Open Source Modular Design for the Circular Economy: The Business Benefits

When we talk about the circular economy, we often talk about encouraging materials cycles, similar to those in nature. This analogy works great for materials recycling but, breaks down if we think about modular design. We can’t remove the branches of a tree, and rearrange them to make two smaller trees. But with modular design of technology, facilitated by an open source approach, we could do the equivalent – and it could lead to a new way of doing business.

In product design, practitioners aim for design for manufacturability. In high value products, we may design for serviceability. When it comes to the circular economy, we need to design for reusability. That is, the ability at the end of the service life of a product, to disassemble it into useful parts that can be directly reused in another product.

A simple example from today’s products would be

Scenario: Life in the Year 2100

Energy and Living Well

Life in the year 2100 is all about energy. No, that’s no longer true. It’s about living well.

We had to completely reinvent civilization in the face of fossil-fuel shortages and increasing climate change. Permaculture become the basis of our new sustainable civilization.

Housing looks familiar, if a little fatter with all the insulation that was added. The retrofit passivhaus concept went global as energy prices rose. These days, excess energy is very expensive, but for most people it just doesn’t matter. Most communities are locally self-sufficient. Everyone grows food using permaculture principles. Agricultural monoculture became deeply unfashionable during the great GM disease outbreaks of the 2030s.

During the chaos, we were

Digital Cinema and a Film Festival

Gadget Guru is a short weekly radio show on World Radio Switzerland that I do with Tony Johnston.

Here’s the show from March 17th, 2015:

Here’s the usual set of links & videos from the show:

Digital Cinema

Festival du Film Vert

The DCP – or Digital Cinema Package is the format that cinemas play – it’s a lot better than DVD and even blu-ray! Count on a 2k (like HD) movie taking between 75-160 Gigabytes and a 4k (like ultra-HD) movie taking up to 600 GB.

Professional kit for making DCPs is expensive, but fortunately for festivals like mine there’s great open source software for making DCPs for your local cinema!

Open DCP

DCP-O-Matic – this one is brilliant as you can cluster together computers to reduce encode time. With this software I went from 3 days to 7 hours to make a DCP.

The film festival starts today, hope to see you there. If not, see you next week on WRS!

Pangloss Labs – Open Innovation for Grand Geneve

Pangloss Labs is a centre of expertise in open source hardware, software and most importantly ideas and techniques.  Currently both a French association and a Swiss association, run by entrepreneurs, we hold experimental (hardware, software and social entrepreneurship) labs, and prototype innovation activities across various sectors.

For more information check out our web site.

Ecological-FabLab in the Geneva region

Dream, Build, Repair, Learn, Share

My main project right now is the creation of an ecologicalfablablogo Fablab here in the Geneva region.

“Fab Labs give people the tools they need to create technology and make (almost) anything”

Professor Neil Gershenfeld – Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Eco-Innovation is at the cutting edge of the third industrial revolution.  When you combine innovations in energy production with the open source hardware movement you create very low cost & high value technologies.

We are building a creative space to stimulate local innovation.  We dare to dream big, start small and grow fast. This has become Pangloss Labs. If you’re interested in joining us, take a look at our web site

Festival du Film Vert in Ferney-Voltaire

The fourth edition in Ferney will be held on 18th-22nd March 2015.

In 2012, the Eco-Pratique association decided to put on a green film festival.  Rather than start from scratch we joined with the Swiss Romande “Festival du Film Vert” and brought it across the border into France.

Each year we choose from dozens of the best new documentaries in both English and French and choose 11-12 for the film festival.  To be chosen they have be a great film first, show a problem and propose a concrete solution to the problem.  No “we’re all doomed” films at our festival

Eco-Pratique

In 2010 I looked around for a local ecological group to join. I was completely fed up with people telling me what I should and shouldn’t do, but no-one telling what my life would be like if I did these things. I wanted to know if a compost bin smells bad in the summer (no), how dangerous it is to cycle to work in Geneva (fine as long as it’s not icy), or what it’s really like to eat a vegan diet (not for me, but cut back on the red meat). and I wanted to find answers to these questions from people that weren’t trying to sell me something. Nothing existed around me so I started a local ecological association in Ferney-Voltaire, Eco-Pratique.

Environmentalism is not a religion

My response to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jun/26/climate-change-skeptic-religion?commentpage=6#start-of-comments

I’d say it’s the exact opposite of a religion. We environmentalists have looked around at the state of the world, gathered evidence, considered the possibilities and (quite often) reluctantly come to the conclusion that “someone should do something” and “I am someone”.

Believe me, I would much rather that the world was fine and I could spend my time on something else instead.

I am convinced by the evidence, where global or local it all points in one direction. I’m also convinced by the successes, from the action against CFCs, the ever-growing amount of organic food available (again – it was all your grandparents had), and the cleaning up of rivers in many countries through to the many permaculture projects regenerating wasteland and making it productive for human civilization.

Humans are amazing. We can fix the world and we will fix the world. It does however seem that we will have to get on with building a better world without waiting for agreement from everyone, let alone governments.