Smart homes and smart cities on MNN

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We're at the start of a historical transformation in our homes and cities, as everything and everybody gets connected. Lloyd Alter has been looking at this on the Mother Nature Network; here are some recent posts that may interest TreeHuggers.

Google launches Sidewalk Labs to develop technology for smart cities

Sidewalk labs/Screen capture

We are entering an age described by architect and thinker Robert Ouellette as “the great urban symbiosis, a phenomenon as powerful an agent for societal change as the computer age or the industrial age before it.”

So it should be no surprise that Google wants to be part of that urban nervous network. It has launched a new company, Sidewalk Labs. Larry Page writes that “Sidewalk will focus on improving city life for everyone by developing and incubating urban technologies to address issues like cost of living, efficient transportation and energy usage.”

Read more in MNN

Meet June, the toaster oven that thinks it's a computer

June/Promo image

A look at a $1500 toaster oven that uses that camera to figure out what you have put in it, the scale to figure out how much, the probe to monitor the temperature inside the food and the computer to manage it all and talk to your phone. I drag TreeHugger emeritus Kelly Rossiter into it.

Who would need such a thing? I happen to be married to a woman who wrote about cooking for TreeHugger and MNN and has shelves of cookbooks to refer to. I can hear her eyes rolling. But a lot of people do not have such skills, and don’t want to just order in. Cooking can be intimidating and hard, and anything that makes it easier and keeps you from burning your toast is worth thinking about.

Read more on MNN.

Google Photos is a terrific tool, but the price of free might be too high

Google separates my dog from my favorite airplanes/Screen capture
In which I try out the new Google Photos and worry about why they are doing it and what they will do with all the photos.

Living in Apple’s closed ecosystem is sometimes frustrating and can get expensive, from the price of entry for the hardware to the pay-as-you-go services like iCloud. However the Google/Facebook model is beginning to feel decidedly creepy. Perhaps the price of free is just getting too high.

Read more in MNN

Reality check for 3-D printing as MakerBot closes stores

© Makerbot

We have been saying this for years on TreeHugger: there is more to digital fabrication than just 3D printers, and there is more to design and craft than just the tool.

It appears that 3-D printing has gone through a classic Gartner hype cycle, from the peak of inflated expectations to where we are probably today, in the "trough of disillusionment." In fact, 3-D printing is alive and well and being used to make everything from bikes to jet engines; it's the retail market for the home printer that's in trouble, and I think there are a couple of reasons why.

Read more in MNN

Industrial robot slices and dices like a samurai

A look at two different robots; one is a Bushido master and the other BRETT, is actually designed to do basic, tedious tasks and learn on the job.

MOTOMAN is scary fast, but you just have to move out of the way. However, it will be time for humans to head for the hills when somebody gives BRETT a samurai sword. Then we're in real trouble.

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