Courtesy Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
This week, we have a village and a truck carved from ice, a Gecko-inspired robot and a solar-powered car from Ford, to name a few.
It's cold in Northern China, but the 2014 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival heats up the night with its spectacular sculptures, winter games and ice village lit by colorful LEDs. The festival takes place on the grounds of a 124-acre park and features skating rinks, mazes and a 787-foot-long ice slide. What a wonderful way to brighten up a long, dark winter.
Jan. 1 marked the start of the 2014 Federal phase-out of 40W and 60W incandescent bulbs. To help fill the gap, Philips has introduced SlimStyle, a flat A19 LED light bulb that generates the brightness and warm glow of a 60W incandescent, but doesn't come with the typical steep LED price. It's currently selling at Home Depot for $9.97.
Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery
No More Woof is a headset that, according to Tomas Mazzetti of the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery, translates a dog's thoughts into speech. The EEG headset measures brainwave activity and converts three baseline readings -- sleepiness, agitation, and curiosity -- into words humans can understand. Now if you can just get your dog to keep the headset on instead of chewing it, we'll be good to go.
A proposal in London means to get cyclists up off the streets. The elevated SkyCycle -- from the architectural firms Foster + Partners, Exterior Architecture, and the urban planning consulting group Space Syntax -- calls for more than 136 miles of lanes built above suburban railway lines. This new bike highway could handle 12,000 cyclists an hour and slice nearly half an hour off regular commute times.
Canadian Tire and Iceculture
Artists from the sculpting house of Iceculture, along with gearheads from Canadian Tire, teamed up to make this ice truck. They started with a 2005 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD frame, then added 11,000 pounds of ice and special engine fans to blow hot air away from the frozen cab. The ice truck was built as a promotional stunt for a Canadian Tire and in fact, three trucks were actually built: one as a prototype, one for advertising clients and the third for the commercials. No seat warmers in this vehicle.
Simon Fraser University School of Engineering Science/MENRVA
Abigaille is a tiny-legged prototype robot inspired by Gecko lizards that are able to walk up any surface. Developed by the European Space Agency, the robot is being designed to crawl along the hulls of spacecraft, cleaning and maintaining them. So far, it can transition from vertical to horizontal surfaces in the vacuum conditions of space. Next on the agenda: zero gravity.
Ford is exploring solar charging with its concept car, the C-Max Solar Energi. Solar panels on the roof work in combination with a parking structure (not shown) equipped with solar concentrators. The concentrators magnify the sun's rays by a factor of eight and direct them onto the car's roof-mounted solar panels. The cells gather enough light during a day's charging for a full battery top-up, or 21 miles of EPA-rated electric range. It's a prototype and so the hope is that future versions will generate more energy.
LEGO has come out with its own version of NASA’s Curiosity Rover currently roving the Red Planet. For just $29.95, rover fans can own a scaled-down version of the 10-foot Curiosity, which cost NASA $2.5 billion. LEGO's 295-piece vehicle has many of the same features as the real thing, including a "rocker-bogie" suspension for the six wheels, an articulated arm and various antennae.
New York City’s bike-sharing program, Citi Bike, launched a campaign to help power the New Year's Eve Times Square Ball. The organization set up six stationery bikes at the corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue and gave tourists and residents alike the chance to turn the kinetic energy of pedaling into electricity used to illuminate the ball.
A recently launched Kickstarter campaign could make transparent tablets a reality. The so-called Grippity, which could be available by the fall if money is raised, features a semi-transparent 7-inch 800 x 480 display. Two-sided touch controls would give users multi-touch access from both sides of the tablet. Developer Jacob Eichbaum said that typing and touching from the back panel rather than the front would prevent users from obscuring the display with their fingers. $235 will get you a tablet by Oct. 24 or pre-order one for $159.
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t leave the house without noise-canceling headphones or earbuds and a playlist of tasty tracks, you’re quite familiar with enveloping yourself in an audio bubble.
Now you can do that quite literally, with AudioOrb, a Plexiglass sphere decked out with 18 internal speakers for a “rich and full audio spectrum,” as well as Tempur memory-foam pillows and enough space for some serious chillaxing. Just plug in your device and push play.
Designed by the same folks behind the Wall of Sound iPhone speaker, AudioOrb was developed by Scandinavian creative lab, ST. They’ve dubbed it the “first spherical speaker you can enter.” The pod is also lauded for its sound cancellation qualities.
“Spherical spaces almost completely block the noise from the outside world,” the project’s Indiego page said. “This was our starting point when we developed the AudioOrbs.
Maybe it’s because of Colorado’s historic legislation that recently legalized marijuana, but I can’t look at the AudioOrb without thinking the sound sphere would be immensely popular with those who like to partake.