Posts Tagged ‘solar’

FluorescentTobacco
15Megan Jones

Megan JonesFebruary 17, 2014

10 Exciting Crowdfunded… Gadgets

With crowdfunding, anyone can help turn the craziest of dreams into a fully functional reality. From the innovative to the sustainable to the just plain wacky, these 10 successful campaigns give a taste of the great new tech coming out of crowdfunding.

1. WakaWaka Light and Power

WakaWaka Power

Image: WakaWaka

This lamp is solar powered and super efficient, lasting for up to 80 hours. It can stand up on its own or attached to a bottle top. The WakaWaka Power, released in 2013, can also be used to charge a smartphone, MP3 player or tablet.

Even better, the profits from sales in the West are used to give WakaWakas to some of the 1.2 billion people without access to electricity. Replacing kerosene lamps with solar light cuts down on CO2 emissions, reduces health problems like burns, and saves families money. That makes WakaWakas a win-win!

These nifty gadgets have had three crowdfunding campaigns – Kickstart and Symbid for the WakaWaka Light, and again on Kickstarter for WakaWaka Power. Or you can check out the website to buy the gadget yourself.

2. Glowing Plant

Image: WIRED

The boundaries between technology and nature are sometimes hard to define. No more so than with this crowdfunding project, which caused quite a stir last summer when campaigners offered to give away free glowing plants to their Kickstarter backers.

The project seeks to develop sustainable, natural lighting by genetically modifying plants to glow in the dark – but its wild popularity comes from its wacky, science fiction appeal.

The founders describe their crowdfunding success as an exciting new development for synthetic biology, but critics worry about the environmental risks when GMOs are freely distributed. In the wake of this controversy Kickstarter has banned GMOs as rewards, alongside guns and alcohol. Interested people in the US can still pre-order glow-in-the-dark seeds or plants on the Glowing Plant website, but distribution to Europe is illegal under EU law.

3. Wood. Head. Phones.

Image: Inhabitat

Except for the wire inside them, these headphones are made entirely of wood. The inventor, a 19-year-old product designer from Oslo, named them after the Norwegian word “treskalle” – literally meaning “wood head”, or “stupid” – because, as he says in his crowdfunding video, “this is, in a lot of ways, a stupid product”.

In spite of this modesty, the headphones supposedly have a sweet sound and are custom-made for each person in ash, oak, cherry, or walnut. It’s not clear if you can still buy your own Wood. Head. Phones., but the Facebook page is a good place to start looking.

4. Kano

Image: Kano

If you’ve ever wanted the satisfaction of building your own computer, then look no further than Kano. For geeks and newbies of all ages, this cool kit comes with 11 components – including how-to guides – and is cute enough to give mainstream laptops a run for their money.

With Kano you can make games and learn code, and it’s open source, so using it can only get more fun. The smash hit Kickstarter campaign raised 15 times the original goal, and you can find out more or pre-order your own at the Kano website.

5. Morpher

Image: Indiegogo

Do you use a helmet when you cycle? Many people don’t, and this British inventor thinks he’s found one reason why: helmets are too bulky, especially for people using a bike rental scheme. The solution? A folding helmet.

Morpher folds in half, making it easy to slip it into a rucksack or laptop bag. It should be as safe as an ordinary helmet – most of the crowdfunded money will be used to meet international safety standards – and even comes in pretty colours. Check out the Indiegogo campaign or Morpher website for more info.

6. BUILD

Image: Indiegogo

Tired of boring furniture? Well, designers in Germany have developed modular shelving that is non-toxic, long lasting and completely recyclable. Beneath its funky shape lies a high-tech structure of polypropylene plastic foam that also makes it lightweight and shock-absorbent.

With BUILD you decide what shape you want, and can put it on a wall or use it to divide up a room. Plus if you move house or need an extra few chairs for that big dinner party, each block doubles up as a box, a seat, or even a cooler. Check out the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, or go straight for the product.

7. ThePresent

Image: thepresent

OMMMMMMMMM.

Relaxed yet? No? Well maybe it’s time to welcome ThePresent into your life. Its New York inventor touts this as the first 365-day clock – in one year the hand only rotates once around the face. With its colourful display to evoke the changing seasons, this clock is a reminder to stop and smell the roses.

The Kickstarter campaign has a great video about how the clock was made. Check out ThePresent website to learn more or get your own.

8. JACK

Image: autoevolution

Between walking and cycling lies a third choice for the eco-friendly commuter: the electric, folding scooter. JACK, as this Dutch prototype is called, weighs less than 20kg, can be charged in a car or home, and fits easily in a car boot or on public transport.

JACK can travel at speeds up to 25kph (15mph), but with a full battery it only lasts 20k (12.5 miles) so it’s more suited to a city spin than a road trip. All the specs are on the Symbid campaign page or the JACK website.

9. Tellspec

Image: Tellspec

If you’re human, you’ve probably worried about what’s in your food at least once. Does that apple have pesticides on it? Are there nasty additives in my pre-packaged sandwich? How many calories are in that slice of cake?

Tellspec hopes to answer these questions. Through spectrometry, Tellspec uses a laser to scan the chemicals inside a piece of food, and then wirelessly sends the results to your smartphone. For anyone with a food allergy, watching their weight or just keen on good food, this is definitely a product to watch. The Indiegogo campaign finished in November, so stay tuned on the website for launch as early as August.

10. Emotiv Insight

Image: Kickstarter

It’s not a jetpack, but it comes pretty close. The Emotiv Insight will allow you to move objects with your mind. With previous models, people have used their thoughts to create music, drive a car, manipulate a robot, type on a keyboard, and operate a wheelchair. This new model, crowdfunded on Kickstart, should also be able to record emotions, stress levels, physical fitness and facial expressions.

Emotiv Insight works through electroencephalography (EEG) to interpret the neuron signals  in the user’s brain. To make it more accessible, designers are making this gadget lightweight and cheaper, and adding dry sensors (so you don’t need to smear gel on your head every time you use it). Whether it’s helping people recover from injury, manage a disability, or just try out something awesome, this gadget screams “watch out, world”.

 

Is there a gadget we’ve left out? Which one would you choose?

Marchlyn Resovoir
1Henrik Karlstrøm

Henrik KarlstrømSeptember 10, 2013

What do people think about Norway as Europe’s “green battery”?

The politics of Norway’s energy supply is not something that many people often think a lot about. However, in recent months a discussion about whether Norway should increase its production of renewable energy, and extend more cables to neighbouring countries to become Europe’s “green battery”, has started. Here, I will try to discuss the issue of an increased power exchange with the rest of Europe, by looking at what average electricity users think about these questions.

But first, what is the idea behind the “green battery”? Well, Europe is rapidly increasing its adoption of renewable energy, with Denmark now being 40 % renewable, and Germany approaching 20 %. This is mostly good news, as this power replaces more polluting sources of electricity, or at least keeps some coal or gas plants from being built. However, renewable energy is less stable than fossil fuel energy, because it relies more directly on the current weather conditions. When it is windy, Spain can get two thirds of its power from wind turbines, but when it is not it needs to get power from somewhere else.

This is where Norway and the idea of a green battery come in. With its large supply of hydropower, which is stable, and can be turned on or off in a matter of minutes, Norway is an ideal candidate to act as a regulating instance in an electricity grid where renewables is an increasing part of the mix. It is also a potential source of income for Norwegian electricity companies and the Norwegian municipalities that mostly own these utilities, as well as the Norwegian state, which gets more tax revenue from it.

Because of its beneficial environmental effects, several environmental organisations, such as Zero and Bellona, strongly support the adoption of more renewables in the Norwegian energy mix. They are lobbying for increased power exchange with other European countries. Local governments in the south of Norway (link in Norwegian) have also voiced support for the scheme, wishing to benefit from increased exports.

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photo by: ohefin
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14Hermann Ørn Vidarsson

Hermann Ørn VidarssonJuly 11, 2013

Flat packed refugee homes from IKEA

How do you make a house to a family of 5 that you can fit in a station wagon?

It is IKEA’s philanthropic branch, the IKEA foundation, that is developing flat packed housing solutions to refugee camps in cooperation with the UN refugee program. The quality and design of housing in refugee camps haven’t changed much for the last 100 years and are still almost exclusively made up of tents. Understandable; as both the production and logistics of shipping and assembly tents are simple. How ever flat packed houses will keep those advantages to some degree. IKEA is hoping that when those houses reaches mass production the cost of producing one unit will be around $1000, twice as much as a tent costs today, but with an estimated lifetime of 3 years. 6 times as long as the tents used to day. The houses are also twice as big in terms of areal.

In addition the houses will be better isolated. Both by thicker materials in walls and roof (It is a specially made polymer called Rhulite), but also by the novelty “shade nett” that is mounted with approximately 15 cm from the houses roofs. They reflect sunlight during the day as well as reflect heat from the roof, keeping the living space warmer during nighttime.

The houses include a small solar panel and LED lamp, making activities like studying and cooking possible inside, even after sunset. This was an easy upgrades to the existing tents, but the light blocking material in walls of the houses makes lit evenings possible with out compromising privacy. Turning on the light inside a canvas tent cast shadows on the walls.This infringement on privacy is so strong that many people prefer to live in the darkness. All ready close to 50 pilot homes are being tested in camps in Iraq, Lebanon and Ethiopia.According to Johan Karlson, a project manager at The Refugee Housing Unit (RHU), “This is a very challenging field, we are only tapping the surface of what could be done in the future.”

What other applications could one build into such a house that would increase the living quality its inhabitants with out compromising price and logistics.
Technoport looks forward to seeing the final assemble manual that will follow this flat pack and are curious whether it will get a Nordic IKEA’esque name like “Kåk” or “Sommerstugan”.

 

Photo by the IKEA foundation

Kjell Jøran Hansen
11Annette Hovdal

Annette HovdalJuly 11, 2013

Solar mirror: the sun always shines in Rjukan

Rjukan, a small Norwegian city, is situated in a deep valley. The sun is gone for 6 months every year. A big solar mirror will now give Rjukan sun throughout the year.   

May 2013: After years of planning, the work on installing a big solar mirror, a heliostat, with a surface of 100 square meters, began on a hillside over the city. When the construction is completed, it will adjust the sun’s movements, reflect the sunlight, and transmit light to a fixed spot in the city centre throughout the year. A computer program will make sure that the mirror adjusts the sun’s movements.

The construction weighs 14 ton, and every part is moved up on the hillside by a helicopter.  In Italy you can find a similar construction, but it is not nearly as large and complex as the one in Rjukan.

However, the idea to use a big mirror to reflect the sun in Rjukan is not at all new. In 1913, a worker, Oscar Kittelsen, suggested that Rjukan should install a mirror up on a hillside so that the sun would reach the city centre during the winter.  Now, finally, a hundred years later Kittelsen’s dream is coming to life (nrk.no).

To see how the solar mirror works, click here

Photo by: Kjell Jøran Hansen (CC)