Tag Archives: designfiction


Mac|Life’s concept iDesk seems plausible and very expensive. In their concept, Mac|Life images a desk with a multitouch display and bluetooth connectivity. Phones, laptops, and other devices when placed on the desk can have their data accessed and transferred though on desk icons.

It’s a striking design, having your desk be one giant interactive flat panel display. The technology to do this certainly seems ready. Giant retina displays, and multitouch controls exist. (Well retina displays exist, scaling them up to 6 feet by 4 feet, maybe not.) The real problem seems to be more of software rather than hardware. You don’t even really need one display like that. Simply more intuitive graphical and tactile syncing with current separate displays would be nice. I imagine transferring documents from desktop or laptop computer to a tablet by touching the screen displaying the document with spread open fingertips, making a fist (think grabbing) and then touching the screen of the destination device. Of course thinking of local device storage is so 20th century. Everything is going cloud with continuous syncing.

Personalized Receipts

London based design studio Berg, teamed with Dentsu London to consider receipts as applications. From their description:

We’ve added semi-useful info-visualisation of the foods ordered based on “what the till knows” – sparklines, trends – and low-tech personalisation of information that might be useful to regulars. Customers can select events or news stories they are interested in by ticking a check box.

We think the humble receipt could be something like a paper “app” and be valuable in small and playful ways.

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Mike Thompson‘s latest project, Latro, again examines using biology as an energy source. Actually, it’s not really a device at all, but rather simply a mock up of a device. According to the detailed description Latro uses 30-nanometer gold electrodes to extract electrical current from the chloroplasts of algae. Like his previous work, owners must consider the source of the energy they are receiving. Before they had to make a cost-benefit calculation, and now they must maintain and care for the energy source.

The Yansei/Stanford team that inspired this work successfully drew a currents of between 1.2 – 12 pA depending on light intensity. Thompson points in terms of amps per area, this is 0.6 – 6.0 mA/cm2. Photovoltaic cells currently operate at about 35 mA / cm2. Extracting a few electrons from photosynthesis is interesting, but it’s hard for me to think of how this could scale to anything beyond a lab bench curiosity, since you need a nanowire in each chloroplast you want to siphon from. So why do this? The Yansei/Stanford team wasn’t actually trying to create a power source, but rather wanted to study electron transfer in photosynthesis.

Clearly, photosynthesis extraction isn’t going to to replace photovoltaics, but it is interesting to think of a world where technology has biological components. Say <biological neural networks to solve complex problems. A sort of biopunk world, or perhaps just Star Trek circa 2370.