I was recently Inspired to build a hydroponic gardening system of my own. The system works by having a pump which periodically sends a liquid nutrient to the top of a plant tower seated in the window. The nutrients then trickle down through the various plant root systems, which are suspended in clay pellets. My inspiration came after discovering the ways in which over 2 billion people living in cities all across the world are beginning to bring gardens into their homes, on their roofs, and more. Much of my time is spent working with technology and quite frequently staring at a computer far longer than I should be. I wanted a way to bring a bit of the outside world into my home as well as re-kindle my relationship with gardening.
While I am by no stretch of the imagination against the idea of having technology in our homes and lives, I have a deep fascination with the the idea of a healthy and balanced style of life. Where the physical world, and nature are not excluded from what we do simply by the technology that voids our need to interact with such objects.
Within a healthy home environment I believe that the balance between natural and artificial should be at a 1:1 ratio. My belief stems from the idea that with each piece of technology that we acquire, we should remain aware of that which is natural and sustainable. Whether its about growing your own food or building an indoor/outdoor garden we learn a lot from the natural world. I often incorporate this idea within the designs and products that I create, and with that I hope to encourage the people who use them to think beyond the devices capabilities and branch out to create balanced home lives.
To check out one of my favorite products associated with the idea of balanced homes: click here
To learn about biomimicry and adopting features from nature into design check out my page on Biomimicry
We spend a significant portion of our lives within our homes and workplaces. This got me to thinking about space and environment as a canvas for merging the concepts of creativity, community, efficiency, and true “Smart Home” features.
When we hear the term “Smart Home” we tend to imagine a living space which is exceedingly filled with technology, Alexa and devices like it controls the lights, the music, the temperate, and so on. However, when i consider a smart living situation, I picture a space which is more human centric and compliments aspects of our daily lives. They can be small things like a bag hook near the front door for groceries or a purse to stay momentarily as you reach for keys or a phone. They can also take form in larger more connected experiences for example, a concept I invented which uses real-time data to understand how often a room of space is being used and in turn throttles/redistributes heat or A/C. This technology comes at a very small cost in comparison to wasted energy.
With people of many various professions working at very different times, imagine a business which has its sales people work at 9, while IT starts at 11. Assuming they work in different spaces we’ll see more user frequency on the sales floor and allocating accordingly. This is just a small step at the ways in which we can look to become more efficient simply by understanding more about our environments.
When we talk about smart living and merging the ideas of a well functioning community space, I think of one of my favorite projects pictured here. It is the work of SANAA, an architectural firm that combines the creative talents of Pritzker Prize winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa and their staff of 25 in Tokyo, Japan. In the words of the Pritzker jury, “The buildings by Sejima and Nishizawa seem deceptively simple. The architects hold a vision of a building as a seamless whole, where the physical presence retreats and forms a sensuous background for people, objects, activities, and landscapes.”
Their fluid integration of inside and outside space produces environments which are rich in social and spiritual potential. The River building was constructed on a sliver of the 80-acre Grace Farms property in New Canaan, CT.
While it remains a place I frequent regularly and continue to stay involved, Grace farms and The River Building are open to the public and i highly encourage you to go experience it for yourself.
Smart, responsive and elegant, the Copenhagen Wheel is a new emblem for urban mobility. It transforms ordinary bicycles quickly into hybrid e-bikes that also function as mobile sensing units. The Copenhagen Wheel allows you to capture the energy dissipated while cycling and braking and save it for when you need a bit of a boost. It also maps pollution levels, traffic congestion, and road conditions in real-time.
Controlled through your smart phone, the Copenhagen Wheel becomes
a natural extension of your everyday life. You can use your phone to unlock and lock your bike, change gears and select how much the motor assists you. As you cycle, the wheel’s sensing unit is also capturing your effort level and information about your surroundings, including road conditions, carbon monoxide, NOx, noise, ambient temperature and relative humidity. Access this data through your phone or the web and use it to plan healthier bike routes, to achieve your exercise goals or to meet up with friends on the go. You can also share your data with friends, or with your city - anonymously if you wish – thereby contributing to a fine-grained database of environmental information from which we can all benefit.
Want to learn more? Check out Superpedestrian.com
How do we know when students and children are truly engaged during their work or daily tasks? Is there a way to learn about engaging factors, repetition in learning patterns, or complete loss of interest? Can we gauge what they’re learning without an invasive form of observation and interrogation?
These are just a couple of questions I often ask myself when considering the way in which interaction and attention plays a role within our educational atmosphere, and everyday lives.
When it comes to developmental studies of children K-12 or even students in college, it’s no easy task to understand what each individual is taking from their studies or interactive work. There have been many clinical trials which require wiring up individuals and watching for changes in brain EEG signals. Similarly, while this may be a great way to test for current engagement and pinpoint moments when interest or new discoveries take place. It is not the best testing grounds due to the increased anxiety or nerves brought on by foreign objects on your person.
Instead, what if we use the age old human giveaway…facial expression and gestured movement. We reveal more than we may think by simply changing our expressions, twiddling our thumbs, or moving our bodies. By taking the time observe and record data on varying gestures, reactions, and so on.
Our goal is to use non-invasive tracking devices such as an Xbox Kinect in order to map varying gestures and learn more about what features, objects, and concepts keep us engaged. Not only will such data help us develop better products, but teach us how to properly engage and teach with efficiency and greater success.
For anyone like myself who spends many hours a day staring at a computer screen, you’re probably quite familiar with Digital Eye Strain at the end of the day, or perhaps headaches which come in tandem with extensive screen time. At Felix Gray, the idea behind their mission is to reinvent computer glasses to be beautiful and effective. By understanding the increasing need of those who works on computers, the team worked hard to create a clear lens that could still filter Blue Light well and eliminate glare. While these aren’t the first Blue Light glasses on the market, previous models were often too large, clunky, and more of a hinderance than a help. At Felix Gray the glasses are designed to be classically inspired frames built from Italian acetate. Wondering if these might help you? Check out Felixgray.com for more info.
As a cyclist myself, I am always considering new ways to improve the safety and awareness of cyclists and pedestrians. While I have many bike related projects, most begin around the idea of bridging the gap of communication between the two: driver and cyclist.
The idea for the open door awareness system came after hearing about the numerous accounts of cyclists being severely injured after car doors were opened on them as they passed by parked cars. As a cyclist myself, I sought to find a way in which the issue could be almost completely eradicated by warning both cyclist / Oncoming traffic and the person inside the car.
By utilizing the existing sensors and lights in many cars, or retrofitting others, the open door awareness system works by alerting the driver or passengers inside the vehicle of oncoming traffic in their blindspots or out of view. It does so by vibrating the inner handle as you reach to open the door. Conversely, in order to alert others of your soon to open door, the system flashes the vehicles lights in an effort to bring attention to the cyclist or other oncoming vehicles.
I often get asked how I keep track of the ideas that come through my head on a daily basis, or how i know where to begin. The answer is rather simple and some might say old fashioned…I do it all on paper.
I like to ask people when was the last time they sent a handwritten letter to a friend or loved-one? How about the last time we sat down to journal, sketch, or throw ideas onto pages for later use. For many of us these acts have become a digital experience “made easier” by doing so on computers, tablets, and smartphones.
What if there was a notebook which functioned like the notebook we all know and love, but was enhanced with a technological feature to make it easier to use, organize, and digitize. That technology is known as SCRIBZEE® and its goal: To make your notes more organized, collaborative, and to bridge the gap between new and “old.” At Hamelin, the company which directed this project, the vision is to empower note-takers.
There are many studies which prove that handwriting not only increases our chance of memorization, but increases overall brain functionality. In some studies using magnetic resonance imaging has indeed shown that what we often see as low-tech writing by hand increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, much like meditation. So this is just one example to show that handwriting sharpens the brain and helps us learn. Hamelin Notebooks in tandem with SCRIBZEE® technology are a perfect example of my design philosophy.
With SCRIBZEE® and Hamelin notebooks :
- Save your handwritten notes in an ultra-secure cloud.
- Collate and sort them by subject with presentations, images and other digital content transmitted by your tutors.
- Share notes with other members of your work groups via social networks
- E-mail notes to classmates and colleagues
To learn more about SCRIBZEE® and Hamelin Brands click here
The Narrative Clip is one of my favorite products on the market. Its a non-invasive, lightweight, and almost unnoticeable automatic life-blogging camera. By taking a photo every 30 seconds, the small wearable camera creates the true photographic memory. After a long day of wearing Narrative, one can reflect on the simple moments, the nostalgic ones, and even remember some details you may have missed during conversations that took place while your mind was off in space.
The narrative clip is an easy to use object, and it isn't chock full of overwhelming features or interfaces. Instead, Narrative can seamlessly become a part of our daily routine. Like the clothing we put on each morning, Narrative is just another article.
Want to learn more? Check out Narrative
Sometimes drinking more water is all we need to feel energized and brighten our mood. Hidrate Spark 2.0 smart water bottle will keep track of how much you drink and help you meet your daily hydration goal by indicating subtle reminders through an internal glowing light. The bottle works via an Internal sensor which monitors how much water (ml or oz.) you drink throughout the day. The glowing light reminds you when to drink more water and signals that you've met your customizable daily intake goal. The bottle syncs to the app in your IOS or Android Bluetooth device, and integrates with fitness trackers including Fitbit, Apple Watch, Apple Health Kit, Google Fit, Under Armour Record and Nokia/Withings.