Sony’s Aibo robo dog is back – and it’s cuter than ever

November 1, 2017 by  
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Remember Sony ‘s Aibo pet robot that debuted in 1999? Well, the company just launched a new-and-improved version in Japan today – and it uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to develop a personality over time. Sony designed the robo dog to form “an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.” The robot can learn the layout of your house, respond to voice commands, and melt your heart with nuanced expressions. Aibo was redesigned to be as lifelike as possible. OLED eyes signal changes in expression, fisheye cameras see and recognize individual faces, and actuators allow its body to move smoothly along 22 axes. Over time, the robot learns what behaviors make its owner happy. Similar to a Roomba, the robot can avoid obstacles and accesses the most direct route between locations. Inside, there is built-in LTE and WiFi , a quad-core CPU, and sensors, motors, and gyroscopes. It takes three hours to charge the Aibo robot, and its battery lasts two hours. Pre-orders for the new bot will begin tonight through Sony’s online store in Japan . The Aibo robot costs 179,000 yen (approximately $1,739 USD) and shipments are expected to begin on January 11, 2018. Related: VIDEO: Sony’s new LED light bulb has another very unusual capability The Aibo robot is connected to the cloud, so customers are encouraged to purchase an Aibo Basic Plan that backs up the robot’s unique identity and allows them to access their robot via WiFi or a mobile connection. The plan costs approximately $27 per month; alternatively, a 3-year subscription can be purchased for 90,000 yen ($790 USD). This subscription pairs with the My Aibo app, which manages settings, provides access to photos and allows you to play with a virtual version of the dog. Expect other versions of the Aibo robot in the future. Previously, Sony said that it is “steadily advancing multiple other initiatives in the AI and Robotics field.” + Sony Via Engadget Images via Sony

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Sony’s Aibo robo dog is back – and it’s cuter than ever

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

These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

October 26, 2017 by  
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These solar-powered, zero-emission floating homes are packed with green goodness. Designed by Dutch architect Koen Olthius in collaboration with Arkup , an “avant-garde life on water” company based in Miami, the livable yachts operate 100% off the grid and feature waste management, rainwater harvesting and water purification systems. The 4,350-square-foot homes are equipped with 30 kW of solar panels , 1,000 kWh of lithium-ion batteries and high-grade insulation. They are also extremely safe and, thanks to the inclusion of self-elevating systems, they can withstand high winds, floods and hurricanes. Related: Koen Olthuis of WaterStudio.nl talks about design for a Water World The 40-foot-long hydraulic legs can stabilize the floating homes or even lift them out of the water. If you want to relocate, two 136 horsepower electric thrusters can move the structure at 7 knots. Rainwater is collected from the roof, stored in the hull, and purified to ensure complete water autonomy. The 24×12 foot sliding terrace adds plenty of integrated outdoor space and is surrounded by shock-resistant glass panels, while a smart communications system (including satellite TV and WI-FI antennas, LTE and VHF) allows you to stay connected at all times. + Arkup + Waterstudio

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These hurricane-proof floating homes are packed with green features

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

World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

September 15, 2017 by  
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Even the construction industry can “go green.” A collection of Swiss companies is proving this to be true by developing the world’s largest electric vehicle and in record time. The E-Dumper weighs a whopping 45 tons and has 700 kWh of storage capacity. That’s as much as eight Tesla Model S vehicles. To ensure it is as environmentally-friendly as possible, the E-Dumper’s base is a used Komatsu HD 605-7 dumper truck. The original diesel engine has been removed and replaced with a chassis for battery packs that will power the new E-Dumper. When we say this vehicle is big, we mean big. Its tires measure over 6.5 feet in diameter, and the driver is required to climb nine stairs to reach the cabin. Its size and strength ensure it can transport materials from a mountain ridge to a valley 20 times per day. This is important, as moving materials from the slopes of the Chasseral to the Ciments Vigier SA cements works near Biel is what the e-dump truck will be doing for the next 10 years. Because the vehicle is electric , there is no need to “heat up” the brakes when descending. This is because the enormous electric engine acts as a generator and recharges the battery pack. That same energy is then used to help the vehicle travel back up the hill. Phys reports, “If all goes as planned, the electric dumper truck will even harvest more electricity while traveling downhill than it needs for the ascent. Instead of consuming fossil fuels , it would then feed surplus electricity into the grid.” The costly venture is being spearheaded by Ciments Vigier SA . Lithium Storage GmbH from Illnau and the Kuhn Group have been hired to “get the ball rolling,” so to speak. The project is also backed by Empa; battery expert Marcel Held is in charge of safety assessments. Related: Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory The E-Dumper’s battery pack will weigh an incredible 4.5 tons and consist of 1,440 nickel manganese cobalt cells. This is the first time ever a land vehicle has been equipped with such a vast battery pack. “Nickel manganese cobalt cells are also the choice of the German automobile industry when it comes to the next generation of electric cars,” Held said. This is also the first time a vehicle of this performance class has been constructed to ascend and descend slopes of up to 13 percent inclination, all the while charging its battery pack by 40 kWh during a single descent and using electrical currents up to 3,000 amperes while climbing steep terrain. If the E-Dump Truck proves successful, Ciments Vigier SA could potentially power up to eight purely-electric vehicles using long-term. Once this has been accomplished, other companies may start producing large-scale, electric construction vehicles as well. + Ciments Vigier SA Via Phys.org Images via Lithium Storage GmbH ,  SAE International

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World’s first electric dump truck stores as much energy as 8 Tesla Model S cars

What3Words provides an address for every person and point on planet earth

September 8, 2017 by  
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What3Words is a revolutionary addressing system that pinpoints locations more precisely than conventional street addresses. The tool divides the world into 57 trillion 3 meter x 3 meter squares and assigns a unique combination of three words to each square. This enables more efficient aid and delivery services around the world – and it could actually save lives in disaster zones and informal settlements without street names. Roughly 75% of the world suffers from inconsistent, complicated or inadequate addressing systems, meaning that 4 billion people are unable to report crime, receive deliveries or request aid . They also are unable to exercise many of their rights as citizens because they simply have no way to communicate where they live. Even in the developed world, people get lost and mail goes delivered. Related: 5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award London-based What3Words offers an efficient, precise solution that is currently being integrated into businesses, apps and services across the globe. Each of the 57 trillion 3mx3m squares in the world has been allocated a fixed & unique 3-word address. The What3words geocoder turns geographic coordinates into these 3 word addresses & vice-versa. The system works across all platforms and devices, in multiple languages, offline and with voice recognition. Related: Life-saving LifeArk snaps together like LEGO to provide emergency off-grid housing Nigeria ‘s postal service has just started using What3Words to tackle its snail-mail problem and the poor addressing system. By adopting this state-of-the-art technology , NIPOST hopes to increase home delivery to 70 percent over the next two years. The firm has also signed a deal with Mongolia’s national delivery service and drone company Altavian, which designs and manufactures high quality drones for commercial enterprises. They teamed up with Indian moped taxi firm Bikxie, which is utilizing What3Words’ award-winning addressing system to help women travel more safely. What3words has been selected as the winner of the world’s biggest design prize – the INDEX: Award – which recognizes sustainable designs that generate positive impact in the world. + What3words + INDEX: Award

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What3Words provides an address for every person and point on planet earth

5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award

September 1, 2017 by  
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The world’s biggest design award was just bestowed upon five groundbreaking green designs that stand to improve life around the globe. The biennial INDEX: Award honors sustainable designs that address global challenges, and this year’s winners came from a pool of 1403 entries. From a floating farm that heals ocean ecosystems to a life-saving centrifuge that costs 25 cents, read on for a first look at this year’s winners – live from the INDEX: Award ceremony in Denmark. Zipline Delivering emergency medical supplies in developing nations can be difficult. On average, it takes four hours to send vaccines and blood transfusions from a central facility, but it can take much longer in the event of a natural disaster or infrastructural collapse. Enter Zipline – the world’s first commercial medical drone delivery system. Zipline uses a simple system to quickly and efficiently deliver critical medical supplies. Health workers text an order, and items are packaged at a distribution center. Then a drone is dispatched and the items are delivered by parachute with a high degree of precision. A single drone can carry a payload of 1.5 kilos for up to 150 kilometers – and it can make 500 deliveries in 24 hours in all weather conditions, for the equivalent cost per trip of a motorbike or ambulance delivery. Zipline began delivering blood to 21 transfusion facilities in western Rwanda in 2017, and it’s set to begin delivering blood and medicine in remote Maryland, Nevada and Washington over the next year. What3Words You might take your address for granted, but according to the UN, 4 billion people lack a way to reliably address their homes. This leads to myriad problems, as those without addresses are denied access to basic social and civic services – it’s difficult or impossible for them to open bank accounts, register births, or sign up for utilities like electricity and water. What3Words solves this problem by dividing the world into 57 trillion 3 meter x 3 meter squares, and assigning a unique combination of three words to each square. The resulting grid is more precise than street addresses, and it allows anyone to share their location quickly for emergency situations, census taking or even everyday mail delivery. GreenWave The world’s oceans are in trouble. 90% of large fish stocks are threatened by overfishing , the amount of carbon dioxide in our oceans is higher than at any point in the past 400,000 years, and nitrogen pollution from farms, factories and homes creates oxygen-depleted dead zones. Greenwave is a revolutionary ocean farm that addresses all of these issues while producing healthy local food, restoring ecosystems, and creating jobs for fishermen. The hurricane-proof floating farm grows shellfish and seaweed using “mussel socks,” oyster cages and nets. Each species is selected to address an environmental challenge – for instance, oysters naturally filter out excess nitrogen, and seaweed soaks up five times more CO2 than land-based plants. GreenWave also provides ocean farmers with grants, free outdoor gear, and training – and it promises to purchase 80% of new farmers’ crops over five years at triple the market rate. Paperfuge Every year, five million people are killed by three highly infectious diseases: malaria, HIV, and tuberculosis. Diagnosing and treating these illnesses is difficult in parts of the world with limited access to infrastructure, electricity and medical facilities. Centrifuges are critical tools that can isolate and detect infections – but they require electricity to function and can cost up to $1,000 per machine. The Paperfuge provides a brilliant alternative – it’s a simple device inspired by a five-thousand-year-old toy that can separate plasma from a blood sample in 90 seconds. The device weighs about 2 grams, it’s made from paper, string and plastic, and it only costs 25 cents to make – which makes it an accessible, low-cost “frugal design” with the potential to save millions of lives around the world. Ethereum Ethereum offers a way to validate your digital identity and make online transactions while keeping complete control over your personal information – instead of giving it over to a third party service like Facebook or Paypal. It’s a platform that provides developers with tools, custom blockchains and networks to build decentralized applications that can transform the way we interact with money, business, government and society. Since the applications use a blockchain, there’s no centralized server that can get hacked or shut down. + INDEX: Award + INDEX: Design to Improve Life

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5 brilliant designs that will change the world win the 2017 INDEX: Award

Give this clock a roll and it’ll show you the time anywhere on Earth

July 11, 2017 by  
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This World Clock is something that every global citizen needs today. The simple yet incredibly clever device quickly tells you what time it is anywhere on the planet. Developed by Japanese product designer Masafumi Ishikawa , the tiny clock has 12 flat edges and a single hour hand. Each side corresponds to a city – and as you roll the clock from one side to another, the hand automatically changes its position to show the time in that location. Masafumi Ishikawa’s World Clock is made of wood and finished with austere characters. It’s a handy and highly functional object that embraces traditional Japanese taste, minimalism and essentiality. The clock’s visual clarity mirrors its functional and technological simplicity. It doesn’t have multiple displays, and there is no need to manually set the time or adjust the mechanism – simple rotation is the only physical action necessary to tell the time anywhere on earth. The trick is a simple ball bearing that sets the new position of the hand when the clock is rotated. Masafumi Ishikawa has also developed a second version of the World Clock that addresses daylight saving time shifts adopted by some countries. This DST clock features an additional ring that advances the clock’s time by one hour during the summer months for cities where daylight savings time takes place. Related: This carved wood bench hides an unexpected surprise Masafumi Ishikawa’s World Clock by received a Lexus Design Award back in 2013, and it was presented during the Milan Furniture Fair 2017 at Salone Satellite in Rho Fiera. On this occasion the designer revealed to Inhabitat that he will shortly launch a crowdfunding campaign to put this bold prototype into production. + Masafumi Ishikawa Images by Maria Novozhilova for Inhabitat

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Give this clock a roll and it’ll show you the time anywhere on Earth

This is how hot it will be in your neck of the woods if we don’t slow climate change

July 11, 2017 by  
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Most of us know that the world is getting hotter – but it’s hard to put that into real perspective, especially when you are arguing with your climate-denying aunt (or, you know, your president). This map makes it easier by showing you how hot your city will be by 2100 if we don’t get emissions under control in comparison to another city. Los Angeles will feel like Belize City, and Chicago will feel like Juarez. And if that doesn’t scare you, consider the fact that many cities in the Middle East – like Baghdad – will be hotter than any current city on Earth. The map isn’t all bad news – it can also show you what will happen if we manage to meet the goals laid out in the Paris agreement instead of letting temperatures climb unchecked. Climate Central worked with the World Meteorological Organization to determine what cities would look like if temps climb 14.4 degrees F across the world by 2100 (or 7 degrees F if we begin to control emissions). Related: This map reveals which countries will survive climate change (and which countries are in big trouble) Climate Central also used to have a US-based map, but the organization said that they decided to create a world map because the conversation has moved away from the US now that Trump has pulled us out of the climate accord. They also decided to focus on urban areas because that is where the greatest number of people live, and cities experience the urban heat island effect, which can make them feel even hotter than more rural areas. + Climate Central via Fast Company image via Depositphotos

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This is how hot it will be in your neck of the woods if we don’t slow climate change

Clever bath vanity designed for a child with special needs

March 27, 2017 by  
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Washington-based Strasser Woodenworks has created an ingenious custom-made bath vanity for a Kansas City family with a special needs child. The wooden vanity has two false drawers that pull out on castors to become steps to help their young son, Tristan, who has a form of dwarfism, become more independent. The design was part of the annual Big Splash Custom Bath Giveaway , which saw Strasser Woodenworks and Schloegel Design & Remodeling partner up to create a new bathroom for Tristan, who has a form of dwarfism called Achondroplasia. At just 31-inches tall, the four-year-old struggles to perform everyday tasks like brushing his teeth or washing his hands. His mother, Leandria, told the renovation team that her son has fallen several times from having to climb to use everything. The new custom-made vanity is not only a much safer solution for the boy, but will be able to help him become more independent. Related: Foldschool: DIY Origami-Style Cardboard Furniture for Kids “Like any young child, Tristan wants to be independent, but the height of every element in the bathroom made that a real challenge and a safety hazard for him,” says Amy Boeshaar, AKBD, who designed the new bathroom for the family. “From the vanity, sink, and towel bars to the tub, showerhead, and toilet, everything was just too tall for him. To custom make the vanity, the team began by using standard cabinet elements to create a Tristan-sized vanity that’s also usable for the rest of the family. Attractive Shaker doors give the design a fresh, timeless aesthetic. The vanity steps, which were customized to Tristan’s height , roll out on castors and are easily concealed when not in use. + Strasser Woodworks + Schloegel Design & Remodeling

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Clever bath vanity designed for a child with special needs

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