On this edition of The Sniffer, Nora Young talks about all the buzz around Nest, the design-y, smart thermostat. On one hand, it’s a great example of how smart design can get people to buy into energy efficiency. On the other, given that it’s actually way more energy efficient just to live in an apartment or a small condo, there’s something about the idea of furnishing your fancy house with a sustainability tool that seems a wee bit ‘greenwashing’ – what do you think? I have to admit, it is pretty cool! Interesting profile of the Nest guys and what the future may hold at Technology Review.
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond flags this neat Kickstarter campaign to provide software that teachers can use to teach mindfulness meditation techniques to students. What do you think of it? Nora loves the idea of teaching mindfulness, but the particular use of ‘mindfulness messages’ as part of it seems a bit Stuart Smalley-esque.
On this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond and Nora Young are back from a midwinter break with some wacky stories that nonetheless point to bigger trends. Cathi has two examples of tech for babies. There’s the Bubble Baby futuristic, self-cleaning crib, which Cathi and Nora would both like for themselves (via Gizmag), and the slightly more dubious sounding iPotty (via Gizmag).
Nora looks at The Polaroid Cacher, a very cool art project which is built off a vintage polaroid camera (via Prosthetic Knowledge). Essentially, it recreates the experience of taking instamatic snapshots, but in this case, it captures your digital, on-screen interactions. It’s part of a trend we’ve looked at before on The Sniffer, and on Nora’s show, Spark, of combining the digital and the mechanical or analog. Why do we love this stuff so much?
Finally, Cathi saw this Samsung easel TV which came out of this year’s CES (via Paste Magazine). She points to it as part of a flood of new TV designs. What would it take you to invest in a new TV?
Hey trendwatchers! This time, Nora Young talks about PredictGaze, software that can be incorporated into electronics such as TVs. It tracks your eyes so that you can, for instance, stop the TV when you walk out of the room. Also, marketers could use its facial recognition capability to see how you’re reacting to what you watch (via Digital Trends) It brings together several trends: facial recognition technology, ‘relationships’ with our technologies, and non-touch interfaces.
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond talks about [Y/N] Design Studio’s concept plan for London’s old canal system: turn it into lanes for swimming! (Via Gizmag) The charmingly wacky idea reminds Nora and Cathi that here in Toronto, we often lose sight of our history, in spite of attempts like the Distillery District. Nora herself just discovered “The Ward“. Who knew?
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
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?
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?
In today’s trendwatching podcast, we look at a couple of intriguing developments in tech hardware: more DIY, and tools built on top of other tools. Nora Young talks about Styku, a virtual fitting room (via Fast Company). Interesting enough as a potential solution to online clothes shopping and customization, it interests Nora because it’s yet another example of tech built on top of the Kinect. Could designing tools that include the power to have other tools built on top of them be as powerful in the hardware world as it is in the online platform world?
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond talks about MIT student David Mellis, who built his own fully functional, D-I-Y cell phone out of about $150 in parts. Is this kind of stuff purely for the lab, or are we about to see D-I-Y electronics really take off beyond the hobbyist fringe? Check out the cool phone at the MIT Media Lab.
For this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond has been keeping an eye on who’s raising funds on Kickstarter. She found this family farm hoping to raise pigs and take production all the way to cured pork products. People seem to have an increasing appetite for putting their money into specific projects that they can have some sense of agency over; witness the success of projects like Kiva.
Meanwhile, Nora Young recalls the cute wi-fi rabbit, Nabaztag. Perhaps it was just a little ahead of its time, since we’re seeing all sorts of charming display tools aimed at helping us get a grip on all the information that’s coming at us. Nora points to two good examples: Feedair (via Gizmag) and Little Printer, by the folks at BERG. Little Printer is particularly distinct because it, well, prints things out on paper. Amidst all our electronic means for keeping tabs, is there still a role for paper lists in your life? Let us know!
In today’s podcast for trendwatchers, Cathi Bond has more examples of the niche subscription trend we’ve been talking about. This time, it’s niche Brazilian bread (via PSFK). For more on niche subscriptions, check out Cathi’s story on Spark here.
Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, Nora Young points out Rajesh Shetty‘s Metrics that Matter. For inspiration, or a long dark night of the soul, check it out here and see how you’re doing going into a new year.
Meanwhile, Nora Young points to Gizmag’s piece on tiny robots called Kilobots that Harvard is making available for sale. Gizmag wondered whether it might be feasible for regular folks to get them. Nora thinks they might make a lovely Christmas present (hint, hint). Note: after we recorded this episode of The Sniffer, Gizmag updated their story, saying that they would sell for about $2,000 for 10 ‘bots. Pricey, but cool. On a more serious note, Nora points to the more general trend in robotics research away from modeling humans or mammals and towards swarming of flocking behaviour. They reminded Cathi of the robots in Minority Report:
In this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond talks about the launch of The Slant, dubbed an “artifact” publication (via JC Report). It looks cool, with a bit of an anti-consumerist edge. What’s the place for real, physical artifacts in a digital age? You can find out more about the project by watching their charming Kickstarter pitch.
Meanwhile, Nora Young mentions this new infographic on post-secondary students’ use of cellphones, particularly in class (via Mashable). Nora wonders how educators can respond. Should they design courses that actually involve interactive use of phones, thereby satisfying the urge for a quick info hit while keeping the course on track?
And a quick note in the ongoing struggle for publishers to adapt to a digital age: a division of Simon and Schuster is trying out smart books. These are regular paper books kitted out with RFID tags. Browsers can touch their phones to them to learn more about the books (via PSFK)