Category Archives: Tools

Tools, devices, apps, toys and maker stuff to help upgrade your technature balance. Recommendations welcome!

Can you sense where north is? These people can.

Whenever I spend time in the USA  or Canada I’m always intrigued by the way they use compass points for directions. “Go north three blocks, then east two blocks,” helpful people tell me. They assume I know which direction north is, but I don’t have a clue. In the UK we’ve never located ourselves that way. I’m always baffled at how North Americans  actually know which way east or west is. I’m aware it’s often written on street signs, but I’m sure that people are deeply familiar with it in their own neighbourhoods. To me, it seems like a magical sixth sense.

But now I, too, can know where north is. Not just know it, but feel it. Liviu Babitz and Scott Cohen, co-founders of Cyborg Nest, have developed North Sense, “a miniature Artificial Sense, vibrating each time it faces the Magnetic North. Your North Sense will not depend on an internet, it’s a standalone artificial sensory organ, coated in the highest quality body-compatible materials”.

It sounds very exciting: “Our New Sensory Organs take inspiration from animals and nature. Designed by world experts, they require minimal invasion into the body. Once attached, a whole new range of experiences and emotions are unlocked.”

Josie Thaddeus-Johns  met the pair, and saw North Sense in the flesh, as it were. She described how Liviu Babitz opened his collar to reveal a small silicone gadget, the size of a matchbox, attached to his chest with two titanium bars that sit just under the skin. Most resembling a compact bike light, the North Sense that Babitz has attached is an artificial sense organ that delivers a short vibration every time the user faces North. Her article is long, intriguing and well worth the read. Find out more at The Guardian.

 

Will you be taking a vacation in virtual reality this holiday season?

In 1995, Nicholas Negroponte wrote: “Digital living will include less and less dependence upon being in a specific place at a specific time, and the transmission of place itself will start to become possible. If I could really look out the electronic window of my living room in Boston and see the Alps, hear the cowbells, and smell the (digital) manure in summer, in a way I am very much in Switzerland”.*

As founder of the MIT Media Lab, and an architect by trade, he knew what he was talking about twenty plus years ago. It’s taken quite a while to even begin to make his vision a reality, but we’re getting closer.  A while ago I wrote about virtual reality in cruise ships, where you’re actually on a real ship but in an upgraded cabin sporting a virtual balcony.

Now, as CNBC reports, a growing list of airlines and vacation spots are courting visitors with virtual reality vacation experiences offering digital options that nearly rival the real thing.

Continue reading Will you be taking a vacation in virtual reality this holiday season?

The Kids’ Nature Shop: Connecting Families To The Outdoors

I’m delighted to announce the launch of The Kids’ Nature Shop.

We all know the importance of getting our children out into nature but today’s busy family life makes it hard to find the time. Not just that, but sometimes parents themselves have lost touch with the outdoors. They long to get outside with their families but don’t know what to do or where to start.

The Kids’ Nature Shop can help. Whether it’s spotting birds, bugs and spiders; growing giant sunflowers; or learning how to stargaze, our carefully-selected products will spark your imagination.

Plus, our Reading Room contains specially-written articles about why nature is good for your kids (and for you!) with tips and tricks to help you get started.

Why Do We Need A Nature Shop For Kids?

Continue reading The Kids’ Nature Shop: Connecting Families To The Outdoors