07 January 2008

New Ideas for a New Year

I am very optimistic about 2008. I think in 2006, the country realized a lot about itself, and in 2007, we started to get organized. In 2008, I'd like to think we're going to get a lot accomplished, and I know I'd certainly like to achieve some personal goals of my own.

In order to get things done this year, we need to be willing to embrace new ideas and concepts. A lot has been said about change recently (especially in the last Democratic debate), and I think it's time to let change inspire us. Here are some products and events that I've seen in the first week of 2008 that I hope set the tone for the year.

The 2008 Consumer Electronics Show is going on in Las Vegas this week, and while there are plenty of items worth mentioning (including a 150" TV!!), this new phone by Nokia caught my eye. Called the 3110 Evolve, it's Nokia's more sustainable mobile phone option; its handset is "made from 50 percent renewable bio-materials and its charger uses 95 percent less power than required by Energy Star standards."

image courtesy of CNet

This isn't just a giant paperclip (which, let's admit, would be cool on its own); it's a lamp, too! The Paperclip Lamp also bends like a real paperclip for flexible use....there isn't much more info on this product at the moment but let's hope we see it at our local "cool design" store soon.

images courtesy of Linkinn

So I walked into work last week and was greeted with this adorable creature barking like a dog on the floor 5' away from me. No, Jurassic Park had not come to USC's campus; it's the new Pleo by Ugobe, and it's a robotic toy dinosaur with sensors all over it that allow you to interact with it, in much the same way you would treat a pet. Talk to Pleo and she responds with coos that one might assume a tiny dinosaur makes....stroke Pleo like a cat and she blinks and wiggles her head happily. If you are standing a few feet from Pleo and she wants to know what you "smell" like, she may come over and "sniff" your shoe. No word yet on whether she is trainable, although the good news is, of course, she won't make a mess in your house.


Never underestimate the capability of architecture students with power tools. Seen in the USC School of Architecture this week: this massive tunnel-like structure, fabricated with wood, metal and plastics. You might want to keep small fry away from this giant play-tube though, since I see some sharp edges...


Last but not least, we had the first step in this year's Presidential Race with the Iowa caucuses last week. The caucus format is unique to the country, but Iowans themselves are unconventional people, and probably more politically aware than your average American because of their position on the primary calendar. Iowans proved just how unconventional they are when they selected Barack Obama for the Democrats and Mike Huckabee for the Republicans, two candidates who were considered marginal just a few short months ago. These caucuses surprised many pundits and media types who thought the race was over before it started, but not many average voters. Many are left scratching their heads as to why a predominately white state might chose an African-American candidate to lead the Democrats, and I would say it amounts to one word: HOPE. As to why the Republicans chose Huckabee, I think the answer is clear....he's standing behind Mike Huckabee in the picture below. (I mean, everyone knows what will happen if you vote against Chuck Norris...)

image courtesy of the LA Times

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