Living Technologies and their future in Creativity – Vivid Festival 2014

Recently I was invited to speak at 2020 ADAPT or DIE, a PechaKucha style event curated by the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA, with 20 speakers showing 20 slides on what the year 2020 might look like for creativity.

The Brief? Share your vision of what you think 2020 might look like for creativity. What are the top things you think will happen? What should we be getting ourselves ready for? We want to get people excited and prepared for the future of work.

Shot at Sydney’s iconic Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) during the 2014 VIVID Festival of ideas, I chose to speak of materials our rate of innovation may afford. Specifically looking at a grouping of trends I put under the ‘Living Technology’ umbrella; technologies available to few today but potentially available to the masses tomorrow. Innovations such as bio-pixels, nano-sensors, circuit stamps and a whole bunch of other things for which we should be taking notice.

Special thanks to AGDA, Linda Jukic, Anita Lyons, Jason Little.

Here’s a transcript of the talk and below references with relevant hyperlinks:

Living Technologies: What are they? Why will they be relevant? And why should I care? Well… I’ve got approximately 6 minutes and 29 seconds to convince you.

Let’s start by answering the question: What the is ‘Living Technology’?

Well if you google it, you’ll probably get an answer like this: ”Living Technology is the application of material and technologies derived from the coalescence of information technology, biotechnology and/or nanotechnology”.

Not entirely clear. That’s why I’m here with a bunch of pictures and few words to tell you. And if I don’t fuck it up, in 6 minutes time you’ll see why the Living Technology trend is happening and why you should care.

Let’s start with an innovation called Biopixels – TV screens powered by bacteria.

This is a ‘living screen’ developed by the University of California in San Diego. The “pixels” are in fact tiny E. coli bacteria passing molecules between themselves, requiring no electricity to emit light.

They contain bioluminescence colonies harvested from something like this little fellow. And, while they were not designed for TV, they could be coming soon to a billboard near you.

In fact earlier this year this billboard used a similar principle to unveil a virtual ‘galaxy’ depicting a starry night sky as the sun went down.

It was a long way off the fidelity of LCD, and didn’t quite replicate the innovation of the Biopixel project, but was certainly a small step in the right direction.

Ok, another: Nanosensors.

This is the humble Cicada. In 2011, inspired by its microscopic wing structure, scientists at RMIT made a huge breakthrough in the development of Nanosensors.

These are super-microscopic sensors that detect trace amounts of biological or chemical data — like toxins and pathogens – and relay them to this chip at a nano scale.

This allows us to do smart things such as the non-intrusive diagnosis of infections with a simple iPhone clip-on. They’re mobile in another ways too…

These bees have nanosensors thirty thousand times thinner than a single hair on your head. And they are able to sniff out bombs in airline baggage by the molecule.

So this is great, but what do nanosensors have to do with the future of creativity?

Wearables

This is called a “circuit stamp”. It’s a nanosensor. It’s also a working wearable that takes up where Fuelband left off. Whilst these measure human energy, what about creating energy?

Energy Harvesting – or energy SCAVENGING as it’s affectionately known. This is the art of powering wearables by capturing energy from anything and everything around us.

And when I say anything… This invention scavenges the ambient energy from wifi and 3g transmissions, and turns it into power!

Disney are at it too. Creating toys, games, books and education tools using kinetic energy.

Jewellery designers too. This ring captures the kinetic energy of your hand to power a tiny LED light.

By 2020 the inevitable role of iBeacons will turn bricks and mortar into “Living Technologies”. Advances in bio and nano technology will open up new avenues for creativity, and should make it an exciting time to be in our field.

Be prepared. Adapt …or die.

I’m James Theophane. Creative Director at Holler Sydney, and you can follow me at iamtheo on twitter.

Further reading and references

Bio-stamp- a stretchy, twisty, wearable chip > ENGINEERING.com
Biopixels – bioluminescent bacteria at work > UCSD
The Verge Biotecture – Life Sciences Education & Communication
BLDGBLOG- Bioluminescent Billboards
BLDGBLOG- The Bioluminescent Metropolis boiteaoutils
Make Me A Mountain! by Liam Young
MC10 Industrial & Defense
O2 promotes the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S5 with UV-powered Projects
RIVER GLOW- Water Pollution Monitor
TRAP LIGHT SAVE ENERGY

Nanosensors
The new technique is simple, fast, and compatible with conventional silicon-chip fabrication. – MIT 2009

Inspired by the humble cicada, Australian scientists have shown for the first time that optical fibre nanosensors – tiny devices that can be used to detect trace amounts of chemicals – can be mass-produced. – COSMOS Magazine 2011

Imagine a piece of metal 30,000 times thinner than one of the hairs on your head. Mixed with a little protein from bee venom, that microscopic filament becomes the most powerful explosives-detection system in history, able to detect a single molecule of dangerous chemicals. – Wired 2011

Energy Harvesting
(also known as energy scavenging) Solar power, thermal energy, wind energy, salinity gradients, and kinetic energy), captured, and stored for small, wireless autonomous devices, like those used in wearable electronics.

Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. – GATECH 2011

A nanogenerator that produces a continuous flow of electricity by harvesting mechanical energy from a variety of sources. – Technovelgy 2007

Let’s be honest, it’s no big secret that we’re running out of dead dinosaurs to fuel our lives. And with recent natural catastrophes proving atomic energy isn’t what you’d call ‘safe,’ it’s a good thing the researchers down at the RMIT University in Melbourne have been hard at work figuring out how to turn you into a self-sustained energy source. – Engadget 2011

Weirdly Wonderful Upcycled Mechanical Clock Relying on Ball Bearings to Tick

Pendulum rolling ball clock by Turnvater Janosch.  Material: – Wood (mainly remains) – Plastic gear wheels – Brass wire (1.3mm, 3mm) – Steel wire (bicycle strokes) – Old flat iron.

Turnvater Janosch’s website welcomes you to his wonderful world of  “handcrafting and weird machinery”, and if this pendulum clock is anything to go by, the description’s pretty apt.

The clock runs for 12 hours, driven by a weight of 2.5 kg sinking approx. 1 meter during that time..Every minute a marble is lifted up and goes down a marble run with three flipping traps that count marbles for minutes, five-minute-steps and hours. The timekeeping element is a second-pendulum with a pinwheel escapement. The clock achieves a drift of less than 1 second per day.

via Hackaday

Rappers sorted by size of vocabulary

Matt Daniels, designer, coder, and data scientist sets out to find the largest vocabulary in hip hop.

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He explains “Literary elites love to rep Shakespeare’s vocabulary: across his entire corpus, he uses 28,829 words, suggesting he knew over 100,000 words and arguably had the largest vocabulary, ever (average people have a vocab of 5,000 words).

I decided to compare this data point against the most famous artists in hip hop. I used each artist’s first 35,000 lyrics. That way, prolific artists, such as Jay-Z, could be compared to newer artists, such as Drake.”

Check out his interactive visualisation here.

The redditor‘s past works include the Etymology of “Shorty” and Outkast, in graphs and charts.

‘Disrupted Christmas’ honoured at the 18th Annual Webby Awards

Our  “Disrupted Xmas” has been honoured for best Online Guerilla & Innovation for Interactive Ads in the 18th Annual Webby Awards.

The idea: Advertising prides itself on disruption. But what if you could disrupt advertising? For Christmas 2013 we gave the public, and a local children’s charity a very special present:


Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The IADAS, which nominates and selects The Webby Award Winners, is comprised of web industry experts, including media mogul Arianna Huffington, Skype CEO Tony Bates, Mozilla CEO and Chair Mitchell Baker, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, mobile-phone inventor Martin Cooper, and Creator of the Jif Steve Wilhite.

“Honorees like Disrupt Christmas are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 12,000 entries we received this year.”

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OrCam – Wearable Technology for the Visually Impaired

OrCam camera device is one of Israel’s Top 10 advances in vision. Hebrew University Prof. Amnon Shashua created this device that attaches to eyeglasses and is wired to a portable computer in the wearer’s pocket. Using bone conduction technology, it “speaks” text (menus, street signs, grocery labels, newspapers) as well as bus numbers and other objects that the user points to. It can even recognize faces and monitor traffic lights.

Crosswind Difficulties

Some landing and take-off highlights in awkward wind conditions at BHX this winter (a record winter for stormy conditions in the UK). Note the frequent flexing of the planes’ wings in response to the turbulence.

Of the five “missed approaches” shown, three diverted to other airports, two were “go arounds” and landed successfully on second attempt.

The Secret of an Abandoned Mall in Old Town Bangkok

Jesse Rockwell,professional cook, photographer and writer, takes a trip down down a nondescript soi in old town Bangkok only to discover a relatively unknown gem. “Without a good knowledge of Bangkok geography” he says, “one would be hard pressed to believe anything interesting lies behind this gate”:

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What lies behind the gate stating “strictly no entrance beyond this point”? Only an abandoned mall turned urban aquarium! Blimey Charlie:

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Read the fascinating story behind the creation of this Urban Intervention on Rockwell’s blog A Taste Of The Road.

The Egg and Michigan Central Train Station 2007-2013 by SCOTT HOCKING


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THE EGG AND MICHIGAN CENTRAL TRAIN STATION is a site-specific sculptural installation and photography project created within Detroit’s 100 year old former train depot, vacant for over 20 years. The installation is made from thousands of sheet marble fragments that litter most of the 17 story structure’s upper floors – remnants of the once marble-lined corridor walls.

- SCOTT HOCKING.

As stumbled upon by halfway through by u/DrGonzo927 on the r/urbanexploration subreddit:

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Exploring City Caves And Catacombs

Steve Duncan lives dangerously. The urban explorer goes underground, examining the hidden infrastructure of major cities all over the world — their tunnels, subways, sewers.

In New York City, his favorite underground adventure, he could drown when the tide comes in or succumb to toxic gases in the sewers. He could be hit by a train or step on the third rail. And if he gets caught, he would be so under arrest.

New York Underground: Exploring City Caves And Catacombs : NPR.