Author Archives: Nora

Sorry State of the Web and Cool, Modular Phones

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and recent winner of the Turing Award, has been sounding the alarm about the sad, sad state of the Web (read it here in The Guardian). Cathi Bond has heard the alarm bells loud and clear. Is the promise of the Web as an open, democratic place dead? People have been talking about modular smart phones for a while now, where you swap out parts of your phone that need upgrading, instead of trading them in for a whole new one. Are they ready for their close-up? Nora Young says there are a bunch of modular phones around (see the comparison at CNet) including a new version of the Fairphone (via PSFK), which ethically sources materials. What would it take to make modular phones sexy rather than just worthy? Finally, astonishingly, people watch a billion hours of content on YouTube per day! What if people actually did something for the public good with all that time? [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5248734/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

New Ways to Pay: Do You Tap? And Using Your Ring to Pay

Cathi is a fan of "tap and pay" credit cards. But now she's wondering if they're really secure. She also mentions this security report about malware on phones installed somewhere along the supply chain. 

Nora looks at Kerv, a cool-looking ring that gives you the ability for contactless payment without a card, or a phone, at all (via Tech Radar). 


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Innovation in heating and cool new robot

Cathi Bond talks about Swiss research into a process that supposedly stores summer heat for use in the frosty winter months. Read about the process here. Meanwhile, HOLY CATS! Nora Young talks about Boston Dynamic's cool/freaky new robot, Handle (via Mashable) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7xvqQeoA8c [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5139620/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Taming Trolls and Adult Swaddling

In this podcast, Nora Young talks about research suggesting pretty much any of us can be a troll, or otherwise just plain nasty online, given the right circumstances (via Technology Review). And, Cathi Bond shares this video on the trend in Japan towards adult women being swaddled and rocked. [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5079901/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Your Own Smart Home Robotic Assistants

In this podcast, Cathi Bond takes a look at the story coming out of the recent CES extravaganza, and the dominant role played by Amazon Echo in building a smart home hub (see, for example, CNET's writeup. Nora Young talks about cute home robots (via Technology Review). There's Kuri, which can control things in your house, but can also roam around and check on different parts of your home when you're not there. Or consider Lynx, which is integrated with Amazon Echo. It's starting to look like the smart home will increasingly be integrated with one of the big players' voice activated systems, like Echo, or Google's Home. Would you have one in your home? Do you? Let us know in the comments!   [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4994537/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Cool, Sustainable Buildings and Uncanny Valley Update

In this podcast, Cathi Bond talks about architect Vincent Callebaut's cool, sustainable, luxury condo project. Will this be the way of the future for condos that aren't on the luxury end too? See more of Callebaut's projects here.

Nora Young talks about new research suggesting just how good - and fast - humans are at visually distinguishing reality from unreal images. What does this mean for virtual reality design, as well as the design of robots?


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High Cost of Fast Fashion and Cool Gift Guide

In this podcast, Nora Young talks about this Motherboard story on the environmental cost of "fast fashion". Cathi Bond picks out some of her favourite Christmas gifts from Gizmodo's gift guide for the hermit on your list. Nora's favourite is one she also saw at Technology Review: Cozmo the cutie robot! Happy Holidays! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4vjitQH-tU&t=29s [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4922877/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Building Better Chatbots and Customized Diets

On this podcast, Nora Young mentions research out of Carnegie Mellon into creating chatbots that can respond to humans with more emotional intelligence, picking up on our subtle social cues (via Technology Review). You might want to check out this interview with Jerry Kaplan on her show, Spark. Cathi Bond talks about Habit, a startup that aims to create custom meal plans based on your nutritional profile, including things like vitamin levels and blood sugar (via Fast Company) [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4890293/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Racism in the sharing economy and smart jacket for VIP access

On this podcast, Cathi Bond talks about this study on racism and sexism with ride-hailing services Uber, Lyft, and Flywheel (via Jalopnik). Is this something you have experienced? Nora Young talks about the Rochambeau Bright BMBR smart jacket, which comes loaded with digital "tags" that give the wearer VIP access (via Read Write). It ties into several trends, including products that incorporate 'experiences'. [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4848952/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

AI learns from Google Books, and TubeChat combats loneliness

This time around, Cathi Bond talks about a Google AI project. The AI was trained on 11,000 genre fiction novels in order to chat more naturally. Cool, but the hitch is that some authors are ticked off that their fiction is being used as training data, and they're not being compensated (via The Guardian) Meanwhile, Nora Young mentions the Tube Chat project, where London commuters were urged to talk to strangers on the Tube. A lot of hilarious riffing on Londoners' famous reserve followed (via CityLab). [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4769001/height/100/width/480/thumbnail/no/render-playlist/no/theme/standard/tdest_id/237069" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3