Inefficiency @CES

Sustainability is not only a developing ideology, it’s also quickly become big business (yes, green means different things to different people).

That’s why the weak buzz regarding eco-products from CES 2012 is so surprising.

While many consider CES to be a whimper of what it once was – the global economy slump has been a major damper – one might expect more eco-friendly products to be on showcase when consumers are thinking about the bottom-line costs of their energy bills.

One product unveiled at CES 2012 worth mentioning is OLPC’s  - One Lap Top Per Child – XO 3.0 prototype tablet.

MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte’s non-profit effort of putting cheap laptops into the hands of schoolchildren in the developing world – once known as the “hundred-dollar laptop” - has been in the works for what seems like forever.

In the past, these devices have been laptops, but the new OLPC XO 3.0 will be an 8-inch tablet. Designed with Yves Behar’s Fuseproject, the tablet will have several charging options: battery, solar, and kinetic through a detachable hand crank - particularly useful in places where electrical sockets are hard to come by.

For a more in-depth analysis of the new OLPC XO 3.0 prototype check out Gizmodo Editor Brian Barrett who offers a hands-on review.

Watch Wired Magazine’s staff writer Mike Isaac show off the OLPC XO 3.0 prototype crank in the video above.

The green products gaining media traction from CES 2012 are mostly solar powered based devices. Yet solar powered phone chargers, radios, flashlights (yes, really!) and other devices are hardly novel.

Also creating buzz are power chargers that stop drawing energy – eliminating vampire loads - from wall sockets once your appliances and peripheral devices are at full power.

Con Edison teamed up with New York City and ThinkEco to create Modlet about two years ago, so this is another product being repackaged for a wider consumer audience.

The savings may take quite a while to kick in after your initial investment ($25-30 MSRP for the Mushroom Green Zero), but one can foresee these products becoming standardized in buildings in the future. The net effect could have definitive positive energy efficiency consequences.

For a more detailed roundup on green products from CES 2012 check out Jaymi Heimbuch at Treehugger who is on location and is providing first hand reporting on some of these gadgets.

Expect to see more technologically innovative eco-inventions and gadgets at the next Bay Area Maker Faire, scheduled for May 19-20, 2012.

The maker movement is quickly growing out of computer labs, garages and basements and becoming the playground of budding entrepreneurs.

With less focus on generating quick profits with high margins, and more focus on R&D, acquiring VC support and creating joint ventures, the DIY projects on display at Maker Faire should be more compelling (or at least more interesting) than what CES 2012 had to offer.

In an article about Maker Faire in their year end Technology Quarterly, The Economist Magazine stated that “(t)he parallel with the hobbyist computer movement of the 1970s is striking. In both cases enthusiastic tinkerers, many on America’s West Coast, began playing with new technologies that had huge potential to disrupt business and society.”

Thanks to Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniack and countless others, there’s a whole generation of tinkerers out there who “Think Different”. Let’s see what they come up with.

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