March 1st, 2012
01:41 PM ET

Flying robots perform 'James Bond' theme

By John D. Sutter, CNN

(CNN) –- File this in the don't-know-why-someone-thought-of-this-but-it's-amazing drawer:

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania developed flying robots - they kind of look like fat, square hummingbirds - that play the theme song from "James Bond" films. Not "play" in a passive sense. These little guys (or gals, since robot voices are usually female, as Brandon Griggs writes) actually hit notes on keyboards and drag sticks across chimes. One dips up and down onto a cymbal to accent the piece.

It's all pretty incredible. Check out it out in this video, shown recently at the TED conference in California:


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Filed under: Culture • Innovation • Robots
March 1st, 2012
10:44 AM ET

'Condom sense': Designing the New York City condom

By Yves Behar, Special to CNN

Editor's Note: Yves Behar is a designer, entrepreneur and founder of the firm Fuseproject. One of the most influential designers in the world, he's know for designing the $100 laptop as part of Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child project. He's also Chief Creative Officer of the wearable technology company Jawbone. Behar was profiled on CNN's The Next List.

(CNN) - A friend I grew up with in Switzerland was working at the United Nations on AIDS prevention. In 2007, she called to tell me that the New York Department of Health & Mental Hygiene was considering designing it’s own condom, and expanding the program with a high level of participation by private businesses and public health centers. Back then, according to the NYC Department of Health, "NY remains the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S." The city has more AIDS cases than Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. combined. More than 100,000 New Yorkers have contracted HIV, and many of them are unaware of it. Condoms are the most effective method of reducing the risk of sexual transmission of HIV. So, the Department of Health launched an initiative to dispense its own condoms for free.

My first discussion was revealing, as they understood that giving away condoms in pink, un-branded wrappers was not going to achieve the full potential of the free distribution. They understood that design could change the paradigm.

I spent some time with the team visiting bars and clubs, pool halls and homeless shelters. From my observation, I saw that condoms were a challenging discussion. Perhaps it is our Puritan roots or simply that sex makes us squeamish. But condoms, despite their ability to save lives, often carry a negative stigma. Once we cut through that stigma, information started flowing. We also understood that the condom design needed to be distinctly New York and appeal to people across numerous subcultures. This program needed to pander to populations at both ends of the economic sphere and in all parts of the city. FULL POST

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Filed under: Design • Innovation • The Next List • Video