LIFT 2008: Stories
First up, Rafi Haladijan of Violet (manufacturers of Nabaztag):
Violet was founded in 2003; Rafi started with Minitel.
Today, the ratio of information to available time is increasing rapidly. We have a limited amount of attention, and screens require an exclusive attention span. So the idea was to explore other ways of providing information.
In the beginning silicon was expensive: one computer, many users. Later cheaper: one computer, one user. Now: many computers, one user. Teddy bears talk nowadays; scales have gone from analogue to digital. All sorts of people are going digital, just to innovate (not necessarily because it's better). When Wi-fi gets cheap enough, we'll have communicating versions of all these objects.
"House of the future" projects have been talked around for years, but never happened. Why? It's not that appealing - it's no fun, and it implies a lack of control: people become strangers in their own home.
(Sounds to me like this mirrors the promise vs the reality of ubicomp)
Violet's strategy: do cheap $20-200 products with one-at-a-time buying decisions. Don't make it too useful - useful things are boring. Fun and interpersonal communication are as powerful propositions as usefulness.
First product, 2003: DAL Lamp, connected to the internet and changing lights depending on various events (network, weather, etc.). You could SMS it "I love you", and the lamp would turn red and start pulsating. People really liked this feature.
December 2006: Nabaztag/tag! "The inconvenience of the name is part of the story - this is not technology as usual"
Why a rabbit? There was a rabbit on his desk the day they were thinking about it. They wanted to show it wasn't just another gizmo, they wanted to surprise people. "This absurd demonstration was important".
Nabaztag provides non-intrusive information with light and audio. Good for short reports, reading RSS feeds: things that are good to know but not worth the effort. Facebook status changes would be another good example of these.
Your friends can make it move - it's a "stringless puppet". You can marry it to someone else's rabbit. People feel they aren't moving bits, they're moving atoms. "This feeling of controlling things is more powerful when you move atoms not bits".
Important: it works even when the computer is turned off. It's not reliant on or connected to the users PC.
Last Christmas, they launched a joint offer with Gallimard Jeunesse: a childrens book with an RFID tag. Put the book near the rabbit and the rabbit starts reading it. Beautiful! It's a consumer application, it's RFID but not security, tracking or logistics-based; a demonstration that consumer RFID apps can be built.
Next generation will allow parents to record their own stories in their own voices, and share these readings with other parents: community and network building.
Also launching zstamps: RFID tags disguised as stamps that can be purchased and stuck to everyday objects, then use these to trigger interactions. They want ALL things to be connected. References book "Material World".
Absolutely cracking stuff :)
Now, Eric Favre, the co-inventor of Nespresso: "reinventing individual coffee consumption".
First inventors were Greeks, starting out with philosophy. Leonardi da Vinci then mixed science and art. Mr Eckhert was another 1940s inventor. It's pointless to invent without thinking of the client. He invented the first computer: 18 tonnes, 20 thousand lights, etc.
[ Finding watching this and listening to translation on headset whilst blogging not too easy... so will hold off now ]
"Cost them 400,000 euros to get a decent worldwide pattern. You have an idea and think 'everyone must have had this idea'. You find a hundred people who nearly got there.
"Tea is an essential product that's never had any evolution since the tea bag"
Finally, Jasmina Tesanovic, a Balkan political activist. During Serbian war, electronic communications was disrupted by the war, NATO blocking electronics, etc. In April 2006 the B92 internet site (which Jasmina works on) opened "VIP Blog" with authors living worldwide. The country is still run by spies, former mafia, ex-terrorists and moguls. When dissidents started blogging, this opened a new space in the political scene, making society more transparent.
B92 remains an important point of contact for Serbian expats. In South Africa the Truth & Reconciliation process brought everything out into the open, in Serbia a similar process has never happened - it's all been swept under the carpet.
And now the open stage session. First up, Noel Hidalgo, "on the luck of seven":
He offered to write a creative commons childrens book for $11.11 and has been travelling the world free on the back of that.
We don't live in a free society, but we want to. He left on 7/7/7 with a budget of $7,777, to see the 7 wonders of the world, dive in 7 numbers. 7 sits in every philosophy, religion, etc. He went off to explore 7 topics of freedom. There are 7 great lessons.
And then Markus Peschl on "Enabling Emergent Innovation":
Innovation typically involves creating large numbers of ideas and then selecting from these. In most cases the decision becomes quite irrational. How do you leave the old behind to create a space for the new to emerge?
Innovation needs social and cognitive elements.