Glucoboy: blood sugar testing on Nintendo Gameboy

One example of an electronic product that is specifically desigined for safe living is the GlucoBoy.

The Glucoboy is claimed to be the first ever glucose level measuring machine to be designed specifically for children and teenagers. It gives a glucose level reading in 10 seconds using only a 0.6µL sample of blood. But the key draw to the meter is that it can be integrated with the Nintendo Game Boy Advance System to encourage kids to give blood samples. To access the video games, the Glucoboy must be inserted into the cartridge slot on a Nintendo Game Boy Advance System, or into the Game Boy cartridge slot on a Nintendo DS.

The design team behind the device has also set up GRiP (Guidance Reward Platform), which is a web community that diabetes sufferers can join to talk to each other, but also win points for each time they test their glucose levels. These points can be used to unlock games or converted into games currency, like arcade tokens.

Keeping a watchful eye and a keen ear on your feathered friends

C’elle: Stem Cells in Menstrual Blood

Menstrual Cup

A company called Cryo-cell International Inc. has launched its proprietary cryopreservation service, C’elle, which offers women the opportunity to bank stem cells from their menstrual blood. Using a menstrual cup to collect their blood is at the same time offering some vague belief that in the future you might be able to be saved by the possible stem cells collected from it. This company has already been under criticism from scienctists deeming the process to be all ‘hypothesis and hype’.

A caption taken from the C’elle promotional website:

“When it comes to making major life decisions, there is no time like the present. And when it comes to something as important as collecting potentially life-saving stem cells found naturally in menstrual blood, the ideal time is NOW. Thanks to C’elle’s patented technology, and easy-to-use collection kit, you have the reassurance and peace of mind you need, when it comes to collecting, isolating and preserving menstrual blood. Welcome to C’elle – where every month holds a miracle. ”

Read more about C’elle at BBC news and Bionews>

The Museum of Menstruation is unfortunately closed down but check out what the owner has to say about menstruation knickers and his menstrual cup ball gown.

Design – Introductory workshop – 4-5 October 2007

Sabine Junginger (LICA, Lancaster University)

Fiona Raby has shown that design and change are deeply linked. She has pointed to the strength of design as a way of challenging assumptions, using visualisation, prototyping, alternative scenarios, and thus pointing to new possibilities for product development. It also shows some weaknesses of design: it’s abstract, fun, but pointless? But design thinking allows problems to be addressed differently. It is not a decision-making tool or a business model, but a way of challenging assumptions.
Product development: the failure rate is 55-85% for all product design. There are many unsafe products. For instance, the Segway scooter moves people. George Bush fell off one. When Segway started, there was nothing there: no market. There is often a disconnect between the organisational development environment and everyday life. Exploitation is a more common mode of engagement than exploration. We need to understand better what design contributes to problem-solving and product development. This can be in many different contexts: tax offices need to afford access to their services. Products come in all shapes and sizes. If everything is designed, the question is what kind of design is at work.

Design – Introductory workshop – 4-5 Oct 2007 – Day 2

Design session

Cindy Weber introduced the design speakers from RCA, LICA &Imagination@Lancaster, Lancaster University, Department of Computing, and Department of Organisation, Work and Technology.

Fiona Raby on critical design
Fiona Raby
of Dunne + Raby discussed feral nature of critical design, and the accidental political nature of what it does. It works with the mismatch between official truths and what happens through the design.
Design is about problem solving: this is what designers do well. But what happens when the projects become so complex that there are no easy solutions? How does design respond to that? How does it deal with persistent dilemma? In contrast to social sciences, to question is not normal for design. Design sits at the centre of capitalist worlds.

The example of the alcohol salesman’s cane – it would siphon the alcohol in a way that preserves the norms of good manners and hospitality. A lot of the work reflects attempts to deal with imperfections.

Fiona and the alcohol salemans cane
At the Science Museum, a piece on the future of energy tried to do something with the impossibility of predicting the future of energy. The exhibit was aimed at children 7-14 years. Three scenarios resulted: 1. using meat products-based microbial fuel cells; it would have stylised blood-bags to fuel ipods; and manuals to help people relate to this. 2. Human waste becomes an important commodity: how would toilet design change? lunchbox that carries food to school and poo home. 3 Hydrogen is probably a solution: households might compete to produce energy, families are energy productive units, birthday contracts between parents and children to manufacture energy throughout their lives, for instance by wearing hydrolysers during play. Children had discussions with their parents about the objects.

‘Technology makes us smart savvy people in control of their lives.’
The work of J.G. Ballard paints a world filled with insecurity in the midst of technology. ‘Therapy culture’ means that we are not robust enough to deal with strong feelings. Fears of being kidnapped, abducted abound. So Raby and Dunne designed an object people live with, made of flooring materials. The object opens so that you can dive in and protect yourself from such feelings. Rather than being a victim in this space, it would give you pleasure. It was important that you could slide it open easily, even with one finger. The boxes were later used in a photo fashion street, a collaboration.

The Huggable Atomic Mushrooms was made before the London bombings. Different versions used different scales and materials.

huggable atomic mushroom robots

There are many robots in Japan. They are either becoming more human-like or becoming ubiquitous. They disappear into the environment. Is there a different way to imagine what a robot could be? There could be a purely autonomous robot, a red ring, that is only distracted by electromagnetic fields. It moves out of them. It runs your home, but does nothing for you except offer an electromagnetic free space. Another robot could have an identity that comes from itself. The possibilities of sensing are manifold, but who decides what is dangerous? This robot would be paranoid because it has to make decisions about what is dangerous or not. Another robot would be awkward to hold, you have to stare deeply into the eyes of a wooden thing. The issue here is eye-contact. Do robots need us less than we need them? The domestic robot needs to be moved constantly. Who is control here: it or us? Each robot is a seed to open questions. With all of them, the idea is to jump straight into making something.

After many years working with digital technologies as designers, the biological and DNA-based research seemed a long way from everyday life, and from designers do. Could designers engage with biotechnologies? There so much mis-communication around biotechnology. With design, it might be possible to intervene in everyday life rather than making big statements. What happens as some of this becomes products? R & D tried to create a platform that would allow people to engage. Bioland is an out-of-town shopping centre where all bio-needs could be purchased. It has a hospitals, clinics and shops.

The Zebra-fish pollution detector was too expensive to use and ended up as an exotic pet. Featherless chickens allowed cheaper production. Behind all this, the promise of the technology is pervasive. For instance, people giving tissue samples on the promise of future therapeutic interventions. There are ethical difficulties in certain projects: for instance, to get bone materials, only the wisdom teeth can easily supply it (see Ian Thomson’s work at Imperial College).

Mr Ventner offered at one time for £400k to predict what illness you might die of, as well as CD with your genome on it. Would future health really affect your life? The Evidence Dolls come with indelible pen and represent a change in the nature of dating and love relationships. They would be based on DNA analysis. Samples could be stored between the legs of the dolls Women were asked to re-evaluate their lovers in terms of genetic potential using the Evidence Dolls. Each doll represented an interview about a lover. Women said that they would get DNA analysis done on their lovers hair sample. Why not have the best nature can offer? Perhaps cloned in the form of a dog. The desire to put DNA into things and possess them is there.

evidence doll and penis dna drawers

Final point: people find out about things too late. Design can be a point that makes things visible thing earlier.