Category Archives: Electronics

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 19, 2013: Trends in Search and Summer Fun

Summer
Happy summer, all! This time around, Cathi Bond has some tips for summer fun. Going to be away all day at the beach? Why not feed your pet remotely with Pintofeed, an app-controlled food dispenser! Not only does it let you feed your pet remotely, it gives you all kinds of stats on your little sweetie’s eating habits. Sounds about right for the Quantified Self pet owner in your life! (Via Gizmag). Plus, what’s better on a hot day than a cold beer? Cathi’s all excited about the Chillsner. Just pop a frozen Chillsner in your beer, and you’re good to go (via Gizmag).

Meanwhile, Nora Young’s been trying out DuckDuckGo as a search engine, mostly because she’s curious about a search tool that doesn’t track user data. New Scientist has an interesting interview with its creator here. It has Cathi and Nora wondering if there’s a market for tools that protect privacy. Do you think regular people are starting to get fed up with tracking?

The Sniffer, Feb 23rd, 2013: Trends in Smart Appliances and Meditation Software

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.

The Sniffer, Jan 20th, 2013: Trends in Baby Tech, Analog, and TVs

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?

Nov 4th, 2012: Trends in Electronics and Urban Planning

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?

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 15th, 2012: Trends in DIY Hardware

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.