Integrated Aquaponics and Intrinsic Motivation

I am not sure how it happened but I stumbled across Kyle Chayka’s article “‘Farmscrapers’ could turn future cities green” over at Salon the other day. Despite the scale of architect Vincent Callebaut‘s “Asian Cairns” concept, I focused more on the (re)integration of agriculture back into our lives. In many ways, it is surprising that this re-integration is not more common: it seems to be easy, the cost of food (particularly fresh fruits and vegetables) is on the rise, and some industrial farming practices seem to incur significant environmental costs (e.g., colony collapse disorder). I walk out of this meandering thought wondering what might it look like when an ancient technology like agriculture gets more seamlessly integrated into our modern lives.

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Wearable Computing: Shoes, Bloks, and Boards

I have been thinking about Genevieve Bell’s recent statement: “Smartphones only got interesting when people stopped thinking of them as phones.” for the past couple days. This evening, while browsing Reddit, I came across a link to Dominic Wilcox’s “No Place Like Home GPS Shoes.” Now, the shoes definitely remain shoes…but Wilcox’s prototype is interesting in that it put existing technologies into a familiar form with an innovative result.

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The Driver as a Vestigial Appendage

I was watching a video (below) of Carnegie Mellon University’s Autonomous Cadillac SRX taking a 33-mile drive from Cranberry to Pittsburgh. More than any video of Google’s driverless car, this one had me wondering, “Why would we maintain the current configuration of a car’s interior with forward-facing seats? Is the technological innovation of driverless cars outpacing the design innovation that could make them more productive or functional spaces?”

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Oh, the Humanity: Zeppelins 2.0

One of the more exciting bits of news this month was reading that Aeroscraft was about to start the FAA certification process with its zeppelin. Why is this exciting? Let’s start with the fact that air travel as it currently exists is not exactly the most glamorous of experiences (barring the fact that you score a first-class seat or demi-cabin on one of the top carriers). While the near-term future of the modern zeppelin is going to be utilitarian, the future (given some of the concepts out there) is much more interesting and, in some cases, more than a little weird…

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Mapping Physical Spaces and Seeing Virtual Ones

Despite the numerous questions that we all had upon leaving Prometheus (perhaps best covered in this video by the guys over at Red Letter Media), the idea of mapping space in three dimensions in real time was pretty cool. The funny thing is that research in this area at MIT predated the movie, and remains active. What surprised me, though, was when I watched the video for Occipital’s Structure Sensor, which aims to bring the technology into the commercial space….and began thinking about the larger issue of augmented reality.

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Two Articles: Wearable Computers and Robots

Two articles crossed my radar screen today that I thought were interesting. The first essentially killed an article on (the perceived necessity of) smart watches that I was drafting (lesson learned: write faster) and the second, on human-robotic interaction, is spurring me to organize some thoughts about robots (beyond the Roomba) that have been swirling around for a bit. So, in case you are looking for a couple tl;dr summaries to read before calling it a day, here you go.

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Little…Nanocopter?

The rapid advance of microcopters is one of those trends that I watch with a certain amount of curiosity and envy. I find them interesting is because, despite their small size, folks are doing interesting things to make them increasingly capable and versatile. As with a lot of the technologies that we look here at Domestitech, the very near future is likely to be an interesting convergence of ancillary and complementary technologies as well as a morass of policy and security concerns. Continue reading

Get on the Bus: Cool Renovations in Unexpected Spaces

I am not a camper. At all. It traces back to my first and only weekend camping trip, the most memorable feature of which was a plague of ever-present gypsy moth caterpillars. Over the past couple years, however, I have seen a couple renovated school buses that have me seriously reconsidering my attitude toward venturing into the woods. The most appealing facts about these conversions: a used Bluebird or International school bus seems to cost less than $5,000 on eBay Motors and the cost of conversion does not seem to be prohibitive.

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Magic, Delight, and Awe: Design and the Modern Home

When I think of the Harry Potter series, and specifically how the books were brought to life in the movies, I was struck by the spaces were magical enough to inspire delight and awe. While I am a fan of the open spaces and clean lines of modern design, there is something to be said for closed floor plans of old homes and the magic, delight, and awe that they sometimes create. There are plenty of examples of how people are creating cool and magical spaces today but the question I find myself kicking around is, “how might technology be woven into space design to create amazing experiences for the rest of us? ”

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I, Vacuum Cleaner: Thinking about Consumer Robotics

Consumer robotics is a fascinating, and largely accessible, aspect of a smart(er) home. The nice thing about consumer robotic devices is that they take chores that few of us look forward to or cherish and pass them onto machines that (until Skynet becomes self-aware) simply don’t care about losing an hour or two on what we could consider to be a precious weekend afternoon. As it becomes easier to build robotic prototypes, we might see them pop up in more aspects of our life.  Continue reading