Friday, February 26, 2010

Evolution for Advertising

image via (credit unknown)

Interesting that people banded together to petition for the advertisement/re-model to stay at the train station. It is a sad that it got taken down. This could be inline with some blog posts I did some time ago (here and here), with various advertisers in the Boston area carpeting every single add in a station. Hopefully sponsored remodeling could be the next step in advertisement (and some of these atrocious posters can be taken down). This goes specifically to one of the articles cited in the previously linked posts of the Apple possibly subsidizing Chicago CTAs remodel.

How this might happen with a company like Homebase (think UK Home Depot for those in the states), makes a lot of sense, as that is their market offering, home (and now subway) improvement. How this fits into the market offering of Apple, is not as clear, but I'm sure many people would be excited (as I'm sure some would deplore it as well) to be in an Apple inspired metro station. Seeing how they might physically structure the space to reflect what they offer is intriguing. At the very least, I imagine there being free wireless.

Finally, I can imagine one minor detail that gets in the way of remodels like the one pictured above, and would worry companies like Homebase or Apple in having a permanent advertisement/remodel: MAINTENANCE. I'm lucky enough to live in Cambridge right now, and the metro's are kept extremely clean, very rarely is there a big mess. The place is still very dirty though, just by way of what it is. There are drink spills from time to time. Dirt and soot layers up high places, along walls and pipes. When it rains or snows, the ground becomes very wet and mucky. The Homebase remodel above, however appealing, would not last very long in such an environment. I'm not saying this is a deal breaker, only a challenge to overcome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hospital Infections

A news article from NPR points out study about deaths related to hospital acquired infections. This is possible fuel to look into interesting solutions such as the Plasma Sterilizer. I particularly find this interesting because being around MIT, this years Yunus Challenge is about sanitation, focused on clean hands. In the kick off for this event, there was much talk about how hand washing might improve health or persons in developing world situations. One specific example was washing hands before eating to reduce fecal/oral contamination. I recently spoke with a person who works at a well known hospital here in the Boston area, and was surprised to hear that they had only recently achieved the standard for hand sanitation. Compliance is hard no matter where in the world people come from, technology and money alone are not enough in any environment.

Augmented ID

I recently discovered TAT Augmented Reality through a Technology Review Article. It is an interesting proposition. However, the actual social interaction of using this currently looks awkward. Mobiles are an awkward enough subject/object of interaction during meetings, so the following youTube doesn't sell me on this. I'm not saying the technology is bunk because of this, only actual social integration needs to be polished more. People will most likely be awkward about it initially, I think there is an opportunity for some solutions in addition to just awesome technology though.

There was a great comic strip I saw online ( some time ago and can't find,) of a man approaching a woman at a bar, and she snaps a photo of him, and through facial recognition software, decides she doesn't want to talk because of his bad rating on yelp or the like. So the next step in all this facial recognition software, is deceiving it real time. I know that people have been able to use magazines photos to fool such imaging systems (Your Face is Not Your Password and Age Verification Fooled). How would that work in real time though, a digital ski mask?

UPDATE (2010.02.25): NPR Article on TAT Facial Recognition software, that draws out a scenario re-enforcing the need for my digital ski mask idea.

Monday, February 22, 2010

D-Lab Online

I currently work at MIT's D-Lab, which is a program that fosters the development of appropriate technologies and sustainable solutions within the framework of international development. We have recently had a push to expand our communications to the outside world, which include a blog, updated weekly by instructors and a twitter feed. I would recommend for anyone interested in development (and particularly development education at Universities), to follow these feeds for a while to see if you like it. I was particularly impressed with a recent post on the D-Lab: Energy class which had students take a test by candlelight to get a different perspective on lighting situations experienced around the world.

Read the D-Lab Blog and/or follow the twitter @dlab_mit.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Interest vs Representation

I just uploaded over 100 photos from my January trip to India. While going through them, I realized how difficult it is to select ones that accurately represent the place and experience. I feel compelled to post unique and interesting photos, but these do not always equal the day to day experience of a place. One idea that occurred was to take photos on the hour every hour, or on the half every half hour. So that regardless of what I was doing, there might be a greater representation of life and actions in a place, without the filter of "unique" upon it. Starting to brainstorm other ideas on how to go about this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stoves Around the World

I recently uploaded about 92 photos to my flickr account from my travels between Southern California to Africa to India, all around the topic of documenting stoves. It is something I plan to continue to do throughout my travels around the world. See what I have so far here, Stove Photos.

I recently worked with an MIT student, Olin Professor, local Welder and NGO in India on designing a stove. It was more of a research project towards the eventual design of a stove. A prototype ended up being built, that taught everyone involved a good amount about stove design. Through this experience, we used the Rocket Stove design principles as one of our main guides towards fuel efficient stove design. It is worth a read, you can download it here, design principles for wood burning cook stoves.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back From India

After a week of re-integrating, I am unpacked and ready to start posting photos and observations from my trip to Uttarakhand (a state north of Delhi, in mountainous India). I visited a few NGOs and the villages and slums that they work with. There were many friendly people, and at least 40 cups of tea on this trip.