Where’d you get those Googles?

Google has sold interactive glasses for $1500 (only) during its annual software conference in San Francisco to first adaptors. If all goes well, a less expensive version of the glasses is expected to go on sale for consumers in early 2014. While wearing these glasses, directions to a destination or a text message from a friend may appear directly before your eyes. Conversing with friends in a video chat, take a photo without taking out a camera, phone or even buy a few things online as you walk around. JUST DON’T DRIVE DOING IT.

Isabelle Olsson, lead designer of Google’s Project Glass, talks about the design of the Google Glass during the keynote at Google’s annual developer conference

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Leggo My Eggasus: Kiss the Future


In my ongoing quest for inter-urban zero-emission vehicles (that protect from the elements), I’ve run across this little charmer with retro-futurist aesthetics, the ‘EGGASUS’. Another little jewel to come out of California. This one is being launched in North America this fall.
It reaches a range of up to 50 miles (80.4 kilometers), with a top speed of 25 mph (40.23 km/h). Underneath the shell is a three-wheeled electric vehicle, fitted with an electric hub motor in the front wheel, enclosed cab, tinted windows, a seat, and instrument display panel. Pre-production models come with a price tag of US$5,000 a piece. Really, it would be an ideal replacement for all those rascals…
See on in motion below:

More at EGGASUS

The Grass is Always Greener: Biocouture

An innovative approach to textile technology is unfolding with this technique that harnesses nature’s forces.
“BioCouture is a research project harnessing nature to propose a radical future fashion vision. We are investigating the use of microbial-cellulose, grown in a laboratory, to produce clothing. Our ultimate goal is to literally grow a dress in a vat of liquid…The material is nearest in feel to a vegetable leather and, like your vegetable peelings, it can be safely composted when you no longer want it.”

Suzanne Lee is Director of the project and a Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She is collaborating with scientists to unite design with cutting edge bio and nano-technologies.

BioCouture is investigating the use of microbes to grow a textile biomaterial. Certain bacteria will spin microfibrils of pure cellulose during fermentation which form a dense layer that can be harvested and dried. To a sugary green tea solution they add a mixed culture of bacterial cellulose, yeasts and other microorganisms to produce a flexible cellulose mat. The bacteria feed on the sugar and spin fine threads of cellulose. As these start to stick together they form a skin on the liquids surface. After two to three weeks, when it is approximately 1.5cm thick, they remove the cellulose skin from the growth bath. They can then either use it wet to mold onto a 3D form, like a dress shape, or dry it flat and then cut and sew it into a garment.
Lee is the author of ‘Fashioning The Future: tomorrow’s wardrobe’ published by Thames & Hudson.http://www.biocouture.co.uk/



Dimple Dash: Turbospeed Lycra Suit from Nike

Utilizing the aerodynamic properties of the humble golf ball, Nike’s engineers are pioneering this innovative tracksuit that reportedly shaves off micro seconds from performances. .023 seconds to be exact. That would be the possible equivalent of a higher placing when one talks of sprinting, so that is something very interesting to consider. Relying on the principle that explains the convex dimpled pattern found on a golf ball. These help balls travel further as they create low pressure turbulence in the boundary layer on the wind-facing side of the ball as it glides through the air, creating less drag behind the ball. Nike is calling them, “surface architectures”. panels are added to the areas that create most resistance such as the arms and legs. The result is also visually sleek and intimidating.


Kiss The Future: Instant Learning


Scientists say they’re getting closer to Matrix-style instant learning
What price effortless learning? In a paper published in the latest issue of Science, neuroscientists say they’ve developed a novel method of learning, that can cause long-lasting improvement in tasks that demand a high level of visual performance.

And while the so-called neurofeedback method could one day be used to teach you kung fu, or to aid spinal-injury patients on the road to rehabilitation, evidence also suggests the technology could be used to target people without their knowledge, opening doors to numerous important ethical questions.
According to a press release from the National Science Foundation:

New research published today in the journal Science suggests it may be possible to use brain technology to learn to play a piano, reduce mental stress or hit a curve ball with little or no conscious effort. It’s the kind of thing seen in Hollywood’s “Matrix” franchise.

Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, recently demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.

Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future.

But here’s the bit that’s really interesting (and also pretty creepy): the researchers found that this novel learning approach worked even when test subjects weren’t aware of what they were learning:

“The most surprising thing in this study is that mere inductions of neural activation patterns…led to visual performance improvement…without presenting the feature or subjects’ awareness of what was to be learned,” said lead researcher Takeo Watanabe. He continues:

We found that subjects were not aware of what was to be learned while behavioral data obtained before and after the neurofeedback training showed that subjects’ visual performance improved specifically for the target orientation, which was used in the neurofeedback training.

Is this research mind-blowing and exciting? Absolutely. I mean come on — automated learning? Yes. Sign me up. But according to research co-author Mitsuo Kawato, the neurofeedback mechanism could just as soon be used for purposes of hypnosis or covert mind control. And that… I’m not so keen on.

“We have to be careful,” he explains, “so that this method is not used in an unethical way.” [Science via NSF]

Minimalist Design: Nike Flyknit Series


NIKE has come out with various innovations this past week, one of which is the astonishingly minimal series, FLYKNIT, utilizing the most homespun of concepts: CROCHET.
Not your ordinary needle and thread, this is a micro-engineered upper utilizing resistant yet pliable material ideal for continual wear. Four years in the R+D phase, it is a masterful innovation in minimalist footwear, not quite as reductionist as the Swiss protection sock but certainly perhaps more practical. The single layer construction whittles the weight down to just 34 grams for the upper for a total of 160 for the entire shoe! Now that’s FLY.

Barefoot in the Park: Swiss Protection Sock

On the heels (excuse the pun) of the barefoot trend such as Vibrams 5-fingers shoes come the Swiss Protection sock developed with Kevlar (of bullet proof vest origins) and laminated with PVC for further protection. Not for everyone but possibly the solution for a variety of water sports and such. Running on tacks and glass is probably not recommended.
It brings new meaning to casual and “socks with sandals” notoriety and may become as annoying as the ubiquitous Croc but comfort is obviously the new black. Enjoy.
See more at:Swiss Barefoot Co.


Apocalypse 101: Blizzard Blanket

REFLEXCELL is a unique material that with its triple ply construction and use of reflective foil material offers TWICE the warmth-to-weight ratio of goose down! The construction is also elastic due to the crimping and thus contours to the body therefore optimizing its warming effect. Too bad it doesn’t feel as cozy as down but when the chips are done and you’re in Survivor mode, this is definitely the way to go. Besides, it comes in fun shades like optimal orange (visibility) and army green (camouflage) alongside spacy silver.
Following exhaustive in-house testing and trials performed by the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, the Blizzard Survival Blanket has been endorsed by the US Army Medical Center Directorate of Combat and Doctrine Development and is the only blanket used to train Army medics in the treatment of hypothermia.
Don’t leave home without it…
More at BLIZZARDSURVIVAL


Kiss the Future: The C1 Motorcycle


I haven’t been this excited about an urban vehicle since the BMW C1 covered motorbike 10yrs ago (it was dropped for the North American market and simply vanished)…Now comes the C-1 from LIT MOTORS in San Francisco.
Fully enclosed with gyro stabilizer wheels and sunroof, it is quite the machine. Different versions of the C-1 will be available for different markets. The model aimed at First World countries will have an 8-10 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The vehicle will incorporate electric hub motors in both wheels, at least one of those motors being a high-performance Remy HVH unit. The top speed should be at least 120 mph (193 km/h), with driving range for the higher-end model expected to sit at around 150 to 220 miles (241 to 354 km) per charge.
The price is, however, very high still. They are now working on a hand-built steel uni-bodied working prototype, which should reportedly be complete within about three months. Plans call for an initial run of production vehicles to be available at a price of about US$24,000 by late 2013, with that price going down to $16,000 once full production gets under way in 2014. The BMW scooter was only 4-5000$. It should ideally be 7-8000 IMO.
Robin Chase, co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing service – she has since become “a huge proponent” of the vehicle. The MIT Media Lab also provided assistance in its design.
Should you be interested, LIT is accepting deposits…
LIT MOTORS
See it in motion here:

Le Nouveau Parfum: Swallowable Perfume

As if taking a scene from the beautiful French film, “Le Parfum” and reeling it into the 21st Century, a new chapter unfolds.
Introducing, SWALLOWABLE PARFUM, a innovative solution that permits the user to swallow a capsule and produce a fragrance that is generated from WITHIN.

Lucy McRae and synthetic biologist Sheref Mansy from Amsterdam, have produced a capsule with synthetic fragrant lipids that mimic the structure of the fat molecule found in the body, this when those lipids get metabolized by the body’s enzymes, fragrant molecules are released and excreted through the skin’s surface through perspiration. The skin acts like an atomizer for the fragrance and the resulting scent is determined by the individual: current temperature, stress, exercise or sexual arousal. Have a glimpse below:

SWALLOWABLE PARFUM® from Lucy McRae on Vimeo.

Website: http://www.swallowableparfum.com
Contact: Lucy@LucyMcrae.net

Jannis Hulsen: Design



Fresh, innovative approaches to age old questions are what become benchmarks. German designer, Jannis Hulsen does just this in marvelous ways. Here is his explanation for the bio-tech stool: Xylinum is a research project that poses the question: what could future materials and production processes be like? The title Xylinum is the name of the bacterium which produces an artificial cellulose material. This bacterium counsumes sugar and builds a cellulose fibre structure around any given form. Since the process takes place in a nutrition liquid, the wet material can be dryed later on, resulting in a durable and 100 % biodegradable material. The properties of this material can be adjusted by changing the genetic code of the organisms. In collaboration with the company Jenpolymers, a technique was developed to create a »skin« around a wooden stool frame, forming the coating and seating surface.
More at: Jannis Hulsen

Internet: Circa 1969 A brave new world.

How our imaginations must have been stretched at the thought of such sci-fi communication and convenience. We simply don’t realize what a strain normal life must have been like (kidding of course). Here is an excerpt from a flight-of-fancy documentary. It’s pretty accurate! Watching this video on our new fangled computers is all very back to the future…

M-DISC The New Nanotech CD

The new nanotech M-disc

Regular CD’s really only have a shelf life of approx. 10 years…The new disc, called M-DISC, stores data in the same way as CDs and DVDs – as a series of pits – but instead of the pits being burned into organic dyes using a laser as is the case with traditional optical discs, the pits are literally etched into a layer of a “rock-like material” composed of inorganic materials and compounds including metals and metalloids using a higher powered laser. The resultant pits aren’t affected by temperature, humidity or sunlight. Millenniata says it expects this layer would actually remain readable for over 10,000 years, however, the polycarbonate layers it is sandwiched between are the weak links and would only be reliable for at least 1,000 years.
M-DISCs are a write-once technology designed as a cheap permanent backup solution that is still backwards compatible with existing DVD drives, including consumer DVD players. Millenniata says its M-DISCs offer comparable performance to standard DVDs and provide the same 4.7 GB storage capacity as a single-sided, single-layer DVD. The company says it is also currently working on a Blu-Ray version of the M-DISC to provide greater storage capacity.

Millenniata has partnered with Hitachi-LG Data Storage, Inc, which will manufacture M-READY DVD drives and sell them under its DVD brands. There’s no word on what these devices will sell for, but the M-DISCs will be priced at US$2.99 for a single disc, $13.89 for a pack of five, and $26.59 for a pack of ten when they go on sale through the Millenniata website next month.

Electrolux Design Contest


Country: New Zealand
Designer: Sam Evans
School: Massey University

Electrolux declares its 2010 Design Lab winners. This year has been focused squarely on MOBILITY. That is the buzzword for just about everything these days for the modern day nomad…
Above, the heat grenade (No. 5) that resembles an aluminum egg and unfolds elegantly to a heat induction hob in black glass run on paper thin batteries. Nice.
Here’s more…

AIRMOUSE by Deanmark

The AirMouse wearable mouse

Don’t worry if you can’t or won’t buy the new iPad.  You can still have fun and save your wrists on your pc by using the ingenious but rather ungainly “airmouse”.
Technology aside, the aesthetic design could be so much more unless you like looking half-human…
Deanmark founder s Mark Bajramovic and Oren Tessler met in university, where Mark learned first-hand (no pun intended) what it’s like to OD on mousing. “Half way through our first year, I developed a computer mouse related RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) and lost the use of my right hand and arm for several weeks,” he tells us.  According to the company website, the clinically-tested product works by aligning itself with the ligaments of your hand and wrist. This lets you keep your hand in a neutral position, and transmits more of your vector force than would be possible with a regular mouse. Not only does this make it easier on your hand, but it increases your mousing speed and accuracy as well. The mouse is also designed to remain inactive until your hand is placed in a neutral, flat position, so you can easily go back and forth between typing and mousing.
The AirMouse should be available for purchase within the next 6 to 12 months, at a price of $US129.

MINORITY REPORT SCREEN

Wall Street Journal:

About a year ago, HP began working on a ginormous touchscreen display for their PR firm’s Manhattan offices. The resulting product, called the Wall of Touch, was such a hit that it has found its way into the workplaces of other select clients, with more on the way. Ironically, despite its name, one of the things that makes the Wall unique is that users don’t have to actually touch it.

The Wall of Touch is made up of as many as nine 43 to 46-inch, 1080p panels. HP decided not to go with one big panel, as it would require rear projection and a translucent screen material that would compromise resolution. The Wall is driven by an HP Z800 workstation, essentially making it a huge HP TouchSmart computer. Built-in optical cameras and a magnetic strip detect when users are nearing it, thus the lack of needing to actually touch the screen. If users can’t reach the corners, it still works with a mouse or keyboard.

Versions of the Wall are currently in use at the headquarters of the National Basketball Association, as well as the Continental Airlines counter in the Houston airport.

So will a Touchless Touchscreen be arriving at a location near you soon? “We’re in the process of building out the next handful of walls as part of supporting our customer base, with the intent that, if there’s enough interest, HP will turn it into a mainstream product,” HP’s Personal Systems Group VP Philip McKinney told the Wall Street Journal.

It won’t come cheap, though. Prices are expected to range from $US2,000 up to $100,000 for systems with features such as HD video conferencing. The HP Wall of Touch is made up of as many as nine 43 to 46-inch, 1080p panels

AEROGEL, NANOGEL, LITRACON MATERIALS OF OUR FUTURE

Aerogel in hand (Pic: Nasa/JPL )

UPDATE:Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material but was pulled because they received complaints that it was too hot. The same complaints surfaced for some mountaineering boots developed for a climb up Mount Everest. Even Dunlop, a racket sports company, is currently incorporating the material into their tennis and squash rackets to deliver more power and strength.Green, strong, light, protective and relatively easy to make, scientists need only to figure out how to better regulate temperatures when used.

Nanogel is Cabot Corporation’s trade name for its family of silica aerogels. Although aerogel was first invented 75 years ago, Cabot has been producing Nanogel aerogel since 2003 at its state-of-the-art plant in Frankfurt, Germany. Cabot is the only company to develop a commercialized process that allows continuous production of the material under ambient conditions. This process allows control of the material’s porosity, pore size and distribution, and bypasses the high-cost traditional method of super-critical drying, so that Nanogel can be manufactured in a safe and continuous manner.

Easily adapted for a wide range of applications, including:

 

 

Key characteristics*:

Extremely low thermal conductivity

9-12mW/mK

High porosity

95% air, 5% solid

Nano-sized pores

20-40 nanometers

High surface area

~750m2/g

Very low tap density 

30-100kg/m3

High oil absorption capacity (DBP) 

540g/100g

Specific heat capacity Kj/Kg .7-1.15

Variety of particle sizes 

5 microns-4mm

Surface chemistry 

Completely hydrophobic

Opacity

Translucent, IR opacified and opaque

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

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It is expected to rank alongside wonder products from previous generations such as Bakelite in the 1930s, carbon fibre in the 1980s and silicone in the 1990s. Mercouri Kanatzidis, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said: “It is an amazing material. It has the lowest density of any product known to man, yet at the same time it can do so much. I can see aerogel being used for everything from filtering polluted water to insulating against extreme temperatures and even for jewellery.”

Aerogel is nicknamed “frozen smoke” and is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide. The result is a substance that is capable of insulating against extreme temperatures and of absorbing pollutants such as crude oil.

It was invented by an American chemist for a bet in 1931, but early versions were so brittle and costly that it was largely consigned to laboratories. It was not until a decade ago that Nasa started taking an interest in the substance and putting it to a more practical use.

In 1999 the space agency fitted its Stardust space probe with a mitt packed full of aerogel to catch the dust from a comet’s tail. It returned with a rich collection of samples last year.

In 2002 Aspen Aerogel, a company created by Nasa, produced a stronger and more flexible version of the gel. It is now being used to develop an insulated lining in space suits for the first manned mission to Mars, scheduled for 2018.

Mark Krajewski, a senior scientist at the company, believes that an 18mm layer of aerogel will be sufficient to protect astronauts from temperatures as low as -130C. “It is the greatest insulator we’ve ever seen,” he said.

Aerogel is also being tested for future bombproof housing and armour for military vehicles. In the laboratory, a metal plate coated in 6mm of aerogel was left almost unscathed by a direct dynamite blast.

It also has green credentials. Aerogel is described by scientists as the “ultimate sponge”, with millions of tiny pores on its surface making it ideal for absorbing pollutants in water.

Kanatzidis has created a new version of aerogel designed to mop up lead and mercury from water. Other versions are designed to absorb oil spills.

He is optimistic that it could be used to deal with environmental catastrophes such as the Sea Empress spillage in 1996, when 72,000 tons of crude oil were released off the coast of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

Aerogel is also being used for everyday applications. Dunlop, the sports equipment company, has developed a range of squash and tennis rackets strengthened with aerogel, which are said to deliver more power.

Earlier this year Bob Stoker, 66, from Nottingham, became the first Briton to have his property insulated with aerogel. “The heating has improved significantly. I turned the thermostat down five degrees. It’s been a remarkable transformation,” he said.

Mountain climbers are also converts. Last year Anne Parmenter, a British mountaineer, climbed Everest using boots that had aerogel insoles, as well as sleeping bags padded with the material. She said at the time: “The only problem I had was that my feet were too hot, which is a great problem to have as a mountaineer.”

However, it has failed to convince the fashion world. Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material but had to withdraw them after complaints that they were too hot.

Although aerogel is classed as a solid, 99% of the substance is made up of gas, which gives it a cloudy appearance.

Scientists say that because it has so many millions of pores and ridges, if one cubic centimetre of aerogel were unravelled it would fill an area the size of a football field.

Its nano-sized pores can not only collect pollutants like a sponge but they also act as air pockets.

AND MORE…

LiTraCon

Áron Losonczi, a Hungarian architect, laid glass fibres into structural concrete blocks before they set, rendering the light ethereal and see-through.

Nanogel

Used to insulate spaceships 30 years ago, Nanogel — sound absorbent, insulating and light transmitting — is now sandwiched within building facades.

SmartWrap

American architects have invented a new façade material made from paper-thin, polymer-based film, stuffed with air gel pockets for insulation. It can be attached with flexible solar cells and LEDs, printed with patterns and wrapped around a frame.

Electrochromic glass

We already have glass that becomes opaque by running an electric current through it. More sophisticated versions change reflectivity, glare, colour and opacity: entire glass-clad buildings might act like Reactolite sunglasses, and reducing the heat gain and loss that can make glass so energy inefficient.

Responsive environments

Spaces that communicate with their user have been one of architecture’s dreams since the Sixties. One day walls will be soft, embedded with sensors and IT, so that walls become like skin, buildings like bodies. Coating walls in nanotechnology devices is being explored too, for instance to make surfaces self-cleaning — or coating them in electronic ink so that a wall becomes one giant LCD screen. The first small SmartSlab panels will emerge in the next three years.

Carbon fibre

Imagine a skyscraper, 40 storeys high, with a helical shell entirely woven by robots from IT-embedded carbon fibre, like a cocoon. The LA architects Peter Testa and Devyn Weiser are pioneering the transfer of carbon fibre technology to architecture. Most of their projects, like the Carbon Tower, remain speculative.

ASUS unveils 3 very futuristic waveface items

ASUS' Waveface Ultra is designed to provide information anywhere, anytime
ASUS' Waveface Light can be used as a tablet or a traditional keyboard

ASUS' Waveface on display at CES 2010

ASUS – once known mostly as a motherboard manufacturer – has chosen CES 2010 to introduce some innovative laptops and futuristic concepts. Not content with showcasing a laptop designed in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen’s chief designer, it has also introduced three Waveface design concepts. The range includes a portable device worn on the wrist, a widescreen display that is both an entertainment center and internet portal and a touch-sensitive machine that can be used as a single-screen tablet or conventional keyboard – all designed by ASUS to allow the user to fully embrace the digital life…perhaps even by using one’s own physiological and emotional state as a source of data. Well, I did say “futuristic concepts”.