Fresh - August 22nd
Corner shops, Tesco Locals and the like will always thrive. We can be as organised as we like with our weekly shops, either making a routine visit on the weekend to pick up our groceries or just having them delivered to our doors, but there's one universal grocery constant: you always have to keep an eye on your milk. And you'll almost certainly have to nip to the local shop at 7am or 10pm to pick up a pint of semi-skimmed...
A couple of new developments should help us to keep this in check. The first is the Milkmaid Smart Jug, which monitors the pH level of your milk and texts you when it's gone bad. Seriously. And if that's a bit Jetsons for you, Tetra Pak is developing milk cartons that change colour as the milk turns. That awkward sniff may no longer be necessary.
The notion of a city car is a tricky one. There are various options of small, frugal cars that enjoy low- or zero-VED (the Fiat 500 TwinAir for example, or the electric Nissan Leaf), but the barrier for some people is that these small cars are still just too big for city life. Look at the Smart ForTwo, you can park that end-on to the kerb, but some still view that as an A-class Merc-esque extravagance.
Renault are tackling this market head-on with the ingenious Twizy (Google it), but for those who would rather wear a car than sit in it, you want a dinky G-Wiz, right? Teeny-tiny car, electric, back seats, what's not to like?
Well, there's the fact that it might kill you, of course. It's a quadricycle rather than a car per se, so doesn't need to pass Euro NCAP crash testing. Search YouTube for G-Wiz crash test videos, they're terrifying. But this hasn't stopped lots of people buying them - and if you're one of those daredevils who wants a very small car that could double as a coffin, how's this for an alternative? Peel, a name familiar to Top Gear fans, built the world's smallest cars in the 1960s, and the Peel Engineering Company now has plans to recreate those classic models for fans of retro urban transport. It's a car that you can store in the cupboard under the stairs; a car that you can drive to work, then bring into the office and keep by your desk. Brilliant, eh? You'll undoubtedly perish if you get sideswiped by a bus, but you'll look stylish and cute doing it.
Next-gen IKEA catalogue
IKEA's 2013 catalogue uses augmented reality to infuse an element of texture and context into the shopping experience. Catalogues, by their very nature, are somewhat one-dimensional (well, three-dimensional, but you know what I mean), so IKEA are building in the ability to hover your smartphone over any item in the catalogue to unlock photo galleries, 360-degree views, videos about the design and creation of the products, as well as an x-ray view that'll allow you to see inside cabinets and what-have-you. This is how Tom Cruise would buy furniture in Minority Report, trust me.
And you no longer have to see your potential new bookshelf as a boring piece of laminated fibre-board in a catalogue with a price beside it - you can learn the full story of the shelf, why it exists, what it means, what it'll say about you to others. Then you can pay that price and proudly nail your laminated fibre-board to the wall, safe in the knowledge that you've been part of something cleverly digital.
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