Rounding Up Retail: 5 Recent Happenings We’re Still Talking About – Take 2

Here’s what’s on our radar for this week:

Cancer Research went contactless
While paying for your shopping with a swipe of your card is nothing new, making a charitable donation by tapping your plastic onto a window is certainly different.

That’s the idea behind the ‘contactless window’ that’s being rolled out – with the help of Clear Channel – to four Cancer Research stores in the South of England this month.
The donations are set at £2 a pop – if successful, they could well become a permanent feature for the charity.

Starbucks powered on with their business plan
The coffee giant are no stranger to tech, and have freely admitted their aim to stay ‘‘[at the] forefront of digital technology’’. With cloud-connected Clover coffee machines that remember your favourite flavour, mobile payment, and beacon technology, it was only a matter of time before they showed their latest hand: wireless charging. Users plug a plastic ring (free to use, £10 to purchase) into their device, then place the whole thing on top of a charging mat, which houses a rechargeable battery inside that’s powered by electromagnetic induction (so, no wires).

Microsoft debuts their virtual insanity while Google Glass’ future looks unclear
Where one product fails, another triumphs: first, Google Glass hit headlines when it withdrew its ill-fated, head-mounted ‘computer’ from sales after a stint of criticism about privacy concerns and its £1000 price-tag. Now, Microsoft is firmly in the public eye after it unveiled a VR prototype seven years in the making – the HoloLens – at the Windows 10 event yesterday (named after their newest OS – another reason that the company has been in the news). The HoloLens is a wireless holographic gizmo that projects digital graphics into the real world and is, thankfully, controlled by voice and gesture, rather than fussy cables or Bluetooth-tethered apps. Users can create and manipulate their own 3D images and – get this – 3D print them. Your move, Oculus Rift.

Professor Nutt led the government to water, but couldn’t make it drink
Alcosynth, so named because it synthesises alcohol, is what’s classed as a ‘non-toxic inebriant’ which makes users tipsy without any of the compromises – hangovers, aggression and poising the liver. Alcohol is the planet’s drug of choice and costs the NHS billions every year, with its dangers covering everything from diseases like cancers and heart problems to car accidents. Alcosynth, which is a creation of Professor David Nutt (the former chief drug adviser to the government, forced to resign in 2009 after claiming LSD was less dangerous than alcohol), comes in drink form and is alleged to have no withdrawal symptoms. He’s also working on a second drug, Chaperone, dubbed the ‘sober-up pill’, to take with or after alcohol. Thanks to Nutt’s track record as being outspoken (though scientifically justified), and the country’s tight drug laws, it could be at least 3 years before the drug is released on the general public.

Toy Fair 2015 saw several Robot Wars
Robots for children aren’t a revelation in the toy industry, but Toy Fair 2015, held at London’s Olympia exhibition centre, was overrun with them – thanks to the efforts of construction creators Mecano, Playmobil and K’NEX, together with the odd newbie brand. On offer were buildable mechanoids and other motorised kit, while brand stalwarts Nintendo and Tomy teamed up for electronic toys aimed at the next generation wave.