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CEA's Gadgets Keynoter Says ‘Green' Should Be Sexy Too

3/10/2010 05:15:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — The Consumer Electronics
Association (CEA) held its annual Greener
Gadgets event, here, where one of its
keynoters said green products should not
only be desirable but sexy too.

Yves Behar, founder of Fuseproject, an
integrated design agency, opened the conference
with his keynote with the comment
on how efficient green products should not
only be highly desirable, but sexy.

Behar got attention for his remark but
he was one of many speakers who discussed
the latest in green product designs,
green technology for the home
and business, and environmental issues
affecting the industry.

Jeff Omelchuck, founder of the Green
Electronics Council and EPEAT, a green
electronics certification program required
in more than $60 billion of government and
enterprise purchasing contracts worldwide
was interviewed during the program.
He stressed, “What can we do to increase
the greenness of consumer electronics
products? Buy them. Manufacturers are
good at listening to the market.”

Peter Fanon, corporate and government
affairs VP of Panasonic, said during
a panel discussion that television
manufacturers are improving their energy
efficiency signifi cantly and that the
average large screen now uses less than
100 watts. He noted the green aspects of
video streaming capability on TVs and
predicted that we will soon see a future
that allows consumers to control their
home energy use through their TV’s remote
control.

In his Behar’s discussed the One Laptop
Per Child initiative, which he has worked on among several other environmentally
friendly projects. The designer
discussed how new designs for CE and
other projects can be green, desirable
and in demand.

Behar said that there are areas industrial
designers need to practice when
designing green and environmentally
friendly products. “Pushing green notions
should not be a constraint, but
pushed that it is a sexy part of a design.”

He noted that the “business of design”
should go away from “short-term
engagements” with companies and develop
“long-term engagements … with
long-term values” creating companies
and products that “have value.”

Behar cited several examples in a variety
of industries; the most visible has been
the One Laptop Per Child. In that project
there have been 1.4 million laptop distributed
in the $100 program since it began.

He noted that when the One Laptop
program started, many thought founder
Nicholas Negroponte “was insane …
yet it has been successful.”

Behar said that in the One Laptop
project, the design team “learned how
to build laptops more cheaply, that are
more lightweight … but the industry said
consumers would not want that.” He
added, “But with the success of netbooks
… consumers said they did.”

Designed for children, the One Laptop
project developed units with all plastic, including
the screen. “We put a loop at the
edge of one of the laptops for kids to carry
it. We emphasize thinness — we protect
the edges with rubber to protect it.
We do things that are typical no-nos for
the industry that push their buttons … but
we get reactions from the industry” to improve
new and existing products for all.

The result has been “the $100 laptop,
designed for children, is the first time a
product designed for the developing world
is wanted here” in the developed world.

Behar also cited green designs by
Jawbone Bluetooth headphones, Mission
Motors electric motorcycles that
are highly designed and positioned “unapologetically
as the next big thing,” and
Herman Miller LED lights that are energy
effi cient and highly styled.

Among the other presenters was Tom
Hadfield, COO of the LoboGroup, who
also spoke about the Andrea natural air
purifi er. The purifi er uses common house
plants in a device that has a fan to eliminate
benzene, formaldehyde and other
poisonous chemicals in the air from common
home furnishings 100 percent faster
than a common house plant at home.

Leo Bonanni was also there. Bonanni
is founder and director of Sourcemap.
org, a social network and tool to fi nd out
life-cycle assessment and supply-chain
transparency for technology products
and a wide variety of consumer items.

The site shows maps of where laptop
PCs parts, materials and equipment
come from, where they are shipped,
and where they are recycled around the
world. A demonstration of this tool is
available at Sourcemap.org.