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.