Category Archives: Tech

Toymaker makes flat-pack truck for people

the_ox_flatpack_carToymaker, adventurer, and philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman is designing a lightweight flat-pack truck for developing nations (and others interested in simple, easily repairable truck design).   Manufactured by UK-based Global Vehicle Trust (a charitable subsidiary of Mr. Norman’s), most of the truck’s panels are interchangeable and the parts are quick and easy to repair/replace. They are being designed to use the fewest possible components so they’re quick and easy to ship and build at location as well.  The truck can motor through up to 30 inches of water, has good stability, runs on diesel, and the engine can also be used for pumping water, sawing wood, or running a generator.  Sounds like a workhorse for farms, too.  See this Gizmag article for further information.

An electric socket that fits in your pocket!

solar plugCheck out this innovative new product design:  The Window Socket–  just attach the solar conversion plug onto a sunny window, and it will harness solar energy. A small converter converts sunshine into electricity you can carry with you, and can freely use as a plug when you’re in the car, on a plane, outside, camping, etc.  It’s like having an electric socket in your pocket!  Check out detailed information here.

Sharing skills: a world-wide online teaching and learning community

Teaching and learning from each other has never been easier.  Skillshare is a global marketplace for classes, where you can learn real-world skills from anyone, anywhere.  Skillshare powers thousands of creative, collaborative classes on everything from programming to design to crafts.

If you have knowledge to share- Become a Teacher.  If you want to learn something- Browse Classes.

Here’s how it works.

1. Post a Class:  Posting a Skillshare class Continue reading

New membrane produces clean water AND creates energy

A team of scientists at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have developed a material known as Multi-use Dioxide.  Research shows it can be used to produce hydrogen  and clean waste from wastewater, double the lifespan of batteries, create antibacterial wound dressings, and more.  Plus it’s a low cost alternative to Platinum.  Here’s a quote from Professor Sun from the article at the NTU website: “While there is no single silver bullet to solving two of the world’s biggest challenges: cheap renewable energy and an abundant supply of clean water; our single multi-use membrane comes close, with its titanium dioxide nanoparticles being a key catalyst in discovering such solutions. With our unique nanomaterial, we hope to be able to help convert today’s waste into tomorrow’s resources, such as clean water and energy.”

Learn more here.  Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Water heater uses cold water to create hot water

A new invention water heater system will improve hot water heating efficiency by using cold water.  It works similar to a heat pump, but instead of using the air temperature difference, it uses the water temperature difference of fresh cold tap water. Inventor Hal Slater and a research team from the University of California tested prototypes in three home areas with different temperatures of cold tap water: a coastal home, a mountain home and a desert home, then compared the performance of the monitored machines for a year. They found the warmer the outside temperature, the more efficient the heat to extract.  When the inside and outside water and temperature were similar, the system basically reverts to an electric water heater.

Test results showed an improvement in water heating efficiency by as much as 50% over leading heat pumps, and believe that with a few tweaks efficiency could be increased by 100% – as efficient as the best solar water heaters, but without a solar panel.

Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Car & power plant run on liquid air

Inventor Peter Dearman of London has invented a car that is powered by liquid air:  no gas, no batteries.  He says the technology has been around for a while, and that since we’re running out of fossil fuel, it’s time to offer a non-toxic solution.  It won’t produce any emissions because it’s only air – just using heat from the atmosphere and liquid air.  An engineering company in Europe is creating a state-of-the-art version of Inventor Dearman’s prototype car later this year.

Liquid air can be used for more then powering cars.  It is currently being used on the outskirts of London in a power plant storing wind energy at night to be used during the day to power local houses.  The United States has more than $100 billion earmarked for investment in energy storage over the next 10 years, so this technology could be coming to a town near you.

When asked why he has spent 40 years inventing various technologies that he hopes will help save the planet, Dearman shrugged and said “Why not?’

For more information, check out this ABC news article.

Desks, cabinets, tables, couches…that turn into beds

Great ideas for small spaces, here’s some examples of the worlds most compact murphy beds, called Smart Beds.  They do all kinds of double duty – desk by day, bed by night.  Bookcase and table by day, bed by night.  Wall by day, bed by night.  Cabinet by day, bunk beds by night.  Couch by day, 2 twin beds by night.  The animations on this site show how they work, and remind me of transformer toys.  Watch a video here:   I

Switch plate doubles as key and mail holder

What if your light switch could also hold your keys, mail, bags, or hat?  Wouldn’t it be great to not always be searching for your keys, and to know where you put your mail (and not have it get buried under all the junk on your kitchen table?) Product designer Justin Porcano took a look at the basic light switch – something we all have in every room with wall holes already drilled – and came up with something better:  Walhub.   Take a look at the video here.

Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Water-producing billboard

The city of Lima Peru doesn’t get much rainfall, but they can get humidity as high as 98%.  The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) has partnered with advertising agency Mayo-Draft FCB to create a novel way for residents to not only get unpolluted drinking water (their local wells are often polluted), but also to show prospective students that they could make the world a better place by becoming an engineer. The billboard catches humidity in the air and turns it into filtered drinking water, and is capable of producing 96 liters (over 25 gallons) of water every day for the locals or travelers needing a drink.  This video outlines the project:

Thanks to Gizmag for this story.

Invent new products and earn money!

You’ve heard about 3D printing, right?  It’s not just for industry anymore.  Anyone can now design and print their own custom items.  If you have an idea for a new product, Shapeways 3D Printing lets you model your design with their software, upload it to their site, choose the materials you want your item to be made of and what price you’d like to sell it for.  Then Shapeways will SELL your item for you on their site, and you’ll get a cut from the sale.  How cool is that?  Check out the site to see examples.

Fishing (or leisure) boat in a box

The Transporter boat goes from a box to a boat in 10 minutes.  You can strap the box to the top of your car or put it in the back of your van, then when you get to your destination you put the large pieces together by stacking and screwing the plastic components together.  The foam filled pontoons keep it afloat even if you hit a rock – and also double as insulation to keep your drinks cool.  With under seat storage and the purchase of a trolling motor and battery if you’d rather putter than paddle, this little boat would be great for the weekend fisherman, gentle family outings, or romantic evenings on the lake.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iw-6dKU3Pkc

Thanks to Gizmag for this story.

Tech way to create a pony tail

This might be the easiest way to put hair in a ponytail for those who prefer to use a tech/tool instead of using one’s hands alone. I found it humorous as well as strangely practical.  Vacuum cleaners are amazing tools, and I like how this video shows an innovative additional use for an everyday tool.

http://video.xin.msn.com/watch/video/dad-makes-daughter-s-ponytail-with-vacuum-cleaner/1j8y8875z

It’s a coffee table…and it’s a doll house

qubis-hausThis coffee table does double duty – its sleek and simple style classes up your small apartment or large house.  And it’s designed in such a way that pre-fab panels can be slid into the pre-formed slot grid to create a working doll house.  No more pink plastic Barbie house clashing with your nice furniture – now you can consolidate by purchasing ONE item that looks nice for your house…and is functional fun for your daughter or son (or adults who like posing action figures etc).

In fact, the scale of the house is better for star wars figures than Continue reading

Build a small House – with included solar electric – in 2 hours

Here’s a great example of next generation thinking.  Although built with disaster relief in mind, I can see this also working as a backyard art studio/get-away or business office.   The AbleNook portable dwelling can be assembled in about 2 hours. If you’d like to help make this happen, be a part of their Kickstarter campaign.

I like that it has electrical wiring built right into the clip-together structural components.  The insulated panels then slide into the structure.  Panels are interchangeable and on a grid, so it’s easy to enlarge the space.  The roof is built of solar panels that feed the built-in electric wiring grid.  There’s a back porch storage area for water and batteries.  Just add a composting toilet and a rainwater collection/purification system, and this would be nearly perfect off-the-grid living.

It would be great to take some of these concepts (with modifications) and create the Build-a-building system.

For further details see Gizmag for this article on AbleNook.

Smog-eating concrete and other new tech ideas

America’s Greenest Street’ provides a complete street urban development package.  I’ve heard of permeable pavers, bioswales to absorb rainwater overflow, recycled concrete, and tree canopies to produce shade in the summer and absorb traffic pollution.  But I hadn’t heard of Smog-Eating concrete, nor LED street lights run on solar AND wind power combined.  The lights are actually quite fun to watch when the wind blows.

Here’s a short video of these and other new inventions that could power our cities in practical and beautiful ways:

See the whole article by gizmag here.

Your own sound track: music tempo matches your run speed

runnersEver wished you had a soundtrack?  Music that would speed up or slow down depending on your movements or actions? The new Cruise Control app changes a songs’ tempo to match your cadence.  Created at Canada’s Simon Fraser University, the device is iOS compatible, and was designed for runners and for other health pursuits including medical needs.  You can choose between four modes:

Cadence mode will choose songs from your library and adjust their tempo to play at the cadence you’ve chosen. Basically, you set the pace you want to run Continue reading

A living sewage treatment plant

Here’s a really cool technique for treating wastewater that treats up to 52,000 gallons of human waste a day, and produces clean water, fertilizer for food, and solar energy in the process.  Makes me want to go on a retreat to the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies just to try it out (well, and take a rest, do yoga, get massages, learn stuff – basically my ideal retreat).  This is yet another creative example of cradle-to-cradle technology, where one being’s waste is another’s food.  This is a larger scale and power supplying version of my previous articles on home-use composting toilets and home use herb garden/worm bin/fish tank.  This is also a practical solution to update our current faulty national sanitation system.  Thanks to Yes! magazine for the link.

Tapping into better health: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

I recently discovered a simple, free, do-it-yourself way to help relieve stress.  It’s called Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT and I learned about it in a book and then searched for more information online.  EFT is a powerful self-help method based on research showing that emotional trauma contributes greatly to disease. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories, fear, and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, the body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate physical healing. EFT uses elements of Cognitive Therapy and Exposure Therapy, and combines them with Acupressure, in the form of fingertip tapping on acupuncture points. Over 20 clinical trials published in peer-reviewed medical and psychology journals have demonstrated that EFT is effective for phobias, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, pain, and Continue reading

Composting toilet as a sustainable option for the cabin, boat, or basement

I’m intrigued by the whole idea of cradle-to-cradle technology. From what I’ve read, it wasn’t that long ago when some cultures requested you to give a return on their food/hospitality investment before you left (ie you leave your waste product for use as fertilizer for their crops).   I’ve always thought it odd to put waste into our fresh drinking water, and then use chemicals and processing to take it back out again.  However, in our culture, composting is thought to be inconvenient, smelly, and beneath our sensibilities.

Well, with new technology, modern composting toilets are easily available online – and I even saw a composting toilet in a local plumbing showroom!  Some Continue reading

Hand powered spice grinder keeps one healthy in two ways

Spice Grinder

Ground up Chia and Flax seeds. These have been recommended by my health professional.  I’m thinking ‘but the seeds are already so small – how/why grind them up more?’  The why is to get all the nutrition out of them.  The how is through a spice grinder (many people use their coffee grinders for this purpose).  I figured since 1. I only need to grind up a little at a time,  2. I want to go cheap, and 3. I want to save electricity; I’d look for a manual spice grinder.

This is a photo of the Tulip Spice Grinder, which I picked up at Continue reading