Thursday January 01, 2015

'Cyborg' technology, Gamification & Bruce Mau on the Power of Design

Listen 21:59




Neil Harbisson thinks the future of humanity lies in taking control of our own design: using technology to enhance ourselves. He has that antenna surgically implanted in his bones so he could experience colour. He was born with achromatopsia, a condition which affects about 1 in every 33,000 people and leaves them unable to see colours. So Neil Harbisson's camera records the colours and translates them into sounds.

Neil Harbisson can't turn off his new sense. Unless he goes somewhere that is completely dark, he is constantly bombarded with sound. And even in a dark room, he hears tones from near-infrared and near-ultraviolet light ... frequencies well beyond what we can see.

Want to hear what Anna Maria sounds like to Neil Harbisson?

Here is Neil meeting Anna Maria in studio. What he does is note down the dominant colours in someone's face and then he makes an audio portrait from the notes that correspond to those colours.

Neil Harbisson's first colour-conducted concert - The Full Story (Vodafone Firsts)

Neil Harbisson paints what he sees when listening to music.

Justin Beiber's,Baby


Want to see more paintings? Click here

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott,


Visionary Bruce Mau sees the quality of design in our lives as fundamental to our quality of life.

The basic necessities of life are pretty well all agreed on ... food, water and shelter.

But if you were to ask Bruce Mau, he might just insist on adding "design" to that list. The renowned Canadian designer has a global reputation for pushing frontiers and visionary ideas. He is driven by a desire to shape a better future ... and he's a true believer that we can achieve a better future for everyone, through the power of practicality of design.

In 2010, he established the Massive Change Network with the goal of helping people design the world they want to live in, and to help promote sustainable growth.

The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth™ -- written by Bruce Mau in 1998


Bruce Mau joined us in September to help kick off our By Design series. He was in Chicago.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien.


A lot of kids, and probably a few adults, wore their thumbs red playing "Super Mario Brothers". There's just something about video games that captivates kids' minds ... even at times when those same kids are meant to be doing homework.

And that could explain why there's so much excitement around a burgeoning new design field right now that's developing video games as learning tools.

It's known as "gamification."

And last September, as part of our By Design series we asked what a curriculum that actually incorporates gaming might look like.

  • Lee Sheldon is a professor in the Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is one of the first to design his classes as multi-player games, and a leader in gamification.

  • Adam Clare is a professor of Game Design at George Brown, and a Lead Game Designer at Wero Creative in Toronto.

  • Rebecca Rufo-Tepper is one of the founding design partners of Quest To Learn school in New York City.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sarah Grant.


Ruth Stanley, proudly displays the Canadian flag, designed by her husband, George Stanley. The flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965; National Flag of Canada Day.

The Design Behind ... The Canadian Flag

In 1964, historian George Stanley was on a mission, to have an official Canadian flag that was instantly recognizable and represented all Canadians. Ruth Stanley, George's wife and daughter Della share the story behind the making of the Canadian flag.


This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese.

Check out other Design Behind offerings ... find out how the egg carton, the traffic light, the microwave and plenty of other things you see and use everyday got to be the way they are at the By Design website.

Here's a video to explain the design behind .... the condom.

Have thoughts you want to share? Are there designs, good and bad, that make a difference in your life? Let us know.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc and use the hashtag #ByDesignCBC. Or e-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook.. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.