Wish we'd thought of that: Mobile marvels

The 2016 round of the New Zealand Innovation Awards is open for entries so if you’ve got an amazing product, service or venture – or you know someone with a great idea who needs to be shoulder-tapped – now’s the time to tell your story. But you better do it quick – entries close on Friday, August 5. And to get you thinking about entering – and to do as we always do and celebrate innovation of all stripes – we’re showcasing the best ideas we come across. And this week we’re looking at some awesome innovations that could fit into the media, mobile and entertainment category.

Do you have an innovation worth celebrating? Check out the categories of the 2016 Innovation Awards and tell your story by clicking here.

Mobile. We're on our phones seemingly all day, every day. That doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon, and with our devices doing more than ever before, here are some ideas that will make you want to drop whatever else you're doing and click "install" right away.

Life in a prism Prisma

AI tech turning everyday snaps into surrealistic masterpieces up there with the best of Picasso? That sounds like a filter – but it’s not. It’s Prisma, an app that uses neural networks and artificial intelligence to remake your iOS pics. The pictures are created from scratch – no layers at all.

And the app is catching fire, too. It has garnered more than one million daily users already. As the company claims: artists, beware.

Crafting books with Canvas

Itaú Kidsbook from Agência Africa on Vimeo.

Brazil knows books – as anyone who’s read Mario de Andrade, João Ubaldo Ribeiro or José Saramago’s The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis can attest. We can add mobile e-books to that category too, with São Paulo shop Africa and Latin American bank Itau turning smartphones into interactive children’s books with Facebook’s full-screen mobile format Canvas. A story about a boy on a rocket is told through swipeable photos and videos made for the size of the screen – and even includes a 360-degree video. The development comes as the number of Facebook users in Brazil continues to rise, but less and less people are reading books.

Square shakes

Square shakes. Yes: square. Shakes.

American chain Sonic launched square milkshakes through Instagram at Coachella this year. That itself isn’t too extraordinary, but here’s the kicker: the shakes could be ordered through Instagram. All visitors had to do was see the ads on Instagram, and click on a “shop now” button. The shakes were then delivered right to customers thanks to a geo-fence overlaid at the festival. Oh, and here’s the real kicker: the shakes were free, so long as the customer took a photo and uploaded it to Instagram.

Agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners was behind the campaign, who enlisted the help of chef Christine Flynn – also known as @chefjacqueslamerde – to create a fun, Andy Warhol-style pop art campaign that has pretty sweet potential for the future of how we buy food.

Helping real people with virtual rice         

One thing about China is that it has a lot of people. That also means it has no shortage of innovation – and this app involving social enterprise and virtual grains of rice is one of the most innovative out there.

The concept of Mo Zihao and Wang Zi’s RiceDonate is relatively simple: users perform a task, such as jogging or answering trivia questions, and are rewarded with virtual rice. The virtual rice can then be converted to real currency by being donated to a nonprofit organisation chosen by the user.

The 23.44-megabyte app has been used by more than 50,000 people since it launched last year. Those users have taken part in about 500 community projects and worked with some 250 non-governmental organisations. Now that’s some real social work.

A social media filter as a point of community pride

Not all apps have to be world-changing – sometimes they just get the community buzzing. In Invercargill, young entrepreneur Alex Crackett created a Snapchat geofilter available to residents of the Southland city, highlighting local landmarks that users could show off when Snapchatting with anyone anywhere else. Her simple innovation was the talk of the town for weeks when it was launched this past March.

Entries close on Friday, August 5 at 5pm. Enter here