Top 3 Talks at UX Conference “Make Stuff That Works” : Part 1

Still on a high from my first UX Meetup last Monday, I was delighted to see a popup conference coming up called Make Stuff That Works, organized by NetLife Research. There were 7 talks, 100+ UXers, and 1 great afterparty (more details to come).

“WTF Wearables?!” by Lisa Kindred

Liza Kindred, author & fashion tech strategist, is not a fan of hyped-up, novelty wearables. She makes her point by showing a variety of examples that are almost to the point of farfetched, such as:

The Papparazzi Dress:

Papparazzi Dress to prevent the wearer from being photographed

The Cyborg Cap:

Cyclops Hat that lets you display videos to other people

And this beauty, the Tweeting Bra:

It tweets a message every time the hook is unclasped (on the bright side, the point is to raise awareness for breast cancer)

But instead of talking for an hour about why all wearables “suck”, Liza shows us that she thinks there are actually a lot of cool wearables out there that can really make a difference in the world. What constitutes a wearable as being “cool”? Technology that, for example, prevents disease, helps correct color blindness, and can be used as a tool in every country to do things like improving water collection and becoming invisible to mosquitos! Continue reading

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Waterproof Phones For All

I would be lying if I told you that I have never water-damaged my phone(s). After living in Vancouver for multiple years, where walking with an umbrella is the norm and riding down the slopes are of second-nature to everyone, has dramatically increased my concern about having that little water-damage detection sticker turn red. But alas! I foresee that concern floating away very soon.

Here are some of the newest gadgets that appeared at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona that aren’t afraid of a little water*:

How it works
Essentially, a nanometer-thin polymer layer of plasma gets attached onto the phone. This reduces the surface energy of the device, which is why when liquid comes into contact, it just forms beads and slides off. The nice thing is that the layer is 1000x smaller than a human hair, making it nearly impossible to detect.

Who is doing it
A few companies are emerging in this space. Liquipel is selling to consumers where as companies like P2i and  Hz0 are teaming up with companies to incorporate their products before the devices are shipped.

The cool thing is that this process can be applied to more than just phones, but from TVs to tissues. Liquipel recently announced a partnership with JayBird earbuds.

I personally like this video of things like cereal and eggs being thrown at phones:

Waterproof your device

Starting at $60, you have to either:

  • Find one of the Liquipel stores to do it for you (currently only in Hong Kong and California), or
  • Ship it in.

Hmm…not sure I know many people who are willing to part with their phones for more than a few hours let alone a few days. They will likely need to ramp of their business model to increase their availability to the public if they want to make it big time.

Conclusion

So once you get the treatment done, should you go swimming in the ocean with your device? Well…not yet. The idea is to be resistant to water, not submerged in it for hours (though devices can now resist up to 30 minutes). That being said, I think that companies will need waterproof their devices to stay competitive.

*http://edition.cnn.com/2013/03/04/tech/mobile/waterproof-phones-tablets/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews