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?
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:
This time, Nora Young talks about the trend in peer-to-peer applications for tracking and sharing your health (via Technology Review). The trend appears to be growing, with tons of diet, fitness, and health sites and apps popping up. They’re a great idea, but users will have to be aware of their privacy, and make sure they understand what these services are doing with their data. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, has a story on insurance companies experimenting with checking out people’s social networking sites for signs of healthy or unhealthy lifestyles.
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond looks at the fun boom in apps for cats! (Via Gizmag)
This little kitty sure seems to be enjoying it:
Cats not your thing? Well how about Alpha Dog, from Boston Dynamics. They’re the people who brought you the Big Dog robot. Holy Uncanny Valley:
In this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond talks about Milan Fashion Week, and reports about the return, yet again, of 80s styling. On the upside, she’s happy about the neon brights (via the always excellent JC Report). Confess your 80s horror stories here. Did you have H.E.H. (Horrible Eighties Hair)?
Meanwhile Nora Young notes that Boston Dynamics, the people behind the BigDog robot, are set to make a cheetah-like robot, which, the plan is, will ‘run’ faster than a human (via Gizmag). Couldn’t you see Cathi on the farm with robot cheetahs on the prowl?
Cathi and Nora also mention the always-worth-another-viewing Minority Report, and the news that there’s a plan for a prequel and sequel to one of C&N’s most treasured movies, Blade Runner. What do you think about making a sequel or prequel to Blade Runner? What should it be called?
In this trendwatching podcast, Nora Young and Cathi Bond survey the news from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. There was lots of buzz about Internet TV. Technology Review has a great round-up of on demand video and the limits of Internet TV, at least so far. Internet TVs are also expected to have apps available. That reminded Nora that Twitter is looking to have a presence on many more devices, and platforms, including TVs (via Read Write Web). Will all that video delivered via the Internet actually cost too much if it exceeds your bandwidth cap? Michael Geist points to this study that Canadians who have started using Netflix may have “sticker shock”.
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond looks at another cool thing from CES: the latest version of Pleo, the robotic dinosaur pet! Nora is intrigued by the idea of toys and devices with downloadable upgrades, rather than tossing something in the landfill. What do you think? Would you have a robotic pet? What about the lessons of Trilogy of Terror!
In today’s podcast, Cathi Bond brings you, yes, a robot update (Like so many robot updates before). This time, she looks at the RIBA, yet another robot that designers imagine can keep people in their homes and care for them in hospital. Nora thinks it looks like a Mr. Sno Cone. Watch the video here.
In a freakier vein, Cathi chats about the Chembot, from the iRobot people (via IEEE Spectrum) In spite of the creepiness of the ‘jamming skin technology’, Nora thinks about the power of robotics freeing itself from anthropomorphic design constraints.
Meanwhile, Nora Young wonders why Lego seems to be having a ‘cultural moment’. There’s the adorable kitchen island, made from an IKEA island covered in Lego (via Core77), the forthcoming Lego Rock Band
And there’s always BrickCon, the Lego convention. Do you love Lego? Tell us!
In this trendwatching podcast, Nora Young talks about Hunch.com, a decision-making tool she’s had her eye on for some time. It uses input from users to improve its results. Nora thinks it works because it’s fun!
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond talks about so-called “robotic cargo-screening ferrets” which will be used to search shipping containers for contraband (via Eurekalert).
In this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond talks about the Slik Stick, by Baylis, a very high end cane. (via TCL Products). It’s yet another example of the kind of design-savvy gear we’re seeing aimed at older consumers.
Nora Young talks about this video, at New Scientist, of CUTE penguin robots that seem to swim and fly. It’s another example of a trend Cathi and Nora are seeing a lot of: biomimicry in tech design, and in particular, in robotics.
In this trendwatching podcast, Nora Young mentions one of her favourite blogs, Pink Tentacle, about unusual pop culture, art, and robotics in Japan. This time around, it’s CB2, a ‘baby robot’ that has Nora’s attention. It’s part of a string of attempts, including the ones at Second Life Cathi talked about before, to model behaviour like facial recognition in a developmental sense. It’s also very, very creepy. Nora says it reminds her of the Uncanny Valley, and also what bioethicists sometimes call ‘the yuck factor‘. Check the video at Pink Tentacle.
Meanwhile, Cathi Bond finds a stunner of a building, the Helix Hotel in Abu Dhabi (Check it out, via Inhabitat). Cathi says it reminds her of the band Devo’s hats, but on a more serious note, it’s another example of a trend we’ve talked about a lot: architecture that’s designed to be more sustainable either by being ‘responsive’ to changes in the surrounding environment or by utilizing local environmental conditions, in this case, with an exterior that harnesses wind and light. It reminds Nora of Lisa Rochon’s recent article in the Globe and Mail about the declining market for ‘pushed to the limit’, out-there, starchitect designs.
Finally, Nora mentions the Open Reel Ensemble, for lovers of Old Skool! (via Pink Tentacle)
In this trendwatching podcast, Nora Young talks about an intriguing research project from the University of Tokyo. Yoichiro Kowaguchi and his team are exploring artificial life by creating organic robot designs that might mimic, say, centipedes, rather than mammals. (via Pink Tentacle).
Plus, Cathi Bond is very jazzed about the AeroCivic, a hacked Honda Civic designed to reduce drag. The designer/hacker is Mike Turner. We’d love to know what car/design savvy listeners think about this project!