Monthly Archives: January 2010

Go Green: With Cosmetics

Our skin is our largest organ. Yet, almost 90% of the 10,500 known cosmetics and skin care ingredients have not been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the FDA, or any other publicly accountable institution. To do more than scratch the surface, we got the skinny at Planet Green’s How to Go Green: Natural Skin Care.

Back to Basics: Every few months or so, we’re treated to the emergence of some new skin care “breakthrough.” Don’t believe the hype. Planet Green’s advice: “All you need is a basic cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and broad-spectrum sunscreen to keep your skin in tip-top shape.”

It turns out beauty is more than skin deep: The average person slathers, lathers, rubs and sprays, 10 different skin care products on his or her body every day—and since our skin acts more like a sponge than a barrier, we absorb the nearly 130 chemicals we regularly expose ourselves to. Cosmetics companies and the FDA maintain that these chemicals are safe, and many of them are—in small doses at least. But consider that the average woman ingests as much as four pounds of lipstick in her lifetime, and you begin to understand how a little dab here a quick spray there begins to add up. The fact is, no one really knows how certain chemicals affect us over a time, or how they react in our bodies in combination. Other chemicals have known dangers: Phthalates, for example, which are often found in artificial fragrances, are a class of hormone disruptor known to cause birth defects, sperm damage, infertility, and the feminization of baby boys, for instance.

Almost 90 percent of the 10,500 cosmetics and skin care ingredients known to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have not been evaluated for safety by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review, the FDA, or any other publicly accountable institution, according to the Environmental Working Group. To be fair, no one’s dropping dead after a using a mascara wand or a body wash, and manufacturers have an interest in creating products that don’t harm their customers. But complex chemicals with potential unknown side effects lead us to follow the Precautionary Principle. That is to say, if we’d prefer to err on the side of safety until we know. We’re not the only ones who feel this way: More than 1,110 personal-product ingredients have been banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union because of concerns that they may cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive ills. By contrast only 10 are banned here in the U.S.


Egg Shower

The proteins in an egg can do wonders for your skin, but how about taking a shower in one? I’m talking about the egg-shaped shaped Cocoon Shower Stall that literally cocoons you once you shut all the glass slides. The usual spa features seen in such kinda stalls are included, but to spell them out: shower, bathtub, hydro massage (Jacuzzi) & mood lighting are there. The rain-showerhead is plum in the center of the ceiling, but I’d much rather use this for the hydra therapies!

Designer: Arina Komarova

Roca Cocoon Shower Stall by Arina Komarova

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AgeLab : MIT trying to solve the problem of aging

The world’s population is aging at a staggering rate. The 50+ population is the fastest growing segment worldwide and predicted life-expectancies are at a historical high.

  • An American turns 50 once every seven seconds.
  • Within the next few years, 50% of the European Union’s population will be 65+.
  • By 2030, in Italy, retirees will outnumber active workers.
  • By 2050, the median age in Thailand will rise to 50.

Let’s see how MIT is going about solving this problem. Should Georgia Tech expand its Aware Home initiative to include some research in this area?

Visit the website to read more:

– Ramakrishnan

PlaceLab MIT: context-aware computing at home

This is an initiative by MIT and TIAX LLC to experiment with new research ideas and to create a test bed to prototype and test new products. This is very similar to the Aware Home initiative that we have at Georgia Tech. I thought of posting this here since it is relevent after the Aware Home visits and showcases similar experiments that are being conducted at other universities.

One of the experiments going on in PlaceLab is about context-aware computing. an excerpt from the website goes something like this:

“We believe that environmental sensors combined with wearable sensors may offer the most potential for automatic recognition of everyday activity to enable new generations of context-aware computing devices. We are developing algorithms that automatically detect some activities from portable biometric and motion sensors. We have created software that runs on PocketPC devices and can be used to collect data using context-aware experience sampling – where sensors automatically trigger a computing devices to ask a volunteer a set of questions in a particular situation. This software is being used both for studies of people and technology in natural environments such as homes and workplaces as well as to collect data needed to develop new context detection algorithms.”

Recognizing and remembering Activities - Memento

“Memento”  is a prototype context-triggered reminder system, which presents users with “3 best guesses” about what they are currently doing and lets them associate an audio reminder with the most appropriate choice. The system uses Hidden Markov Models and the MITes to infer activity context.

Prof. Gregory Abowd at Georgia Tech also worked on something very similar to this.

– Ramakrishnan

Key Facts

Energy: 81% reduction in energy use for heating, 45% reduction in electricity use (compared to local av.).

Transport: 64% reduction in car mileage 2,318km/year (compared to national av.).

Water: 58% reduction in water use 72 litres/person/day (compared to local av.).

Waste: 60% waste recycled.

Food: 86% of residents buy organic food.

Community: residents know 20 neighbours by name on average.

Microsoft’s Future Home

An example of what a near-future home looks like. Computers around the house interact with real-world objects, perform relevant tasks. For example, putting a bag flour on the kitchen countertop brings up recipes, and placing a business card and a cellphone together automatically inserts the contact into the phone, etc.

A picture speaks more than a thousand words!!

Here is an interesting article that I came across…

It talks about the ways in which picture frames can change the look of your house