Keynote by Matthias Hollwich, Architect / co-founder HWKN

    Matthias Hollwich, co-founder of architecture firm HWKN and architecture community Architizer, talks about the news ways of designing a house – architects using crowd-sourcing.

    Matthias starts out passing around three photo boards around and invites the audience to draw and infuse their ideas on top of the existing architecture: New Aging, Rising Sea Levels and Fun Sustainability.

    Matthias Hollwich wants to make the most dangerous nursing home of the planet: A nursing home where residents would rather go home to their communities, creating social life.

    Matthias Hollwich is one of the key persons behind BOOM – a bold new community. BOOM is about making a vivacious and engaging retiring home covering a whole neighbourhood. BOOM was commissioned by a group of investors who originally wanted Architizer to design the community. Instead, Hollwich says, Architizer wanted to kickstart the project. Hollwich was very specific in choosing the architect firms for the task: They should be curious, willing to collaborate and most importantly, never have done anything related to aging. Ten different architecture companies were handpicked for the task.

    Architecture is usually a very one-sided process where one architecture company is responsible for the whole product: It is expensive and the company is sitting in an ivory tower, hard to approach in the first place. Also, the most prestigious projects tend to be used only once, making architecture a very costly business model. In fact, only 5 pct. of homes in the US are designed by architects.

    The BOOM project makes architecture a process with no hierarchy, where ideas are being generated within the people. Every step of the process is visible for the public, allowing them to give the architects input. This gives the residents first hand insight and a feeling of ownership.

    So instead of making architecture a completely crowdsourced task like Architizer tried – no doubt an impossible feat – concepts like BOOM allows the architects to be in the driving seat, while they tap into the vast of crowd-generated knowledge.


    Keynote by Ted Howes, Fmr IDEO Global Lead, Energy Domain

    On a daily occurrence Ted Howes leads IDEO’s Energy Domain. At this year’s NEXT conference Howes enters the stage to talk about sustainability.

    He covers the theme Beautiful Mistakes with different examples from his long career. Howes points at the energy company PG&E as an example of a beautiful mistake.

    Wireless technology blinded PG&E
    PG&E saw an opportunity in embedding wireless technology to interact with their electric meters. Amazed by the new technological prospects, PG&E started replacing all of their older technologies with the new wireless ones. Soon their customers became concerned – were these new wireless connections actual harmful to people’s health?

    Criticism was pouring over PG&E. Angry customers protested against the wireless technologies, but feeling overheard and forced to accept the replacement.

    Listen to your customers
    As a result, PG&E had to switch back to the old technology once again to satisfy their customers – a really expensive and troublesome learning. PG&E did however learn how much listening to customers is worth. Ted Howes points at the importance of letting users lead and play an active role in embedding new products – otherwise it is difficult, if not infeasible, to convince customers to embrace new technology in their everyday life.  Even though PG&E’s attempt to embed wireless technology turned out a mistake, the energy company has learned a lesson.


    Keynote by Alfons Cornella, Infonomia

    First speaker of the day is Alfons Cornella. He is the founder and president of Infonomia. He emphasizes that everything in the future will be based on just two letters: ‘Co’.

    Old disciplines like sports, music, and science have always been based on collaborations. This tendency is just rising – for example, the CERN-project in Switzerland is a huge collaboration between uncountable scientists all over the world. In scientific articles, the names of authors take up fifteen pages alone.

    Co-branding, co-products, and co-markets are also becoming more popular for companies. The collaborations allow the company to combine their specialities and expand their knowledge banks. Alfons Cornella thinks coping with a more complex world requires more collaboration.

    Infonomia founded co-society in order to accommodate to this market. co-society is a network of companies that collaborate in order to strengthen their own company.

    However, co-society did run into some problems: Not surprisingly, humans and companies, are selfish. In order to overcome this selfishness and make the collaboration a reality, co-society put an emphasis on trust, tools, and techniques. The tools include a shared platform for the companies. An example – a furniture company is connected to a shoes company. Two companies who wouldn’t normally have anything in common. However, by comparing the customer base of both companies, the companies realised that they have a lively and engaged young customer base, making this a common ground for the companies.

    In short, the most important task of co-society is to find common grounds for the companies. Collaborating companies will entail more positive synergy between the companies.

    The only difference between a mistake and a success is one thing: Time. A mistake now might be a success in the future – a beautiful mistake!


    iMobot is a modular robot you can reconfigure

    iMobot is a modular robot that twists and turns and crawls through the landscape.

    It is like the LEGO of robots: One module of iMobot works fine by itself, but it is when you put them together, real awesomeness ensues.

    A single module looks deceptively simple and crude, but iMobot actually has four degrees of freedom and can roll through the various terrains with ease. This makes it suitable for rescue missions where a camera can be hooked up to the end of a iMobot snake. The iMobot can then snake its way through debris and spaces inaccesible to humans.

    Currently, iMobot is used in robotics research. The modular concept allows researchers to add iMobot to their setups easily, without using time on research that have already been done.

    iMobot started at UC Davis when mechanical engineering student Graham Ryland was finishing his degree. He then founded the company Barobo with professor Harry H. Cheng where iMobot is currently being developed.


    Play piano with no physical contact between instrument and your fingers

    You’ve probably played air guitar to your favorite tune. If you are more cultivated, you’re maybe more into air violins. Or air harps. Or air pianos. Now you can do just that: Play an airpiano.

    Airpiano has 8 infrared sensors that acts as keys. They measure the distance from the keyboard to your hand. Each sensor has three different tones depending on how high you raise your hand, totaling 24 different notes. You simply play the Airpiano by waving your hand over the keyboard – no physical contact is needed.

    A New Instrument – how it works


    The next generation of charity collectors? This cute robot might replace human collectors

    Maybe you have been mildly annoyed by charity collectors who have confronted you on the street to collect money for their cause. Enter DON-8r. This small robot is so cute you want to hug it. DON-8r is maybe the next generation of charity collectors: It is not intruding your personal space or being in your face. Rather, Don-8R seems to gather the crowds.

    DON-8r runs on donations: By plopping a coin down its back slit, it thanks you and does a little dance by driving around. After 30 seconds, it stops.

    However, the real question is: How does DON-8r measure up against a human charity collector?

    The charity organization Folkekirkens Nødhjælp decided to put it to a test: DON-8r and a human charity worker battled in the streets of Aarhus. Each got 6 minutes to collect as much money as possible for the famine-stricken Horn of Africa.

    The result: While the human collector managed to raise 295 kr and a 25 øre-stamp, DON-8r got a respectable 185 kr. Also, the human collector was “lucky” to cash in a 100 kr-note from somebody he knew.

    DON-8r is designed by product designer Tim Pryde at University of Dundee as his final project. You can come see the cute robot at the NEXT2011 and donate to Folkekirkens Nødhjælp.


    Build your own stuff at Open Space Aarhus

    Open Space Aarhus is a hackerspace where you can build whatever you want, basically. The concept started in USA and has now migrated to the quaint little town of Aarhus. Open Space Aarhus provides the space and tools and you provide the ideas, technical skill and creativity.

    At NEXT 2011, Open Space Aarhus is showcasing some of the things built in the hackerspace: The robot Twitchy copies your arm movements from a Kinect and translate them to a robot arm. However, the translation is not completely smooth – the robot arm twitches in a Parkinson’s disease-like fashion. The Execution Decision Maker is helping you deal with those difficult decisions by randomly picking the YES or NO option displayed in LED. A simple Ding and Dong touchscreen allows you to press DIIING and DOOONG repeatedly and again and again and again.

    All the showcases have been designed and constructed by the members of Open Space Aarhus. Everybody can join the hackerspace – member fee is 150 DKK/month, which gets you free access to their facilities (with an access point of their own design) and tools. As a free member, you are allowed access, but don’t have your own key.

    At NEXT2011, you can make your own bristle bot (15 kr): At tiny robot made out of a bristle with a small vibrator and battery on top, allowing it to wringle around and move. Se the Bristlebot in action below.


    Design your own furniture with the open-source program SketchChair

    It is always kind of depressing to walk into your friends’ living rooms only to discover the same IKEA ARILD sofa flanked by the same IKEA LACK sofa table standing on the same BASNÄS rug. It would be awesome, if you could design your own furniture. And now you can: SketchChair is an open-source project that allows you to design and build your own furniture.

    SketchChair is a simpel designed sketching program to build your own furniture. If you dont’s feel creative, the designs are also open-source. You just need to find a manufacturer that will cut out the pieces for you. The pieces are designed to be easily assembled by hand, with no glue required.

    SketchChair is backed by Kickstarter supporters. It started as a collaboration between the industrial designer Greg Saul and the Japanese JST Erato Igarashi Design UI Project. It is now being developed further by Greg Saul.

    While it’s not possible to manufacture a working wood model at the NEXT2011 Exhibition, you can come and design your own furniture and get it printed in paper.


    Ever wanted to mentally assemble the content of a LEGO box based on the front cover? LEGO’s Digital Box lets you do just that.

    Have you ever tried to stand with a Lego box in one hans and rustle it, in hopes of mentally read off a 3D model of the content of the box? Sometimes flat 2D pictures on the front cover just doesn’t cut it. LEGO Digital Systems and the augmented reality provider metaio has made it easier for you: They’ve made a video system that allows you to preview the content of a LEGO box.

    The video system consists of a screen connected to a camera. When a LEGO box is put into the camera’s view, the software recognizes the box and then displays a 3D model of the box’s contents. Some of the parts are even animated and when you rotate the physical box, the 3D model is also rotated. Now you can see every little detail of the box without even opening it.

    The augmented reality application, called Digital Box, is featured in some North American Lego stores. See how Digital Box works in the video.


    FORA.tv is one of the brightest shining comets of the web world and, for sure, one of the leading webbased TV-formats of the future. Catch the talks from NEXT 2010 here (for free)

    TIME Magazine has highlighted the site to be in the top-50 of all internet sites. Feeding Wall Street Journal, CNNMoney, Hulu, and even The White House, FORA.tv reach out far.

    At NEXT 2011 FORA wil be sending in their team to cover the event and feeding live casts to the rest of the world. As a taste on what to expect, FORA now offers a handful of the best talks of NEXT 2010 – for free. Watch the founder of Flickr ect. Esther Dyson on health solutions of the future, marketing guerilla Will Sansom with a fountain of incredible examples or ”the man Obama ought to listen to” (quote TIME), Jamias Cascioog and his plans for saving the world.

    We’ll keep you posted with a link to this year’s live cast from NEXT at FORA.tv as soon as possible (we’re guessing monday…)