Next Gen Hydroponics and Brand Mascot Hotels

Hey there! We are back! This time, Nora Young talks about "aeroponics": a sort of next gen hydroponics where the plant roots are just dangling out in the air, nourished by nutrient-rich misters (via Modern Farmer). You can even "plant" them vertically. Whole new potential for a plant wall! Nora also mentions the fine folks at Normative Design in Toronto, and their smart and engaging series on Design + AI. Cathi Bond talks about this PSFK article exploring how brands are starting to use cartoon characters and mascots in real world physical experiences, such as hotels and cafes; examples include a Toy Story hotel, and a Hello Kitty cafe. The aesthetic is colourful, childlike and plastic-y. What's up with that? We have some theories!   [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8534909/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

Realistic Robots, Tiny Drones, Smart Hiring

Best of the season to you! Cathi and I are back with some fun for the holidays. This time on the podcast, Cathi Bond talks about Affetto, this startlingly realistic android robot. Cathi wonders about having something like this, or Rock Hudson, say, as a home companion. Personally, I (Nora) find it kinda creepy. What do you think? We take a quick look at the city of Helsinki's decision to go for a hiring system that removes all personally identifying info (eg sex, age, mother tongue) in an effort to get beyond bias in hiring. It seems to have worked for orchestras; could it work for city governments? Cathi is also pretty obsessed with drones these days, like the tiny dji Mavic Pro (see the review at New Atlas) Would you like a drone of your own? How should they be regulated in light of the recent events at Gatwick airport? And as always this time of year, the greatest Christmas movie ever, The Thin Man! Obligatory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT6x9Aullek [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/8038604/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

Streaming Movies and Cool New Housing for Old Buildings

Hi all! Thanks for coming back! We've been a long time gone, but we are at it again! This time, Nora Young talks about the challenges streaming film services have, and this Forbes article about how two niche movie streaming services have managed -- or not -- to make a go of it. Cathi Bond thinks there's a lot to be learned from the cable world in the form of Turner Classic Movies. Cathi looks at a really cool idea in place in China: dropping small, modernist, smartly designed housing 'inserts' called "Plugin Houses into dilapidated buildings. Check out the story and lots of images at New Atlas. Could this be a model for elsewhere? Also, super snappy recommendation: this Vox explainer on those iconic Blue Note album covers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNgA7dDs90E&feature=youtu.be [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/7900466/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

Bikes for a Smart City and Laser Weapons!

Apologies for the long delay, but we are back at last! This time, dockless bikes are all the rage, promising wheels when you need them, without having to lock them up at dedicated stations, the way you do with Toronto's Bike Share, or Montreal's Bixi. Now, one of the leaders in the dockless bike space, Lime, is taking advantage of the GPS-enabled nature of the bikes to share anonymized data with cities (via Technology Review). Smart use of data being collected anyway, and smart PR move to get cities onside. Meanwhile, Cathi looks at this story by New Atlas about a laser rifle from China, that is supposed to be powerful and lightweight. Some are skeptical, some are worried.   [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/7173653/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 Ear Buds and Super Smart Wind Turbines

On this podcast episode, Nora Young talks about a super smart idea for capturing the wind energy created by passing vehicles: small wind turbines along the roadside. See more at Core77.

Meanwhile Cathi Bond has two cool earbud designs for you. Firefly are quick charging, inexpensive wieless earbuds with long battery life (via NewAtlas). Then there's Bose's innovation: sleepbuds, designed to be noise cancelling and super comfortable to help you sleep (via Engadget)


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The Future of the Mall and Super Efficient Batteries

Battery life can be a real problem. Cathi Bond tells Nora about research out of Cornell, suggesting a proming model based on a more complex, folded shape. Best of all, it charges almost immediately. Read more at New Atlas here. What would it take to get you into a mall in 10 years? One vision from British retail development group, Westfield, is for a sort of one-stop retail, wellness entertainment hub (via Springwise). It's actually really quite cool. Check out the interactive images here. [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6760954/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

IKEA Goes Big(ger) and Audio Sleep Aids

On this podcast, Nora Young talks about a few different stories about IKEA's expansion plans and new lines, including partnerships on surprising products like fragrance, expansion plans for Indian cities, and modular pieces that can be re-assembled into different kinds of furniture for small spaces.

Cathi Bond points us to this Gizmodo article about the late painter, Bob Ross, whose PBS instructional show was a surprising hit. Now, his soothing voice is being used as a sleep aid. Apparently, Calm.com has added the audio from one of his episodes to their 'sleep tracks' series.

 

Article Links

IKEA partnerships: http://fortune.com/2018/06/12/ikea-partner-lego-adidas-sonos/

IKEA expands in India: https://www.fastcompany.com/40584160/ikea-is-swapping-swedish-meatballs-for-samosas-in-its-india-stores

Rumtid line borrows from design for outer space: https://www.psfk.com/2018/06/ikea-rumtid-urban-space.html

Bob Ross sleep aid: https://gizmodo.com/this-bob-ross-sleep-mediation-is-the-mental-escape-i-ne-1826796037


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Research into Ketamine and Automated Restaurants

On this podcast, Cathi Bond talks about this New Atlas article on the history of the drug, Ketamine, and new research into its potential as a treatment for depression, along with questions about how to avoid negative side effects.

Nora Young chats about this article in The Outline on Spyce, a new restaurant in Boston, which is almost entirely automated. Is this a novelty, or a sign of the future? 

Links: 

The Outline: https://theoutline.com/post/4657/please-welcome-the-humanity-free-grain-bowl-lunch?zd=1&zi=gwqnvsso

New Atlas: https://newatlas.com/psychedelic-medicine-ketamine/54970/


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Super Cool Treehouse and Mushroom Leather

We've both been very busy, so had to take a Sniffer break for a bit, but we're back with two fun, eco-friendly design stories for ya. Cathi Bond loves outdoor living, tree houses, and mini-homes, so she was in heaven when she found Sky-Pod, a gorgeous, teardrop shaped tree house inspired by Victorian crinolines (via New Atlas. Check out the images). Nora Young talks about Mylo, a leather-like material made from mycelium, which is the underground network underneath mushrooms (via Core 77, complete with images). She also mentions high end sneakers made from tree fungus. Cathi and Nora both mention Matt and Nat.   [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6711425/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

Fight Malware with AI and Fight Jaywalking with Water

We're back after a little break! This time, Nora talks about EMBER, a release of a large dataset of "avatars" of malware by a cyber security company. The idea is to use it to help machine learning learn to recognize malware (via Technology Review). Cathi talks about the city of Daye in China. Streets are equipped with technology to catch people jaywalking...and spray them with water! Read more at Gizmodo. Nora also mentions the book vending machine at The Monkey's Paw bookstore in Toronto (via Narcity). [iframe style="border:none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/6608094/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