Category Archives: possessed products

Capacitors from the Congo

Bill Hammack makes instructional videos about engineering in everyday life. In this episode he explains why the conflict mineral Tantalum is used to make cell phone capacitors smaller. Even though only 2% of the raw ore Coltan originates in the Congo, it is impossible to trace in its refined form, which means that the 40mg […]

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Hard Labor

Another amazing resource for anyone who wishes to know more and act with information when choosing products or choosing which issue to tackle – the US Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child labor or Forced (slave) Labor (publicly available in pdf format). The dry checklist gives only a cursory glance – it […]

Also posted in conviviality, supply chain, traceability | Comments closed

trash trailer

The MIT FEMA Trailer Project considers how the nearly 150,000 temporary houses deployed to Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas could catalyze positive change as opposed to the social and health risks they are associated with. They have initiated a call for proposals for the FEMA Trailer Challenge, seeking to prompt innovations […]

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ill robots

While in Inverness I visited the Center for Health Science where I witnessed their state-of-the-art medical simulation equipment, including these incredibly sophisticated (and creepy) medical dummies. Doctors and nurses in training use them to train for real-life scenarios, so these life-like dolls have a temperature, a pulse, a voice and can undergo a number of […]

Also posted in evil robots, livingbreathing, materials, soft/glowing, tangible | Comments closed

fish map

The world’s fisheries are being depleted at an alarming rate, but they don’t have to be. Unregulated and unsustainable fishing practices pollute waters, decimate fish populations and co-dependent species. Recently a number of leading Ocean groups have released guides to help consumers select sustainable fish – notably the environmental defense fund’s pocket sushi selector (pdf), […]

Also posted in food, maps, open objects, traceability | Comments closed


Bio-pens are made of 80% cellulose acetate, a material that was invented in 1865 and is now most commonly used in cigarette filters. It is a biopolymer made from wood pulp with an embodied energy of 100 MJ/kg – about six times higher than glass and and twice as much as PET, although it’s biodegradable […]

Also posted in energy, environment, marketing, materials, product design | Comments closed

watts up

Saul Griffith has just released WattzOn, a personal footprint calculator that allows you to account for everything in your life – including taxes and the embodied energy of the products you own. You can then compare your impact with other people in the world and start to understand how much alternative energy is needed to […]

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digital sweat

I recently watched Stephanie Rothenberg speak about her project doublehappinessjeans, a Second Life sweatshop that produces designer denim by the underpaid labor of virtual avatars; producing the goods in both physical and digital form. The idea makes an intriguing point about the ideal of Personal Fabrication: that one day manufacturing of complex products will be […]

Also posted in fabrication, fashion, futurecraft, marketing, product design, soft/glowing | Comments closed