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Community designs phones, inside and out

Add / Remove Mass customization is more than a choice of skins for an iPod or a personalized logo for a Toyota Scion. In a bid to create an active community around OpenMoko, the mobile phone’s Taiwanese manufacturer first published its software. This allowed developers to tweak it as they wished. Releasing open-source software is […]

Paparazzi for the rest of us

Add / Remove Being photographed by the paparazzi was once an (often dubious) honour bestowed only on the rich and famous, but today a new service is bringing the possibility to every consumer. Upon request, New York City-based MethodIzaz will send an anonymous photographer to surreptitiously capture select moments in a consumer’s life and immortalize […]

Career sampling service

Add / Remove When it comes to choosing a career path, it’s one thing to think about the job from the outside, but quite another to experience it day to day. Back in 2006 we wrote about Vocation Vacations, which helps career-changers test out different waters, and now UK-based Figuring Out offers a combination of […]

Cufflinked gravanity (for the shirt that has everything)

Add / Remove As our regular readers know, we’ve covered quite a few examples of gravanity,* from children’s books to personal requiems. So when one of our spotters presented yet another example of a business that’s using customization to stand out, we couldn’t resist. What’s getting the gravanity treatment this time? Cuff links. Created by […]

Members’ clubs for moms

Add / Remove In the same way that freelancers are flocking to shared working spaces, stay-at-home moms are happy to find a third space that accommodates both them and their offspring. In London, private members clubs like Maggie & Rose and Cupcake Mom, offer mothers a place to convene and relax, where they’re welcome to […]

Coffee life stories link farmers and drinkers

Add / Remove We’ve written before about product life stories and how they’re bringing new transparency to the creation and distribution of consumer products. Dole Organics did it for bananas, and now Crop to Cup is doing something similar for coffee. Crop to Cup, founded last year, buys directly from African coffee farmers and represents […]

Robot mower runs on solar power

Add / Remove Robot vacuum cleaners are slowly taking off, and robot lawn mowers have been around for over a decade. What’s new this month, however, is a mower that not only trims the lawn all by itself, but does so using solar power. Sweden’s Husqvarna just introduced the world’s first solar/electric hybrid robot lawnmower, […]

More custom-blended tea

Add / Remove Last year we wrote about Blends for Friends, a British company that sells bespoke custom-blended teas, and recently one of our spotters came across Design a Tea, a similar—but more affordable—option. Founded last year, New York-based Design a Tea bills itself as the place “where tea leaves dream,” and users of the […]

High-tech coat check

Add / Remove Who hasn’t checked their coat at a restaurant or other venue and worried about losing the claim ticket? London-based Idscan aims to put those worries to rest with a biometric cloakroom system that it claims is a world’s first. Cloakscan records a customer’s thumbprint via a small scanner, while a digital camera […]

Taking wallpaper outside

Add / Remove Back in 2006 we wrote about wallpaper’s renaissance and innovative wall graphics. While those offerings were intended primarily for indoor spaces, the D Garden Collection is picking up on the same concept and bringing it outdoors. Paris-based D Garden Collection has its sights set squarely on terraces, balconies and patios with its […]

YouTube contest for eco-minded kids

Add / Remove Marketers caught on long ago to the advantages of involving kids in their brands at an early age. Now natural foods heavyweight Whole Foods is applying the notion to the YouTube generation with a video contest focused on green living. Earlier this month Texas-based Whole Foods launched the Whole Earth Generation, a […]

Online invites, upgraded

Add / Remove The online invitation marketplace is a crowded one, with heavyweight Evite and a raft of smaller contenders all vying for their share. But a new site recently launched in the hopes of taking online invitations to a new level. Unlike most of its competitors, pingg is taking an ad-free approach to online […]

Wind-powered lighting

Add / Remove We’ve written before about small-scale wind turbines that consumers can use to generate their own power, and now a new device uses wind power to create mesmerizing outdoor light. The Firewinder, also known as the Original Windlight, is a decorative and completely wind-powered outdoor light from the UK-based Firewinder Company that transforms […]

Location-based games lure kids off the couch

Add / Remove Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the developed world, and the widespread obsession with sedentary computer games certainly doesn’t help. Nintendo’s Wii has been applauded as a step in the right (more active) direction, as have gyms that integrate gaming. Now a UK-based firm is gearing up to go a step […]

Movie poster birth announcements

Add / Remove Consumers are never too young for a little gravanity, particularly when proud parents are buying it for them. Enter, which offers personalized birth announcements fashioned after movie advertisement posters. Each movie poster birth announcement from 5starbaby is tailor-made for the new arrival, complete with all the critical “stats” about the baby’s […]

Food blogger turned intermediary & purveyor

Add / Remove There’s no such thing as a free lunch—unless, of course, you happen to be a food blogger. Food manufacturers tend to be liberal with their samples when it comes to gaining exposure through influential voices, and one New Orleans-based blogger has turned that into a defining feature of his site. On, […]

Treetop adventure parks

Add / Remove Tarzan fans have long yearned for the ability to swing from the trees like the Lord of the Jungle, and in recent years new opportunities to do just that have arisen around the world. Most recently one of our spotters came across Go Ape, a UK-based park that first launched in 2002 […]

Dining reviews by the dish

Add / Remove For many foodies, it’s not a question of which restaurant is good—it’s a question of where to get the chile rellenos they’re craving, masterfully prepared to perfection. Therein lies the raison d’etre of Dishola, a user-driven website devoted to the best dishes in gastronomic destinations around the world. Launched in January 2007, […]

Interactive touch-bar combines drinks, ads & games

Add / Remove We wrote recently about the interactive wine bar at Adour in New York City’s St. Regis Hotel, and since then we’ve spotted several mentions of iBar, a related innovation by UK-based Mindstorm. Unveiled in 2006, the iBar is a customisable surface technology that turns any bar into a giant version of an […]

Ad-supported photo editing tool

Add / Remove Just when Photoshop’s photo-editing software has become a household word, along comes a free online application that offers many of the same editing tools. By signing on to Picnik, the brainchild of a group of internet veterans based in Seattle, users can upload photos from their desktop and alter their colour, brightness […]

Student-led textbook donation program

Add / Remove Many organizations donate books of various kinds to developing countries, usually through a few collection centres and a small set of volunteers or employees. A new UK-based group, on the other hand, mobilizes teams of volunteer university students nationwide. READ International (short for Realizing Education, Achieving Development) has established 11 student-led Book […]

Fitness-focused cell phone

Add / Remove Back in 2006 we wrote about the Nike+iPod Sport Kit as an example of the growing number of branded brands—smart partnerships between brands —and now adidas and Samsung have launched an offering along similar lines. miCoach, which was unveiled just last week, is an adidas-branded Samsung music cell phone equipped with stride […]