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Environment

Home camera systems from baby monitors to full-blown security systems are nothing new, but living with them can be about as comfortable as living in the novel 1984. Making its debut at this year’s IFA electronics show in Berlin, the Withings Home video and environmental monitoring device tries to dispel that vibe in a user-friendly package that blends into modern home decor. Read More
Like many a technology before it, the aerial drone is finding applications far beyond military circles, from burrito delivery to surveying broken bridges. One emerging area with huge potential is wildlife conservation, with drones delivering the ability to patrol and detect illegal poachers from the air. AREND (Aircraft for Rhino and Environmental Defense) is an international team of students currently developing an unmanned aerial system with the ultimate objective of combating poaching in Africa's national parks. Read More
There are places on this Earth where you simply stand, slack-jawed, and pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming – and Singapore's Gardens by the Bay is as surreal a place as I've ever been. This billion-dollar techno-garden theme park is absolutely stunning right through, but the two stand-out highlights are its signature Supertree Grove – a collection of giant cyborg trees – and the Cloud Forest – a gigantic bio-dome that recreates the environment and climate of a mountaintop forest at sea level. As a bonus, there's also the world's tallest indoor waterfall. Read More
The sheer density of the rainforests in Australia's far-north creates a slight problem for local conservationists. With incursions by invasive plants posing a threat to the native flora, inaccessibility for people makes it a difficult and time-consuming task to monitor the region. Now researchers from the CSIRO have developed two mini helicopters capable of hunting down the dangerous weeds from the air, significantly reducing the resources needed to preserve local plant life. Read More
If you live in an area where salmon spawn, then summer treats you to a free nature drama as the fish battle against currents, fight through rapids, struggle up tiny streams, and leap up waterfalls to return to the calm pools where they were born. Unfortunately, however intrepid the odd salmon is, they weren't built to take on a 300-ft tall hydroelectric dam. That's why Whooshh Innovations has developed a system that sucks the fish up through a plastic tube and shoots them over obstacles low and tall like so many piscatorial projectiles. Read More
Billions of cigarette butts are discarded around the world each year and, even when disposed of properly, pose a threat to the environment by leaching arsenic, lead and other nasty chemicals into land and waterways. New research shows these butts could be set for a new lease on life, with a team of Korean scientists demonstrating that used cigarette filters could actually double as a highly-effective energy storage material. Read More
The urban heat island effect, whereby the high concentration of heat-retaining concrete and bitumen causes metropolitan centers to be significantly warmer than the rural areas surrounding them, is a common problem around the world. The phenomenon is particularly prevalent in Tokyo, Japan, but among the sea of towering structures stands one beacon of hope. The BioSkin that coats the NBF Osaki Building integrates evaporative cooling to keep its surface temperature down and could inspire new solutions to rising city temperatures across the globe. Read More
Vertical farming and building with shipping containers have been touted as solutions to dwindling space in cities and costly construction, respectively. A new concept wants to combine the two as a means of re-localizing food production. The Hive-Inn is a modular and adaptable city farm design proposed for New York. Read More
Two problems caused by increasing overpopulation in cities are how to use space productively and how to feed everyone. A new concept design suggests a means of addressing both these issues. Aprilli Design Studio's Urban Skyfarm is a tree-like skyscraper that provides space for crop farming. Read More
The annual Electrolux Design Lab competition for 2014 has reached stage three of the judging, and 35 semi-finalists remain. Many of the entries are innovative, some are quirky, and others are downright strange. But in the spirit of originality, they are all very individual, unique takes on various types of household devices that we may be using in the not-too-distant future. We have a look at ten of the entries that caught our eye to give you an idea of the competition so far. Read More
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