Category Archives: Personal Devices

Car Tech, Traffic Tech, and Then Some Beer

Hi, we’re back after a liiiitttle bit of a hiatus, but amped up and ready to go.

This time around, Nora Young and Cathi Bond talk about some new tech solutions to the problem of distracted driving (via The Economist). As we move into a world of smart cars, and more devices in our vehicles, how will we maximize the power of them without becoming a distracted menace on the road? Nora mentions Social Physics, a new book by Alex (Sandy) Pentland, which includes an intriguing idea about how realtime information from smarter cars can make driving safer.

In other news, remember Gort, the giant alien robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still? (We call him Klaatu in the podcast, but as fans will point out, Klaatu is the humanoid, and Gort is the robot). In any case, we were reminded of Gort when Cathi read the news of the use of a robotic looking automated traffic control system, in Kinshasa intersections (via PSFK). It’s a smart invention, and it’s even solar-powered!

Cathi is a fan of fine beer. And here in Canada, beer is practically a bonding national characteristic. So Nora brings her Lean Machine Ale: a health beer, meant to be a healthier alternative to the post-exercise beer (via Springwise) Would you try it, or is there something special about a frosty pint after sports?

The Sniffer, Sept 23rd, 2013: Trends in Google Glass and Bunker Couches

Hi there! This time around, Nora Young points to a recent Google Glass hackathon (via PSFK), which produced, amongst other things, the GlassFrogger game that re-imagines the old video game Frogger as an augmented reality game for Glass (see below). Fun? Sure, but it’s also got Nora thinking about all the cool stuff you could do once you imagine Glass as including a whole app ecosystem. Nora and Cathi talk about the coming world of virtual personal assistants, the forthcoming movie Her, and an upcoming episode of Nora’s show, Spark.

Cathi Bond has the story of the CouchBunker, a sofa that contains a safe in which you can store up to thirty guns (via Gizmag) It comes complete with bullet resistant cushions.

Nora also thinks you should check out this article on the relationship between “gut health” and mental health.

The Sniffer, Sept 7th, 2013: Trends in Smart Watches and Phones

Hi all! Welcome back to season NINE(!) of The Sniffer! This time, Cathi Bond and Nora Young pick up on a trend they talked about last season: smart watches. The Samsung Galaxy Gear came out this week to lots of buzz. Cathi rounds out some of the rumour mill about other smart watches coming down the pike. The Guardian has a great summary here. Would you wear a smart watch? Do you see it doing stuff that your phone doesn’t? Let us know in the comments below.

Nora Young has been reading this article by Nick Bilton. It reminded her that travelling with friends now means that you bring their social media friends along with you, since part of vacationing for so many people involves posting photos-as-you-go. Have you had this experience? Does it change the nature of vacationing for you? Nora also points out that although it’s very convenient to have GPS, maps and guide books with you on your phone, it takes a lot of the serendipity out of travelling.

Your thoughts welcome, and thanks for joining us for another season of the podcast!

The Sniffer, July 5, 2013: Trends in Wearables and Architecture

Happy summer, trendwatchers! This time around, Nora Young talks about this intriguing analysis by Tom Emrich over at Techvibes. If Apple’s iOS7 is looking to be more compatible with wearables, is it yet another sign that wearable, single purpose devices are taking off? The buzz around Pebble, FuelBand, FitBit, not to mention Google Glass or Muse, seems to suggest so. Do you use wearable tech, or do apps do it for you?

Cathi Bond returns to one of her fave topics: sustainable, inexpensive mini-homes. This time, it’s the FoundHOUSE, currently hoping to raise some Kickstarter dosh to support $5,000 mobile homes at less than 150 square feet. It’s also taking advantage of a very cool project called WikiHouse: Creative Commons’ licensed building plans.

Finally, Nora tips the hat to Cathi’s excellent sniffing skills, which she’s talked about before. The New York Times is reporting on the new trend of ‘nest’ architecture (or “twigitechture”). Does the appeal go back to our primordial selves settling in trees, as Janine Benyus suggests in the article? Did you build huts, nests, or tree-houses when you were young? Is there something primordial about the way Cathi’s dog, Roo, scratches the carpet at the end of the episode?

The Sniffer, April 7th, 2013: Trends in Cyborgs and Drones

Hey trendspotters! This time around, Nora talks about the Mantis, a kind of exoskeleton designed for workers who to heavy lifting (via Core77). It’s a good example of the normalization of cyborg technology.

Cathi shows us another ‘out there’ technology that’s steadily becoming part of everyday life: drones. Frankendrone offers modular, customizable drones that move across the surface of a body of water (via Gizmag).

The Sniffer, Oct 10th, 2012: Trends in Customization and Personal Devices

In today’s podcast for trendwatchers, Nora Young talks about Indochino, a service that provides custom-made suits by getting the customer to do their own measurements. Cathi Bond and Nora think it furthers the trend toward mass customization, and using the internet to create personalized experiences for lower prices. It continues a trend they’ve talked about before, in products such as Styku.
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond discusses this PSFK interview with Digital Art Director Dhani Sutanto, who has created the Oyster Ring – wearable tech that he can use to access the London Tube. Cathi and Nora discuss whether the app-loaded cell phone has taken the wind out of the sails of wearable tech, or if there will be new life in good looking wearable gear.
UPDATE: Bit of a problem with the podcast for a day. Should be fine now. Thanks Encaffeinated ONE

The Sniffer, Sept 3rd, 2012: Trends in Drones, Fitness, and Furniture Hacks

Welcome back to a new season of The Sniffer: Decidedly Odd Since 2005! This time around, Cathi Bond talks about the Joggobot, a fitness coach project out of RMIT in Australia. It’s a drone (via Gizmag)! Check out the videos below. Have you seen a drone in action? Let us know!

Meanwhile, Nora Young talks about a very cool IKEA hack by designer Andreas Bhend (via Core77). Do you know anyone who hacks their IKEA products? Also, Nora mentions Asana, a productivity tool she started using recently. What are your fave productivity tools?

The Sniffer, July 13th, 2012: Trends in Online Services and Wearable Tech

Hey trendwatchers, in this podcast Nora Young talks about a possible move to push back on our info-overload online lives. New York Times journalist (who has also contributed to Spark) Anand Giridharadas writes about two trends in services: the immersive spend-your-time-behind-a-screen experience, vs. a move to quick check-ins that help manage your offline life. Designer Jack Cheng advocates for The Slow Web, making a similar call to keeping our online tools in check, serving us instead of the other way around. It squares with my (Nora’s) own sense that the real push in a market crowded with streams of information and apps galore, is in creating tools that give you real utility, and offer the space for you to create meaning in your life.

Cathi Bond this time brings you Terminator Pants! No, seriously, Delta 415 jeans feature a protective pocket in the front of your jeans so that you can store your cell phone and access it all the time. The design is inspired by fighter pilots’ G suits, apparently. Definitely a sign of the times in terms of the advance of 24/7 wearable tech. Would you wear them?

The Sniffer, May 31st, 2012: Trends in Video Sharing and Self-Tracking

In this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond expands on the POV video and video-sharing trends (see her related coverage on Spark, here) with a look at Vergence Labs’ Kickstarter project in social video eyewear. It combines video-enabled glasses with a video sharing service. Are we all going to be capturing everything that goes on around us all the time?

Meanwhile, Nora Young looks at another quirky example of passive monitoring: tracking your pet! Fujitsu is set to release a device that attaches to your dog’s collar, which will allow you to monitor your doggie’s exercise. Cathi and Nora ponder what data their pets would reveal (via Technology Review).

The Sniffer, April 23rd, 2012: Trends in Maglev and Powering Electronics

Greetings, Trendwatchers! In this podcast, Nora Young talks about a design for powering portable electronics such as your iPhone – with your breath! The Aire is a concept design (the technology doesn’t yet exist) by João Lammoglia, which features a mask that you wear, designed to harness the wind power of your breath. It’s kind of goofy, we admit, but beneath it lies a serious point: how are we going to power all these gadgets and devices we have? See images and more over at Fast Company.

Cathi Bond, on the other hand, continues to explore her love of Maglev technology with the Evacuated Tube Transport system (via Gizmag). Would you propel yourself through a tube halfway across the world?