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The Ideas Factory: From tagging gigs to urns that become trees – five thoughts we liked this week

1. Ticketing: Using Facebook to find friends' seats at gigs

"Tagging" friends' faces on your photo albums is one of Facebook's enduring functions. The social network is hoping it can use the technique to help concert-goers solve an age-old problem: buying tickets next to or near their friends without someone having to put 10 pairs on their credit card.

They've teamed up with Ticketmaster to roll out tagging on concert venue seating plans, so that as you choose seats you can see little Facebook flags showing you where to book yours (or who to avoid...) This function is already open on 9,000 events. The ticketing giant hopes that sales will rise as a result of people being able to see the shows attended by friends.

Source: Mashable

2. CCTV: Trigger-happy approach to public order

The potential use of CCTV with facial recognition software raises obvious privacy concerns – but researchers at Kingston University are working on another way to use cameras to contain potential trouble. They've devised an algorithm which can recognise "trigger events", ie

crowds of people running to or away from a specific place, for example, and can track individuals from camera to camera.

Source: Pop Science

3. Death: How to be reborn as a tree

Not rebirth in the Buddhist sense, but an eco-friendly solution from Spanish designer Martin Azua. The Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose and the seed of a tree. Once your remains have been placed inside it can then be planted and the germinated seed will turn into a fitting natural memorial.

Source: The BigThink

4. Mobile phones: A phone that charges with a bit of legwork

A few weeks ago in The Ideas Factory we encountered technology that would allow mobile phones to maintain their charge as they were exposed to sunlight. In a slight twist (and let's face it, a more practical one) two engineers at the University of Wisconsin have revealed technology that will allows phones to charge by movement. A process called "electrowetting" puts the shape of a liquid droplet on a liquid-repellent surface. The creation of energy from the moving liquid is translated into an electric current. By placing this mechanism in a shoe, one to 10 watts of energy is created, which is enough to charge a smartphone on a walk in the park. So get trotting.

Source: The New Scientist

5. Money: A new, stateless type of currency

The bitcoin? It sounds like the kind of thing Judge Dredd would use to pay for an energy drink. It's actually a virtual currency that exists online and can be used on smartphones, too. The US dollar-to-bitcoin currency rate is currently fluctuating wildly – and with the currency being used online for slightly nefarious means, ie buying Class A drugs, it's unsure whether this virtual reality cash will retain its legality. Probably a safer bet than the euro at the moment...

Source: NPR Planet Money