Category Archives: Electronics

Ditching Power Cords and Beyond Demographics

On today's podcast, Cathi Bond talks about WallJax wireless electronics chargers. There are two versions, the Float and the EZ, that free you from the tyranny of power cables (via Gizmag) She also talks about FurniQi, furniture with embedded chargers (via Gizmag). How about you? Have you seen cool wireless charger solutions? Let us know in the comments. Meanwhile, Nora Young mentions the recent trend report at Trendwatching. It talks about life beyond demographics, where people increasingly create their own narratives and can be marketed to as individuals. The down side? All that data that's known about us. [iframe style="border:none" src="" height="100" width="480" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen] Download MP3

Smartest Smart Watches; Wearables and Surveillance

We are back at last with a new podcast episode! This time around, Cathi Bond wants to talk smart watches. Undeniably a huge trend, with Apple Watch, Pebble, Android Wear, and more. Cathi talks about a new entry, the Puls 'smart cuff', brought to you by of Black-Eyed Peas fame. It has the notable feature of not requiring you to have your smart phone nearby. She also mentioned the very cool TinyScreen project, which you can hack as you like, or use it out of the box, as a watch, video screen, or gaming device (via Gizmag). Nora mentions her colleague, Dan Misener's recent column on the creepily named but practical "Skin Buttons" project, for using your arm as the input interface for those tiny little wearable devices. Meanwhile, still on the topic of wearables, Nora Young mentions this New Scientist article about the use of wearable in the workplace, in some cases just to encourage fitness, but in other cases used as part of coordinating the actual work flow. Nora wonders: if employers can already monitor what you do on work-supplied computers and phones, can surveillance via wearables be far behind?

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.

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, 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, 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.

The Sniffer, Jan 20th, 2013: Trends in Baby Tech, Analog, and TVs

On this trendwatching podcast, Cathi Bond and Nora Young are back from a midwinter break with some wacky stories that nonetheless point to bigger trends. Cathi has two examples of tech for babies. There's the Bubble Baby futuristic, self-cleaning crib, which Cathi and Nora would both like for themselves (via Gizmag), and the slightly more dubious sounding iPotty (via Gizmag). Nora looks at The Polaroid Cacher, a very cool art project which is built off a vintage polaroid camera (via Prosthetic Knowledge). Essentially, it recreates the experience of taking instamatic snapshots, but in this case, it captures your digital, on-screen interactions. It's part of a trend we've looked at before on The Sniffer, and on Nora's show, Spark, of combining the digital and the mechanical or analog. Why do we love this stuff so much? Finally, Cathi saw this Samsung easel TV which came out of this year's CES (via Paste Magazine). She points to it as part of a flood of new TV designs. What would it take you to invest in a new TV?

Nov 4th, 2012: Trends in Electronics and Urban Planning

Hey trendwatchers! This time, Nora Young talks about PredictGaze, software that can be incorporated into electronics such as TVs. It tracks your eyes so that you can, for instance, stop the TV when you walk out of the room. Also, marketers could use its facial recognition capability to see how you're reacting to what you watch (via Digital Trends) It brings together several trends: facial recognition technology, 'relationships' with our technologies, and non-touch interfaces. Meanwhile, Cathi Bond talks about [Y/N] Design Studio's concept plan for London's old canal system: turn it into lanes for swimming! (Via Gizmag) The charmingly wacky idea reminds Nora and Cathi that here in Toronto, we often lose sight of our history, in spite of attempts like the Distillery District. Nora herself just discovered "The Ward". Who knew?

The Sniffer, Oct 10th, 2012: Trends in Customization and Personal Devices

In today's podcast for trendwatchers, Nora Young talks about Indochino, a service that provides custom-made suits by getting the customer to do their own measurements. Cathi Bond and Nora think it furthers the trend toward mass customization, and using the internet to create personalized experiences for lower prices. It continues a trend they've talked about before, in products such as Styku. Meanwhile, Cathi Bond discusses this PSFK interview with Digital Art Director Dhani Sutanto, who has created the Oyster Ring - wearable tech that he can use to access the London Tube. Cathi and Nora discuss whether the app-loaded cell phone has taken the wind out of the sails of wearable tech, or if there will be new life in good looking wearable gear. UPDATE: Bit of a problem with the podcast for a day. Should be fine now. Thanks Encaffeinated ONE

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