Christian Long

Mathieu Lehanneur: Science-inspired design

In TED Talks on April 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Reflection by MARY M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Mathieu Lehanneur:  Science-inspired Design

Mathieu Lehanneur opens his talk describing the Homunculus. This is a sculpture visualizing each part of the body as it is in proportion to the brain. He says this could explain why newborns instinctively put their fingers to their mouths. Using the Homunculus as a center piece for his talk, Lehanneur describes ways that science and design can be used to complement each other.

The first product Lehanneur talks about is a robot that diffuses sound around you and emits white noise. He describes how, all day, we are surrounded by aggressive sounds, and maybe, what we need is silence, or the white noise the robot puts out. When coming up with this product, Lehanneur had to come up with a way to block the noise, but not in the way of earmuffs or headphones.

Next in line, was another robot. Only this one is covered in fiber optics and is designed to tell you exactly how much light you absorb in a day, and to give you how much you need. Later, Lehanneur talks about how much he collaborates with scientists. He talks about how he redesigned an antibiotic that would be more fun, if you will, to take. It is in the shape of an onion, and the thought is that you peel away and eat one layer per day, and by the time you get to the canter, and last piece, you are done with the treatment.

For asthma patients who dislike their treatments, he created a “third lung”. The concept is that the treatment needs the patient and not the other way around. Over night, the third lung will sit and take in air particles, and slowly expand, and in the morning, when the patient wakes up, he sees that it needs him. So, the patient takes the “lung” and breathes what has been collected overnight.

Next, taking an idea from miners, who used canaries to tell if the air was safe to breath, Lehanneur uses plants to get rid of the toxic air that surrounds our furniture and the other objects we keep in our homes. Then, taking this to the next step, he created a type of fish tank, in which you can grow fish and vegetables in your own living room, and still be able to eat them. The idea with this is to be able to eat very local food.

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