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

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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?

The Sniffer, June 21st, 2013: Trends in Retail and Books

This time around, Cathi Bond looks at the rise of high-end automated kiosks for selling a wide range of products (meat, for instance!). The idea is to make sales, drive traffic to the fewer remaining bricks and mortar stores. Logical, but another sign of the automation of people’s jobs.

Nora Young looks at Qantas Airlines plans to launch a line of books. The length of the book varies by how long your flight is (via Springwise). Death of literature or simply a reaction to our time-crunched times? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

The Sniffer, June 2nd, 2013: Trends in Books, A.I., Tree-houses, and Data

This time around, we do a bit of a debrief about Cathi Bond’s book launch.

Nora Young talks about an upcoming episode of Nora’s show Spark, on the future of work, and wonders what are the jobs that humans – for sure – can do, that A.I. programs can’t down the road. She mentions this New Scientist article on A.I. taking on some functions traditionally performed by judges. You can find some of Spark’s past coverage on this issue here and here. So, what do you think? Based on how A.I. is progressing, what would you advise young people to go into as a career?

Cathi’s obsession with nests, cocoons, and tree-houses continues. This time it’s a model rainforest in Cornwall that includes a very cool tree-house where you can stay over amongst the trees! (Via Gizmag)

Nora’s obsession with data continues as well. This time, it’s a neat project launched by Intel’s R&D wing and some TED fellows: We The Data is a platform for thinking up democratic approaches to data use (via Technology Review) Along the way, Nora refers to research at MIT, and practical uses of feature phone data.

The Sniffer, April 28th, 2013: Trends in Books, Bars, and Cathi!

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Big news! Cathi Bond’s fabulous novel, Night Town, is coming out! It’s a wild ride that tells the story of Maddy, a teenager from small town Ontario who finds herself in the exciting, but seedy and scary, mean streets of Toronto. You can find out more about the book at Cathi’s author page, here. Cathi’s official book launch is May 13th at the Imperial Pub from 6:00-8:00 pm. Please come and say hi if you’re in the Toronto area! More importantly, buy the book here or here.

Further to the future of publishing, Cathi and Nora talk about APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. That’s Guy Kawasaki’s take on the future of publishing, where a self-publishing author also takes on the role of entrepreneur. It’s part of a write-up on self-publishing over at PSFK.

And where do you like to have coffee in the morning? How about a public toilet? Attendant is a new coffee house in London created from a refurbished Victorian public lavatory. Nice porcelain! Check out the pictures over at Inhabitat

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, March 18th, 2013: Trends in Self-Tracking and Connectedness

This time, our gal Cathi Bond mentions the Underarmour wearable band for runners that tracks your stats and your ‘willpower’ (via PSFK). Does wearing tracking devices like this improve your performance, or keep you motivated? We’d love to hear about it.

Nora refers to this cool visualization at the Smithsonian Magazine blog. Researcher Albert-Laszlo Barabasi found that any two pages on the web are connected by no more than 19 clicks. Quite cool to look at the hyper-connector ‘hubs’ in the visualization.

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.