Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.
Wind farms may be hitting the big time
, but that hasn't deterred inventors and technologists from tinkering, or even reinventing, the turbine itself. In the past few months we've seen wind energy systems that use discs attached to hydraulics
and even charged water droplets
, but how about skyscrapers outfitted with rotating window panels? This is the idea behind the University of Wollongong's PowerWINDows concept, a modular wind turbine designed to have less of an impact on the surrounding environment.
If you spend long hours in front of a computer on a regular basis, chances are your head has found a not-so-comfortable resting place on the keyboard at some point. Now Italian design group, ZO_loft, has devised a keyboard especially for relaxing that won't leave an imprint on your face or your screen filled with gibberish. The QWERTY sofa concept is modeled after a computer keyboard and can be customized by adjusting each "key's" height.
Heineken is introducing a new twist on the ordinary beer bottle with the Heineken Ignite, which uses LEDs and wireless sensors to light up when two bottles are clinked together and flashes in time with music.
For the most part, printing out an image on an inkjet printer is a pretty mundane task – unless you add fire of course. That's exactly what Lucien Langton, a student at ECAL (Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne), did when he built the FireWriter, a handheld printer that burns pictures onto wood with a torch, while an optical sensor keeps track of the image's positioning.
Architects are increasingly designing houses which produce as much energy as they consume, which has led to a plethora of innovative sustainable homes, some conventional in design
and some decidedly not
. The Mo Ventus luxury house concept from Todd Theodore Fix of FIXd Architecture/Design falls squarely in the latter category, with plans that call for retractable screens that regulate heat and light, along with a curved design to harness wind power more efficiently.
In the past, we've seen a variety of robotic arms that can do a variety of things, from chucking cinder blocks
across a room to being controlled by thought
. But behind the majority of these mechanical feats was a human guiding the robot's every move, step-by-step. That might be fine inside a laboratory, but what about somewhere a little less convenient, like a war zone, for instance? That's why DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has begun development on autonomous robotic arms that require only simple commands to performs complex tasks, like searching a bag or defusing explosive devices.
Want to be the envy of everyone on the golf course without actually improving your golfing skills? Then you just need to ride out onto the green in the BW1, the world's first hovercraft golf cart.
Wind energy may be one of the more sustainable sources of power available, but the spinning blades of conventional wind turbines require regular maintenance and have attracted criticism from bird lovers. That might explain why we've seen wind turbine prototypes that enclose the blades in a chamber
or replace them entirely with a disc-like system
. But researchers in the Netherlands set out to eliminate the need for a mechanical component entirely and created the EWICON, a bladeless wind turbine with no moving parts that produces electricity using charged water droplets.
If current technology trends are any indication, it's possible that human lifeguards could be replaced by robots in the future. So far, we've seen a remote-controlled rescue buoy
and a salamander-like bot
that travels on both water and land, among many others. Rather than having to cut through rough water to get to folks in trouble like many search and rescue robot designs, an Iranian research center proposes a quadcopter called Pars that launches from a floating platform and drops life preservers precisely where they're needed.
It's been over two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami hit the nation's northeastern coast, devastating the population and creating a nuclear incident at the Fukushima power plant. Despite concentrated efforts to repair the damage though, there are still areas that remain vacant and almost untouched since – but that doesn't mean you can't still explore these places yourself. Google Maps recently added the evacuated town of Namie-machi to Street View as part of a larger project to document the destruction and restoration of areas affected by the earthquake.