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Initiatives to harness the power of collective intelligence

October 12, 2006 Friday the thirteenth is a date not often associated with glorious new beginnings but tomorrow sees the launch (webcast live here at 12:55 PM EST on October 13th, 2006) of a significant new institution that might have far reaching consequences for the way human beings go about their business, organise and run their communities and indeed, run the planet. It’s the official start date for the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI) which has the ambitious goal of understanding how to harness the power of large numbers of people—connected together through Internet and other technologies —to better solve a range of business, scientific, and societal problems. Though its agenda is broad and grand, one of the announcements tomorrow will be more focussed - an experiment to create a Wikipedia-style book about how to use communities in business. We Are Smarter Than Me is a business community formed by business professionals to research and discuss the impact of social networks on traditional business functions. Everyone is invited to participate in a revolutionary publishing project - a "network book" to be published in 2007. Each contributing member of this beta community will be listed as an author of the book, and each will receive an equal vote on the distribution of book royalties to charity. The We Are Smarter Than Me community is seeking real examples of companies who are trying to harness the power of community. Just think - this could be the start of a whole new way of doing things - contribute if you can.  Read More

Magazine on a Bottle wins international awards

October 7, 2006 One of our favourite ideas, the Magazine on a Bottle, has landed the Best Label and Best Overall Concept awards at the 2006 Bottled Water World Design Awards. The awards recognize the design innovation of the On Product Publishing concept and its contribution to the bottled water industry, though we see the potential for the concept in everything from iced coffee, caffeinated softdrink and soda, through to franchise chains, (such as Starbucks, McDonalds and even oil companies) developing their own product/communication platform combination. The company has already developed iLove, the first magazine to appear on a bottle of water and opened the beverage industry to the concept of On Product Publishing (OPP). The company’s On Product Publishing label technology opens up new marketing and revenue channels by combining publishing with consumer goods and OPP has recently signed licensing agreements in Europe and Australia. The winners of the 2006 Bottled Water World Design Awards were announced at a gala dinner at San Pellegrino Casino, as part of the Zenith International Global Bottled Water Congress in Bergamo, Italy.  Read More

Unbelievable – a hand-drier that actually works

October 4, 2006 James Dyson has done it again and this time he’s invented a hand drier that uses just 15-25% of the electricity of common hand driers, costs around 20-25% of the annual running costs of the current crop and it’s significantly more hygienic into the bargain. Most significantly, it’ll get your hands dry before you die of old age – the Dyson airblade dries hands in about ten seconds which is at least twice as fast as most common hand driers. Hallelujah brothers and sisters – this is one of those inventions that’s been obviously required for a long time. The airblade produces a stream of unheated air flowing at 400mph to do the job.  Read More

The tree-of-knowledge building

October 4, 2006 The Pierres Vives building for the French Department of Herault on the edge of Montpellier is unique in that it will be a combination of three civic institutions - the archives, the library and the sports department - within a single envelope. Given the contained programs, the spectacular design is inspired by the idea of a 'tree of knowledge' as an organizational diagram. The archive is located at the solid base of the trunk, followed by the slightly more porous library, with the sports department and its offices on top where the trunk bifurcates and becomes much lighter. Designed by Stephane Hof of Zaha Hadid Architects, work is due to start on site at the end of this year. The image library for this article is a must for those who appreciate the finest architectural design.  Read More

The Wallet 2.0

October 2, 2006 We’ve seen several new ideas for carrying one’s valuables in the form of the Jimi wallet and the Tsaya Thigh Holster for gals who don’t like to carry handbags but both are designed for minimalists, not for those of us with busy lives and lots of paper and stuff to schlep around. So the arrival of the details of the Wallet 2.0 really got the brain cells working. The US$30 Wallet 2.0 has a soft silicone outer case, so it moulds to the shape of your hip or breast pocket more readily than a leather wallet. It's also water repellant, but the real trickery is inside where it uses specially designed folders like those in an organizer or planner. There are five different refill sheets designed to hold paper money, coins, ID and credit cards and there are more interesting and useful sheets on the way. There’s a flash demo here.  Read More

HearHere enables users to find exactly what they want within a Podcast

October 2, 2006 One of the frustrations associated with audio and video compared to text is that you have to listen to or watch the entire thing. At least that was until Seattle start-up Pluggd debuted a significant new technology for the booming internet audio industry at the semi-annual DEMO conference this week. HearHere, search technology identifies topics within audio and allows users to search within audio Internet programming and quickly find the segments they want. The HearHere feature lets the user type in a keyword representing a topic he or she is looking for and displays a 'heat map' within the media player that visually indicates where in the content the topic is discussed. HearHere's patent-pending technology allows people to find where a conversation of interest starts instead of simply dropping them in the middle of the audiocast, and will identify related topics even if the keyword isn't explicitly used in the content. HearHere will be available along with support for video by the end of the year. With radio and television increasingly turning to the Internet for distribution, the technology also makes it uniquely possible to connect advertisers with new audiences.  Read More

Instant dry cleaning spray

October 1, 2006 Japanese company Nissin Medico has already had a runaway hit product with its spray-on stockings (great photo gallery) becoming massive sellers in Asia and warmer climates in 2003 and is now available in over 2000 American stores. Now the company’s subsidiary C.C. Medico (HK) which specializes in marketing spray products could have another product which creates its own category – a dry cleaning spray hit the Japanese market earlier this month. The product is claimed to dry clean business suits in just 30 seconds. Apparently you put your clothes on a hanger and spray them with the “Spray Iron” product which will “penetrate quickly into the fabric, removing creases, stains and odours immediately.” It sounds too good to be true but so did sliced bread, non-stick frypans and pimple removal cream. The patent application for the Wool mark, from the International Wool Society (IWS), is currently in progress.  Read More

Inventive heating design delivers instant hot water to every faucet

October 1, 2006 When we saw the technology behind this inventive line of hot water circulation pumps we just had to give it a mention. Having to wait for hot water at the faucet is inconvenient at best, but this system offers the convenience of having hot water at every faucet in the home instantly and is claimed to save up to 15,000 gallons of water annually for a typical family of four. Offered as both a retrofit and new installation, the system installs under the sink or faucet farthest from the water heater-where hot water has to travel for the longest time.  Read More

TouchBook Touch User Interface (TUI) to be used by NASA

October 1, 2006 Somatic Digital announced today that it will provide NASA Goddard Flight Center with its TouchBook Touch User Interface (TUI) platform. The TUI is to the printed page what the Graphic User Interface (GUI) is to the computer screen. It is an open convergence technology that enables readers of normally printed materials to touch the page and retrieve digital content or launch communication applications on a computer. Currently, the TUI can retrieve digital content and launch communication applications via Windows XP or Mac OS X. The functions that can be driven from a web page can also be conducted from a printed page.  Read More

The LoftCube – designed to be airlifted in to the free space on top of buildings

September 28, 2006 If there’s a vacant block without a building on it, people notice – valuable real estate doesn’t stand vacant for long. But there’s plenty of prime real estate sitting vacant out there and the owners in most cases are completely unaware of it – it’s called the free space on the roof of many city buildings and there’s an industry fast growing up to cater for it. The Aisslinger-designed and built Loftcube is a 39 square metre penthouse designed to be helicoptered to the location of your choice – as long as it’s on a rooftop. Once it is airlifted into place, it can be fully functional inside 2-4 days according to the architects. Inside it’s completely customisable, and prices range from EUR89,000 (US$ 112,830) to EUR 144,000 (US$182,570) - see inside for details.  Read More

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