Published for Paper Magazine in September 2011
Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Library in California have been working on a new type of battery composite that uses a substance known as graphine, a microscopic chicken-wire looking compound that when heated, can produce a faster charging, longer lasting lithium battery. The graphine is layered within the structure of a battery and expands as its heated creating something called nanopillars that help with faster charging. The flexibility of the compound also prevents electrode degradation. Lithium batteries are used in everything from Blackberrys to camcorders and a breakthrough like this is sure to help bring forward the oft-maligned battery question for many such devices.
Glasses-Free Portable 3D!
The wait for a glasses-free 3D laptop appears about over with Toshiba’s new Qosmio F750 laptop. Released in America early this month, the core i7 monster with 6GB of RAM, a Blueray disk player and GeForce GT 540M graphics card is sure to impress laptop movie junkies waiting to watch Avatar while out and about. At 8 pounds its certainly no lightweight but there should be a large enough market for this device for other brands to get on the laptop 3D train soon. And with price tag of RMB10,000 competition for the Qosmio couldn’t come at a better time.
Real Life Sega
Every kids who grew up in the 80’s dream has come true … well, sorta. Remember that arcade driver game ‘Out Run’ by Sega? A red Ferrari weaves in and out of a desert landscape, whizzing past slow-moving traffic while racing fellow Ferrari foes to the finish line. Developers in California have brought the next dimension to Out Run, albeit a few decades late. They’ve rigged a game unit on the frame of a moving car with cameras positioned in the front. Cameras analyze real-world road conditions and traffic ahead of the moving vehicle and project them back onto the screen where a driver is seeing and reacting to the same conditions but in pixelated, retro Sega form. Awesome? Yes. The most dangerous thing to take to the road since maybe forever? You betcha.
We’ve all been there … stuck in some busy airport for hours on end with nowhere to go, running on minimum amounts of sleep as your body’s screaming, “I have to go to bed!” Hotels are an option, but not for a few hours and it’s a hassle getting from there and back to the airport again. Russian designers in Moscow appear to have an answer to this despised predicament: the ‘Sleep Box.’ Positioned conveniently around gates and other pre-departure waiting areas, the duel bunk ‘pods’ are designed to accommodate those in need of as little as 30 minutes of rest between flights. The pods contain noise dampening walls and pullout desks for those looking to get some work done in a peaceful environment. As it stands, only Moscow has bought into the Sleep Box idea to date, but with the growing number of international long-haul travellers, the idea’s bound to catch on. Just try not to think about what the person before you might have done in there.
ADD Chairs Pin Kids to Their Seats
Dutch design firm i29 has developed a very unique set of furniture based on the popular iPad game BuzzWire. BuzzWire encourages users to concentrate on keeping a little dot on a wire or fail and set off an excruciatingly jarring buzzer (it’s similar to Operation, but without the fun of removing body parts.) Although the furniture frames are reminiscent of the wires on the game, it’s the concentration element that makes this set so unique. It was designed for children with attention deficit disorder or ADD. Recently introduced at a school for children with learning disabilities in Holland, the unorthodox set challenges them to create unique seating arrangements, easily arranged in a variety of postures throughout the day. School officials hope it will help kids with ADD stay focused longer during class if they have the ability to change the look of their immediate environment throughout the day.
Environmental advocates got good news last year when GM announced it would discontinue its line of gas guzzling Hummers in light of poor sales and rising oil prices. Architects HplusF have taken it one step further with their line of eco-friendly ‘Hummer Homes’ crafted out of the fused bodies of old Hummers. The Los Angeles architects, known for their work on local landmarks like the Hollywood Bowl and Egyptian Theatre, decided to take on the project after examining the car’s materials and discovering that the sheet metal in its shell is rugged enough to serve as the exterior of a dwelling. The Hummer Home consists of eight Hummer shells that form a ring of pod-like rooms around a central chamber. There’s a Hummer for sleeping, a Hummer for hanging out, a Hummer for cooking. Of course, the modular home contains a number of green design features including optional geothermal storage tanks, photovoltaic cells, and soy insulation. While the piece is interesting from the perspective of sustainable design, it’s most effective as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on two tenets of the American dream: owning a home while spending every minute in your car.