February 21st, 2012
02:32 PM ET

Yves Behar: 'Great design is something that everyone can have'

Even if you've never heard his name, chances are you've come across one of Yves Behar’s extraordinary designs. Maybe you've jammed on some tunes using the sleek-looking wireless speaker Jambox. That's one of Behar's designs which, by the way, was just nominated for 2012’s Designs of the Year Product Award. Or maybe you've take a spin on his “local bike”, designed says Behar, for a “new generation” of bicycle riders, who want to transport their kids and groceries near home. If not you must have seen photographs of children using the iconic green $100 XO laptop. The One Laptop per Child XO (OLPC) Laptop was founded by MIT Media Lab’s Nicholas Negroponte, who worked with Behar, and his San Francisco design firm Fuseproject to make a low-cost laptop specifically for children in developing countries. More than 2.4 million children in 25 countries received the XO Laptop. And now after six years of collaboration with Negroponte, Behar designed the next generation XO-3, the gorgeous laptop in tablet form.

Behar has taken design to a whole new level by devoting a good part of his business to the non-profit world. He says, "Design must tap into the giving element of our profession. It must be deeply in-tune with the needs to create a sustainable future, deeply connected with emotional needs, and deeply self-expressive.”

After dozens of profit-making ventures, Yves and his team devote 10 to 30% of their work every year, and countless hours of their own time, to pro- bono projects like the OLPC laptop. “There is no reason why design can’t be attainable. Great design is something that everyone can have,” says Behar. And after the success of the XO Laptop and tablet, Behar and Fuseproject collaborated with the Mexican Government to design low-cost eyeglasses for children. The “See Better to Learn Better” program provides poor children with free eye exams, and adorable, brightly-colored (and unbreakable) specs, delivered right to their schools. Hundreds of thousands of children are sporting these specs. The kids even get to pick their own frame and color combinations!!

Tune into The Next List on CNN 2 p.m. ET on Sunday to see the full 30-minute profile of design hero Yves Behar.

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Filed under: Art • Design • Innovation • Social change • Tech • The Next List • Video
Can Braille be faster than QWERTY? App developer thinks so
February 20th, 2012
04:26 PM ET

Can Braille be faster than QWERTY? App developer thinks so

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - If Mario Romero has his way, we'll all be learning Braille soon.

The post-doc researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology has co-developed an app, called BrailleTouch, that could help blind people send text messages and type e-mails on touch-screen smartphones without the need for expensive, extra equipment. To use the app, people hold their phones with the screens facing away from them and punch combinations of six touch-screen buttons to form characters. The app speaks a letter aloud after it's been registered, so there's no need to see the screen.

The system is designed for blind and visually impaired people, who otherwise have to purchase thousand-dollar machines or cumbersome "hover-over" (more on that later) keyboards to be able to type on no-button smartphones. But Romero sees a spin-off for the technology: The touch-screen Braille keyboard is so fast that sighted people may start using it, too. FULL POST

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Filed under: Smartphones • Social change • Tech • Thinkers • Uncategorized
Street Bump app detects potholes, tells city officials
February 16th, 2012
09:51 AM ET

Street Bump app detects potholes, tells city officials

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Here's the problem with the whole Gov 2.0 movement: People are lazy.

Plenty of apps - SeeClickFix among them - allow diligent, digitally minded citizens to snap photos of potholes and send them to city hall. But that takes effort and, let's be honest, it's not something many people will follow through with.

Further, the pothole data that comes from these apps can be haphazard and, by definition, is subjective. One person's pothole could be another's divot.

Perhaps the digital sensors in smartphones can do a better job all by themselves.

That's the idea behind Street Bump, an Android app piloted by the City of Boston. The app, which should be available to the public this summer, makes the smartphone's accelerometer do the job of sensing potholes. If you're driving and you hit a pothole while the app is loaded, Street Bump pairs up data about the size of the bump with a GPS coordinate - and sends that to a city database.

The hope, said Nigel Jacob, co-chair of the mayor's office of New Urban Mechanics, which is managing this project, is that Boston and other cities soon will have a "real-time" map of road conditions, allowing them to catch potholes - "pre-potholes," as the city says - earlier and to prioritize road repairs more broadly.

Ultimately, that will save the city money, he said. (For the curious, the city does have enough money to fix the potholes it finds with this app, he said. I'd wondered if ignorance might be bliss.)

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Filed under: Politics • Smartphones • Social change • Tech
Innovators turn 'disruption' into positive change
February 14th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

Innovators turn 'disruption' into positive change

By Heather M. Higgins, CNN

(CNN) - Disruption is often associated with negativity – it implies trouble and confusion.

But, once in a while, a good shake-up may be just what the world needs. Nearly 400 creative thinkers gathered in Lower Manhattan on a recent Saturday to fuel a dialogue that aims not only to spark innovation but to propel change in the next three to five years.

The early February event was billed as “TEDxBigApple Disruptive Ideas,” and it provided a platform for an impressive roster of 15 change agents. Speakers ranged from physicians to fashionistas, green-tech innovators and urban planners. The group is purely volunteer-driven. It's independently organized but is designed to mimic a TED-like experience. TED is a group dedicated to "ideas worth spreading." FULL POST

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Filed under: Events • Music • Thinkers
February 14th, 2012
12:52 PM ET

NYC’'s newest ❤ throb

Editor's Note: Daniel Kidd and BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) recently installed a 10-foot tall glowing heart sculpture ("BIG❤NYC") in the middle of Times Square for Valentine's Day. The sculpture is made up of 400 transparent, LED lit, acrylic tubes and is controlled by a heart-shaped sensor nearby. And the sculpture simply works like this: the more people that touch the sensor, the brighter and faster the heart will beat.

To learn more about BIG check out The Next List's profile of Bjarke Ingels.

Below is The Next List's exclusive interview with Daniel Kidd, "BIG❤NYC" project leader, about the installation: 

How did the idea come about?

From the beginning we wanted to do something with light, something that would feel at home in Times Square. The idea evolved from something that makes light to something that uses light from its surroundings. The images on the screens of times square are all made of individual pixels and we had an opportunity to rethink the pixel as a strip of light up to ten feet tall to form the pulsing heart. The heart reflects what Times Square is made of: people and light – the more people, the stronger the light. FULL POST

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Filed under: Art • Innovation • The Next List • Video
February 13th, 2012
05:08 PM ET

Love doesn't have to stink

By Joshua Belsky, CNN

(CNN) – I'm not one to ever quote the J. Geils Band, but this time of year it's difficult for me, when considering Valentine's Day, not to hear the title track from their 1980 album Love Stinks (yeah yeah) in my head.

Before you classify me as one of those jaded anti-V-day celebrators let me assure you I am not - but I do believe that this time of year, love stinks (yeah yeah). 

I don't blame Cupid for the offending aroma, I blame most Valentine's Day perfume sales - or at least I used to until I met Christopher Brosius, founder of CB I Hate Perfume in Brooklyn, New York.

Christopher Brosius was our second agent-of-change profiled on CNN's The Next List and his being a self-taught perfumer (he talks about the good and bad of that in the video above) in an industry where people are rarely, if ever, self-taught was just part of the reason he made the list. FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • The Next List • Video
Army-approved winter gloves work with touchscreens
Agloves allow wearers to operate the touchscreen on a smartphone.
February 13th, 2012
11:04 AM ET

Army-approved winter gloves work with touchscreens

By Mark Milian, CNN

(CNN) - The U.S. Army has been working for about two years on outfitting its soldiers with smartphones, but one obstacle to this technological upgrade likely will be familiar to anybody who has tried to operate a touchscreen phone in the winter:

Smartphones and gloves do not get along.

Rather than putting government money toward developing a new type of glove, the Army went on a little shopping spree. If the government is coming late to smartphones, and buying those from stores instead of building them, then surely someone must have solved this problem.

They aren't mainstream yet, but several companies indeed sell gloves that let the wearer operate a touchscreen without taking them off. And as more people discover the limits of their Android companions on a snowy day, these types of gloves could take off. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fashion • Military • Tech
February 12th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Make Playdough and “squishy circuits” with MAKE magazine's founder

Editors note: CNN's "The Next List" recently profiled the founder of MAKE magazine and the Maker Faire, Dale Dougherty. The show airs on Sundays at 2 p.m. ET.

MAKE magazine's mission - shockingly enough - is to encourage people to make things. The art of making isn't just an act, however, argues Dale Dougherty, who started the publication. It's an outlook on life.

Here's a chance to try quirky "maker" project for yourself.

The goal: squishy circuits. Watch the above video from “The Next List,” in which host Dr. Sanjay Gupta gets a lesson on the basics of electricity with the help of some Playdough, a battery and lights. It’s a great way to teach kids the basics of electricity, says Dougherty. And whether your 2 or 92, admit it, you'll have to admit: we all love playing with Playdough.

Click here to get the full recipe from MAKE magazine.

Join Dale (@dalepd) on Twitter for a live Q&A after the show on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. Use hashtag #MakeCNN to join.

Also, please Follow us, Like us, and check out our photos. Thanks!

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Filed under: Science • The Next List • Video
When making a game is a game in itself
February 10th, 2012
10:02 AM ET

When making a game is a game in itself

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) - Something strange happened earlier this week: The people of the Internet - not exactly known for their generosity - gave $1 million in a SINGLE DAY to an online game that hasn't even been created yet.

Not only is this a milestone for Kickstarter, the "crowd funding" platform that made these donations possible; it's also an experiment in, as the blog ReadWriteWeb aptly described it, making a game out of the game-making process.

The game is called Double Fine Adventure. As of Friday morning, it had raised $1.2 million on the promise that:

With this project, we're taking that door off its hinges and inviting you into the world of Double Fine Productions, the first major studio to fully finance their next game with a Kickstarter campaign and develop it in the public eye ... This year, you'll be given a front-row seat as they revisit Tim's design roots and create a brand-new, downloadable "Point-and-Click" graphic adventure game for the modern age. FULL POST

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Filed under: Crowdsourcing • Gaming • Innovation • Internet • Tech
February 10th, 2012
07:00 AM ET

How to make more 'makers' - and why it matters

Editor’s note: Dale Dougherty is the publisher and founder of MAKE magazine and the creator of Maker Faire. Tune in to CNN's The Next List at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday to see a 30-minute profile of Dale Dougherty.

By Dale Dougherty, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Joey Hudy, a young "maker" from Phoenix went to the White House this week to show off his project, the "Extreme Marshmallow Cannon." When President Obama saw it, he told Joey: "Let's try it." Joey set up the air cannon, which uses a bicycle pump to build up air pressure, and put a marshmallow down the barrel. When he pressed the trigger, a single marshmallow was shot out across the room to the delight of everyone, but especially the president.

I was proud of Joey's accomplishment and the journey that brought him to White House. That journey began at home, where he developed a love of making things. In fact, Joey found that he could do things at home - and do them well - even though he was struggling at school. Joey has Asperger’s Syndrome but I really wouldn't know that unless his parents told me. Joey first came to Maker Faire - an event for "makers," or people who make things with their hands - last year in the Bay Area and he brought the Extreme Marshmallow Cannon with him. His mother, Julie, told us that not only was the experience rewarding for Joey - he got to meet Adam Savage of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” - but Joey made the connection between the work he was doing at home and what he saw makers doing. He knew that he was a maker and that he told his Mom that he "must be smart." FULL POST

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Filed under: Innovation • Politics • Science • Tech • The Next List
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