Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Toilet 2.0: Can’t we reinvent the commode?

In the 21st century, why can’t we reinvent the commode? If the proverbial hypothetical alien arrived on this planet, would they question why we pump our waste halfway around the city or municipality?  Is it possible to make toilets that not only collect waste but process it? I’m not a civil engineer or an industrial designer, so I have no idea. But as water and resources become more precious, particularly in the parched West, it seems like we could go with the flow a little less. 

This may all be just an uninformed pipe dream, but wouldn’t a little treatment at the source go a long way (well, actually the shortest way)? Could our daily or weekly waste be reduced into something recyclable?  In-Loo-Erator anyone?


Data Collecting for Life (Crowdsourcing for Health)

Can we use mobile devices to collect statistical data about our everyday lives for the benefit of science? As I play around with my iPod Touch, it occurred to me that these mobile devices could be a convenient tool for collecting massive amounts of data about how we live. It may be wonder whether the NIH or NSF should create an application (doesn’t have to be iPhone specific, but this represents a convenient delivery model) that allows Americans (or people globally) to track a few key indicators of health. I realize apps exists to help individuals get in shape that capture similar information (The Carrot, among others come to mind) and they may pool this information, but they primarily focus on the individual. But I’m thinking of a simple-to-use, well-designed app that aggregates on the national level. 

Would such an app be useful to the medical or scienitific communities?