August 2013

Hyperloop Plans Coming 12th of August

Keep your eyes peeled, in a few days Elon Musk is revealing his long awaited Hyperloop plans.  Intended to revolutionise travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Musk claims the Hyperloop will get you from one hub to the other in 30 minutes.  On solar power.  For the cost of train ticket.

Rumours have been building about the proposed system, which Musk first alluded to in mid 2012, the creator of X.com (later merged with Paypal), Tesla Motors, and SpaceX – and they’ll finally be put to rest on Monday.  The designs will be released as an open source design that will hopefully be improved upon by designers and engineers across the globe, as Musk states that he is too busy to focus on the project currently.

So watch this space.  We’ll give you more on the story as it comes.

We can only hope.

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MYO – Gestural control like never before

Watch this.

It may not give you Force powers just yet, but the MYO gets you closer than you ever thought possible.

The Future of Gestural Control

It’s not just a concept.  The team at Thalmic Labs have developed MYO and already sold 10,000 pre-orders, with initial shipments going out in late 2013 and early 2014.  That makes their vision for the future of gestural control a total reality, one that you can purchase for just  US $149.

The technology is simple enough in theory.  The user places the MYO armband on their forearm, allowing it to read the electrical activity of their muscles.  When the user creates a certain gesture with their fingers – such as pointing, clicking, or giving a thumbs up – certain muscles give off an electrical signal.  The MYO reads that signal and communicates to the connected device that a specific function should occur.

So, like in the video above, you might swipe right in the air to fast forward a video on your computer, or squeeze your trigger finger to fire a bullet in your favorite video game.

Stephen Lake – Co-Founder and CEO of Thalmic Labs

The tech is open to developers, and the crew over at Thalmic love what they’re seeing so far.  As it is currently compatible with Windows, Apple, and Android devices, there is really no limit to what the MYO can achieve.  Personally, I can’t wait to see what developers come up with for a band on each forearm.  At this stage the possibilities seem endless, and endlessly exciting.

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Revitalising the Petzval Lens

Bringing it back – Lomography is revitalising a piece of camera history with brilliant results

I love hearing about Kickstarter projects that raise far more than they originally intended.  The Petzval Lens by Lomography is a perfect example of that.  It’s one cool design, bringing back centuries old lens design and adapting it for modern photographers.  Raising almost $900,000 more than they needed, the crew at Lomography are probably feeling pretty good right now.

So why all the hype?

Shot with the Lomography Petzval Lens

Original developed by Josef Petzval in the mid 19th century, the Petzval lens improved on the popular lens design of Charles Chevalier by greatly improving photo capture times and creating a depth of field with very hard focus in the centre of the picture.  The lens successfully revolutionised the field of photography and enabled it to become a more viable art form.

Old v. New

Lomography hasn’t strayed too far from the path, taking very direct inspiration from the physical form of the lens.  The body is made entirely of brass, and other than some tweaks to the lens design to make it more suitable for modern cameras.  They have come up with something simple and elegant.  It’s the kind of thing Kickstarters love, and you can’t really blame them.

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Skytran – The Future of Public Transport?

Skytran – A NASA designed public transit system being developed in Tel Aviv

Say goodbye to sweaty buses, crammed train stations, and traffic jams with no end.  Tel Aviv is leading the way in public transport with its implementation of Skytran, a NASA developed system that might just make that trip to work in the morning bearable.

First proposed in 1990 by inventor Douglas Malewicki, the Skytran concept has been in development for two decades.  Many developers have taken their shot at it in the past, but the NASA tested model has proven to be the most successful.  In conjunction with Engineers from NASA and overseen by US consultancy Jenkins, Gales & Martinez, Tel Aviv has chosen to implement the technology and hopefully solve the city’s transport problems.

Taking the Hassle out of Public Transportation

The technology is built around a magnetic levitation system (Maglev), which essentially allows the two person transit pods to ‘float’ along the rail.  In this way, friction is significantly reduced and the pods are able to travel along silently and quickly.

Quick may be an understatement.  Each pod is capable of travelling at speeds of 241km an hour, though they won’t be making moves that quick until the public become comfortable with a slower pace.  Needless to say, the potential for the system to reduce transit times is big enough to warrant in initial $50 million investment from the Tel Aviv government.

Skytran CEO, Jerry Sanders, has also announced the company’s intent to make the systems power neutral by fitting solar panels one each transit station, which are located roughly a quarter mile apart along the entire system.  An design like this is pretty enticing.  It’s no wonder that the USA, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia have expressed interest in installing the systems in their own countries as well.

Head on over to designboom to check out the whole story.

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Viks Tubular Bike from Velonia Bicycles

Indrek Narusk’s Tubular Bicycle Challenges Common Bike Design

Indrek Narusk of Velonia Bicycles has been developing his own brand of commuter bicycles based on his own tubular steel design – one that flaunts streamlined simplicity in a very attractive way.  But is it at all useful?

The frame, bars, and forks are made entirely of steel tubes bent to shape, with the main body consisting of two identical frames attached together.

Sleek and Stylish – the Viks shows its Cafe Racer roots

The design is certainly striking.  It’s attractive and sleek with a fresh squeeze on custom bike design.  Narusk states that he took much inspiration from modern café racer style motorcycles for his own ‘little side-project’ turned business.

However.

A bike made of steel tubes, weighing in at 5-10 kilograms isn’t the most ideal commuter commodity.  And being a fixed gear definitely checks into the ‘cons’ column.

Slow or not, those frames sure do look good.

Though riding a heavy bike down a big hill is quite a thrill, getting up that hill in the first place is a sweaty challenge for even the most beefy legged rider – especially when you don’t have the luxury of changing gear.

Not to mention that flying down any gradient, whether it be 5 or 15, is always a bit more fun with the option of braking.

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‘Markies’ – Creative Camping in Amsterdam

‘Markies’, creative art tents by Eduard Bohtlingk

Industrial Designer, Eduard Bohtlingk, has developed a series of urban camping caravans that take the best of camping and comfort – to create an environment around art and experience.

These mobile units feature beds, hammocks, wood-fired saunas, and adjacent picnic spots, whilst the site includes amenities, a restaurant, and areas for art installations and sculpture gardens that are changed regularly.

Modular designs bring the outside in.

If you’re looking for luxury camping in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, the Markies by  Eduard Bohtlingk might very well be what you’ve been searching for.  At EUR 80 per night, a few creature comforts under the stars seems like a pretty sweet deal.

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