Author: Stephen Perry

"red" via Vsauce

Are We Seeing the Same Thing?

A fundamental philosophical question, how do we know my blue isn’t your yellow? The current human and “natural” understanding of color is fundamentally based on a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding which has been explored by the team at Vsauce in their YouTube video here.

Maybe one day our misconceptions about color will change, inventing and expressing something new, or through use of technology we could create a uniform and correct perception.

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Ingestible Microchips Monitor Medication

In July 2012 Digestible Microchips (a similar product to the Metabolic guardians from our own NANO Supermarket) were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in placebo pills.

“About half of all people don’t take medications like they’re supposed to,” says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla,California. “This device could be a solution to that problem, so that doctors can know when to rev up a patient’s medication adherence.” Topol is not affiliated with the company that manufactures the device, Proteus Digital Health in Redwood City, California, but he embraces the sensor’s futuristic appeal, saying, “It’s like big brother watching you take your medicine.”

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Back to the Tribe

Deliver us from Digital Bluntness

The internet is a wonderful tool, with huge potential and is often used with positive results. But more recently it is becoming apparent how, as a tool, it dehumanises and makes people lose a grip on the reality of their actions and the implications of their voice.

Take for example a social tool such as Twitter. It’s mission statement is simply ““To instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.” with 140 characters it does this quite well. But at the same time things can also go wrong. Being such an open platform it allows for anyone to read anything you write (assuming your settings aren’t set to private) and yes, that includes your boss!

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image from Shutterstock
Food Technology

Paint by Numbers, then Eat It

“The Book Club”, a London-based venue, is teaming up with the company “Animal Vegetable Mineral” to create a workshop in which participants are able to create an “expression using all the senses” and then eat it. Along with chocolate model making and “sugar graffiti”, the workshop will include “edible painting-by-numbers”.

The team has created edible paint, inks and sugar-based sprays to daub onto specially designed images of “things like sandwiches and dogs”. This event presents new forms of expression and interaction with the process of preparing and eating food, and points out future directions for food culture. One day we might be seeing an eat-by-numbers based upon in-vitro meat paint. Imagine painting a charming cow out of beef paint and then chowing down on your masterpiece!

Facebook event page here.

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Truly Honest Branding

For a fresh perspective on modern branding and honesty, and as a parallel to Next Nature’s own vision of the honest egg, have a look at the work of Viktor Hertz. A designer from Uppsala in Sweden, Hertz decided to follow the idea of brand honesty to its logical conclusion by visualizing a complete range of outcomes.

Companies routinely spend thousands to hundreds of thousands on logos and branding aimed at putting a positive gloss over their products. What if the downsides couldn’t be hidden in the small print or conveniently omitted, and had to be up front in the branding? Viktor calls his set “Honest Logos”.

The full set of designs after the jump…

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Food Technology

Q&A with CEO of In Vitro Meat Company “Modern Meadow”

Andras Forgacs, the CEO of in vitro meat (IVM) manufacturers Modern Meadow set up a Reddit AMA (“ask me anything”) a week ago to discuss the merits of his product. Below are a few extracts from the question-and-answer session:

Q. How confident are you that you can get it identical to a real steak within, say, 10 years?

A.Real steak is a big stretch. It won’t be the first product since steak is very hard to make for now. Instead, the first wave of meat products to be made with this approach will likely be minced meats (burgers, sausages, etc.) and pates (goose liver pate, etc.). Also seafood is an early possibility since the texture requires may be easier to achieve than premium cuts.

While I doubt anyone will make commercial quantities of premium steak within 10 years, we will eventually get there but it will be an Nth generation product.

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Nano Shots?
Food Technology

Nanotech Shots Take Mice from Drunk to Sober in Minutes

Ever curse the fact that you have to wait hours to sober up after a night at the bar? Now, you can sober up almost instantly  – that is, if you’re a mouse. Researchers at MIT have created an injection of alcohol-digesting enzymes in nanoscale “pills” that can quickly reduce the blood alcohol of mice.

Until now, scientists have struggled with using enzymes as medicine, since it’s difficult to create stable versions with a controlled size and arrangement. Enzymes are a type of protein that act as a catalyst to specific biological processes. In biological washing powder, for example, enzymes are used to catalyse (speed up) the breakdown of fats and proteins, letting us wash our clothes at lower temperatures and still sustain good results.

This effective new method of delivering enzymes might someday lead to medicines that could take humans from drunk to sober within a matter of minutes. Perhaps bars might offer these injections as a complimentary service to patrons. Whether it will cure a hangover remains to be seen.

For the full research report click here.

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Gathering Electricity from the Atmosphere

A majority of the energy we produce today comes from finite resources. As those resources are used up and we become increasingly concerned with the consequences of exhausting them, developing new, renewable sources of energy will be of extreme importance. At present, industries such as solar, wind and biofuel are already maturing; but those are just the tip of the iceberg and new technologies are beginning to evolve. One renewable source that could have the power to revolutionise the production of electricity is termed “atmospheric energy”.

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Floppy wha?
Boomeranged Metaphors

Design Looking Backwards

Why do phones make the noise of a camera shutter every time a picture is taken, the save icon remain a floppy disk, your email have an envelope and your iCalendar look like its made from a cow?

On the one hand, being the creatures of habit that we are, we find comfort in the familiar. But does that come at a cost and limit functionality, as well as cheapen our experiences?

In products the real material generally costs more and (arguably) is perceived as better. (Think solid aluminium Macbook Air vs Ultrabook) but in the digital we’re already aware that the form is generally 2D and not physical.

In a sense skeuomorphism makes the digital more approachable and understandable, the argument remains as to whether we now need our digital technology to imitate that which exists, or on the other hand do we expect our technology to surpass the physical?

Handwritings great, but I guess most people bought a phone to type, and reading “marker felt” on a 4″ screen in pt. 7 size font is painful at best. Bring on Helvetica. Or better yet Newvetica.

learn to love your food
Food Technology

Pick Pig – Name Pig – Love Pig – Eat Pig

In a time of all-horse hamburgers and E. coli outbreaks, food provenance has become a huge issue. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the lack of traceability within the food industry. Often, shoppers have to rely on packaging to tell the truth – which it often doesn’t. What if the origin of a food could be proven at the most basic level?

While some may struggle with harsh reality that an animal must die for us to eat meat, Yorkshire Meats has seen this as an opportunity to provide people in the UK with full traceability and accountability. Through their Adopt-a-Pig scheme consumers can track their pig’s life from start to finish, developing a relationship with the animal whilst also being aware of exactly how and where the pork they eat has been raised.

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