With our mobile phones’ abilities approaching what our personal computers do at a quick pace, it seems like a wider integration of multiple sims could be a nice idea. I still meet so many people who squabble with their multiple devices to try and separate their private lives from the professional ones. I’m not even asking to make the phones compatible with different networks as nice as that could be – I’d just like to be able to have a couple of numbers from the same operator and be able to have preset groups I want to call from specific numbers rather than revealing my private one to everyone I need to have phone contact with.
And by all means, make me pay for it, but please just make it work. How much different can creating a maintaining a phone number be to doing the same with an email address in principle? The technology is there, but why not applied on a wider scale?
‘This of RepRap as a China on your desktop’ is what the Open Source Program Manager at Google Chris DiBona said about the project. The RepRap printer is able to produce certain objects from your home and it costs just around 500 Euros to put together. What’s more interesting, even if somewhat idealistic, is that the project team is trying to make RepRap into a printer that will be able to replicate itself and produce other RepRaps, which could turn the RepRap into some sort of an industrial viral. This could potentially revolutionise the industry chain of everything being shipped from China to everywhere else be it the developed world or Africa. For that to happen, the RepRap would have to actually have to produce enough useful objects at prices that don’t exceed what you can buy in a supermarket. And, well, until now the RepRap can’t actually self-replicate itself completely, but whether that’s actually essential is a whole other question. My friend Jonathan wrote a much longer post discussing the RepRap:
Back to reality. Today the RepRap team has succeeded in designing and building a cheap 3D printer which prints in plastic only and can produce about 50% of its own parts. This is a historic event, and should not be underestimated. However, producing a new machine still requires a lot of basic hardware such as metal rods and screws, and also more exotic components such as specific integrated circuits and stepper motors. In RepRap’s evolutionary analogy, these raw parts (as well as plastic filament feedstock) are the naturally produced “vitamins” that the RepRap consumes from its environment in order to reproduce. As time goes on, the team hopes to produce designs for upgraded RepRap machines that can manufacture more of their own parts, and not incidentally the parts for more complex objects too. For example, they hope to be able to deposit metal films with the next generation machine, which would allow the RepRap to produce electrical wiring and basic circuits.
GreenXchange is an exciting collaborative project between Creative Commons, Nike and Best Buy. The idea is based on open source innovation between businesses that are looking for innovation in sustainability and are looking to move from an institution-centric to a network-based model of business and knowledge organisation. Sharing research and opening patents to enlarge rather than privatize innovation and knowledge seems like a great idea, even if I can’t help doubting that large businesses will seek out exclusivity in bringing out innovation more so than being credited for it and gaining from others. But let’s hope that’s just scepticism – the potential shareable equity is far more valuable than internal unshared resources that can put it together through a network.
Earlier this year at the TED conference, Pattie Maes from the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group showcased a wearable computing system that allows users to display and interact with the Web on any surface – including the human body. The video shows the system’s main developer, Pranav Mistry, taking photographs with his hand, summoning up Amazon review data onto the cover of a physical book, displaying information about a person he’s just met on their tee-shirt, and calling someone by inputting a phone number onto the palm of his hand.
‘Making Things Visible’ is another great talk from LIFT 09:
A designer and researcher at Oslo School of Architecture, Timo Arnall offers here his perspective about networked objects and ubiquitous computing. His presentation, and the intriguing design examples he takes, highlights two phenomena. On the one hand, he describes how sensors and RFIDs can enable to “make things visible” as the title of his presentation expresses. On the other hand, he shows the importance of going beyond screen-based interactions
Inspiring talk by Jane Poynter about a 2 year experiment of creating a new sealed biosphere that served as an environment for people to live in. The talk brings ideas about sustainablity on Earth today and other possible environments, because ultimately one day, we might just need to build new environments or move to other planets if the Earth becomes inhabitable. Enjoy!
Anne Galloway published a fantastic essay on community mapping, locative media and their potential impact on everything from pollution control to politics and just fun things like emotion mapping in urban environments.
Community mapping and sensing projects that use commonly available consumer electronics as environmental measurement devices, enable people to collect and view a wide array of location-based data. As a form of public science, such projects stand to reinvigorate environmentally focused civic engagement. However, given public concerns around environmental risks and their connections to technological progress, I believe that this kind of active citizenship should promote more critical reflection on the values and goals of the very projects that expect to create such profound changes in these domains, and carefully consider the limits of its own power.
The concept of the Internet of Things is probably one of the interesting ones as far as technology innovation having a direct effect on our lifestyles. Yang Soo-In presents how the interconnectedness of things can apply to buildings and cities thus creating interactive living urban spaces. The technology is based rougly on sensors installed into the building structures and being able to communicate between one another about anything from traffic jams to pollution levels.
Jen Bove from Kicker presents as part of Dot Dot Dot ‘The service designers’. The presentation focuses on 5 aspects of service design expectations and existing features ranging from immediacy, participation and feedback to expertise and customisation. More videos on the mfa interaction design blog.
Innovation can have roughly 3 purposes: technological progress, monetary profits and creating something useful or engaging for people. To me, the people-centric view has always been the most important in my perception of design and new technologies. Still, design and marketing often feel as though they are enveloped in their own little realms. Their innovation focuses too much on the first two of the 3 purposes, in other words on the product or service itself rather than how it can be useful or engaging to users. The end connection with people is crucial for any service or product, otherwise it may as well not exist or will simply die by natural death of being outsmarted competitors. Peter Merholz from Adaptive Path presents ‘Experience is the product’ that shows how technology and feature development are merely the first 2 steps to success: