Conference co-chairs Marc Alt and Jill Fehrenbacher opened the Greener Gadgets Conference by asking how many people in the audience were electronics industry members, designers, students or press. As hands went up for each group, it quickly became apparent that the attendees for the conference were a diverse group.
Jill noted that they deigned to name the conference the ‘Greener Gadgets’ conference rather than the ‘Green Gadgets’ Conference because it’s difficult to make an entirely green gadget at this point. With over 400 million gadgets scrapped each year, often inappropriately, it isn’t difficult to agree with her.
With the $15 billion consumer electronic industry growing rapidly, the co-chairs sought to make a change by focusing not only affecting the design of future products, but by affecting the business of consumer electronics as well.
With the three subjects of Materials & Lifecycle, Energy and Social Sustainability headlining the day’s sessions, The Greener Gadgets Conference should be an enlightening and illuminating event.
About the Co-Chairs
Jill Fehrenbacher is the founder and editor-in-chief of Inhabitat.com, as well as a journalist, designer, and green design consultant. She launched Inhabitat in the spring of 2005 as a way to search for ways to improve the world through forward-thinking, high-tech, and environmentally conscious design. Jill is actively involved in the green design community and has helped organize events ranging from HauteGREEN, a sustainable furniture exhibit, to Postopolis, a conference on architecture and new media. Jill’s writing has appeared in Wired, Innovative Home, Archinect and Metropolis Magazine, as well on Inhabitat.
Marc Alt is president of Marc Alt + Partners, a design and marketing agency specializing in environmental brand strategy. Marc speaks frequently to a wide variety of audiences and companies about green design, sustainable innovation and creating value by aligning corporate strategy with environmental and social benefit. As an advocate of sustainability, Marc develops environmental conferences, including Grow , the first conference dedicated to the intersection of design, sustainability and business in New York City. Marc is co-chair the AIGA Center for Sustainable Design, an initiative of AIGA, The Professional Association for Design.
Chris Jordan delivered the opening keynote, talking in detail about his photography, his process and why the green movement needs to stop waiting and start moving.
Creating what he calls ‘intolerable beauty’, Chris Jordan often crafts a composite or digital mosaic from his photographs to give a scale of human waste a detritus. Whether depicting the 426,000 cellphone handsets discarded daily in the United States or the six million sheets of office paper used every 15 minutes, Jordan’s images specialize in communicating the staggering scope of modern consumption.
As effective as his photographs are in making an impression, Jordan concedes that there is still a tacit hesitation within the green movement that is preventing it from reaching a critical mass. According to Jordan, it seems as though everyone is waiting on someone else to do something. To put it simply, Jordan asserts that the green movement “isn’t cool yet.”
Jordan noted though that there was considerable hope in the consumer electronics field, as every year a new cellphone or portable device comes at that is at least twice as cool as last year’s. When sustainable is the new American cool, people will be able to trace the trend back to the green products that are coming out now.
In closing, Jordan asked that designers and producers reach deep within themselves to find their passion for sustainability, to not settle for greenwash and to do more than the bare minimum. When design teams are on the task of making green electronic devices, Jordan says, no one will be able to wait for the next product to come out.
About the speaker:
Chris Jordan is a Seattle-based photographic artist who portrays the detritus of our mass culture: piles of cell phones, aluminum cans, garbage, and the like. His work is exhibited widely in the US and Europe , and has been featured in print media, blogs, documentary films, and radio and television programs worldwide. Chris is also a father, husband, gardener, vegetarian, sometime jazz musician, and has an obsessive fascination with the sound of large Chinese gongs
As the Chief Technology Officer for the One Laptop per Child project, Mary Lou Jepson was intimately involved with what eventually became the $188 XO laptop. What many other people in the portable electronics space referred as an impossible idea, Jepson preferred to think of as a truly interesting project. However, her initial focus wasn’t to make the XO laptop green, but to simply make it right.
Fast forward to the present and the XO laptop has garnered significant press and effectively broken Moore’s law by operating at 1W while idle, as opposed to 20W for most idle laptops and 80W for idle desktops. Among the many power saving features contained within the XO, one that stands out is its ability to shut off its cpu and motherboard within 1/1000 of a second when not in use.
Furthermore, the XO is robust (being able to take a fall of over 5 feet and keep ticking) and easily maintained – (a five year old girl can take the laptop apart and make repairs.) Add to that a wireless range of 2.4km and a display that can be read in direct sunlight and it’s easy to see why the XO garnered a EPEAT gold award.
Jepson is now working with PixelQi, a company that she spun out of the OLPC, where she hopes to take many of the advancements made in the XO laptop to other consumer electronics manufacturers.
About the speaker:
Mary Lou Jepsen has been a pioneer in developing display technologies, from flat-panel televisions, to holography, to laser displays and day-lighting. She was most recently director of technology development in Intel’s Display Division. Previously, she co-founded the MicroDisplay Corporation and served as its CTO. Her recent emphasis has been on single-panel LCoS systems, and her leadership in this area has brought her worldwide recognition as a top innovator in the industry. Jepsen also contributed to several breakthroughs in diffractive optics and holographic display technology, including building the world’s first holographic video system, and the largest hologram in the world, one that spanned a city block (in Cologne). Jepsen holds a PhD in optics, a BS in electrical engineering, and a BA in studio art from Brown University. She also holds an MS from MIT, where she studied in the Media Lab’s Spatial Imaging group.