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Good Thinking

The tree-of-knowledge building

October 4, 2006 The Pierres Vives building for the French Department of Herault on the edge of Montpellier is unique in that it will be a combination of three civic institutions - the archives, the library and the sports department - within a single envelope. Given the contained programs, the spectacular design is inspired by the idea of a 'tree of knowledge' as an organizational diagram. The archive is located at the solid base of the trunk, followed by the slightly more porous library, with the sports department and its offices on top where the trunk bifurcates and becomes much lighter. Designed by Stephane Hof of Zaha Hadid Architects, work is due to start on site at the end of this year. The image library for this article is a must for those who appreciate the finest architectural design.  Read More

The Wallet 2.0

October 2, 2006 We’ve seen several new ideas for carrying one’s valuables in the form of the Jimi wallet and the Tsaya Thigh Holster for gals who don’t like to carry handbags but both are designed for minimalists, not for those of us with busy lives and lots of paper and stuff to schlep around. So the arrival of the details of the Wallet 2.0 really got the brain cells working. The US$30 Wallet 2.0 has a soft silicone outer case, so it moulds to the shape of your hip or breast pocket more readily than a leather wallet. It's also water repellant, but the real trickery is inside where it uses specially designed folders like those in an organizer or planner. There are five different refill sheets designed to hold paper money, coins, ID and credit cards and there are more interesting and useful sheets on the way. There’s a flash demo here.  Read More

HearHere enables users to find exactly what they want within a Podcast

October 2, 2006 One of the frustrations associated with audio and video compared to text is that you have to listen to or watch the entire thing. At least that was until Seattle start-up Pluggd debuted a significant new technology for the booming internet audio industry at the semi-annual DEMO conference this week. HearHere, search technology identifies topics within audio and allows users to search within audio Internet programming and quickly find the segments they want. The HearHere feature lets the user type in a keyword representing a topic he or she is looking for and displays a 'heat map' within the media player that visually indicates where in the content the topic is discussed. HearHere's patent-pending technology allows people to find where a conversation of interest starts instead of simply dropping them in the middle of the audiocast, and will identify related topics even if the keyword isn't explicitly used in the content. HearHere will be available along with support for video by the end of the year. With radio and television increasingly turning to the Internet for distribution, the technology also makes it uniquely possible to connect advertisers with new audiences.  Read More

Instant dry cleaning spray

October 1, 2006 Japanese company Nissin Medico has already had a runaway hit product with its spray-on stockings (great photo gallery) becoming massive sellers in Asia and warmer climates in 2003 and is now available in over 2000 American stores. Now the company’s subsidiary C.C. Medico (HK) which specializes in marketing spray products could have another product which creates its own category – a dry cleaning spray hit the Japanese market earlier this month. The product is claimed to dry clean business suits in just 30 seconds. Apparently you put your clothes on a hanger and spray them with the “Spray Iron” product which will “penetrate quickly into the fabric, removing creases, stains and odours immediately.” It sounds too good to be true but so did sliced bread, non-stick frypans and pimple removal cream. The patent application for the Wool mark, from the International Wool Society (IWS), is currently in progress.  Read More

Inventive heating design delivers instant hot water to every faucet

October 1, 2006 When we saw the technology behind this inventive line of hot water circulation pumps we just had to give it a mention. Having to wait for hot water at the faucet is inconvenient at best, but this system offers the convenience of having hot water at every faucet in the home instantly and is claimed to save up to 15,000 gallons of water annually for a typical family of four. Offered as both a retrofit and new installation, the system installs under the sink or faucet farthest from the water heater-where hot water has to travel for the longest time.  Read More

TouchBook Touch User Interface (TUI) to be used by NASA

October 1, 2006 Somatic Digital announced today that it will provide NASA Goddard Flight Center with its TouchBook Touch User Interface (TUI) platform. The TUI is to the printed page what the Graphic User Interface (GUI) is to the computer screen. It is an open convergence technology that enables readers of normally printed materials to touch the page and retrieve digital content or launch communication applications on a computer. Currently, the TUI can retrieve digital content and launch communication applications via Windows XP or Mac OS X. The functions that can be driven from a web page can also be conducted from a printed page.  Read More

The LoftCube – designed to be airlifted in to the free space on top of buildings

September 28, 2006 If there’s a vacant block without a building on it, people notice – valuable real estate doesn’t stand vacant for long. But there’s plenty of prime real estate sitting vacant out there and the owners in most cases are completely unaware of it – it’s called the free space on the roof of many city buildings and there’s an industry fast growing up to cater for it. The Aisslinger-designed and built Loftcube is a 39 square metre penthouse designed to be helicoptered to the location of your choice – as long as it’s on a rooftop. Once it is airlifted into place, it can be fully functional inside 2-4 days according to the architects. Inside it’s completely customisable, and prices range from EUR89,000 (US$ 112,830) to EUR 144,000 (US$182,570) - see inside for details.  Read More

Reeingineering automotive toll processes for a cash-based economy

September 22, 2006 Every civilization on earth treats money slightly differently. When the Puerto Rico Highway and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) set out to create the country’s AutoExpreso toll collection system, it was seen to have some unique cultural problems to overcome as a high percentage of Puerto Ricans do not maintain bank accounts or credit cards. With the country’s cash-based culture, the system had to be conceptually re-engineered to look beyond the traditional credit card-based ETC architecture and business rules, and allow users to pay cash to refill their account. The eGo radio frequency identification (RFID)-based cashless toll collection system launched in early 2004, and in just two years, 400,000eGo tags have been issued, well ahead of the five-year goal of 300,000. This represents a more rapid adoption curve of ETC than experienced in many earlier systems throughout the United States.  Read More

The Programmable Liquid Container

September 22, 2006 Packaging that intelligently enhances its contents with increased consumer customisation and personalisation choices is on the way and Ipifini’s choice-enabled packaging could well change the way liquid products are manufactured and marketed across multiple segments. The Programmable Liquid Container employs buttons on the container's surface that release additives (flavours, colourants, fragrances) into the liquid. The additive buttons allow the consumer to choose variations of the liquid in the container at the point of consumption. For example, a programmable cola bottle with buttons for lemon, lime, vanilla, and cherry flavors as well as a caffeine button allows for 32 potential choices of soda. A programmable paint container with 20 pigment additive buttons allows the consumer to choose from one million paint colours. First cab off the rank in the Choice-Pack line of products under development is a prototype clear soda bottle available for US$250 plus shipping and handling for people interested in exploring licenses to its Programmable Liquid Container technology. After the soda bottle will come choice-enabled pouches, further developments of plastic and glass bottles, jars, boxes and cans promise the ability to mix your own perfume, flavoured coffee, juice, even paint. Prototypes even include perfume bottles where you can make your choice one dose at a time – A with a hint of B, C, D or E. Apart from allowing consumers to select their desired variation at the time of use, the technology simplifies manufacturing, distribution, promotion and sales by allowing a single container to replace a series of product varieties., and is relevant to many industries such as beverage, food, personal care, household, paint, perfume, pharmaceuticals, just to mention a few. Sensational image gallery with prototype pictures.  Read More

Xerox develop MicroText font - 1/100th of an inch high

September 15, 2006 Xerox Corporation scientists have developed a digital printing font so tiny that you need a magnifying glass to read it. The new MicroText Specialty Imaging Font, just 1/100th of an inch high, is designed to help make valuable documents with personal information such as birth certificates, personal identification papers, and checks even harder to forge. Microscopic words are already hidden in the design of credit cards, checks and currency as a deterrent to counterfeiting. For instance, the "dots" in the border next to Andrew Jackson's right shoulder on current US$20 bills are really the tiny words "The United States of America 20 USA 20 USA." Now Xerox's innovation carries microprinting to the next level because it can make important documents more secure by individualizing the tiny letters and numbers.  Read More

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