Good Thinking

Pavegen harvests energy from Paris Marathon runners

While the term "electrifying" can sometimes be used to describe breathtaking performance in sports, it's not often you'll find it used for marathon runners. Yet, that's precisely the word I'd use to describe this year's Paris Marathon, which took place on Sunday April 7. You see, as the feet of almost 40,000 runners hit a 25-meter (82-foot) installation of special tiles at the beginning of the 26-mile (42-km) course, kinetic energy was harvested and turned into usable electricity.Read More


3D solar cells could be integrated into solar roof tiles

Home owners looking to embrace solar but concerned about the effect slabs of solar panels will have on the look of their house may soon have an option that blends the old with the new. California-based company Solar3D has announced it is conducting a study to explore the potential for integrating its solar cells directly into roof tiles. While conventional solar cells aren’t really suitable for roof tiles due to their fixed orientation, Solar3D believes its 3D solar cell technology could make such a product feasible. Read More


UrbanTile window blind concept fuses solar panel with an OLED screen

Each and every day, the sun showers our cities in solar energy. Every night, our cities emit light so bright that they can be seen from space. An industrial designer from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, Israel, has designed a concept device called the UrbanTile that would harness the solar energy city buildings absorb during the day for their lighting needs at night. The UrbanTile is a small solar panel that can be flipped to reveal a light emitting screen. Banded together into rows, the panels become a window blind that forms a light and entertainment display.Read More

Around The Home

Glass roof tiles let a little sunshine in to cut heating bills

Swedish company, Soltech Energy, recently received the gold medal for this year’s hottest new material at the Nordbygg 2010 trade fair in Stockholm. The award was fitting because it was for the company’s home heating system that features roof tiles made out of glass. The tiles, which are made from ordinary glass, weigh about the same as the clay roof tiles they replace but allow the sun to heat air that is then used to heat the house and cut energy bills.Read More


The board game V2.0

Board games aren’t necessarily bound to become obsolete - at least, not if researchers at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada have anything to say about it. They will change, however. Queen’s Human Media Lab (HML) recently unveiled a prototype board game that uses traditional flat cardboard tiles (i.e: cards), but the images on those tiles are projected onto them by an overlooking digital projector. The images stay on the tiles as they’re moved around by the players, courtesy of an overlooking camera that tracks their movements. This means that the tiles could display moving video, that their display could change entirely depending on what’s happening in the game, or that it could be customized by the players. Monopoly night may never be the same.Read More


Thermeleon roof tiles make saving energy as clear as black and white

Prototype roof tiles that turn white to reflect heat when they get hot seem like a pretty cool idea, as do tiles that turn black to absorb heat when it’s cold. That’s why a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduates has won the third annual MIT MADMEC (Making and Designing Materials Engineering Contest) by demonstrating their thermally-activated, color-changing, roofing material called “Thermeleon” (as in chameleon). Read More

Around The Home

Magnetic tiles enable the spontaneous room makeover

September 22, 2006 “We change our clothing, handbags and shoes with the season, why not our tile?” posits Nancy Epstein, CEO of Artistic Tile, and head of new product development. “Rather than old-fashioned summer slipcovers, why not change the look of the entire room by switching the floor or wall from the warmth of naturally fur-covered cowhide tile to a smooth Natura leather tile for the warmer months. Or you can simply add a new look by applying a border of saddle stitched tile, or changing the configuration of the accent tile from a border to an inset. It’s not so different from changing your outfit, and takes very little time to achieve,” she adds. Unfortunately, the mix and match Pampa Leather tile collection is offered in six styles including the black and white cowhide shown but there’s no facility for some of the other collections on offer just yet. But it’s a great idea. Designed by Epstein, the tile adheres by means of a clever system of magnets, requires no mortar, adhesives or grout and is an easy care alternative to carpet. A layer of galvanized sheet metal between the substrate and the tile means tiles may be changed whenever the mood strikes.Read More

Around The Home

Photocatalytic tiles reduce pollution

June 17, 2005 Italian ceramic tile manufacturer Gambarelli has produced a remarkable new tile that catalyses a reaction with pollution to break it down to salt and purify the air. Gambarelli’s new Oxygena range of tiles is coated with titanium dioxide, which has photocatalytic properties - when exposed to sunlight, it activates a reaction similar to that of chlorophyll photosynthesis in plants. In university tests, it has been found in eight hours of exposure to daylight, one square metre of Oxygena tiles purifies 72 cubic metres of air.Read More


    See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning