IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

September 13, 2017 by  
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Ever purchased a piece of furniture, only to find out later it didn’t fit the style or size of the room? Swedish furniture maker IKEA is tackling this problem with a free augmented reality (AR) application that utilizes Apple’s new ARKit technology . The app will let users experience how sofas, armchairs, coffee tables and other furnishing items will fit into their homes in augmented reality. According to the IKEA press release, all products experienced through the app are 3D and true to scale. This ensures “every choice is just the right size, design and function.” Said Michael Valdsgaard, Leader Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems, “IKEA Place makes it easier to make buying decisions in your own place, to get inspired and try many different products, styles, and colors in real-life settings with a swipe of your finger. Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the internet. Only this time, much faster.” Users will also have the option of capturing the setting in the app and sharing it as an image or a video with friends. Related: IKEA’s SPACE10 lab is bringing a pop-up vertical farm to London IKEA is the first home furnishing company to build on Apple’s new technology to create an AR app that ensures customers are confident with their purchases. Reportedly, the app has a 98 percent accuracy as it scales products based on room dimensions. “The AR technology is so precise that you will be able to see the texture of the fabric, as well as how light and shadows are rendered on your furnishings,” says the press release. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. “ARKit gives us the opportunity to help shape the development of AR as an accessible tool for real-life decision making,” added Valdsgaard. Beginning late-September, users with an iOs 11 may download and enjoy the app. In total, 2,000 IKEA products will be available to experiment with. The first release will focus on larger furniture products, including all sofas, armchairs, footstools, coffee tables and top-selling “storage solutions” that can be placed on the floor.  Data collected from the application will also play a role in the launch of new product lines. “Now, technology has caught up with our ambition. AR lets us redefine the experience for furniture retail once more, in our restless quest to create a better everyday life for everyone, everywhere,” said Valdsgaard. To use the IKEA app, all one needs to do is: upgrade their device to iOS 11, download the IKEA Place app for free from the Apple store, scan the floor in your home, browse the list of available products in the app, select a chosen furniture item to experience, and move and place the product into the space. It is that simple! + IKEA  Images via IKEA

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IKEA’s new augmented reality app could totally change the way we shop

The worlds first 3D-printed reinforced concrete bridge is almost complete

September 11, 2017 by  
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Eindhoven University of Technology has a massive 3D printer capable of printing immense objects – and it’s currently creating the world’s first 3D-printed reinforced concrete bridge. The bridge will be installed this month in the small Dutch town of Gemert, and it will be the first of its kind thanks to an innovative printing technique that reduces waste. Technically, Madrid introduced the world’s first 3D-printed bridge earlier this year – but the Gemert bridge will be built using a special process that reinforces the concrete layers with steel cables as the concrete blocks are formed. This technique – which was was developed by a team of researchers working with Teho Salat, a professor of concrete construction – ensures that the bridge’s concrete is “pre-stressed” in order to avoid the typical tensile stress that often occurs in concrete construction. Related: World’s first 3D-printed pedestrian bridge pops up in Madrid The concrete used to print the bridge is thicker than normal, so it retains its form as it is printed. This is important because it means little – if any – concrete is wasted. Concrete production releases carbon dioxide, so reducing waste is incredibly important for the environment. Additionally, printing with moldable concrete means there’s no need for formwork, again reducing the amount of materials needed for construction. Working in collaboration with Dutch company BAM Infra , the team has spent two months printing the pieces, which will then be fused together to construct the bridge. The structure is slated to be installed in Gemert in late September. + Eindhoven University of Technology + BAM Infra Via 3D Print Images via BAM Infra

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The worlds first 3D-printed reinforced concrete bridge is almost complete

NASA researchers says Harvey flooding pushed Houston down two centimeters

September 11, 2017 by  
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Harvey unloaded around 33 trillion gallons of water in the United States, the weight of which is capable of bending the Earth’s crust . From satellite data , it looks like this is what happened in Houston . Scientist Chris Milliner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted a map with GPS data revealing Houston has been pushed down by around two centimeters (or about 0.8 inches). Milliner’s map included Nevada Geodetic Laboratory data revealing the area around Houston was actually pushed down because of the weight of all the water from the tropical storm . One gallon of water weighs around 8.34 pounds, so if Harvey dumped 33 trillion gallons of water, that’s about 275 trillion pounds. Related: Arctic warming likely turned Harvey into “an extreme killer storm” GPS data show #Harveyflood was so large it flexed Earth's crust, pushing #Houston down by ~2 cm! #EarthScience #HurricaneHarvey #txflood pic.twitter.com/88lNScJBq9 — Chris Milliner (@Geo_GIF) September 4, 2017 It’s not the first time scientists have documented how the weight of water can alter the land. The Altantic cited a 2012 study focusing on the Himalayas that found a seasonal flux in the mountains’ height as water fell and then made its way down the mountains into Asian rivers. They also noted a 2017 study found “vertical surface displacement [with] peak-to-peak amplitudes” of 0.5 to one centimeter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Atlantic suggested the changes around Houston could be seen as a “fast-action version” of what takes place in mountain ranges during the seasons. The change could be due to soil beneath GPS stations compacting because of the weight of the water, Milliner said. But he thinks crust deformation was the main means of the change, since some of the GPS stations are on bedrock and also saw the depression. The ground has already been sinking in Houston, because we’ve pumped groundwater out of the city’s aquifers, according to The Atlantic. Milliner clarified the phenomenon he saw after Harvey is in addition to subsidence the city has experienced. Via The Atlantic Images via Chris Milliner on Twitter and U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Zachary Wolf

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NASA researchers says Harvey flooding pushed Houston down two centimeters

9 incredible pod homes to help you win at off-grid living

August 25, 2017 by  
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If your #lifegoals include living off the grid in some stunning locale, then check this out: we’ve rounded up the best pod homes that can be installed in even the most remote locations. From a futuristic 3D-printed shelter to the nature-influenced Baobed , there’s something for every world traveler (and almost every budget). Pod Space Pod Space’s award winning pre-fab pods can be installed just about anywhere you can dream of. The modular pods are customizable, so you can use them as a backyard office, an extra room, or even a fully-equipped tiny home . The best part is the floor-to-ceiling windows, so you can let nature in while keeping the elements out. Podzook If you are the type to think outside the box – literally – you’ll dig the spherical Podzook. With its locally-sourced shingled wood exterior and its space-age interior, the Podzook is what you’d get if you combined traditional Maine craftsmanship with an alien space pod. Each one is made to order and comes with a skylight and a futuristic gull-wing door. Prices range from 28 – 32k depending on the options you choose. 3D-Printed SOM shelter Architecture firm SOM is taking off-grid living into the future with a 3D-printed shelter that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It features rooftop solar panels for power and comes with its own vehicle that generates its own power. Best of all, the structure and the vehicle can share power wirelessly when you need an extra bit of juice. The SOM shelter can be “printed” right on site, illustrating what is possible in the future of home building. ALPOD The 65k ALPOD is a high-tech solution to skyrocketing real estate prices. The prefabricated structure is made of lightweight aluminum, so it can be moved where needed and then recycled when has reached the end of its life. The pods can even be stacked, so you could create an entire skyscraper of them. With 480-square feet of living space, it’s a great solution for both urban locations, since it can be hooked up to the grid, and off-grid with it solar power option. POD-Idlada POD-Idladla is a prefabricated home that can be shipped flat-packed for on-site assembly in a snap. The 186-square foot tiny home is powered by solar energy and is modular, so it can be expanded if necessary. Tall ceilings help make the space feel large without increasing its footprint, and costs start at just $15k. Ecocapsule The egg-shaped Ecocapsule is the stuff that off-grid dreams are made of. The ultra-portable house is powered by solar and wind, with rainwater collection and filtration built-in. The 86-square foot space manages to pack a lot of features, with a folding bed, dining area, shower and toilet, storage and a kitchenette. Each capsule fits inside a shipping container so it can go nearly anywhere. Ecocapsule homes start shipping this year, so save your pennies, because owning one will set you back $94,000. Drop Pod The DROP Eco-Hotel is different because it isn’t designed as a permanent home, but as a pod-like hotel room for modern nomads that can be installed in some truly incredible places – including elevated above the earth. The prefabricated structure is clad in slotted wood to control solar gain, features a skylight for daylighting and a rainwater recycling system. Harwyn Pod The Harwyn Pod is a tiny space for distraction-free work. Designed to be an office, art space or yoga studio , each pod can pop-up on-site in just 5 hours and comes complete with built-in furniture. With a footprint of only 2.5 by 2 meters and luxury car-inspired design, each tiny dwelling is fully insulated against the elements. Baobed Sleeping Pod The Baobed pod is a treehouse for adventure-seekers. The sleek pod can be suspended in the treetops, nestled on a beach, and plopped on a rooftop or even in the middle of a pond. The fruit-like shape was inspired by the fruit of the baobab tree and provides a tiny, safe space for travelers. Thanks to its tiny footprint and light weight (just 992 pounds), it can be transported on a trailer and can be equipped with a platform, mosquito nets and storage options.

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9 incredible pod homes to help you win at off-grid living

Scientists just discovered snow on Mars

August 25, 2017 by  
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Forget everything you think you know about Mars. In a study published in Nature Geoscience , scientists confirm that there is snow on the Red Planet. It’s not what you might think, however. Mars experiences explosions of snow known as “ice microbursts” that only occur in the shadows and are very unlike snowfall on Earth. This finding is challenging previous notions about the planet’s history and the likelihood of future generations colonizing it. On Mars, the clouds have to be very low to the surface (about 1 to 2 kilometers, or 0.61 to 1.24 miles), or else the snow will be annihilated before it even reaches the rusty soil. This is because the air pressure increases rapidly as it descends downwards. In turn, the local temperature is increased and snow reaches evaporation-ready temperatures. As IFLScience reports, scientists previously believed snow precipitation occurred only by “the slow sedimentation of individual particles.” The authors now know this isn’t the case. Their research shows that the sudden snow explosion mechanisms must have affected “Mars’ water cycle, past and present.” Related: NASA unveils plan to make oxygen on Mars Because the red planet’s atmosphere is incredibly thin, its thermal insulation is pretty low. At night, the mercury can drop as low as -73°C (-100°F) on the equator surface, and -125°C (-195°F) at the poles. When sunlight glances Mars, water at the equator is given just enough energy to evaporate. This results in the formation of low-pressure clouds — a phenomenon NASA is already tracking. Because the temperature of the Red Planet drops considerably at night, the rapid and localized redistribution of heat results in air currents becoming unstable. Water ice crystals then fall out in rapid succession. Some crystals may reach the surface, but others sublimate into a gas . The streaks of snowfall that fail to reach the surface are known as “virgas.” For now, only robots are able to experience Mars’ unique snowfall. But if humans ever do colonize Mars — a feat Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are ambitious to see accomplished in their lifetimes , maybe we’ll get to experience the planet’s unique weather patterns firsthand. + Nature Geoscience Via IFLScience  Images via Pixabay , NASA/JPL

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Insane new flying Iron Man suit will be 3D-printed

August 9, 2017 by  
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Hold onto your seats Marvel fans and tech enthusiasts. Before you know it, a real-life “Iron Man” suit will be on the market — and yes, it can fly. Developed by Richard Browning, the co-founder of start-up company Gravity , the jet engine-powered flying suit was designed to “re-imagine manned flight.” With two engine arm configurations that weigh up to 90 pounds and a temperature threshold of 700°C (1292°F), the highly-anticipated invention will also feature wings. And did we mention it will be 3D-printed? The Gravity jet engine-powered flying suit was unveiled at Comic-Con in San Diego, CA, where Browning dished details to Tested’s Adam Savage. The newest version of the suit is comprised of four arm-loaded thrusters and an additional jet pack that is strapped to the user’s back. As noted above, two engine arm configurations can reach temperatures of 700°C (1292°F). 3D Printing Industry reports that if handled responsibly, the rockets aren’t as dangerous as they first might seem. This is because the heat is quickly dispersed by the air which, in turn, reduces the risk of one’s boots or sneakers catching on fire. Browning explained that the movement of the suit is controlled by a very “intuitive” system. For instance, minor movements of the arms determine the direction and height by altering the jet’s vector. It helps that a DAQRI augmented reality (AR) helmet with a heads-up display is connected. Not only does the AR helmet monitor the suit’s performance, it shows the data of speed and altitude in real-time, eliminating the need to check one’s wrist. Browning flew the suit at Comic-Con, wowing comic fans and technology entrepreneurs . He was reportedly able to fly at a speed up to 45/50 mph. Right now, between seven and eight different versions of the suit are in development; modifications will affect the functionality and appearance of the suit. “We are working on a whole bunch of adaptations with the manufacturer,” said Browning “to make [the engines ] much more fit for what we’re now using them for, because clearly they weren’t designed for this.” Related: Stunning Europe Building facade shows off the beauty of 3D printing in Amsterdam The most exciting part of the next-generation suit is that it will be 3D-printed and will feature temperature proof, one-piece aluminum housing for the thrusters. Because the control modules are in need of improvements, the engine configuration will also be changed. Finally, wings will be added to the suit to change the pattern of flight from vertical to airfoil. I’m quite excited about that, Browning said. “We’ve fully CADed up a beautiful, organic inspired housing, and that’s being 3D printed now.” No further information has yet been obtained about the potential cost or release date of the real-life Iron Man suit. However, in the past, Browning informed interested buyers that a custom-built suit should cost approximately $250,000. + Gravity  Via 3D Printing Industry Images via Gravity  

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Insane new flying Iron Man suit will be 3D-printed

GM is selling an electric car in China that costs just $5,300

August 9, 2017 by  
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Good news for Chinese consumers. This week, General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car which, after national and local electric vehicle incentives, costs just $5,300. From front to end, the Baojun E100 measures just 63 inches. And, when unleashed and fully charged, the two-seater can reach speeds of 62 miles per hour and travel about 96 miles on a single charge. The E100, which has been outfitted with a 39-horsepower electric motor, is Baojun’s first electric car. Prices for the vehicle begin at RMB 93,900, or approximately $14,000 before incentives. Amenities include an entertainment system with a 7-inch screen and built-in WiFi . For safety measures, all versions of the car have parking sensors and pedestrian alert systems. Those who invest in high-end models can also lock and unlock the car using a touchpad. According to data from LMC Automotive, Baojun — a mass-market car brand from General Motors’ SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture — is China’s eighth most popular car brand. It ranks just below Volkswagen , Toyota, Honda, and Buick. Considering China presently accounts for 40 percent of all electric vehicles sold worldwide, it’s clear there is a demand for non-polluting vehicles. As a result, Baojun’s ranking may very well increase. Related: The world’s first all-electric sport utility truck is finally here – and it looks incredible So far, more than 5,000 people have registered to purchase the first 200 vehicles. Another 500 will be made available later this week. Reportedly, buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-serve basis. A GM spokesperson revealed that the first sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China. As the car becomes more popular, GM plans to sell the cars more widely in China . + Baojun E100 Via CNN Images via General Motors

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GM is selling an electric car in China that costs just $5,300

Costa Rica eco-resort combines jungle yoga with sustainable design

August 9, 2017 by  
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NALU boutique hotel in Costa Rica is a sustainable jungle retreat for exercise and relaxation. Merging sustainability with local craftsmanship, architecture firm Studio Saxe designed a series of pavilions scattered amongst the trees, offering each occupant an extra sense of privacy. The hotel is located in Nosara, a burgeoning tourist destination for health, wellness and surfing. The owners, Nomel and Mariya Libid, wanted the design of the new building to reflect this attitude by offering several tranquil spaces for various types of recreation and exercise. Dense jungle completely surrounds the individual pavilion homes. The architects determined optimal positions for each of the structures by conducting extensive analyses of wind and sun patterns. Related: 8 gorgeous green hotels to add to your bucket list The timber roofs made of recycled Teak planks protrude over each pavilion to create shade from the intense equatorial sun. Corridors lit from the pergola roofs frame views of the lush surroundings and connect separate rooms. “Our project Nalu represents the power of simple, low-key, modern tropical architecture ,” says architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe. “It has quickly become a town favorite, which shows that there is a real desire to occupy spaces that bring people closer to nature, while addressing the needs of contemporary life,” he adds. + Studio Saxe Photos by Andres Garcia Lachner

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New metal 3D printer is 100x faster, 10x cheaper than existing laser technologies

August 1, 2017 by  
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3D-metal printing could very easily become the go-to method for manufacturing around the world. Developed by Desktop Metal , it is reportedly faster, safer and cheaper than existing systems. Indeed, the company claims it can produce reliable metal printing up to 100 times faster than conventional manufacturing techniques with materials that cost 20 times less than existing laser technologies on the market. They also claim they can bring down costs to 10 times lower than normal. 3D printing has been a hot topic for years now, but the Massachusetts company is presenting something new — something capable of revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. Because of the new technology’s speed and efficiency, it’s even better than NASA and Boeing’s slow laser-melted metal printer and beats small design studios’ desktop 3D printers. Capable of using a variety of metal options — essentially, anything one can use in a Metal Injection Molding (MIM) system, it stands apart from other competitors. The engineering-driven startup was founded by several MIT professors and Emanuel Sachs, who holds patents in 3D printing dating back to 1989. Over the last few months, Desktop Metal raised more than $115 million (USD) and received backing from big players, including Google Ventures. Presently, the company is investing efforts in producing two systems: a studio system geared toward developing a rapid, cheap metal prototyping for engineering groups, and a production system for mass manufacture. According to New Atlas , the Studio printer “runs around and prints parts into layers of bound metal.” Then, the parts go into a “de-binding bath” that separates a substantial portion of the binding polymer. The parts then go into a sintering furnace. When the product is heated to just below the melting point, the binding agent burns off and a highly dense, sintered metal is produced. The system automatically manages the timing and temperature, depending on the design and the metals used. Support sections can be poked out with a screwdriver when the process is completed. Just don’t be surprised when the finished product is 15 percent smaller. The 3D-metal printer is 10 times cheaper than equivalent laser systems and is also less hazardous. Because there are no metal powders to deal with or dangerous lasers, they can easily — and safely — be installed in a home or office. In addition, it is very low-maintenance and does not require special support equipment or staff. All in all, the entire integrated system and the partnered software cost approximately $120,000 (USD). Though that price might seem steep, an equivalent laser system will run one more than $1 million (USD). And, that doesn’t take into account the safety and materials handling costs. The mass production system is built for speed and definitely delivers. It is faster than machining, casting, forging or other techniques, and each production printer can produce up to 500 cubic inches of complex parts per hour. As noted above, that is 100 times faster than a laser-based alternative — zero tools required. Related: MIT is 3D printing functional robots that could walk right off the printer To reach production speed with the mass system, a business would need four furnaces per printer. In contrast to the studio printer, the production machine uses powders which are bonded together during printing by spray-jetted droplets of a binder solution. They are low-cost in contrast to other systems (retail is estimated to be $360,000 USD) and are easily available — another advantage to the 3D-metal printing system. In fact, material costs are estimated to be 20 percent lower than other variations. As a result, printed metal parts may finally be economical enough to compete with traditional manufacturing processes. Though Desktop Metal is just getting started, many are predicting a 3D-metal printing revolution. The effects this technology will have on the economy will be revealed in time. + Desktop Metal Via New Atlas Images via Desktop Metal

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New metal 3D printer is 100x faster, 10x cheaper than existing laser technologies

Off-grid Tent House takes the roughing-it out of camping in New Zealand

August 1, 2017 by  
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For those that are looking to go  off-grid , but don’t want the fuss that comes with setting up camp, Architect Chris Tate ‘s Tent House is just the thing. Located on New Zealand’s remote Waiheke Island, the black A-Frame retreat was built into an area of undeveloped wetland on the island, letting guests get back to nature in contemporary style. The Auckland-based architect began to create the Tent House as personal studio for himself, but with a little tweaking of the design, the project developed into an unconventional space for anyone looking for an off-grid escape hidden deep in the forest. With all of the basic amenities of a swanky hotel, the space lets guests enjoy the beauty of nature without the hassle of setting up camp. Related: Tent cabin cluster blends perfectly into a Californian forest The A-frame structure is clad in black slats, blending it seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Inside, the one-bedroom, one-bathroom, 753-square-foot space is a beautiful minimalistic design. An all-glass entranceway leads into the open living area and the sleeping quarters are located on the mezzanine level. The glass facade floods the interior with natural light . In order to further connect the design into its surroundings, the front deck juts out into the vegetation. After the construction process was finished, the area around the house was carefully landscaped by planting hundreds of plants native to New Zealand. Since the project was completed, many native birds have returned to the area. The Tent House can be rented out for short-term rentals. + Tent House + Chris Tate Via Dwell Photography by Simon Devitt

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Off-grid Tent House takes the roughing-it out of camping in New Zealand

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