Posted in biology, design and architecture, electronic imaging and displays, Illumination

Liminoids Wants To Turn Your Fridge Into Your Therapist | The Creators Project

Art often explores the psyche, now it’s actually trying to help:

Inspired by designer Alice Wang’s “Peer Pressure” and artist Noam Toran’s “Desire Management,” Koyuncu’s Liminoids project explores her fascination with the possibility for machines to bring attention to a medical condition–and provide relief. Rather than simply being the cause for more anxiety and stress to fuel our neuroses, Koyuncu believes that technology can also act as an alternative treatment. Liminoids is a concept line of comfort machines that helps users manage their clinical nervousness. They are everyday items rigged to identify stress with a wireless biosensor that is worn like jewelry. The accessory adopts mechanisms often found in a lie detector. It combines a heart rate monitor, galvanic skin response GSR that reacts to the skin’s electrical conductivity i.e. sweatiness, and an accelerometer to help recognize and cancel out the noise caused by movement. When the anxiety thresholds for the GSR and heart rate are met, and the wearer goes to employ a Liminoidally-altered machine, the machine does something magical. It ceases normal operations and begins to comfort the wearer. Koyuncu dubbed this as the “liminal moment” and modeled it on her observations of the way people subconsciously and perpetually look to technology for gratification outside its classical function–like when you check your phone to avoid making eye contact with strangers when in an elevator or another confined space.

more via Liminoids Wants To Turn Your Fridge Into Your Therapist | The Creators Project.

Posted in communication and networking, education, food

USDA Ditches Food Pyramid for a Healthy Plate

Interesting morsel of news this morning; apparently the U.S. food pyramid is out, and a new food circle or “plate” is in!

A colorful four-part plate, with a side dish of dairy, will replace the 19-year-old food pyramid as the icon of the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

The icon represents more than the currently recommended diet. It’s part of a drastic change. The old plan was to provide information. The new plan is to actively change American eating behavior, using all the tools of modern persuasion.

“The centerpiece of the program is this next-generation food icon,” Robert C. Post, PhD, deputy director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA center for nutrition policy and promotion, tells WebMD. “The icon is the visual cue to get to online resources, to online media, and to unified nutrition messages from public- and private-sector efforts.”

via USDA Ditches Food Pyramid for a Healthy Plate.

To me this is an interesting exercise in art as well as science: what is the easiest, clearest way to visually explain nutrition?

I’m not sure a pyramid was “confusing” like some of the reports are saying, but I like the idea of using a plate, since it is a lot easier to transpose mentally onto a real plate.

First Lady Michelle Obama is endorsing the new nutritional visualization as part of her Get Moving program, which is good, although frankly I still think the best spokesmodel I’ve seen for nutrition is Cookie Monster:

I still think the best spokesperson

Posted in biology, design and architecture

Anatomy Dresses blog

The body is beautiful! Apparently the organs make especially good fashion statements; observe:

Rachel Wright of Mobile, AL creates some interesting repurposed clothing. (Her Etsy shop is called Toolgrrl Designs.) The dresses above are examples of designs she created for her series, The Dream Anatomy.

She writes about her series:

The Dream Anatomy series explore these imagined realms inside the body. Because these garments are meant to be worn, the boundary between the internal and the external is blurred. The invisible is made visible: wear your inside on the outside. By using women’s slips and nighties, articles that were not originally intended for public life, I am playiing with the line between the public and the private arenas.

more via Anatomy Dresses blog.

Posted in electronic imaging and displays, engineering, Illumination, Optics

An LED umbrella to brighten your rainy day, from Sockmaster!

Perfect for the gray, rainy winters I’m about to head home to:

Like Cool LED umbrella

I bet this would also work well for treating seasonal affective disorder, if it were installed with LEDs that emitted the right light frequency waves: sign me up, I feel more cheerful already!

This awesome LED umbrella design, by sockmaster, will light up your nighttime stroll while keeping you dry. It even has an adjustable dimmer!

more via An LED umbrella to brighten your rainy day – Holy Kaw!.

Posted in biology, communication and networking, music

Sound health

Listen to Julian Treasure’s TED talk about sound. Treasure says our increasingly noisy world is gnawing away at our mental health — even costing lives. He lays out an 8-step plan to soften this sonic assault (starting with those cheap earbuds) and restore our relationship with sound.

Julian Treasure is the chair of Sound Agency, “a firm that advises worldwide businesses — offices, retailers, hotels — on how to use sound. He asks us to pay attention to the sounds that surround us. How do they make us feel: productive, stressed, energized, acquisitive?

Treasure is the author of the book Sound Business and keeps a blog by the same name that ruminates on aural matters (and offers a nice day-by-day writeup of TEDGlobal 2009). In the early 1980s, Treasure was the drummer for the Fall-influenced band Transmitters.” (Source: TED)

Posted in biology, communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays

A healthy side to TV?

We’ve heard all the negative stuff about TV, including its negative impact on health. But maybe there’s some positive health benefits to come out of it too. From Seed Magazine:

Humans are made to move. Even just a century ago, few people spent their entire workday just sitting at a desk. Passive entertainment, too, is a relatively new innovation. Televisions have been widespread for barely 60 years. Radios, for less than a century. Books, for perhaps half a millennium. Sure, music and theater have existed for longer than that, but attending a live performance still involved trudging to the amphitheater or town square, sitting or standing on uncomfortable benches, and then making the same journey back home. And more people were likely to participate in making the music or plays when they couldn’t be recorded and electromagnetically transmitted through the air. Out of the hundreds of thousands of years Homo sapiens has existed, we’ve been intensely physically active for all but a few of them.

So clearly moving around is an important part of being human. When we don’t move our muscles quickly atrophy, and life-sapping deposits of fat build up around our vital organs. When we lose physical fitness we live shorter, disease-ridden lives.

Travis Saunders, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa who studies the impact of sedentary lifestyles, questions whether a little exercise can make up for hours of inactivity. He refers to a study led by G.F. Dunton of the University of Southern California and published in October in the International Journal of Obesity. The researchers conducted a phone survey of 10,000 Americans who ranged from normal weight to obese. As you might expect, people who engaged in a lot of physical activity tended to weigh less than those who did not.

But when the researchers considered how much time these individuals spent watching TV and movies, a different pattern emerged. No matter how much TV they watched, if they didn’t exercise, they had high BMIs (body mass index—a measure of obesity). But even among people who exercised more than an hour a day, those watching more than an hour of TV per day had significantly higher BMIs than those who did not. In fact, for respondents who watched more than an hour of TV, whether or not they exercised no longer predicted BMI.

Does this mean that watching TV and movies makes you overweight, regardless of how much exercise you get? Not necessarily—this is just a correlation, not a controlled experiment. It could be that some other factor is responsible. It might be that people with higher BMIs just like TV more. Or that they are eating and drinking more while they watch TV, compared to other activities.

Read full article…

Posted in biology, design and architecture

Ig Nobel awards

The 2009 Nobel, and Ig Nobel, awards have been announced. The Ig Nobels are special because they honor work that seems silly at first, but at second glance are actually very useful.

One example is this year’s Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar, who designed a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.

The awards were announced October 1, at the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. On October 3, the new winners explained their work, at the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT. I loved the quote that Dr. Bodnar gave about her work that they’re not only useful, but also pretty.

Check out more winners