for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

I <3 Siftables

I’m a HUGE fan of this idea from MIT grad student David Merrill and really hope these go into production soon. I tweeted a link to this the other week but have only just come across the video of his presentation at TED earlier this month. No point me explaining more- just watch the video below or here, or read more about the project here

Vodpod videos no longer available.

David’s last thought at the end of his presentation: “My passion is for making new human computer interfaces that are a better match to the ways our brains and bodies work… We are on the cusp of this new generation of tools for interacting with digital media, that are going to bring information into our world, on our terms”

Filed under: talent worth watching, technology, Uncategorized, visions of the future


luggageWith even meat suppliers getting in on the RFID action, the BAA have finally decided to trial the same technology for tracking luggage coming in and out of London’s Heathrow Airport. A six month trial will see Emirates airline partnering to track all bags on their five daily flights between Heathrow and Dubai, which apparently equates to 50,000 bags per month. With tracking being enabled at every step of the journey, passengers can give their mobile number to be alerted by text of the location of their bag when they land.

A distinctly unimpressive report from travel insurance company InsureandGo claims that on average its customers lost 12 bags per day during the first half of 2007 – the equivalent of one bag every two hours- a shocking statistic in an era of supposedly increased aviation safety. If the trial is successful it would surely be a system the insurance companies themselves should consider investing in alongside the aviation industry, or could maybe even offer their customers directly?

[via BBC]

Filed under: technology, ,

GPS enabled feet!

GpstrainersGPS has been a lifesaver for many lost drivers, so why has it taken so long for someone to create a wearable option? Embedded with Quantum Satellite Technology, Isaac Daniel trainers will make sure you can always find your way. The company sells a range of technologically advanced GPS-enabled athletic footwear that not only give the safety assurance of a satellite tracking system, but also include monitoring capabilities that can measure the wearer’s heart rate, speed and body temperature. The shoes even come equipped with bluetooth technology and an internal microphone and speaker so that the wearer can call for help should it be needed.

An incredibly useful, potentially life-saving device for children, military personnel and active outdoor types, the newly-launched trainers offer ‘ultimate performance, comfort and unmatched safety’, delivered through the company’s 24-hour monitoring service which, for $19.95 per month, will track the wearer and locate them anywhere in the world.

USA Today has an interesting article with the founder Isaac Daniel who came up with the idea after being told (incorrectly) that his 8-year old son had gone missing. Read the full article here or get yourself a pair at fele online

Filed under: for the children, technology

Adidas Virtual Mirror tries shoes on for you

The ultimate in lazy shopping- Adidas have installed a virtual mirror in their new store on the Champs Elysees in Paris that enables customers to see what any shoe looks like on them simply by pointing at it on a computer screen.

Gizmag reports on the impressive technology-

‘Instead of trying on dozens of pairs, the customer simply stands in front of a virtual mirror. On his foot, he can see the shoe of choice (as long as it’s adidas) in the colour of choice. The virtual mirror was developed by researchers at the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut HHI in Berlin. Unlike a conventional mirror, it does not display a true reflection. Instead, a camera captures the customer’s feet and legs and displays them as a video scene on the monitor. The various shoe models
are inserted into this picture. “Thanks to the 3-D image processing techniques developed at the HHI, the software is so fast that it can follow the customer’s movements in real time,” says Jurgen Rurainsky, one of the virtual mirror’s developers.’

‘In contrast to the touch screen technique, the customer can navigate through the menu without touching anything at
all. All he needs to do is point at the screen with his index finger from a distance of approximately 80 centimeters.

What makes it all possible is a“finger-tracking” system: A stereo camera on the ceiling photographs the finger and calculates its spatial position and the direction in which it is pointing. The information is passed on to a software program that moves and activates the objects on the monitor.’

The system is made up of a series of amazing ideas culminating in what will definitely be a great attraction for the store, but beyond that may not do much for shoe sales. Although sneakers are now seen as fashion items and bought primarily for aesthetic attraction, the fit of a sports shoe is more varied than that of other shoes, meaning that even after selecting their favourite style customers will probably still need to try them on to ensure correct sizing- an area that the mirror cannot recreate.  And if you can’t be bothered to try shoes on when you’re in the store, you might as well just buy them online- saves a trip into town in the first place!

via Gizmag

Filed under: technology, ,

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!

read more

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

Now your Boss can Monitor Your Mood

Picture_4_2A new product invented by folk at the University of Tokyo and GS Yuasa moitors the ‘mood’ of a room- and presents it as coloured light display. The system, called SHOJI (Symbiotic Hosting Online Jog Instrument), measures a room’s environmental conditions (light, temperature, humidity, infrared radiation and ultrasonic waves) and detects the presence and movement of people, body temperature, and the nature of the activity in the room. The idea is that there are two terminals, each in different rooms, reporting on the mood of the other via data sent over the internet and interpreted through coloured LEDs. By checking the color of light on the SHOJI terminal, users can easily understand the mood in the other room.

Tests are due to begin in offices, hospitals and residential settings, with the product aiming to be on the market for general consumption in April 2007 at about $2,500 – $3,300. So watch out- soon not only will your boss be monitoring your work, but he’ll know how happy you are whilst doing it!

via Pink Tentacle – who also reported earlier this year on a similar product prototype called KOTOHANA

Filed under: products with a purpose, technology,

Intelligent Clothing- The Wearable Instrument Shirt

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the invention of the Wearable Instrument Shirt created by scientists at the CSIRO’s Textile and Fibre Technology division in Geelong. Electric sensors woven into a t-shirt enable it to be played liked a real (air) guitar- the wearer acts out playing the instrument and  their arm movements are mapped and beamed by radio to a computer which interprets them and turns them into musical notes.

“The left arm chooses a note and the right arm plays it,” said
Richard Helmer, a CSIRO chemical engineer who led the project- although the arrangement can be reversed for left-handed musicians. “It’s an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music making even by players without significant musical or computing skills”

There is no date as yet for when the WIS would go into production, but the CSIRO has already taken out patents. Dr Helmer believes the market for such intelligent clothing could be enormous, with applications going beyond music and gaming into the medical and teaching professions.

see the guitar shirt in action here or watch a tambourine version

Filed under: technology, visions of the future,

Integrating Technology into the Language of Fashion

Electronic Etherealism and Digital Perfume is a 2 day event in NYC starting today that will explore the intersections of fashion, technology and creativity, and promote a dialogue between a community of practitioners and thinkers on how to make electronics speak the language of fashion.

Interaction designer Despina Papadopoulos and critical design theorist Otto Von Busch organised the event because “We are interested in locating the juncture between fashion and technology and it is possible that perfume, which is also bottled mythology sitting on the crux of alchemy and science, can prove an effective conduit.”

The pair aim to explore alchemic practices of re-mystifying technology to merge it into the mythical world of fashion, bridging the two worlds. As they explain it- “Fashion & Technology seem to be two different logics and rarely are there any good examples of the two disciplines merging into successful alloys that reaches us as true fashion”.

During this weekend they intend to further the practical discussions on fashion and technology by moving it into another generation of thought, creating “a spiritual journey for technology exploring harmonies, magic and asymmetries in how we can see technology  in combination to fashion. If we understand fashion and cosmetics as something beyond consumer culture we might reach the mythical strengths of these disciplines to inject them into a mystical alloy of ethereal electronics or digital perfume.”

The busy programme starts this afternoon with lectures and discussions on perfume, essential etherealism and fashion mythology, technology, memory and process, followed by panel discussion & audience participation. Tomorrow’s all-day event includes workshops on brainstorming, concept building and electronics hacking as re-mystification (mutilate-modulate-mutate), a hands-on building session, and exploration into various ways to mimic or stimulate magical powers in electronics.

Advances in techno textiles and integrated clothing have yet to fully mature into products that live in the world of fashion, so an event that is aimed at understanding how to reach that goal should be invaluable for many brands. There’s a lot more information on their website, and hopefully much more will arrive after the event.

Filed under: creative ideas, technology