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.
This time on the podcast, Nora Young talks about the Pebble smart watch. We used the Pebble as a topical ‘hook’ to a recent piece on watches on Spark, and that got me thinking about what makes this great looking little watch so appealing. It reminded Cathi Bond of the Little Printer, a smart, digital solution that looks analog, that looks friendly. Nora mentions all the self-tracking tools and health monitors that were at CES recently (see, for example, Technology Review’s coverage here).
Cathi Bond talks about the RP-VITA which is a remote presence robot that can wander health care facility halls, checking in on patients, thus allowing doctors who are far away to see patients virtually (via Medgadget). It can even allow the remote physician to consult with other doctors. Interestingly, it’s from the iRobot people, who brought you the Roomba.
And, Nora has a quick hit: Swisshotel has a handy dandy ‘single serving’ website that notes handy tips for travellers to different cultures: stuff like tipping, gestures, and dos and don’ts (via Lifehacker). Nora thinks lots more businesses will do this sort of thing for branding purposes – useful info connected to your product’s brand that can live as an app. Have you seen any good examples of this?
This time, trendspotters, Cathi Bond talks about one of the more surprising trends she’s seen: cocoons. See them here, here, and here. (Via Gizmag). Any theories as to why cocoons, why now? Is it the search for security in difficult times, or something else?
Meanwhile, Nora Young talks about CustomMade, a service that brings craftspeople and buyers together in a marketplace for customized manufacture (via Core77)Nora also tells the story of Bemz, a site that makes new covers of just about all the chairs and sofas IKEA has made. With all this disintermediated customization going on, are major retailers going to need to be a lot more flexible?
UPDATE: Bemz apparently delivers internationally, not just in North America.
OK trendwatchers, this time, Nora Young talks about how her experience watching the U.S. presidential election results has made her think about the disruptive state of TV right now. Who is a broadcaster now, anyway, when you can watch live TV coverage on Apple TV and original content on Netflix? Has your TV watching behaviour changed? If you’re changing the way you watch, does that leave you more open to ‘switching’? Also: Google announces voice search. And in other news, are you watching Breaking Bad?? Is it as addictive for you as it is for Cathi and me?