Okay so it’s more of a list of nanotech-enabled products than a lifestyle tool, but at the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, we’ve just released an iPhone version of our surprisingly successful web-based nanotech Consumer Products Inventory.
With findNano, it’s a piece of cake to search or browse through the 1000+ manufacturer-identified nanotechnology-enabled products in the inventory, directly from an iPhone or iPod Touch. And the really cool part – if you come across something that isn’t in the inventory that you think should be, you can simply take a photo and email it to us directly from the app. And if it passes muster, we’ll add it to the list.
The best way to discover what findNano is all about is probably to download it and take it for a spin (it’s free). But here’s a quick overview for the curious:
The idea behind findNano is simply to give users a sense of where consumer product manufacturers are claiming to use nanotechnology, and how they are using it. The app relies entirely on manufacturer claims (although claims that are too outlandish are ignored – Nano Ghiacciato didn’t make the cut for instance!), which means that listed products are only allegedly nanotech based – they have not been independently tested. It also means that there are probably many products out there that are nanotech-enabled that haven’t been included, simply because manufacturers have been backward in being forward about the technology they are using.
That said, findNano does provide some insight into how nanotechnology is appearing in products that people are buying and using – something the US Environmental Protection Agency recognized when they used the web-based version to estimate the the range of engineered nanomaterials being produced (Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program Interim Report, January 2009. Downloadable from here.)
In a nutshell, findNano allows you to do three things from your iPhone (or iPod Touch) – browse nanotech-enabled products, search for particular products, or submit products for possible inclusion in the inventory.
Selecting “Browse Products” allows you to scan through all 1000+ products currently listed, or to browse products by category, country or company.
The “Search” function allows products with specific terms in their names to be found – either from the whole inventory, or within specific categories.
“Submit a Product” is perhaps the most innovative part of the app, and allows users to take a snap of new nanotech-enabled products they stumble across, and send it to the Product on Emerging Technologies for possible inclusion in the inventory. Nanotech product crowd-sourcing, using a nanotech-enabled product! (Yes, the iPhone does what it does because several of its components are engineered at the nanoscale).
How useful users find findNano remains to be seen. But even if it’s just searching for the most bizarre use of nanotechnology that’s hit the streets so far, the app’s certainly a lot of fun to play around with.
And my contender for the most bizarre use so far? Quite possibly The Handler. What’s yours?
For more information on the Consumer Products Inventory, check out the web-based version at www.nanotechproject.org/consumer
More information on the findNano iPhone app can be found at http://nanotechproject.org/iphone