Spark 139 - February 27 & March 2, 2011

On this episode of Spark: 3D Food Printers, DIY Toasters, and Digital Currency. Click below to listen to the whole show, or download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

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The Current State of Currency

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Photo by Mait Jüriado

What is money anyway? It's a question that came up at the Spark dinner table a while back. We hardly ever touch paper and coins anymore what with all our credit and debit cards, and internet banking. Our money is just data. And now there are new forms of digital currency popping up, like BitCoin. The idea is to get rid of the middlemen. No transaction fees, no arbitrary bank rules, and no government regulation. We sent Spark producer Anshuman Iddamsetty to investigate BitCoin. But first, A Brief History of Money. (Runs 9:48)

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Mobile Money in Kenya

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Photo by Erik Hersman

With peer to peer digital currencies like BitCoin, it seems our ideas about what money is and isn't, are in flux. Take the cell phone for example. There are countries where mobile phones are the most common medium of communication and information. And now they're being used to distribute currency. Spark contributor Kaj Hasselriis brings us this story about the popularity of mobile money in Kenya. (Runs 7:58)

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The Smartphone Wallet

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Photo by n3rrad

So all this talk about using our phones to pay for things got us thinking about whether mobile payment systems would ever catch on here in Canada, or elsewhere in the Western world. David Schropfer is the author of The Smartphone Wallet: Understanding the Disruption Ahead, so in a way you could say he wrote the book on what the mobile payment industry could mean for consumers. (Runs 5:22)

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The Toaster Project

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Photo by Daniel Alexander

Ok, so on Spark we have an affinity for all things DIY. We've talked to lots of different people who love to hack around with their tools and electronics, figuring out how they work and modding them. But how far could you really take that? If you were left to your own devices, could you make something from the ground up? Like say...an electric toaster. From scratch? I mean, really from scratch - making each of the component parts yourself. Well, Thomas Thwaites is an artist and designer in London, and a little while ago, he did just that. (Runs 9:59)

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3D Food Printing

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Photo courtesy of fab@home

Over the past few years 3D printing has really been heating up. 3D printers have been used to make almost anything you can think of - clothes, artificial limbs, and car parts. And even some things you'd never dream of like heart valves. And then, there is food. Yes, 3D food printers being developed and tested as we speak. But printing out food? Really? We spoke to Jeffrey Lipton a researcher at Cornell University and David Arnold from the French Culinary Institute about why food printing is on the rise. (Runs 15:39)

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Episode Details

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