Touch & go

Digital Garden Tour

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The Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis is always putting out great, forward-thinking programs and exhibitions, so we weren’t surprised to discover their terrific interactive, online site for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Its homepage is a beautiful, full-screen shot of Claes Oldenburg’s famous Spoonbridge & Cherry, along with local time, weather, and the Museum’s hours for the day. Scroll down for a quick list of events, and you land on a friendly, interactive map of the garden, with images and information on key sculptures, along with great docent-led videos on each piece (like Mark di Suvero’s Arikidea, made from steel beams of NYC skyscrapers).

Color Search

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We recently discovered an addictive (and useful for creatives) search engine that allows users to easily scan Creative Commons-approved images on Flickr, based on color. The Multicolr Search Lab allows users to easily click on a range of colors, in various shades and hues. Up to 5 colors can be selected, and slide dividers can alter the percentage of each color (the images shown came from 100% deep blue).

Know Your Sushi


A San Diego sushi restaurant is now including edible QR codes – printed with water-based inks on rice paper – with their sushi, giving diners access to information on the fish, where it came from, how it was caught, and whether it is threatened by over-fishing. Harvey sushi developed the QR code concept in an effort to promote transparency and sustainable fishing practices in the sushi industry. The code served with albacore tuna sends diners to this video, introducing them to the captain who caught the tuna and an interview with him on the fish and its quality.

All Secure


Canary is a new, interesting, simplified home security system that goes beyond your typical break-and-enter detection. It includes a sleek black and white central system that can be plugged in and set up anywhere at home, complete with motion-detection, video capability, wi-fi, a speaker, a microphone, and temperature, humidity and air quality sensors. All combine to alert you on your smartphone if anything is out of the ordinary – whether smoke or movement is detected, allowing you to access the camera to view your home at any time. Canary surpassed its funding on Indiegogo, and is now available for pre-order there.

Retail Experiments


It’s been exciting to watch as many of our Soho neighbors experiment with new forms of retail, merging brick-and-mortar and digital experiences. Warby Parker recently opened a store on Greene Street, designed in collaboration with Partners & Spade as a throwback to traditional libraries, with walls of shelves and bookcases and rolling ladders. The shop allows customers to try on glasses and get inexpensive eye exams, and includes an internet-connected photobooth allowing users to take pics in preferred styles, printing them out or sending to friends for advice. Orders are taken in the shop, but then delivered via mail. Kate Spade also recently experimented with a digital storefront in Soho, in which shoppers could order items displayed in the window, which were then couriered to them in Manhattan or Brooklyn within the hour.

Tesla’s Electricity


The New York Hall of Science recently opened an exhibit on the often-referenced, under-appreciated scientist and inventor, Nikola Tesla. Born in 1853 in Serbia, Tesla is known for harnessing the power of cross-currents through what is now known as the Tesla coil. The exhibition in Queens, NY honors the forward-thinking scientist, with the famed Tesla coil, induction motors, a model of the Adams’ power station on Niagra Falls, and many more models and photographs of Tesla’s experimentations and laboratories, on view through October 20.

Herbal App


Alternative medicine continues to grow in popularity, with juicing, supplements, and acupuncture all gaining mainstream traction. It can be tough to navigate it all, so Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s new guide to natural therapies, “About Herbs,” is a welcome new app. Coming from the standpoint of a respected medical institution, its a refreshing encyclopedia on everything from the benefits of Chaga Mushrooms to Ginkgo, or Magnet Therapy to Tai Chi. Each has a “Professional” and “Consumer” description, giving both clinical summaries where available and understandable user benefits.

Tech-aided Travel


While we’d never advise travelling with your eyes trained on your phone, some new technology can enhance and make a memorable travel experience. “Paris, Then and Now” is an app that allows visitors to compare and contrast 100 years ago to present day, via augmented reality, over 2000 places of interest in Paris. For each location, explore photos and facts, and superimpose photos on what you see to learn about its layers of history. And Google is opening up views into realms that are unattainable with  its Street View Trekker team, who visited and documented the abandoned Japanese island of Hashima – “Battleship Island”. Watch as the team – complete with gear on their backs – navigate the ruins of dilapidated buildings, long unused and partially overgrown with gorgeous foliage.

Hide from, or Seek out the Weather


Foresee is a new app that helps you decide which activities you can do, based on the weather, time of day, and your preferences. Setup the app with activities you enjoy, providing parameters for each with the applicable weather you’d prefer (you may be ok with a light drizzle while gardening, etc.). Then, based on the weather, the interface shows icons for what activities are appropriate at any time.

Unknown Inventors

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In case you missed the great “Innovations Issue” of the Sunday NY Times last month, you can check out their wonderful interactive version online, “Who Made That?”. In a perfectly engaging and simple format, users can navigate 48 stories of origination on products, services, and traditions (like brunch). Learn how Earle Dickson invented the Band-aid for his accident-prone wife in 1920, or how cheerleader George Henderson created the “Wave” we all participate in at baseball games.


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