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— Good Thinking

Students adapt Kinect into a life-saving device

Whether it’s through parents’ forgetfulness, ignorance or just plain not caring, it does sometimes happen ... small children die from heatstroke after being left unattended in a hot parked car. According to a 2012 study conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 38 such deaths occur in the United States alone each year. While various systems have been developed to help keep this from happening, three engineering undergrads from Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University have taken a unique approach. They’ve converted a Microsoft Kinect into a child-in-the-hot-car detector. Read More
— Architecture

"Algae-powered" building opens in Germany

Splitterwerk Architects and engineering firm Arup have unveiled what is thought to be the world's first building to be powered partly by algae. Officially "unveiled" at the International Building Exhibition hosted in Hamburg, the design, dubbed the BIQ, has a "bio-adaptive" facade that is claimed to be a first for using algae within its glass louvers in order to generate energy, and provide shade, to a working building. Read More
— Environment

Printed thermoelectric generators could capture energy from waste heat

Thermoelectric materials, putting it simply, are able to generate electricity via differences in temperature. If thermoelectric felt were used to make a jacket, for instance, it could generate a current using the temperature gradient between the warm interior and cold exterior of the garment. Like many such promising technologies, however, the cost of thermoelectrics is something of an issue ... although thanks to a new process developed at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology, that might not be the case for much longer. Read More
— Architecture

Experimental cold climate house built in Japan

Japanese architectural firm Kengo Kuma & Associates recently demonstrated its ethos of design inspired by light and nature with an experimental house in Hokkaido called "Même." The structure is designed for cold climates and whilst based upon the local Ainu people's “Chise” (House of the Earth), it uses modern materials for an insulated double skin membrane that promotes convection and maintains a comfortable internal environment due to heat circulation from its continually lit fire. Read More
— Outdoors

Hot Can heats its own contents

Last February, the world welcomed its first self-chilling beverage. Of course, a self-chilling beverage was only of so much interest during a time when much of the world's population could just step outside its door and chill its own beverages in the open air – June might have been a better time for that one. What folks could use during the cold season is a beverage container that automatically warms its contents. That container is called the Hot Can. Read More
— Around The Home

Nest Labs releases upgraded version of its Learning Thermostat

Apple fans with vivid imaginations love to dream up all kinds of fictional Apple products. iCars, iFridges, and iBoats may never see the light of day, but there is one home appliance that requires a bit less imagination. Former Apple exec Tony Fadell, who was instrumental in creating the iPod, brought his Cupertino schooling to the world of thermostats. The resulting original Nest thermostat was a hit, and – much like with an iPhone or iPad – its sequel is here, nearly a year later. Read More
— Science

World’s most efficient thermoelectric material developed

Approximately 90 percent of the world’s electricity is generated by heat energy. Unfortunately, electricity generation systems operate at around 30 to 40 percent efficiency, meaning around two thirds of the energy input is lost as waste heat. Despite this, the inefficiency of current thermoelectric materials that can convert waste heat to electricity has meant their commercial use has been limited. Now researchers have developed a thermoelectric material they claim is the best in the world at converting waste heat into electricity, potentially providing a practical way to capture some of the energy that is currently lost. Read More