After the successful introduction of the NANO Supermarket in 2010 it became even more clear that the contest and the presented results produced discussions and many challenges to think about. Nanotechnology, will it be the road to utopia or dystopia? Heaven or hell? Nanotechnology could bring us wellness, unthought-of possibilities, maybe a release of nearly all misery the earth faces. Maybe, but without proper thought Nanotechnology can become the work of a sorcerer’s apprentice and we will be exposed to disasters of worldwide proportion. So potentially, the consequences can be so large and undefined that both incredible solutions to the main problems we face can be realized, or on the other hand we will be confronted with horrifying scenarios. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that Nanotechnology is subject to thorough discussion. And although the designs featured in the Nanosupermarket are not realistic yet, it is way too easy and even dangerous to consider they are only the fruits of fantasy, ‘funny but silly’. It is of great importance to think both critically and creatively.
This autumn 2012 the new Next Nature NANO Supermarket product collection will be presented in the traveling NANO supermarket featuring debate–provoking visions on possible nanotech products expected to be available between today and 2020. It is the second time the Nano Supermarket is presented after its successful start in 2010. The idea that such a store would be able to attract a large crowd and generate many discussions was well realized. The Nano Supermarket toured after its first appearance through many countries in Europe.
Designers, technologists and artists were called to submit their speculative nanotech products for the NANO supermarket. A selection of these projects will be presented in the NANO Supermarket and the accompanying publication. On Friday, June 22th, a NANO Supermarket jury consisting of design and science experts awarded the best submission a € 2,500 prize. Furthermore, two submissions have been awarded an Honorable Mention in recognition of the quality of their project proposals.
The jury was again pleased with the creativity displayed in the submissions and the increased number of contributions as well as the quality, which has been greatly improved since the last time (2010). The jury sees more integration between technology and design. On the other hand there were doubts about the feasibility and technological evidence of many projects that have been submitted. These technological issues also emphasized the tremendous importance of a true dialogue between designers and scientists. Instead of declining designs as sheer fantasy scientists are challenged to think in ‘what if’ scenarios, opening a realm of new speculations or even tentative solutions. Furthermore, since the debate-provoking aspect of the design is a crucial element in this contest the jury is happy to say many of the designs caused lengthy and often ethical debates. There were some designs that caused heated discussions, in which it was not possible to take a neutral position.
The NANO Supermarket Call For Products yielded forty-one submissions from eight different countries. The jury based the final judgments on six parameters: originality, design quality, visual presentation, technological feasibility, socio-cultural implications, and debate provoking potential. All 41 submissions were presented and discussed. The six parameters were applied to all of them resulting in a first selection of 9 contributions receiving the most favorable score on the six parameters. After that a top 3 was presented by each member of the jury, followed by a thorough discussion resulting in the final winners and 2 honorable mentions.
The jury consisted of (nano-) scientists, theorists, publicists, artists and designers. Therefore the parameters for judging the entries were fully covered by the jury’s multi-faceted expertise:
Dr. Lucas Asselbergs – Head of Studium Generale Eindhoven University of Technology (jury chair)
Prof. Dr. ing Dave Blank – Professor Inorganic Materials Science, TU Twente
Mieke Gerritzen – designer and director of Museum of The Image
Prof. Dr. Andries Meijerink –Solid State Physics Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science (DINS) Universiteit Utrecht.
Tracy Metz – Journalist NRC Handelsblad, international correspondent for Architectural Record and contributor to Metropolis, Domus and Graphis
Ronald van Tienhoven – Artist, Design Educator, Social & Cultural Expert
Winner € 2500 Price
First Prize: Thorny Devil Skin (nl) AND Metabolic Guardian (nl)
The jury decided to split the first prize among two submissions. The concept Thorny Devil Skin entails a canteen that refills itself by abstracting water from dew, rain and wet sand. The water abstracting and filtering skin is made possible by nanotechnology. The design is mainly inspired by nature, it uses biomimicry technology. The concept is inspired by the “Thorny devil”, a lizard that collects water with little channels on his skin. The form and size of the scales and channels of the skin provide a very good water collecting and transporting system.
The filters in the skin of the bottle is made with the use of aquaporin, the water channels in organic cells. These two technologies combined create a water collecting and filtering skin. The Jury hailed biomimicry as basis for the Thorny Devil Skin, which is also product that can be of great use especially in the warm dry regions of the earth. Although it is doubtful if the canteen can produce a lot of water, technologically the jury considers the scientific concept possible and maybe realizable within 20 years. Shortcomings were the rather primitive and not optimal appealing design and the lack of debate provoking elements in the design.
The other winning design, Metabolic Guardians give you the opportunity to continue over-eating as much as you want without putting on weight and with a complete control of your blood glucose level. The Metabolic Guardians are millions of nano-particles that can produce electricity from sugar. They are injected in the blood circulation where they continually patrol and monitor your blood sugar level. When you eat more energy than your body needs, your blood sugar increases above a critical limit and the Metabolic Guardians come into action, transforming the extra sugar in energy that can be harvested and used to power your Smartphone or your tablet, instead of being stored around your waist in the form of fat.
The Metabolic Guardian was praised for its debate provoking qualities. The design claims preventing millions of deaths per year because obesity can be avoided. The Metabolic Guardian is also a clever use of energy waste. It is doubtful if the energy the surplus food produces will be sufficient to make a Smartphone work. This is indeed highly hypothetical. This submission good be even more convincing with a stronger visual representation.
Honorable Mention #1:Lungless Aquatic Respiration
Although the Jury considered the description ‘Something Fishy’ not as positive and inspiring as it could be, it was very enthusiastic about the representation and the ideas behind Lungless Aquatic Respiration, a suit enabling people to breathe under water by means of millions of cascades of nano-thin rubber membrane. If this suit would exist in reality people would be able to reside endlessly under water.
Honorable Mention #2: Check Up Tattoo
The check up tattoo is based on the idea that nanotechnology makes it possible to grow tattoos from inside and the shape of the tattoo would communicate the physical wellbeing of the person. The jury was interested in this design because of its debate provoking qualities. The visual representation needs to be altered in order to be exposable in the Nano Supermarket.
The Next Nature Nano Supermarket will open in the autumn 2012 a selection of the submitted products will be on display. The NANO supermarket is supported by Stichting Doen and Mondriaan Fund.
Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!
Marco van Beers
Does my little eye spy Marieke Kruithof at the judging table?