Technology of 2008: What TreeHuggers Liked Best
It's the time for a year-end wrap-up of the techy happenings of 2008, so we decided to do a re-cap of what you liked best in the various areas. So sit back and put your scroll finger to work while we go through the tech we loved and loved to hate during 2008.
The best place to start when reviewing the year is what posts were not only popular, but also helpful. There were a couple stand-outs in this category. First, our round-up of video fix-it tips for making sure that your gadgets last pretty much forever. You all seemed to enjoy the handy helpfulness of the video selection, and we hope the post also inspired you to hit YouTube and other resources for help when your devices break, before heading off to a big box store to replace them.
The other popular post for help of the techy sort was our compilation of cool green iPhone apps. Covering everything from monitoring your home's energy use, to skillful shopping, to getting around town with a light carbon footprint, the apps rounded up here are very cool examples of when tech can make us greener.
A similar post that didn't get the attention was on Android apps, but we're pretty sure that's because nearly no one actually has a phone running Android right now. Maybe it'll make the round-up next year.
Daily Life Tech:
A lot happened this year to improve the technology and gadgets we use on a daily basis. One of these was in the area of computers. PC manufacturers really picked up the pace on greening up their products, and we had fun keeping up with the latest additions to EPEAT and doing our own comparisons of greener computer gear. We could go on and on when it comes to computers, so we'll keep it short and just say this: If 2008 is any indication, 2009 is going to be fun!
What's the most common thing you do with a computer? Probably browse the Internet. So were glad to see a lot happen in that sector, from Mozilla going "organic" to data centers trying to out-do each other on efficiency.
But of course, computer-ish things aren't the only technology we use in daily life. We saw plenty of other improvements, all the way down to our reusable water bottles. Yes, 2008 has been a good year for new and improved.
We also saw ways to ditch technology all together and return to a simpler life. You all seemed to really like seeing us discuss when technology is overrated, and highlighting the underrated untechy solutions, including everything from ebooks versus libraries, to recycling versus precycling.
Almost Daily Life Tech:
So, what hit the radars this year that we need to keep our eyes on? First off, we need to pay close attention to intelligent dashboards that will help us run our homes effifiencly, monitor our energy consumption, and suggest ways to change our bad habits. This goes not only for homes, but also for businesses. Latching onto this up-and-coming technology is key to lowering our emissions and reliance on fossil fuels.
Another fun post about tech that is almost ready to be part of daily life is solar laptop chargers. While there are a lot of devices out there, several of which were good enough to make it into our list of recommended chargers, there's still the issue of price. But portable solar laptop chargers will be something to pay attention to next year.
Tech of the (not so distant) Future:
Well, we couldn't have even dreamed up stuff this good (well, maybe we could have, but it's great we didn't have to). Here are some of the ideas we covered this year that we hope to see realized in the future. Your favorite futuristic gadgets include:
Hong Kong inventor Keikko Lee has designed the magazine cover-thin light that uses 100% solar power to run, and could significantly cut down on raw materials for lighting production. The concept is that the sticker would have electroluminescent material on one side, and solar panels on the other. It would attach to a window for day-time charging, and could stick most anywhere at all for lighting during the evenings.
The Bra-Powered iPod Charger:
Thank you to Adrienne So for asking the question: can we harness breast energy and put it to better use? TreeHugger and Instructables teamed up to make a working chest charger which relies only on the rise and fall of the chest during breathing. So the question seems viable. Adrienne discovers in her research that a size D-cup breast in a low support bra can move up to 35 cm (!!!!!) during exercise. Now, we all know that none of us with D-cups are wearing "low support bras" during exercise. But there's a lotta bouncing going on even with the best, most expensive sport bra money can buy. So the subject has potential.
And, the Pizza-Oven-Nailpolish-Inkjet-Printer Solar Panels:
Nicole Kuepper, a 23 years old PhD student and lecturer in the school of photovoltaic and renewable energy engineering at the University of NSW, might have just found a way to make the world a better place. The processes she developed for the iJET solar cell don't require the very expensive clean rooms and high-temperature ovens of traditional solar panel manufacturing plants, but rather pizza ovens, nail polish and inkjet printers, making them accessible to developing countries.
While this next one didn't land at the top of the billboards, it still must be included as something to watch out for. Fuel cells to run our gadgets. Fuel cells are on their way, and it's only a matter of time before we start seeing more gadgets that run off of fuel cells than AA batteries.