By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An exhibit now open at Drexel University’s URBN Center Annex in West Philadelphia looks at ideas for future products that you might just want right now.

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If there’s a snorer next to you in bed, for example, “This could sense the sound levels in the room, and then gradually nudge you to turn over a bit,” explains Drexel Design Futures Lab director and assistant professor Nicole Koltick as she shows off a robotic mattress that replaces typical springs with custom 3D-printed fist-sized pieces.

(An electronically controlled box spring that can gently manipulate a person on the bed.  Credit: Ian Bush)

(An electronically controlled box spring that can gently manipulate a person on the bed. Credit: Ian Bush)


“These pieces rise and fall depending on where you are in the bed.  So if someone was bedridden, this could be used to nudge them or turn them over to help prevent bedsores.”

There’s a modern igloo-esque structure meant to transition you from work and commuting life to home life.  It’s a calming space with lights and fans that would be installed on a house and is designed for meditation time before heading inside to deal with dinner and the kids.

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Or, imagine sending a “scent message” with recent interior architecture master’s program graduate Laura Nejman’s invention:

“You might have specific scents that trigger things in your memory, like the smell of your mother’s perfume or the smell of Crayola crayons,” Nejman explains, “different things that evoke different emotions within you.”

A misting device containing your personal scent library could receive a wireless signal from, say, a loved one who wanted you to feel confident and knew just what smell would do it.  Her product is just a prototype — it looks like a giant nostril now, but when shrunk someday it could make sending smells as easy as sending a text.

DesignFutures2SmallThe exhibit is nose-on, hands-on, and feet-on (with a bacteria-sensing and -cleansing floor mat, right).

The show is free and open from 11am to 5pm, Monday-Saturday, through July 21st, at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, 3401 Filbert St., with an opening reception tomorrow (Tuesday), from 6pm to 9pm.

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