User experience researcher and designer Mike Kuniavsky gave a very thoughtful talk about “Making things in a Read-Write world” at Lift France. Mike’s core point is that the nature of making things changes as the cost of moving atoms goes up and technologies for reproducing physical objects using computer-controlled tools moves into more media. Mike suggests that ubiquitous computing isn’t just about offices and homes, but garages, workshops and assembly lines. In Mike’s view digital Read-Write culture (a concept invented by Harvard UC Professor Lawrence Lessig) started with the Apple LaserWriter and the MP3 and will expand to every other kind of making. Just as the economic and energy situation of the 18th Century England created the conditions for the Industrial Revolution and Read-Only culture, today’s conditions will dismantle the thinking of the last 250 years about how things are made and how we, as consumers and producers of culture, relate to it. Mike started out doing web design in 1993 and has been a consultant for a lot of dotcoms. He also wrote a book called “Observing the User Experience” and will be coming out with another one called “Smart Things”. In 2001, he co-founded a web design and consulting company called adaptive path. Five years later, he co-founded ubiquitous computing consumer electronics company ThingM. Mike also runs an annual mini conference called Sketching in Hardware. For an overview of all interviews and presentations from Lift France, please click here.
Timo Arnall runs a research project called Touch at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design and is quite happy to jump on an Internet of Things bandwagon: “We are looking at ways in which we can participate in digital environments without being in front of a screen. For us, the Internet of Things is not a future scenario, but something we are actively designing with our pragmatic and actionable research.” For Timo there are three main levels of user experience with the Internet of Things: Tangible and embodied objects, connectivity and sharing, visualization and reflection. RFID technology is one of the fundamental building blocks: “We’ve been collecting RFID objects from around the world for the last couple of years. Tiny wireless chips that can be embedded inside clothes - really ubiquitous and relatively mundane. There are about two billion RFID chips in use daily in the world. RFID becomes so entrenched in everyday life, it’s not interesting technically anymore but it’s interesting what the cultural and social consequences might be” finds Timo and adds “of course, there’s more to tangible interaction than just RFID – the objects that we carry with us are beginning to sense a lot more about the world than they previously did.” With their interaction industrial design, the people from Touch are looking at ways in which interaction takes place outside the traditional context and are trying to find playful uses of both objects and media – a tangible toy dog that accompanies children in everyday situations or an RFID reader for the iPhone. Click here for an overview of all posted videos from Lift France 09.
Rather than trying to construct an internet of things, London-based artist and architect Usman Haque is trying to construct an ecosystem of environments. “It’s not about objects or corporate-determined sensor systems it’s about developing a means through which I can share the context of my environment with the context of your environment and making it relatively easy to do so” says Usman who is co-winner of the World Technology Award 2009. In his presentation at Lift France, Usman talks about his initiative Pachube and the three aspects that drove him: The idea of being connected, the idea of constructing environments and the idea of participation. “The condition of being extremely connected is somewhat daunting. We still have neighbors but the topology of our neighborhood has changed” Usman points out. The second theme that guided the idea of Pachube is the idea of environment. According to Usman, the environment is something we build through our relationships to each other. Usman’s third observation is our propensity to participate: “I’m really taken by the idea that we can be wranglers, that we’re actively engaged in the production of our environment and we’re wrestling with the things that we are putting into the world.” Pachube was designed to be a generalized broker for networked environments. If you have an environment, you send the data to Pachube and with a fairly simple protocol you can share it in real-time with other environments. It’s still by invitation only, but feel free to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org Coming up on Thursday: Timo Arnall’s presentation from Lift France 09. To view more videos from the Lift event in Marseille, please visit our Lift France category.
„We may build an internet of things and not see it. We won’t be able to see it any more than barcodes or the green house effect – a phantom for visionaries. It’s not such a bad thing, it might be in fact the victory condition“ says Bruce Sterling. In his presentation at Lift France, the American Science fiction writer mainly talks about the wrong aspects of his spime theory since in his opinion this is the only way to prove if a theory is good. Bruce predicts that an internet of things will start in physical places, in centers of excellence. People will get good in doing it in particular areas. Then they refine the practice and it spreads out physically from there. He unifies six big trends in his talk „trying to nail six icecubes together“: 1. Analog tools have gone away 2. Identification: Tags, Barcode, RFID 3. Tracking systems 4. Powerful search engines 5. 3D virtual models of physical objects, 6. Sustainability through recycling. According to Bruce, the green house effect which is a trash problem is the very worst and deadly serious problem our civilization faces:„It’s very difficult to make people care about trash. We have not found a way to let industry pay us to save our own lives. My spime scheme is kind of a trick to make that important accomplishment more possible. Taking ICT technology, wrapping up objects and as a sort of an after effect we wrap up the trash. We may be crushed by climate change while we are still trying to boot our netbooks...“ Click here for all videos from Lift France.
„The biggest hurdle we have is that we teach our entrepreneurs the MBA courses. With our core business and core competence thinking we have been generating an awful lot of waste, unwanted consequences and collateral damage“ finds Gunter Pauli - founder and director of the "Zero Emissions Research Initiative" of the United Nations University in Tokyo. „Natural systems are so efficient that there is no one unemployed and there is no waste - everyone is put to work with pleasure. Evolution is really all about doing much more with less, building up social capital and having everyone contributing to their capabilities. The entrepreneur can also see in the natural system ways that this reduction of material requirements comes even to the point where you can do something with nothing.“ „Nature is on a continuous path of improvement, that is also what entrepreneurship is all about. You can be competitive in the market with a new idea even if you have no experience because you can envision very clearly how you can achieve the same service or product with much less.“ Gunter hopes that future entrepreneurs raise hell for the existing economic profile and accelerate economic innovation. For him, the condition for innovation acceleration is that the players have no experience and that they accept the fact that they will make mistakes but will correct them on route. According to the founder and former President of Worldwatch Europe and author of eight books, the experience on the ground is the key to success: „We have to bring us to such a high level of emotional intelligence, motivation and perseverence that we can start without seeing the big picture, because we’re creating it. Generate multiple cash-flows by responding to multiple needs with one system and get multiple results by resolving multiple issues. Keep on searching for connections that make sense and then create partnerships. Once you have made a connection the logic sticks with you forever.“ Sorry for the mistaken title in the middle of the video...Click here for all postings from Lift France.
Intelligent robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction. They are walking into everyday life and are in widespread use performing jobs cheaper or more reliably than humans. But before using a robot in the real world you want to test it in many situations and repeat the situation over time modifying the environment. „Most of the time robots are used in dangerous situations or complicated environments so testing in simulation saves a lot of time and money. We create easy-to-use simulation editors to help people use simulation“ explains Bertrand Copigneaux, COO and co-founder of SimplySim. „I’ll give you an example: One of the projects of French robot constructor robosoft is to have an autonomous vehicle in a city. To test it you would have to block the city in order to have a situation which is close to the use cases of the robot.“ Bertrand and his two co-founders Nicolas Dalmasso and Nicolas Oudit started SimplySim in April 2008 when they were still students. For now the 3D Simulation Experts are mainly a service company but they are also working on offering products like a robot simulator with a more realistic way to simulate robots, especially with regard to physics simulation. Bertrand wrapped up his interview with Viktoria by giving a presentation of a 3D simulation they have developed for Microsoft Imagine Cup Competition. Tomorrow we’ll be posting Viktoria’s interview with Gunter Pauli. Click here for all videos from Lift France.
Luckily there are some people out there who are looking for ways to help save the planet. Romain Vailleux, co-founder and community manager at Paris-based Hop-Cube, is one of them. His startup offers a new approach to sustainable development by providing ecological scoring on a wide range of consumer goods. The service is specifically designed for online marketplaces and will be displayed next to each product referenced in the product catalog. „Hop-Cube gathers information that is already accessible to the public, analizes and ranks it with a specific score out of ten given by our HopScore indicator“ explains Romain. „All kinds of criteria like conception, transport, usage of the product and its recycling are applied. We also collaborate with eco-labels to bring their labels to the consumer.“ E-commerce companies pay based on a monthly subscription - around €5 per product for the scoring service, but Hop-Cube also makes different offers depending on the company size and the number of visitors on the website. There are some eco-portals providing information on the web, but other than Hop-Cube’s service at one glance, these portals oblige the users to come to their portal and choose their products through it. Anyone interested in providing more support for Hob-Cube: They just started two months ago and still need consumers to help them continue as well as funding in order to grow further... Click here to find all videos from Lift France.
Lift conference is an opportunity to discuss the social implications of technology. It is not the usual conference but something more diverse, communitarian and bottom-up. Half of its program is managed by the community, the so called open program that lets the audience speak. Lift conference was started by Laurent Haug in 2006 and is now attended by more than 700 people from around the world - not only techies but also artists, students, researchers, designers, editors and investors. The theme of the Marseille conference this year was "A Hands On Future“. „We want to inspire people to create new ideas by confronting them to the unexpected and to people outside their domain. We ask both known and established people like Gunter Pauli to do something slightly different and invite unknown people with highly interesting ideas“ explains CEO of Lift conference Laurent. „We have lots of concrete things starting through the connections we make between people from different backgrounds and I know that many startups have been created after Lift.“ Lift Asia 09 will happen in Jeju Island, Korea, on September 17 and 18, 2009: „ Korea is a fabulous country with a strange mix – they are five years ahead of us and also a bit behind us in some sense“ Laurent says. At the beginning of next year the rhythm of the Lift events will be changed: Marseille will move to February, Geneva to May and the conference in Korea will take place in October 2010. According to Laurent they are also working on a fourth new kind of event... Come back here tomorrow. There’s more to come from Lift France!