Friday, December 31, 2010

Easy innovation

According to Theodore Levitt, creativity is thinking up new things, while innovation is doing new things. Both are invaluable: a thought without application is nothing more than a thought; an application with no thought behind it is a waste of energy.

The people at OpenInvo recognize this, and are trying to bring left and right hemispheres together, by inviting people with ideas to share them in a protected environment, and to match the ideas with people itching to do something with them.

What a great idea!

TechCrunch have a good article on OpenInvo, with plenty of pursuant comments, here.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Driving in the open

Anyone who has used Firefox or Linux knows the value of open-source design. When a community of people get together, driven by passion instead of profit, remarkable things can be achieved.

This is the idea behind Local Motors: the world's first open-source vehicle design. This isn't some Second Life virtual reality, this is the real deal, with a number of prototypes having already been tested, and dozens of cars already on order.

The first car they have built and tested is the Rally Fighter, which was designed as rally vehicle for the southwest. They've given it some pretty serious testing, as you can see here:

The advantage of this kind of project is that you can design vehicles for specific situations. Other designs Local Motors are looking at include small city-cars, road racers, and sports cars.

Open-source designing is just one idea that expects to see more of in 2011. See the others in this article.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making plastic less drastic

Tired of sorting through all your plastic to work out what can be recycled and what can't? Ever wondered what does happen to the plastic you do recycle?

It turns out only about 12% of the plastic that is sent to recycling is actually recycled - the rest is too difficult to process, and is burnt, or is sitting undecomposed among the 100s of millions of tons dumped in landfills every year. Worse still, is all the plastic dumped outside of landfills.

University of Warwick Engineering Professor Jan Baeyens, and his team, are developing a process that recycles 100% of the plastic it consumes. Better yet, it truly recycles the plastic, as opposed to the  downstreaming process that currently passes as the standard practice of plastic recycling.

An albatross' diet
With downstreaming, plastics are used to make different products, such as floor tiles, or fabric, or even feedstock! With Baeyens' chemical process, the plastics are broken down into their original components - often even their original monomers - so that they can be used to fulfill the same function over and over again.

So we win at both ends: we don't need to tax our already overburdened non-renewable resources as much to produce the plastic, and we aren't left with an insurmountable pile of garbage once we're done with it. And we no longer have to sort through our plastic to work out what can be recycled and what can't.

To get a better understanding of the process, and to see a short video on it, click here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Positive spin

When we think of news, it is usually the depressing, aggravating stuff we expect from the commercial news media.

In Mozambique, things are changing for the better because of one newspaper that, in just a couple of years, has become the most read newspaper in the country.

Jornal @Verdade is a free newspaper that has a mission to transform the country by generating ambition in its people. Instead of spending valuable print space on divisive political issues, it talks to its audience about issues directly affecting them, like AIDS and crime and getting the biggest bang for your buck (and with a median household income of around a dollar a week, that's very important).

Wouldn't it be nice if our media aimed at transforming us into something better, rather than diminishing us as a pack of rabid, fearful wolverines?

See TIME's article about the newspaper here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

(From the) Bottoms up!

It being the festive season, now is as good a time as any to efficacious imbibing. Aptly named, GrinOn Industries, have developed a draft beer dispenser that has filled up to 56 pints in a minute, with two people operating it, and 44 with just one!

The Bottoms Up Draft Beer Dispensing System dispenses beer from the bottom of the cup, utilizing a small magnet at the base of the cup to unseal, then seal it. Watch it in action at a live event:

And here is the company's president breaking his own world record:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Up close with birds 'n' all

To read this article, go to this blog's new home at

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Running on air

So-called 'environmentally friendly' devices, equipment, even vehicles, usually rely on not-so-environmentally-friendly batteries. This could be changing soon, with new developments in batteries that utilize energy-dense metals that rely only on oxidation with the air to operate. It's expected that these batteries could last around 10 times longer than today's batteries. Not only this, but we can also expect small devices to be battery-free, relying instead on kinetic energy.

As reported by Bloomberg, this is just one of five innovations recently touted by IBM to be available to consumers in the next five years. The company's annual Five-in-Five predictions also mention holographic images from mobile devices, recycling heat from data centers into energy, big advances in GPS technology, and utilizing people as 'walking sensors' for scientific data collection.

Want to know more? Here's a video the company put together:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Icarus was a visionary

Icarus may have flown too close to the sun, but a new airplane has demonstrated how effectively it can fly with the sun.

UK defence technology company Qinetiq has been developing a solar-powered airplane they call Zephyr, and it has just had a record-breaking flight confirmed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, in which it broke unmanned flight altitude and duration records. Flying for 336 hours, 22 minutes and eight seconds, it broke the previous record by a factor of 11, earning it the title of  'eternal plane'!

The full story, including a video, is here.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Share your emotions (with a computer)

University of Cambridge professor, Peter Robinson, and his team are developing computers that can not only read emotions as effectively as humans can, but can also respond accordingly. Professor Robinson explains it here:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lego Compass

Today's great idea is actually thousands of years old: a mechanical compass. By using a unique combination of gears, you can ensure you'll always be heading in the right direction.

To make your own compass out of Lego, just click here.