Bull Session

The Next Wave of Innovation

June 16, 2016          

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the next wave of innovation in technology and new forms of design that will come along with it. Emerging technology needs design —from the IoT to AI, virtual reality to robotics, nanotechnology to 3D printing, genomics to synthetic biology. We talk about where we've been, and where we're going next.

Resources
LiveWorx
Gigaom Change
Journal of Design and Science

Bull Session

Urban Agriculture

June 9, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we chat about urban agriculture and its importance to the cities of the future. We’re quickly approaching 8 billion people on the planet. More than half of them live in cities, and this number will continue to grow. The agriculture industry is resource intensive, especially when it comes to water and energy usage. Around the world, as they plan for the cities of the future, people are looking at urban agriculture.

Urban agriculture has many benefits.Because food is grown locally, near where we live, it reduces the cost and environmental impact of long supply chains. Locally grown also means we always get fresh produce.

Cities benefit from the increased greenery of urban agriculture which, importantly, reduces the "heat island" effect, caused by impermeable city surfaces are and dry which make urban regions warmer than nearby rural areas. Additionally, urban farming can bring healthy food as well as jobs to underserved urban areas.

In this episode we discuss the current state of urban agriculture and its future, including vertical farms and products like the Grove Ecosystem.

Resources:
Why Chicago is Becoming the Country's Urban Farming Capital
Grove Labs

Bull Session

Writing Human Code

June 2, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the plan to create a complete artificial human genome. A few weeks ago, scientists, entrepreneurs, and government officials met in a closed door meeting at Harvard University at an event intended to create interest and momentum around the follow-up to the Human Genome Project — a public / private collaboration to synthesize a human genome.

Over the past decade, the technology for encoding genes has improved at a fantastic rate. Since the early 2000s, the cost has dropped from four dollars to just three cents per base pair. However, while big pharma and big agriculture currently synthesize gene sequences for products including biologic drugs and GMO plants, these strands of genetic material are usually only a few thousand letters in length. Contrast that with the 6 billion letters needed for the human genome, and we can begin to see the ambition of this new proposed endeavor. In this episode, we explore some of the arguments in favor of and against writing human code.

Resources:
Ethical Questions Loom Over Efforts to Make a Human Genome from Scratch

Bull Session

Google I/O 2016

May 25, 2016          

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the myriad products launched at Google I/O 2016.

To begin with, this summer the latest and greatest version of Android, the master platform for much of the Google software ecosystem, will make its debut. No longer just a mobile device OS, Android supports wearables (Android Wear 2.0), virtual reality (Daydream), and even automobile interfaces. In addition to the many flavors of Android, Google also showcased Allo, its AI-powered messaging app; Duo, its FaceTime competitor; as well as Google Home, its voice-activated product for the smart home.

Bull Session

The War for The Smart Home

May 19, 2016          

Episode Summary

On this episode of The Digital Life, we discuss the war for the smart home. When it comes to the ongoing battle for consumer IoT dominance, there are many big players involved like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon; connectivity providers including AT&T and Verizon; and innumerable device manufacturers such as Withings, D-Link, and a host of others.

On the consumer side Amazon has some unexpected market leadership with its Echo product and rivals are beginning to take notice. For instance, Google recently open sourced its networking protocol for IoT devices, OpenThread — which is used by Nest — in the hopes that other companies will get on board.

Companies are approaching the smart home from multiple vantage points — HVAC, lighting, television (entertainment) — but Amazon seems to have the upper hand so far with Echo and its voice UI, Alexa, as the interface for the IoT goes beyond the screen.

Resources
Google’s Nest Open Sources OpenThread to Snag More IoT partners, Take on Amazon

Cover photo: "Miracle Kitchen" series by Bob Lerner for Look Magazine