Thursday, January 7, 2016


EM'S list, based on TIME MAGAZINE'S "25 BEST INVENTIONS OF 2015"

UNDERGROUND PARK Lowline Lab guys, Barash & Ramsey, use “remote skylight” system to capture sunlight from surrounding rooftops; built prototype park; raising $70 million, to build more parks.

EARBUGS /$249 Designed to amplify or decrease all noises at once. Syncs with smart
phone app; users pick frequencies to filter. In Subway you'll have normal conversation as trains screech; on plane you can tune out crying babies. “It’s augmented audio reality,” says Doppler Labs CEO, Noah Kraft.

MICROSOFT HALOGENS; developer edition available.
Oculus Rift creates escapes, HALOGENS augments reality, overlaying holograms & data onto existing surroundings; is  currently used by NASA to mimic Mars’ terrain in labs; medical students use it to dissect virtual bodies.

JUNO $120,000
In three hours (not full day as it now takes) manufacturer Fluidigm’s microchip amplifies samples 1,000 times smaller than a drop of water. It's already being use at academic and research labs.

Designed by Michael Maltzan for non-profit Skid Row Housing; single building--102 prefabricated studios, staggered into four terraced stories--ground floor medical clinic, garden, classrooms--rooftop outdoor running track. County health services will handpick homeless residents, create a mini village in Los Angeles.

SAFETY TRUCK, built by Argentine Samsung and Leo Burnett, has a system that relays video footage from the front of a truck to four screens on its back, giving drivers a clear view of what’s ahead.

BABY MONITOR $299 Fitbit-like device tracks infant’s heart rate, body temperature, position; notifies parents, via mobile app.

Pencil writes at any angle; can get darker or be erased, can draw, paint or write on a screen; create art, animations, blueprints, iPad Pro's faster than 80% of laptops.

OCEAN CLEANUP  $15 billion,  start in 2020
Developed by Boyan Slat, to clean up plastic trash in the Pacific Ocean (pile is bigger than Texas); Cleanup Project will build 62-mile-long floating boom that uses natural currents to trap trash that could reduce the trash by 42%.

TZOA Environment Tracker / $139
Stationary device, developed by Kevin Hart; sensors evaluate atmosphere in any area, measures  temperature, particulate matter (dust, pollen, mold, car exhaust) and UV exposure; uploads that data to Cloud, so others can conduct air-quality research; wearable versions available in May.

Other Best Inventions from Time Magazine's list
"Hoverboard" Scooter / $350 to $1700.
Eko Smart Stethoscope $199 shares with doctor.
Banza Chickpea Pasta/ $4 box.
Nima / $199, sensor sniffs out allergens in foods like Gluten.
Drone Port for drones used by companies like Amazon.
Thinx panties/ $24, for menstruating women.
Casper Mattress /$500,  in a box, returnable.
Nike Flyease Sneaker, $230, ties with one hand.
Pantelligent / $199, teaches user to cook.
Drinkable Book,each page can filter water.
Hackaball / $85, teaches user to program.
Google Cardboard, virtual helmet you can make.
Artiphon Instrument/ $399, play many instruments.
Tesla Model X /  $130,000, 250 miles per charge, 7 passengers.
CogniToys Dino/ $120 talks back to kids.

Monday, January 4, 2016


I'm looking out my window. Tomorrow will be the first Monday of the first work week of 2016.

Yesterday, in the buildings across the street, like last year and the year before, I could see decorated Christmas trees on quite a few different floors -- bigger trees than ever before -- all appeared to have been expensively, creatively, decorated.

There's already a tree lying at the curb, in the street below.

Soon, all the trees will be in the street, along with steel dumpsters that are piled high with red, green, gold, and silver things -- ribbons, bows, labels, cards, protective tissue, wrapping paper -- all the pretty  things we picked out carefully, purchased, debated over how to handle, then wrapped, tied, taped, and fussed with.

Ah Christmas trees ... After the holiday you can keep the tree up for a week or so and pretend not to notice the branches becoming brown and pine needles beginning to cover the floor, until you notice pine needles in other parts of the house.

Nobody wants pine needles on the kitchen floor, or in the bathroom.

So we'll move our tree into the hall. Like our neighbors in the tall buildings across the street, who elevator their trees down -- our tree and theirs will be carried to the street, and laid to rest ignobly on their sides at the curb.

Sometimes, the trees lie there and brown turns to gray until the garbage guys arrive, and the remnants of what once was your marvelous -- oh, this is IT tree! -- are disposed of.

Ours was a lovely tree -- a little crooked -- but it grew somewhere from a sprout to be five feet tall, to be just right -- beautiful despite a slightly crooked spine  -- exactly right for us to choose it, buy it, and make it into ours.

Well, it'll be Ground Hog Day, then Valentine's Day, first day of spring, 4th of July, Halloween, and in a minute it'll be Happy New Year two zero one seven!

At least I gave a holiday present to the mail lady who replaced our postman who suddenly disappeared. She never says hello, just buzzes when she has something that won't fit in our box. Last week, when she buzzed, I buzzed back and said, "Hey, I'm Emily -- what's your name?" I got her to spell it out and left an envelope in the mailbox with Faith's name on it -- just a twenty dollar bill.  Xmas eve day, when she buzzed she said, "Merry Christmas Emily." 

Things have changed since last year. They're building another ten story building in the parking lot across the street, but hey, even my noisy, bustling business street turns into a small town neighborhood, if you know the UPS guy, garbage man, the parking lot guy's and the mail lady's first and last names.