Artists transform gigantic Japanese park into a psychedelic forest of light

November 13, 2017 by  
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Japanese art collective teamLab has transformed a 5-million-square-foot park in Japan into a luminous “Forest Where Gods Live”. The massive art installation features 14 distinct artworks that use lights, projections, sensors, and sound to react as visitors stroll through the grounds. Mifuneyama Rakuen park is located in Japan’s Saga Prefecture in Kyushu. The exhibition spans the landscape of rocks, caves, and ample vegetation that leads to the towering Mount Mifune. The park is home to various Buddhist statues as well as 5,000 cherry blossom trees and 50,000 azaleas, all of which play key roles in the art installation . Related: Singapore Night Festival dazzles crowds with 13 stunning light installations TeamLab believes that digital art can connect people with nature: “We exist as a part of an eternal continuity of life and death, a process which has been continuing for an overwhelmingly long time. It is hard for us, however, to sense this in our everyday lives. When exploring the forest, we come to realize that the shapes of the giant rocks, caves, and the forest that have been formed over the eons, are the shapes of the continuous cycle of life itself. By applying digital art to this unique environment, the exhibition celebrates the continuity of life.” The exhibition, which is part of a Shiseido skincare campaign, uses projectors, motion sensors, and an ambient soundtrack to create a soothing forest of light in constant motion. Visitors can stroll through the park, passing through 14 artworks where the natural landscape lights up in reaction to the crowds. There’s a simulated waterfall that cascades down a sacred rock wall and a giant moss-covered boulder that digitally depicts the entire life cycle of colorful flowers. Walking along, visitors will see an example of artful Japanese calligraphy projected onto a large rock, surrounded by smoke. One of the most popular stops is the WASO Tea House, which displays beautiful flowers blooming inside a teacup, representing the skincare company’s slogan “All things beautiful come from nature”. + teamLab Via CNN Images and video via Team Lab

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Artists transform gigantic Japanese park into a psychedelic forest of light

Bright blue trekking tents are designed to pop up with speed in Iceland

November 13, 2017 by  
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As if Iceland’s gorgeous waterfall-studded landscape wasn’t enough to draw the eye, Stockholm-based Utopia Arkitekter has designed a bright blue cabin for installation along the country’s most famous trekking trails. Created for a competition, the Skýli (“shelter” in Icelandic) is a rugged yet beautiful structure that takes after the classic tent shape. These off-grid shelters are designed for minimal landscape impact and are estimated to take two to three days for on-site assembly. Skýli was designed for high visibility with its four triangular gables and steel cladding painted bright blue, a hue reminiscent of Reykjavik’s colorful urban architecture. Each structure comprises four rooms: two bedrooms; a multipurpose kitchen area and first aid room; and a dining room with storage space. The cabin accommodates 15 people. Four triangular triple-glazed windows let in natural light and frame views, while the inner shell and furnishings are made from light-colored cross-laminated timber . Utopia Arkitekter designed Skýli for quick and easy installation anywhere on the landscape with efficient delivery via helicopter. A system of plinths would serve as stable foundation for the cabin’s weather-resistant steel shell painted with GreenCoat® , the only product on the market using Swedish rapeseed oil instead of fossil fuel-based oils. “Skýli is designed for pristine environments where sustainable development is of the highest importance. Materials need to be eco-conscious, while also resistant to extreme weather, which is one of the reasons we decided to choose GreenCoat steel for the roof,” said Mattias Litström, from Utopia Arkitekter. Related: Compact floating cabin pops up in extreme remote locations Each cabin would be equipped with a solar panel and battery for limited energy storage. Rainwater can be collected from the roof and can be purified for potable use. Liquified petroleum gas powers the kitchen appliances and can be used for heating when necessary. The Skýli trekking cabin was recently nominated for the World Architecture Festival Award 2017 in the category “Leisure-led Development – Future Projects.” + Utopia Arkitekter

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Bright blue trekking tents are designed to pop up with speed in Iceland

Stunning green-roofed office harmonizes with the Washington landscape

November 13, 2017 by  
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Stunning, award-winning architecture can be found in unlikely places, even in neighboring areas to industrial processing yards in Yakima, Washington. That’s where you’ll find the Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters, designed by Graham Baba Architects who describe the project as “an oasis amidst a sea of concrete” that takes cues from the rural landscape. Surrounded by board-formed concrete walls and earthen berms constructed from soil excavated onsite, the light-filled, green-roofed office is filled with natural materials and feels more like a welcoming modern home than a dreary cubicle world. Inspired by the appearance of an aging barn, the 16,500-square-foot Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters design combines the rural vernacular with a contemporary aesthetic. Exposed trusses and soaring ceilings evoke airy barns, while the 18-foot-tall scissored glulam structural columns—located on the outside for a column-free interior—reinforce the building’s agricultural roots. Full-height glazing wraps the facade to let in light and views of the distant hills while large south-facing overhangs mitigate solar gain. Related: Bloomberg’s new London HQ rated world’s most sustainable office The relatively minimalist interior with its palette of natural materials helps keep the focus on the outdoors, from the berm-wrapped courtyard and accessible green roof to Yakima Valley’s basalt formations and hills. A separate structure houses a 30-foot-long table for communal meals. The Washington Fruit & Produce Co. Headquarters in Yakima won a 2016 Northwest and Pacific Region Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects. + Graham Baba Architects Images via Graham Baba Architects and Kevin Scott/em>

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Stunning green-roofed office harmonizes with the Washington landscape

You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

November 3, 2017 by  
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Have you ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela , track cheetahs on foot , or stroll with elephants — and other exotic creatures — in South Africa ? Well, here’s your chance. Thanks to the efforts of over 200 volunteers, now you can use Google Maps to explore 19 National Parks, 17 nature reserves, and many other sites of natural, cultural and historical significance in South Africa. More than 200 nature-loving South Africans volunteered to map out parts of the country they call home. Many of the helpers were rangers and guides with SANParks , CapeNature and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife . Others were just good Samaritans, tech enthusiasts and avid hikers who want to make a difference. Over the span of twelve months, the volunteers trekked over 50,000km to establish 232 points of interest. Said Magdalena Filak, Program Manager for Google, “The hundreds of volunteers who helped along the way proved to be truly passionate about showing the best of South Africa through their participation in the loan program.” The Google Street View Camera Loan program encourages anyone to borrow the 360-degree camera technology to help the planet . Reportedly, this is the first time Google has partnered with a third-party for the program. Drive South Africa played a big role in coordinating the volunteers . Andre Van Kets, an outdoor enthusiast and the founder of the Cape Town -based company, explained the technology: “The Trekker camera is a 22kg custom-made backpack fitted with 15 cameras pointing in all directions. The on-board technology plots the camera’s exact location on the trail. While recording, the camera takes a 360-degree photo every two-seconds. It’s basically the off-road equivalent of Google’s Street View cars.” Kets added that he saw “potential in this technology to showcase South Africa to travellers around the globe” when he applied. Related: Thousands of plastic bottles transformed into an inspiring tower of hope in South Africa In addition to mapping over two hundred points of interest, volunteers mapped eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Users can also see Mapungubwe Hill , which is home to an ancient African civilization, the Richtersveld that is known for its incredible moonscapes, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park , South Africa’s oldest UNESCO site which serves as a critical habitat for many species . The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Dennis Wood of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife said, “As the proud conservation authority for KwaZulu-Natal, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife are excited to be partnered with Google’ new initiative in exposing our trails on this global platform that we believe will engage our prospective guests to “Take time to Discover” our province’s rich natural beauty and conservation wildlife heritage.” + Google Street View Loan Program Images via Google Maps

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You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps

MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

October 26, 2017 by  
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Americans consume 8.6 billion water bottles — every year. Of those, only 1 of 5 is recycled . Fortunately, a handful of MIT students have developed a solution to this problem, and it involves repurposing waste plastic bottles to reinforce concrete. Because the newly-invented method results in the concrete being more durable than existing concrete, plastic bottles may soon be used to construct everything from stronger building foundations to sidewalks and street barriers. According to the study , which was published in the journal Waste Management, MIT students discovered a method to produce concrete that is up to 20 percent stronger than conventional concrete. First, plastic flakes are exposed to small amounts of harmless gamma radiation . Then, they are pulverized into a fine powder, after which it is added to concrete. The discovery has far-reaching implications, as concrete is the second most widely used material on Earth (the first is water). MIT News reports that approximately 4.5 percent of the world’s human-induced carbon emissions are generated by manufacturing concrete. By replacing small portions of concrete with recycled plastic, the cement industry’s toll on the environment would be reduced. The newly-discovered method would also prevent millions of water and soda bottles from ending up in landfills . Michael Short, an assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, said, “There is a huge amount of plastic that is landfilled every year. Our technology takes plastic out of the landfill, locks it up in concrete, and also uses less cement to make the concrete, which makes fewer carbon dioxide emissions. This has the potential to pull plastic landfill waste out of the landfill and into buildings, where it could actually help to make them stronger.” Related: MIT battery that inhales and exhales air can store power for months MIT students Carolyn Schaefer and Michael Ortega explored the possibility of plastic-reinforced concrete as part of their class’s Nuclear Systems Design Project. In the future, the team intends to experiment with different types of plastic , along with various doses of gamma radiation, to determine their effects on concrete. So far, they’ve determined that substituting 1.5 percent of concrete with irradiated plastic significantly improves the mixture’s strength. While this may not seem like a lot, it is enough to have a significant impact if implemented on a global scale. “Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” said Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”’’ Via MIT News Images via MIT , Pixabay

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MIT students develop method to reinforce concrete using plastic bottles

Saudi Arabia announces plan for $500B megacity powered by renewables

October 25, 2017 by  
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Saudi Arabia just announced plans for a futuristic megacity that will span 10,000 square miles and three countries near the Red Sea. NEOM will be an independent economic zone owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – and the nation is calling out to innovators, scientists, and dreamers to form an aspirational society to pioneer next-gen technologies. The future of food , energy , and biotechnology , to name a few, will be explored in this global community to be backed by over $500 billion. NEOM will be the world’s first independent economic zone – supported by Saudi Arabia’s investment, but the country said it will be developed independently of their current governmental framework. They want to transform NEOM into a global hub to pursue innovation in nine investment sectors: advanced manufacturing, food, biotech, mobility, media, technological and digital sciences, entertainment, energy and water , and livability. Related: The world’s first “Tesla Town” with solar roofs and Powerwalls is coming to Australia Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said, “Future technologies form the cornerstone for NEOM’s development: disruptive solutions for transportation from automated driving to passenger drones, new ways of growing and processing food, healthcare centered around the patient for their holistic well-being, wireless high-speed Internet as a free good called digital air, free world-class continuous online education, full-scale e-governance putting city services at your fingertips, building codes that make net-zero carbon houses the standard, a city layout that encourages walking and bicycling , and all solely powered by renewable energy .” NEOM will be located in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt, in a region with mountains, beaches, and coral reefs. As Saudi Arabia seeks to diversify away from oil , solar and wind energy will help power NEOM. Saudi Arabia has already started communicating with potential partners and investors, and the frequently asked questions document for NEOM said its first phase will be finished in 2025. + NEOM Via the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and NEOM ( 1 , 2 , 3 ) Images via NEOM

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Saudi Arabia announces plan for $500B megacity powered by renewables

Yves Bhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze

September 19, 2017 by  
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One of the worst feelings is wondering whether or not you left the front door unlocked. With Yves Behar ‘s new Smart Locks, you’ll never have to worry about that again. Behar just debuted three new products for August Home Inc. – including a Doorbell Cam and two Smart Locks equipped with the first integrated sensor that tells homeowners if their doors are opened or closed. August Home Inc. was co-founded by Yves Béhar and Jason Johnson. The company develops smart home products that use encrypted locking technology . This enables consumers to create virtual keys for their home and grant access to guests, house cleaners, dog walkers, delivery services, and friends and family members from their smartphones and computers. The latest August products are the August Smart Lock Pro, which is the most advanced smart lock on the market with support for HomeKit, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Z-Wave Plus ($279); the August Smart Lock, which is newly-designed and is for consumers “exploring the benefits of smart home access” ($149); and the Doorbell Cam Pro, which lets homeowners use a smartphone to see and speak with visitors at the front door. An important feature included in the Smart Locks is DoorSense, which the company says is “the first intelligent, integrated sensor that tells users if a door is open or closed.” When a homeowner is wondering if they locked the door, they can check their smartphone and be informed at the touch of a button. “Smart locks are playing an important role in the growth of the smart home,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August Home. “With the Smart Lock Pro, we’ve created a lock that gives people total control over their front door in ways that aren’t possible with a traditional lock. Now people can make sure their door is closed and locked from anywhere. We’re also expanding our offering to include a more affordable lock so everyone can make their door safer and smarter.” Related: Yves Béhar’s shapeshifting Ori furniture transforms your home at the touch of a button Johnson continued, “The front door is the gateway to the home and our mission is to transform every home, by helping people manage access for themselves, guests, home services, and for secure package delivery.” + August Home Inc. Images via August Home Inc.

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Yves Bhar unveils new Smart Locks that make keyless entry a breeze

Australian researchers store light as sound for the first time

September 18, 2017 by  
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Photonic computers could run 20 times quicker than today’s laptops if microchips could process data in speedy photons. Now, they might be able to. For the very first time, researchers from two Australian universities have found a way to store light waves as sound waves in a microchip – a breakthrough that brings us closer to the super-fast computers of the future. Light-based computers could revolutionize computing. They won’t generate heat , or use as much energy as today’s computers. Light-based information sent across cables today is converted into electrons, which are slow, but storing light waves as sound waves allows the information, which computer chips can still read, to travel more quickly. Normally, light would pass through a microchip in two to three nanoseconds, but when it’s stored as sound, it can remain on a chip for an additional 10 nanoseconds, allowing data to be processed. Related: Newly discovered form of spiralized light breaks everything quantum physics says about photons The animation above breaks down the process. Photonic data enters the microchip as a yellow light pulse, and interacts with what’s called a write pulse that’s blue. That generates an acoustic wave where the data is stored. Then, another light pulse, called the read pulse, accesses the data stored in the acoustic wave and transmits it as light. Project supervisor Birgit Stiller of the University of Sydney said in a statement, “The information in our chip in acoustic form travels at a velocity five orders of magnitude slower than in the optical domain. It is like the difference between thunder and lightning.” Their system also works on a broad bandwidth, so Stiller said they can store and retrieve information at different wavelengths at the same time. The journal Nature Communications published the research online today. Two researchers from Australian National University joined three from the University of Sydney for the study. Via ScienceAlert and Phys.org Images via PublicDomainPictures.net and Louise Connor/University of Sydney

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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

Step aside Bitcoin – Ethereum could revolutionize the world of online transactions

September 12, 2017 by  
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Although Bitcoin may have opened the door for peer-to-peer virtual currency, a new platform and programming language is taking blockchain technology mainstream. Ethereum is a decentralized app development platform that could revolutionize online transactions by eliminating the middleman. Created by Russian-Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum is a decentralized platform for creating applications that are impervious to fraud, censorship or third-party interference. It can be used to create digital currencies or to transmit funds or data without providing your information to a third party like Facebook, Paypal, or a bank. The key to the system lies within its flexibility – it allows developers to build their own custom blockchains to create decentralized applications that are virtually free from hacks. Related: 5 brilliant designs that will change the world in 2017 Ethereum provides a safe and secure way for users to validate their identity when making online transactions . Since users don’t have to deal with third party services, they have complete control over their personal information and data. The platform has the potential to completely transform the way we interact with online finances, business, and government. The Ethereum platform was recently awarded the 2017 INDEX: Award , which recognizes sustainable technologies that address global issues. + Ethereum Project + INDEX: AWARD 2017

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