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Greener Gadgets Conference Falling on Deaf Ears?

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A recent survey carried out by Pew Internet and the American Life Project has found that of the 524 Internet users and 371 experts questioned, more than 75% believe that the the web will make people more intelligent. 21% believed that it will have the opposite effect and could even lower IQ. The study was prompted by a recent article by technology expert Nicolas Carr titled "Is Google making us stupid?" where he argued that the web was so full of distractions it was interfering with concentration. 80% of the experts did agree that applications and gadgets will capture the imaginations of people by 2020, but that predicting what these application might be was more difficult. 40% of those surveyed also said that those who use the Internet anonymously are likely to have their usage curtailed and that focus on privacy issues will be increased in the years to come.

The United Nations Environmental program has said that significant risk could be posed to the environment and public health due to the increased use of gadgets. They expect that discarded gadgets such as computers could rise by 200 - 500% in the next 10 years, in particular in countries with rising economies such as India and China. Their report has stated that more efficient recycling programs need to be put in place with proper regulations. The report also said that China will be the biggest challenge in years to come and that the practice of allowing backstreet recycling must stop as it is polluting the atmosphere. They say that developing nations need to create common rules to encourage competition, such as the use of innovative technologies which can be used by the informal recycling sector.

Despite the increased worry about the effect of gadgets on the environment, it seems that gadget users don't think about it too much. A study by Retreva called the Gadgetology Report has found that 42% of customers don't care if their gadget is green or not and 60% said they did not feel guilty for not buying a green gadget. In fact, 16% said that price was more important than green credentials. Despite this, 40% of the respondents did say they considered green issues when shopping for gadgets, even If they didn't end up buying the green option. Most consumers are aware of the energy rating scheme and but just 36% of those aged under 25 use the scheme to help their purchase, compared to 55% of those aged over 25. Half of those spoken to said that a cash incentive would encourage them to recycle their gadgets and another half wanted it to be easier. But not all is lost, as 18% said they would like to learn more about how to be green.

Student designer Conor Klein has developed a new gadget which promises to save the user money and help the environment, all in one. Klein was inspired by parasites such as leeches, which will stop sucking blood once they are full. He wanted a to design a charger which will stop consuming energy when the device was fully charged. The result was a plug which ejects itself from the wall when the job is done. Currently a working prototype, the idea was developed during one semester at University.

Nintendo have announced the DSi XL, its latest gadget, will be able to be used for reading books as well as playing games. Users will be able to purchase an initial e-book cartridge with 100 books from the public domain - those without copyrights. The device will cost $190 and will have two screens, useful for book reading. The device has been available in Japan for a few months and will be able to be purchased in the US at the end of March. It has been described as a way for Nintendo to offer more scope for its console, without fully entering the e-book market.

The Greener Gadgets 2010 Conference has been on in the last week in New York City and has been highlighting designs and products which are sustainable and above all "green". Designers were challenged to make green gadgets "sexy" and to focus on how to create sustainability in the home. Gadgets such as a device for measuring energy consumption and a plug which allows remote access to home appliances from any browser in the world were highlight by the show. A mobile app, created by John Healy, which gives local information about where food is grown was given the audience vote for best design. A rocking chair which charges devices came in second and a USB charger which is powered by an interior light came in third. In fourth place was a mouse which provides its own power from simply being used. †

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