for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Newtoon teaches Physics on your Phone


A mobile phone and web-based gaming activity that embeds physics learning into the core of its application, Newtoon is a collaborative project between UK-based Futurelab and Soda Creative that is designed to encourage children to create, play, edit and share micro-games based on Newton’s laws of physics.

By motivating children to make use of their own phones for learning and encouraging mobile applications within the classroom, the project aims to offer teachers an engaging and exciting new tool for education, as well as hopefully inspiring students to involve science into their lives outside the school walls. There are two key aspects; the ‘microlab’ which allows teachers to demonstrate and explain physics principles, and the ‘microgame’ allows pupils and teachers to create their own games based on these principles, explained in the scenarios give on their website:

Scenario 1

A science teacher is anxious about KS3 Unit 8J: Magnets and electromagnets. She wonders how she can excite her pupils about the world of magnetism. The teacher launches Newtoon on the whiteboard and searches for a tutorial on ‘magnets’. She opens a research microlab and by moving and rotating the bar magnet, she demonstrates that the ferrous bar always attracts while the bar magnet both attracts and repels depending on polarity. On their desktops, the pupils then select ‘dog’s dinner’, a micro-game which explores magnets. Racing against the clock, the pupils steer a dog towards the bone, avoiding the magnetic forces.

Scenario 2

During the science lesson, all the pupils’ games are collected into a game-carousel at the Newtoon website. At home, a pupil, Laura loads the game-carousel onto her mobile phone and challenges her family to play her creations. “How does it work?” her mum asks. Laura explains that her game, ‘dream-date’, uses magnetic variables to make her game characters attract and repel each other depending on how ‘cute’ they are, using pictures she has imported from the internet. She then shows her mum that her game has been the most played by her classmates, and that she has improved in her understanding of physics

Having been prototype tested in schools around the UK already this year, and with trails due to launch any day now, this is an exciting new system for the future of learning that may finally begin to bring about the materialisation of the much-deliberated re-think to the tenets of teaching.

‘The evolution of a gaming community has the potential to invoke an interactive and collaborative classroom culture with doing, debating and deliberating science at its heart. This will involve exploring the possibilities of a 21st century science curriculum.’

Futurelab: Newtoon

Filed under: education, mobile lifestyles, products with a purpose

Fashion as Rehabilitation

The Times reports on an Italian cooperative known as Project Alice that is teaching rehabilitation to inmates in Milanese prisons through the art of fashion design.

‘Rehabilitation in Italy comes in a fashionable form, you see. You may be
serving 15 years for murder but that’s no reason to let standards slip. Female inmates at this Milanese secure unit have the option to take a course in fashion design. Last week they held a fashion show in the prison grounds to show off creations by Alberta Ferretti and Pollini, and are set to collaborate with major Italian designers such as Anna Molinari of Blumarine’.

Having already created costumes for both TV and La Scala theatre productions, the project teaches both design and production, aiming to instill useable skills to help the women make something of their lives. Up next is the inmates creation of their own fashion brand, led by the guidance of Anna Molinari, which will be available in stores within the next couple of months under the label Gatti
Galeotti –

With celebrities finding it increasingly hard to stay out of prison, maybe this is the start of a whole new trend- incarceration chic??!

Update – ABC shows the first Gatti Galeotti fashion show in 2008

Filed under: creative ideas, products with a purpose,

Pants that Prevent Radiation


Only for the supremely paranoid: Isabodywear are offering underpants that will keep you safe from cellphone radiation. With concerns thrown up from claims that radiation can cause infertility, the company have launched a range of special briefs made with threads of silver to block phone rays and reception, and ensure the survival of the human race!

To prove the effectiveness, the inventor claims that if you place your phone inside the pants no matter where you are you will never be able to get a signal. If you feel like putting this to the test, Isabodywear are giving away 500 pairs for test purposes, so send them an email– and then let me know the results!!!

via textually

Filed under: products with a purpose

Urban Forest reincarnated as Jack Spade Totes

Remember the impressive Urban Forest Project in New York last summer? Well the 186 banners that were brightening up the streets around Time Square are now being recycled into very limited edition tote bags- and with only 2 being made from each banner these must surely be the rarest accessories around! As the site explains “The tree is metaphor for sustainability, and in that spirit the banners from the exhibition are now being recycled into totebags designed
exclusively for the project by Jack Spade

Not only are they caring for the environment, all profits from the bag sales are going to Worldstudio AIGA Scholarships and the AIGA/NY Mentoring Program to sustain the next generation of design talent. Unfortunately as the sale started yesterday some of our favourites have already been snapped up, but if you head to the site quickly you may still be able to nab one of the ones pictured below-


Filed under: creative ideas, products with a purpose,

Stab-Proof Clothing- the Future for a Safe Life?


With knife and gun crime on the rise in the UK, is Kevlar-lined clothing the future for safe living? One company certainly seems to think so. Bladerunner is an Essex-based company that makes protective clothing for police forces and security guards, and now also offers ’stab-proof’ Kevlar-lined hoodies so that gang youths can look cool and stay safe.

After a colleague’s policeman friend came across 14 and 15 year olds wearing stab-proof vests for protection on the streets, the company’s director Adrian Davis has apparently also approached schools in East London about the possibility of putting Kevlar linings into school uniforms. A scary thought, but if there’s no prevention at least there can be some protection.

via Political Gateway

Filed under: for the children, products with a purpose

Coco Ribbon Neutral

picture-113Coco Ribbon, the boudoir boutique in Notting Hill where fashionistas stock up on lingerie, soft furnishings, candles et al, are adding another range to their store- your clothes! Wanting to do their bit to help the environment, the company’s founders came up with a unique way to shop and recycle at the same time. The new scheme, called Coco Ribbon Neutral, aims to get customers to bring in unwanted designer clothes and swap them for shopping vouchers to spend in the store. Fifty per cent of the sale price of your garment will come back to you in the form of Coco Ribbon pounds, alongside the knowledge that you are doing a good deed- thus alleviating your guilt and allowing you to buy more!

Coco Ribbon Neutral launches next month,

Filed under: clever promotion, products with a purpose

Rough Sleepers- Designer Charity

Rough Sleepers is a clever new twist on the traditional idea of a charity shop. Working with the same business model, all the proceeds go directly to the social exclusion and homelessness charity Novas, but this is no second-hand store. The rather inconspicuous facade on the main road through Camden Town hides an impressively designed space with a feast of fashion treats inside, and wonderfully friendly assistants who were very happy to guide me around the store and introduce me to the fabulous collections.

The store itself is sensitively designed by Sonoko Obuchi to emulate a shopping trolley, an object that is both the primary choice for many homeless people to transport their possessions, and a striking symbol of our consumer-led culture. A mixture of white walls, metal frame and mirrors, the space puts you inside the shopping trolley and makes you reflect on these themes.


The clothing and accessories on offer come from a range of designers from all over the world, an important point for the charity who are keen to stress this global synergy for their cause. Some designers including Robert Carey Williams, Zest by Ikuko Kato, Not Morris (Kim Jones’ team), and Ramon Barreto have created ranges exclusively for Rough Sleepers, whilst the store also sells a well-chosen range of young designers including Dexter Wong, NOM*d, Sylvia Rielle and Vinti Andrews. Currently also stocking recent LCF graduate Georgie Ichikawa, they are keen to involve graduates too, and to offer help to designers through their studio facilities located at the back of the store.

Yet another clever facet of the store is Rough Sleepers fully functioning studio/ workshop which will soon be home to the store’s four resident designers (including Georgie) who each have bartered deals enabling them to use the space for free.


Having only opened a couple of weeks ago, the store is sure to become a fashion destination for those in NW London, not only due to its unique pieces at great prices (ranging from £30 to £500), but also thanks to the guilt-free shopping it offers. Unlike the marketing ploy of Bono’s project (RED), this scheme has roots within its own community and Novas are making sure that 100% of profits are reinvested in helping the homeless in Camden and across the country. What could be more virtuous than shopping here?!

Filed under: collaborative working, creative ideas, good, products with a purpose,

M + F Girbaud Advertise for Peace


French label Marithè + François Girbaud are no strangers to creating controversial advertising campaigns, and having previously focussed on religion and war, the design duo have decided to use their new season’s adverts to promote a future of hope and peace for children in war-torn areas. Teenagers from Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan and Rwanda are shown in the photographs wearing adult-sized pieces from the s/s 2007 collection whilst happily sewing seeds into fields.

The images portray the designers’ partnership with Seeds of Peace, a non-profit organization that aims to educate and empower young people from regions of conflict to develop empathy, respect and peace among the next generation of leaders. As their newly-appointed official sponsor, Marithé+François Girbaud will also design a special line of SoP clothing which will only be available on the website, with 100% of proceeds
benefiting Seeds of Peace.

A worthy cause to promote, lets hope the campaign – which is due to get lots of exposure thanks to it featuring in glossy magazines and on billboards throughout the world – makes more people take stock of the importance of peace for the next generation.

Filed under: ads that caught my eye, good, products with a purpose,

Dissolvable Clothing- Just Add Water!

The Daily Telegraph reports on the world’s first dissolvable dress, which they describe as the ultimate in disposable fashion. Created by two professors at the University of Sheffield; the award-winning designer Prof Helen Storey and leading chemist Prof Tony Ryan, the dress promotes new materials that can make consumer products less environmentally harmful.

‘The fabric is knitted from a clear polymer – polyvinyl alcohol – of the kind used in sachets that release detergent in washing machines. The dresses will dissolve and turn into a form that can be recycled as a bottle. However, they break down so slowly that they can survive a sweaty party.

“The dresses Helen has created are a metaphor for the
beautiful things we create and use but never really think about and just throw away,” said Prof Ryan.

“In your lifetime you throw away around 20 tons of packaging material. We want people to think about that. But it has made us think more seriously about science, too.” ‘


An exhibition focussed around the current throwaway society will be staged in Sheffield this autumn, backed by the Government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. During this, the dresses will be put to the test publicly- eight of them will be lowered into a giant goldfish bowl where they will disappear before your very eyes!

The dresses are decorated with cleverly designed flowers that slowly give off a dye when they dissolve, making them move around like sea anemones in the huge goldfish bowl.

“Each dress will behave differently,” said Professor Storey. “These flowers will chase each other around the bowl in a biological way.” The dyes set up massive differences in surface tension – the forces that make the water’s “skin”.

As a result, there will be “something extraordinary” to see in the giant bowls “as the dresses dissolve, chemically react and explode as they are lowered deeper into the bowls – and will no longer exist when the exhibition closes”.

An amazing idea- although with the current climate in the UK probably not the safest option for a night out. It’s almost worth travelling all the way to Sheffield for- I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future updates.

Filed under: creative ideas, products with a purpose,

Smart Shirts- Let Your Clothes Monitor You

Smart_shirtA project by US-based Georgia Tech Research Corporation and SensaTex Inc, the smart shirt is designed to monitor the your heart rate, EKG, temperature, respiration and a host of vital functions, alerting the wearer or physician if there is a problem.

The clever t-shirt is woven or knitted incorporating a patented conductive fiber/sensor system which without effecting the look or feel of the fabric creates a wearable physiological information management platform that transmits data to a small external controller which then forwards this wirelessly to the chosen location.

Suitable for a range of people from police and military personnel, to patients and the elderly, the goal of the smart shirt is to minimize casualties by providing knowledge of patients health conditions to operators during emergency situations.

Currently field testing with plans to release for commercial use very soon, watch out for smart shirts- or let them watch out for you!

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Filed under: products with a purpose, technology, visions of the future