It's been a little while, whilst the world had a small spin on it's axis, but here we go... welcome to Issue 7 of Sparks & Kindling!
As ever, we've tried to fill it with some of the more thought-provoking, interesting or just plain entertaining articles and thinking we’ve come across in the world of innovation over the last couple of months. So hopefully something both stimulating and maybe even useful too, let us know how we're doing.
We all know it takes real skill to develop a presentation that is anything other than time your audience will never get back. Hans Rosling, IOHO, did more than anyone to take the most complex of information and present it in a way which not only created understanding but also inspired. Sadly he died last week, so as our small tribute we repost one of the talks we come back to for encouragement when world issues feel a bit intractable and we lose perspective of the enormous positive changes that are happening. Do check out his other speeches and the work of Gapminder for a heartening view of how we can all continue to make the world a better place.
Like it or not artificial intelligence or at least the first tentative steps towards it are here to stay. And although Alexa is not going to pass the Turing test any time soon we are hoping it will manage to get our takeaway order right. Designers used to know what the ‘rules’ were when the most an object could do was to be picked up and answered or ping when it was finished. So how should design change when the objects know more about us than we do? Yves Béhar shares his manifesto for this brave new world, and we love his combination of practicality as well as his dismissal of some of the more clichéd or anthropomorphic elements.
We all worry that the corollary of letting our kids be independent is to put them in more danger. Of course Hans Rosling would no doubt have told us that our children have never been safer, but it sometimes doesn't feel like that. The city of Oslo thinks it might have the answer: recruit the kids themselves to help police their safety. By moving beyond the go-to solution of a public information campaign, and instead giving the children a voice to influence their own little bit of urban planning, getting to school has never been safer or greener. And there's never been a better reason for them to have their own smartphone either.
We believe nothing's better than getting your sleeves rolled up and building some prototypes to see what might work and how you can make it work better. Just over a year ago we ran the kick-off for the BBC and The Wellcome Trust to develop a year of science focused programmes and activities, aimed at primary age kids, their families and friends, to get them more involved and excited in science and technology. Terrific Scientific is the result (and fun for curious minds of all ages) and this half-terms project is here - take a look and see if you can build a truly meteoric rocket to the stars.