses that tricks your brain into thinking you're quaffing booze. The brainchild of researchers at the National University of Singapore, the virtual cocktail – or Vocktail – is engineered to play with a user’s sight, smell and taste.
The invention is set around a martini glass sitting in a 3D-printed structure holding three scent cartridges and three micro air-pumps. These release ‘smell molecules’ that change the drinker’s perception of the flavour of what they are drinking. Two electrode strips sit on the rim on the glass that then send electric pulses to stimulate the taste buds through your tongue. A quick tap on a smartphone app will change the frequency to mimic different flavours: 180 microamps for a sour taste, 40 microamps for a salty taste and 80 microamps for a bitter taste.
The amazing invention will be available for the British public to test out for the first time at the world’s very first Vocktail Bar – constructed especially for the Future Tech Now show.
Jeff tries out the Icaros fitness invention that mimics flying while strengthening your core
"Flying" with the Icaros gadget at the Future Tech Now show (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Icaros is a full-body system that combines a workout with a unique flying experience. You lie down as if you're doing the plank and tense your core muscles to change direction. Once the headset is on you feel like you're soaring through the air and the team behind it say you'll burn 30% more calories and activate the muscles 100% more than if you were just planking on the gym floor.
It's just one of the inventions at The Digital Gym section of the event devoted to fitness. Another attraction is BoxVR – with London-based makers FITAR offering a rhythm-based sparring game that doesn't take you long to work up a sweat. Users wearing one of the premium VR headsets are taken through a range of games or workouts where they are expected to jab, jump and duck. BoxVR says its workouts are regularly updated with new routines from leading fitness instructors.
Cancer surgeon Shafi Ahmed performs a mock surgery at the show (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Dr. Rachel Gawley (L) and Carley Morrow (R) from MagicMoovr; a tech company which uses virtual reality to help people in rehabilitation after strokes or injuries. (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Imagine a rehabilitation programme where patients are so immersed in an environment they don't realise they're in therapy. That's the idea behind movement-based VR mobile experience Magic Moovr. It's been developed through a co-creative process involving patients, clinicians and the general public and is being displayed in the UK for the first time this week.
AppAttic co-founders Dr. Rachel Gawley and Carley Morrow took expertise from neurological physiotherapists and a ‘game first’ approach to create a virtual reality game that adapts to the physical ability of the player.
Elsewhere at the event, tech-lovers can watch a live surgery performed by real surgeons in virtual reality. Attendees to the Hospital 2.0 zone will wear headsets to watch every incision in 360-degree virtual reality as they showcase the launch of a new platform set to revolutionise medical training around the globe. What's more, cancer surgeon Shafi Ahmed will operate on a life-like mannequin in a purpose-built operating theatre at the event itself to debut the innovative tech allowing the public to feel as though they are right next to the action.
Pepper the robot is also at the show (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Jeff chats with Pepper the robot (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
The robots were among us at the conference and they had been tasked with giving presentations and helping visitors find their way around. We were even able to stop and ask Softbank's humanoid robot Pepper what the time was. Much of the smarts for the machines was developed by Herts-based DV Signage, which used the show to launch its latest Robotic Service Software for Humanoid Robots.
DV Signage's UK business director Richard Cobbold told the Mirror: “There are a growing selection of service robots coming on to the market – service robots that provide human interaction as opposed to ones that pick and place.
“In effect, we have created a digital personality that we can give to a space, building or environment. Our system can be used through a voice interaction or avatar. But robotics make this a lot more visually engaging.”
Jeff Parsons tries out the Teslasuit at the Future Tech Now conference in London (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
The Teslasuit gives haptic feedback for a more immersive virtual reality experience (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Making virtual worlds come alive requires more than just sight and sound. A uniquely high-tech bodysuit is being made available to the British public for the first time at the Future Tech Show. The Teslasuit combines haptic feedback and motion tracking to make virtual games and experiences feel like reality.
Just like in the latest Steven Spielberg blockbuster, Ready Player One, users will be able to feel weapon force feedback, hugs and even a change in the weather thanks to temperature sensors inside the suit.
Like many of the inventions on display, the Teslasuit can serve several different industries.
“We met with the Paraplegic Society who said it was the ultimate solution for them. Many people under their umbrella need to stimulate the muscles even though they can’t feel them. The Teslasuit can do this,” senior vice president of Teslasuit Project Dimitri Mikhalchuk told the Daily Mirror.
“It works like normal clothing and anyone without any prior knowledge can connect to an app and get stimulation through it themselves without expensive trips to the doctor.”
Film and games
Jeff tries his hand at the terrifying Saw virtual reality video game (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Inside the 360-degree cinematic screen from Igloo Vision (Image: PHILIP COBURN/DAILY MIRROR)
Virtual reality can be used to make traditional games seem infinitely more real. And, in some cases, infinitely more scary.
One game, based on the Saw horror movie franchise, is making its UK debut at the conference and gives players a time limit to solve complex puzzles.
If the time runs out, or you get it wrong, the outcome is deadly.
Created by Apache for VRX Networks, the “Jigsaw VR” experience transports the player into the world of the terrifying film to play main character Jigsaw's final game.
Away from horror, there's also the chance to ride a virtual sledge down a snow y slope, complete with a dynamic moving chair that mimics the bumps and slides of the ride. All of which is powered by the most cutting-edge computers available to buy.
Attendees to the show will also be able to sit in an actual 360-degree cinema space, created by UK-based company Igloo, to relax and experience the latest in immersive entertainment.
How do I go?
There are still tickets left for the public on Saturday and with more amazing VR games added, will be a great day out for the family.
Tickets and info can be found at http://www.futuretechnow.co.uk .