AmoeBAND became a 2012 IDEA Award Finalist by innovating every possible aspect of the plaster (band aid).

The design revisions were:

Strategic cut-outs shape to fit fingers in such a way that it is easy to bend them and not disrupt the bandage.

– An intelligent dressing material allows you to regularly check wounds from the outside, without upsetting the healing process.“According to research, the when an infection of a wound is detected, the pH value is between 6.5 and 8.5. AmoeBAND’s indicator cross turns purple, alerting the user needs to change it immediately.

– Since the bandage material used exudes a leather-like feel, availability in different skin-tones helps it blend in, without overly highlighting the injury.

– The packaging has been redesigned to a matchbox style and includes Braille instructions.

Hat tip to designers Tay Pek-Khai, Hsu Hao-Ming, Tsai Cheng-Yu, Chen Kuei-Yuan, Chen Yi-Ting, Lai Jen-Hao, Ho Chia-Ying, Chen Ying-shan, Weng Yu-Ching, and Chung Kuo-Ting

it’s always funny when people improve on something and you look at the innovations and it’s like so fucking obvious what needed to be changed, but yet no one seemingly thought of it until then, yourself included

These are really, really cool, and show what happens when innovation includes not just technology but clear and focused attention to design usability as well.


That smartphones allow us to imprison twice the number of people at half the cost is the kind of cutting-edge innovation that only management consultants and tech entrepreneurs would be excited about. Such breakthroughs would be worth celebrating if they didn’t distract us from the more radical (and simpler) solution to the problem of overcrowded prisons: incarcerating fewer people.

Smart technologies are not just disruptive; they can also preserve the status quo. Revolutionary in theory, they are often reactionary in practice.

Smart technology, thanks to its ubiquity and affordability, offers us the cheapest — and trendiest — fix. But the gleaming aura of disruption-talk that often accompanies such fixes masks their underlying conservatism. Technological innovation does not guarantee political innovation; at times, it might even impede it. The task ahead is to prevent our imagination from being incarcerated by smart technologies. Or should we settle for gamifying ourselves to death?

* Evgeny Morozov, “Imprisoned by Innovation

RIM Demoing the Value of NFC-Enabled Devices

I admit it: I’m really curious to see how NFC technologies are adopted by various vendors and developers. To date, however, the integration has been poor and what adoption there has been tends to focus on payment solutions. Payment solutions scare the crap out of me because they increase the reasons attackers have to compromise my phone: it’s bad enough they want my personal information; I don’t want them after my digital wallet as well!

RIM has a neat bit of technology they’ve recently released, which leverages the NFC functionality in their new phones with Bluetooth pairing systems. Specifically, it enables rapid syncing between phones and audio-output devices (i.e., speakers). While the product is pretty “meh” as released today, it could be pretty exciting were vehicle manufacturers and speaker manufacturers to generally integrate NFC-pairing capabilities with their respective products. It’s presently a pain to listen to music stored on a mobile through vehicle speakers (using Bluetooth) or a friend’s speakers in their home. RIM has offered a partial solution to the Bluetooth pairing problem; now it’s up to the larger ecosystems to actually integrate RIM’s idea in a omnipresent and highly functional way.


… there is never a single, ideal type towards which any given technology will inevitably evolve. Specific technologies are developed to solve specific problems, for specific users, in specific times and places. How certain problems get defined as being more in need of a solution, which users are considered more important to design for, what other technological systems need to be provided or accounted for, who has the power to set certain technical and economic priorities–these are fundamentally social considerations that deeply influence the process of technological development.

Nathan Ensmenger; The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers, Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise

Copyright and Valuation

A very nice SOPA infographic.

Patry, Gillespie, Wu and other academics/industry experts have (literally) written books on the absurdities concerning how the American entertainment establishment has tried to control technological development. These attempts to control technology stem from fears of what might happen to particular bodies’ revenues. Such fears tend to be hypothetical and assume that self-cannibalism of one’s own business model is inherently bad, as opposed to a necessary element of a thriving capitalist, neo-liberal, marketplace. Amazon and others have thrived on cannibalizing factions of their businesses, rightly realizing that if you get there first then you can enjoy first-mover advantage, whereas if you are the last then there is a lowered opportunity to enter into the new market environment.

Possibly the thing that sticks in my mind the most around copyright infringement comes from an economic forum I attended a few years back. One of the fashion industry’s top branding specialists was presenting and asked about how copyright threatens her (Paris, Brazilian, American) business interests.

In response, she laughed and opened a quick file off her computer. It showed just how much money the fashion industry – as a component of US GDP – was worth in comparison to the entertainment industries. Fashion was worth more than 10x as much as entertainment. After pointing out differences in scale, she simply noted that a lack of copyright protection didn’t hinder or limit brand development or product creation in fashion: instead it created a more cut throat, innovative, industry which in turn led to higher productivity and profits.


Is Silicon Valley too smart for its own good?

While Agrawal’s article argues that those in Silicon Valley are developing for people who’re as saturated as they are, I think that he’s really missing what makes the Valley what it is. For decades, we’ve seen interesting ideas and products come out of California that are absolute flops. They’re not flops because the products are necessarily bad but  because the deliverables don’t identify a real problem or offer a real solution. That’s not a bad thing, and critiques along grounds of ‘flops’ (and crafting products for the future, rather than the past) misses what’s important about the Valley’s function as a thought incubator: ideas are crafted and honed, underlying principles and technical challenges are ironed out, and eventually some bits and pieces of “failed” ideas and products tend to be integrated into the future’s successful product lines.

Innovative development, much like scholarly work, is often intellectually exciting and vibrant while lacking a direct market output. It’s because we can test, experiment, and play that cool things ultimately come out of the ether. If we demand that most, or all, of Silicon Valley’s (and academia’s) projects meet existing problems, and avoid dreamlike solutions to undefined issues, we’re going to see a lot less interesting and novel things that (seemingly) pop out of nowhere.