The Future of Shopping: Online AND In Person

As holiday season approaches, we've got a shopping special! Nora Young points to this article in Technology Review by Avi Goldfarb about the death of the "death of distance" - why local still matters in the ecommerce era. Nora explores this story in an interview with Avi over at Spark. Cathi Bond looks at shopping habits of Generation Z, in an era of social shopping (via Marketing Week). She mentions Wanelo as a cool example of the trend in action. Nora wonders if more of us aren't going to the online/offline social shopping model, and if Gen Z are just early adopters. What do you think? How are your shopping habits changing?

Robots on the Farm and Implantable Tech

This time, Cathi Bond talks about the Agrirover, a robot designed to run 24/7 on livestock paddocks, combing the field looking for spots where grazing grass is damaged by, erm, pee (via Scoop). A chat about robots down on the farm ensues. Meanwhile, Nora Young mentions that Motorola has a patent on an "electronic skin tattoo" (temporary!) to transmit voice and also to serve as a power supply (via PCPro, and others). The premise is that it would be a microphone and a power source. For me (Nora) it's interesting mostly as yet another example of how normal implantables and wearables are going to be in the next 5 years or so. In the near term, though, would you use something like this?

The Sniffer, Nov 3rd, 2013: Trends in Housing and Web Nostalgia

Hi! This time around, Cathi Bond talks about The Citadel, a new project from the design firm Waterstudio. The idea is to design luxury housing units in the Netherlands as a possible response to climate change. They float! The plan is to re-flood the "polders" (low lying areas now surrounded by dikes) so that they can respond to rising water levels. Cathi thinks the aesthetic is reminiscent of Expo '67's Habitat project. Nora Young talks about a cool project from CERN, which is trying to re-create aspects of the early Web. They've created a simulation of the early text-based "line mode" browser experience that you can run on your current browser (via Ars Technica). (Note: at the time of posting, the link to the bookmarklet doesn't seem to work, though it did when we recorded the project). Nora talks about it not just because it's a cool little thing, but because it suggests the Web is mature enough for us to have nostalgia about. She points to The Wayback Machine as a way of visiting the early Web, and Wochit, a startup that uses A.I. to create video news stories (an example of how visual the Web has become compared to the old days). Finally, Nora mentions Relately, a way of managing your social network connections (via Springwise).

The Sniffer, Oct 14, 2013: Trends in Creativity and Crowdfunding

This time around, Nora Young point to this Fast Company article on "art thinking". Building on the idea of design thinking, art thinking is about learning from artists' practices and bringing them to non-artistic workplaces. Given that it involves open-ended, seemingly "non-productive" exploration, it might be a tough sell in most businesses, but letting the mind go fallow and explore are necessary parts of creativity. Nora also refers to Kal Spelletich's praying robots. Cathi mentions this freaky video of the latest animal-like robot, the WildCat. Meanwhile, Cathi Bond has been poking around Indiegogo and is impressed by crowdfunding at the tipping point. Sure, it's been around for a while. We even talked about it back in 2008. As it becomes more and more mainstream to fund projects this way, though, how far can it go, and what other funding models might it replace? Nora mentions that Jack Cheng raised money to fund writing a novel this way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE3fmFTtP9g

Cathi Bond Reviews #lightwebdarkweb

Cathi has a review up at Rabble right now, looking at #lightwebdarkweb: Three Reasons to Reform Social Media Be4 it Re-Forms Us. The book is by author and lecturer Raffi Cavoukian, better known as children's troubadour, Raffi. You can find Cathi's review here. Please check it out!

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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8wXr3QFXZM

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, August 6, 2013: Trends in Memory, Economy, and Marketing

Happy Summer! This time around, Cathi Bond talks about an intriguing opinion piece by Shawn Parr, arguing that someone should bring Kickstarter-style narrative and bootstrapping to the US debt problem (via PSFK) Nora Young mentions this Technology Review profile of neuroscientist Daniela Schiller, about the nature of memory, and how alternatives to drugs may be used to change the way we experience our memories. Does this square with how you think about your own memories? Let us know! In lighter news, Cathi points to chef Robert Ruiz's use of edible QR codes on his sushi (via PSFK). Gimmick? Smart? The Sniffer is off until after Labour Day. Have a great rest of the summer, and see you for season - ack! - NINE in the fall! Nora and Cathi

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, 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?