Great puns and futuristic toilets: the Bill Gates edition

Our foundation has invested a lot of money to develop a pipeline of next-generation sanitation solutions

Tech and the City Calendar | Tech and the City

Choose your own career hacks, Melbourne.

Tech, data, culture, workshops.

Metaverse fashionista. C’est Moi?

This week I became the lucky recipient of a set of Metaverse Makeover nails.

What are Metaverse Makeover nails you ask?

Good question.

Before we get to that though, may I take a moment to dwell on the joy of hearing one’s name called out in a raffle draw?

It’s so unexpected that I would win something in a game of chance, that I am thrilled, and squealing like a child, even though there is a high probability that I will not be using my metaverse nails anytime soon, for reasons I can explain.

To put it simply, they’re fake nails. But, there’s more to them than that. Their point of difference, as explained by their creator, Thea Baumann, an Australian based in China, is a little more complicated.

They are “collectible fashion accessories powered by a 3D app: triggering hologram stickers you can wear, play, snap, and share.”

More significantly, they presage a future in which scanning people, animals, objects with a device will reveal something hidden about them, a bit like Pokemon Go, the next generation.

Imagine a world in which you can portray yourself the way you want others to see you, without limits. Except perhaps for screen size and processing power.

In the future 3D interactive holographics will augment your appearance whenever your wearables interface with the right app. All kinds of animations and effects will attach to you that you can show off and share them with others: starting with your wardrobe and make up:  clothing, face and hair, but it could be a body part, a gender or species change; a virtual designer outfit; a character or spider webs an invisible lassoo, or a combination of all of the above.

Thar be dragons, furries, plushies and pony boys and girls. Also a lot of Cosplay.

Think of it as Second Life branching out beyond the confines of its universes, islands and worlds and into your smart phone. Anything that can only be seen in the realm between the online and meat world, or whatever terms you’re personally inclined to call the two locations, when they are not united in the metaverse.

A bit like this BBC TV show is doing with Italian cities.

The interesting thing that Thea has pulled off is to make something holographic dynamically adhere to a small curved surface, that is, a finger nail. In doing the hard yards first, the rest should be a walk in the park. Although it is still a very new and very digital art driven project at the moment.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a high probability that I will not be using my metaverse nails anytime soon, but that’s not their fault at all.

True. In real life the nails are heavy and plastic looking. The ones I’ve selected are neon pink and leopard printed (as opposed to the unicorns featured in the video, which were also an option) and it’s fair to say that they’re not really consistent with the environments I tend to work in, now that I don’t work in the arts. Then there is the fact that I am nearer to fifty than forty which is frankly, disgraceful.

But the bigger reason is that I am a confirmed nail fail.

The only reason I’ve never used fake nails, (and am unlikely to use these ones, aside from enjoying them being in pristine condition), is because I’m told that they leave your real nails in terrible condition. And believe me when I tell you that the last thing my existing nails need is to be even worse off than they are.  I stopped biting them when I finished high school and despite another half a lifetime passing by, they remain steadfastly horrible, no matter how much attention and professional care is lavished on them. They are weak, prone to breaking and always uneven. They have a weird shape.

I am impressed by the tech and interested to see who turns out to be the market for pieces and I wonder what the coding and programming skills are that are necessary to design augmented fashion products.

I would love to know and try it out.

Experimenta Social and the advent of medical jewellery.

I’m several weeks into living as a digital nomad in my home town. As can be seen from the calendar, I’m successfully hacking the city, numerous times a day.

(For those of you who haven’t kept up, I spent 2017 and the first half of this year, traveling the world with some self-styled ‘digital nomads,’ researching the future of work, ‘learning by doing,’ and seeing All of the Things.)

Now that I’m home, the project continues.

On Wednesday I attended Experimenta Social’s wearable technologies event, where the amazing Dr Leah Heiss, talked about her current projects, the commercialisation pipeline and how she arrived at her career and PhD in designing what you might call ‘medical jewellery’.

Below is an image of a prototype jewell for delivering insulin.


Experimenta have been one of my favourite sources of ideas, possibilities, artefacts and images of the future since I was a university student. This year, they have just one more social in the calendar. For those of you microhacking (the eat, drink and learn afterwork crew and the nomads of Melbourne), this one is a top spot.

I first met Leah at an event called Human 2.0

It’s people like Leah who’ve made me realise that the aspirations I had to becoming a fashion designer when I was a teenager, that were crushed out of me as impossible, by people who had the best of intentions, haven’t ever really gone away in any meaningful sense.

They’ve been sublimated into my career as a public sector problem solver and someone who researches, consults on, designs and implements change and business improvement.

Imagine a world in which your heart rate monitor wouldn’t look out of place at fashion week, and in which your hearing aids can be colour-coordinated to your outfit, in which medical devices are attractive and beautiful objects and not flesh-coloured, ugly looking lumps and bumps.

Leah’s Facett hearing aid design, which is being sold by Blamey Saunders Hears, and is inspired by the geological collection housed at the State Museum, is so much more than that.

One of the greatest health challenges treating practitioners face is patient compliance.

The teenager who won’t take their medication because it’s uncool. The elderly ambulant who doesn’t always wear their falls button when they get up at night because it’s cumbersome to put on. The self consciousness that comes from having a heart rate monitor strapped to you, when you’re at work and going about your ‘normal’ day.

Jewellery functions as an outward expression of the self. It says things about your taste and who you are, that can be read by people from a distance. It signals something more than the sum of its parts. To be great, a piece of jewellery should touch the heart of the wearer, and say something to the wider world that needs no words to be read and understood. It can be quite profound (‘I am married’ for example.)

Leah is aiming to turn functional devices into attractive items that people want to wear and that other people seeing them will admire as beautiful creations.

Design is more than just aesthetics. It’s a way of looking at the world that strives for simplicity and efficiency, improved and better functionality, the way materials and shape and form contribute to or detract from an end result.

If you’ve ever watched an elderly relative change the battery in their hearing aid, or been asked to change one, imagine a world in which you’ve waited several days in deafness, because taking a new battery out of a blister pack is just too fiddly for you to manage at your age.

A ninety year old has less than perfect hand/ eye coordination. The default design of hearing aids, the design of battery blister packs and the trouble that even sighted people have in changing them over – because it is fiddly and easily muckable: (tell me I’m the only one who’s put the the old and the new battery down side by side and not know which one is which) and the picture of the problems that Leah is aiming to solve becomes clear.

Leah’s hearing aid design incorporates magnetised rechargeable batteries that snap in and out and form the entire lower half of the hearing aid.

The batteries dock in a kidney shaped box reminiscent of the hearing aid’s shape. This acts as a visual reminder to anyone looking at it what the box is for and what it does, which is helpful. You only need to look at it to know that it belongs with the hearing aid.

Because they’re magnetised is becomes more difficult to accidentally drop one and it becomes easier to pick it back up again.

This is brilliant engineering that resolves a real world problem.

Love it!

Could a Scientist Solve your Problem? If you need a synchrotron, this could be the place for you.

If you have  a problem that only a person in a lab coat can solve, then think about taking a hike out to Mulgrave on 31 October.

This is one of the furthest flung events we’ve ever featured, and it you’re on public transport I’m afraid you’re in it for the long haul, (and a bit of a hike on top of that). But.

South East Melbourne Innovation Partnership (SEMIP) is proud to bring you the “Can a Scientist Solve your Problem?” pitch night on 31st October 6pm at the Eastern Innovation Business Centre.

The winner will receive $10,000 worth of Beam time at the Australian Synchrotron in Clayton with PR delivered by Scientell for the project.

What is a synchrotron?

Ansto’s Australian Synchrotron is a source of powerful x-rays and infrared radiation that can be used for a wide range of scientific and technical purposes.

Who needs a synchrotron?

You could be forgiven for thinking Dr Evil / Frank Thring and villains but, no. Some of the industries that currently benefit from the Synchrotron:

  • Advanced materials: ceramics, polymers, biomaterials, semiconductors, magnetic, superconducting and battery materials, opto-electronics
  • Biomedical: new diagnostics, bio-mimetic materials (artificial skin or organs), imaging and therapeutic techniques
  • Defence industries: new materials, sensors, heavy metal analysis, coatings
  • Environmental technologies and services: analysis of soils, fresh and salt water, air and atmospheric samples, pollutants, toxins and contaminants, environmental remediation
  • Food technology: analysis of food ingredients and packaging materials, product and process development
  • Manufacturing: metal alloys, catalysts, engineered components, stress analysis, fibres and textiles, adhesives, polymers and plastics, surfaces, interfaces and coatings