TIME sustainability

Giant Floating Duck Proposed to Bring Green Energy to Copenhagen

Energy Duck: A submission to the 2014 Land Art Generator Initiative Copenhagen design competition by artists Hareth Pochee, Adam Khan, Louis Leger and Patrick Fryer. Courtesy Land Art Generator Initiative

The unique structure could theoretically provide the environmentally conscious city with solar energy and hydropower

Here’s an idea for energy sustainability that’s not mere quackery: A team of British designers and artists have proposed a floating tourist attraction that would gather solar energy in Copenhagen Harbor as the Danish city works to become carbon-neutral by the year 2025.

The 12-story-high structure just happens to also be in the shape of a giant sea duck.

Built from lightweight steel and covered in solar panels, the “energy duck” would by day collect the sun’s rays and by night bask the harbor in LED lights that change color in rhythm with the hydro turbines inside it, according to blog designboom.

Visitors wouldn’t just be able to admire the light show from a distance, they’d be able to board the energy duck and see the inner workings for themselves.

The supersized bird was developed by artists and designers Hareth Pochee, Adam Khan, Louis Leger, and Patrick Fryer as part of a competition run by the Land Art Generator Initiative, a project that aims to integrate art with sustainable design to come up with alternative energy solutions.

It’s just a concept, of course, but let’s hope this plan doesn’t go a-fowl.

 

TIME technology

This Dozing Desk Means Never Getting Out of Bed Again

Hanko

Lazy? Me?

Some incredible—or incredibly useless—inventions have come out of Japan, like the ramen face shield. But this “Super Upward-Looking Dozing Desk,” discovered by Kotaku, is something every lazy technology user would love to own. The contraption brings us one step closer to becoming the pod people from Wall-E.

The Dozing Desk forms a kind of armature over your prone body in bed. It holds a laptop precariously above your face with the help of elastic ties (hopefully secure enough to keep it from falling on you, which it looks poised to do). Your eyes now have a straight line to the screen even while laying down, and your keyboard is perfectly aligned to your hands. The only problem might be a lack of circulation to your arms, but you don’t type that much anyway, do you?

The desk apparatus looks funny, but there’s a burgeoning line of products for those who don’t want to do their computing while sitting—which, after all, kills you slowly. The Zero Gravity Desk kind of looks like a dentist’s chair, with its various arms and levers. But it’s designed to keep your body perfectly balanced and unstressed while working, and who wouldn’t want that?

These devices are the closest thing we have to becoming floating brains in tanks, controlling our digital lives through the power of our thoughts. Before we achieve that singularity, there’s always the bed-desk. Or at least these prism-spectacles that let you read while laying down.

TIME Art

This Furniture Looks, Feels and Smells Like It’s Made Out of Human Skin

Courtesy Gigi Barker

Strangely, not part of the Buffalo Bill Home Collection

A set of furniture designed by Gigi Barker looks a lot like what Hannibal Lecter might use to decorate his family room.

The British designer and founder of design studio 9191 has crafted a material that has the look, feel and — thanks to the addition of after shave to the mix – smell of human flesh. Barker used the pheromone-impregnated silicone base to craft a collection of chairs and footstools, which were modeled after the Rubenesque folds of a man’s stomach. No word on whether you need to moisturize the chairs with lotion to help them keep their luster.

While the chair may make your skin crawl, Barker isn’t just trying to creep out her audience. She believes that the unique material lets people form a physical connection to the piece and allows them the opportunity to examine their relationship to their own skin and other people’s. Plus, the material reacts to bodies and according to Barker, speaking to Wired UK, matches a human’s body temperature, which is “perfect for soothing a crying baby”.

If the concept doesn’t scare you, the price tag might – the combined cost of the chair and stool is over $4,000 (£2,380). That said, Barker’s show at Central Saint Martin’s sold out last month, according to Wired UK, and she’s already in talks with retailers.

Courtesy Gigi Barker

MORE: Sweden’s ‘Hannibal Lecter’ is Set Free

MORE: Ikea’s Chinese Stores Invite Customers to Take a Snooze

TIME Social Media

Manipulate Your Own Mood, Before Facebook Does

Lauren McCarthy

But how do you mute engagement photos?

The uproar following the news that Facebook had manipulated the emotions of some of its users by curating the posts they saw in their newsfeed according to specific emotions was understandable. We like to believe that our social networks are indifferent platforms that don’t play with our feelings the way our friends can. In reality, Facebook strictly controls every factor of its website’s experience—it’s far from impartial.

So why not take control into our own hands? Artist Lauren McCarthy’s Facebook Mood Manipulator gives you access to the same technology that the study used to control its subjects emotions. A sliding scale on the website allows users to select what kinds of posts they want, with factors including positive, emotional, aggressive, and open. Turn the positive slide all the way up, and all that appears are happy posts. Turn it down, and negativity replaces all the good vibes.

McCarthy’s app suggests a kind of self-censoring. If you’re feeling down, then maybe you don’t want to see anything sad in your feed. Sure, the app performs a neat trick by scanning posts for emotive keywords and filtering them based on that vocabulary, but it also has a deeper meaning. It shows just how much our lives are contingent on what we experience online—we’re not communicating on social networks so much as living through them.

TIME Design

WATCH: The Science Behind the World’s Biggest Wooden Roller Coaster

Whether you can't get enough of them or can't go near them, roller coasters rely on some pretty nifty tricks of physics and design.

+ READ ARTICLE

Your brain wants nothing to do with roller coasters—and for a wonderfully simple reason: your brain would very much like you to stay alive. So anything that’s designed to haul you up to the top of a very steep incline, drop you straight down, very fast, and repeat that process over and over again for a minute or two is something that elicits a simple, highly adaptive response in you—which pretty much involves running away.

That, at least, is how it’s supposed to work, but your entire brain isn’t in on the game. There are also thrill-seeking parts, adventurous parts, parts that like the adrenaline and serotonin and endorphin kicks that come from roller coasters. So while millions of people avoid the things, at least as many millions swarm to them, looking for ever bigger, scarier rides and ever bigger, better thrills. This summer they’ll get their wish, thanks to the opening of the appropriately named Goliath roller coaster, the biggest and fastest wooden coaster ever built, which just took its inaugural runs at the Six Flags Great America amusement park in Gurnee, Ill., about 50 miles north of Chicago.

Goliath is destined to be a tourist magnet, a cultural icon—at least until another, even bigger one comes along—and a lot of fun for a lot of people. But it’s also a feat of engineering and basic physics. And if you’re the kind of person who enjoys that sort of thing while hating the idea of actually ever riding on roller coasters—the kind of person I’ll describe as “me,” for example—there’s a lot to like about Goliath.

Modern roller coasters typically come in two varieties, wooden ones and steel ones—known unimaginatively if unavoidably as “woodies” and “steelies”—and coaster lovers debate their merits the way fans of the National and American Leagues debate the designated hitter rule.

Steelie partisans like the corkscrews and loop-the-loops made possible by the coasters’ bent-pipe architecture. Woodie fans prefer the old school clack-clack and the aesthetics of the entire structure. What’s more, plunging into and soaring through all the wooden bracing and strutwork necessary to keep the thing standing increases the sensation of speed because stationary objects that are close to you when you’re moving at high speed seem to whiz past so fast they blur. Steelies leave you more or less moving through open space, and that eliminates the illusion.

Goliath moves at a top speed of 72 mph, achieving that prodigious feat with the aid of a very simple fuel: gravity. As in all roller coasters, its biggest, steepest drop is the first one, because that’s the only way to generate enough energy to propel you through the rest of the ride—which is made up of steadily shallower hills. In the case of Goliath, that first hill is 180′ tall (55m), or about the equivalent of an 18-story building. The drop is an almost-vertical 85 degrees.

As test pilots and astronauts could tell you, such rising, falling, corkscrewing movement creates all manner of g-force effects. Most of the time we live in a familiar one-g environment. Climb to 2 g’s in a moving vehicle of some kind and you feel a force equivalent to twice your body weight. The maximum g’s Goliath achieves is 3.5. Get on the ride weighing 150 lbs., and for at least a few seconds, you’ll experience what it’s like to weigh 525 lbs.

But g forces can go in the other direction, too. With many roller coasters, the forces bottom out at about 0.2 g’s during downward plunges, meaning your 150 lb. one-g weight plummets to 30 lbs. That can give you a feeling of near-weightlessness. It’s also possible to achieve 0 g in a dive, which is how NASA’s famed “vomit comet” aircraft allow astronauts to practice weightlessness. On the Goliath, things go even further, with riders experiencing a force of minus 1 g.

“That means you’d be coming out of your seat,” says Jake Kilcup, a roller coaster designer and the chief operating officer of Rocky Mountain Construction, which designed and built Goliath. To ensure that that doesn’t happen, the Goliath cars are equipped with both lap bars and seat belts.

Though Goliath is made of wood, it does feature two so-called inversions—or half loops that take you to the top of a climb, then deliberately stall and plunge back down the same way. One includes a “raven turn,” or a twist in the track that turns the cars briefly upside down.

Even this much wouldn’t be possible on a wooden coaster if not for what Rocky Mountain calls its “Topper” track technology—a sort of hybrid of wood and metal. Most of the beams in the Goliath superstructure are made of nine laminated layers of southern yellow pine, steam-bent in stretches that call for curves and then kiln-dried. But the track itself also includes hollow metal rails running the entire 3,100 feet (or nearly a full kilometer) of the ride. The cars all have main wheels that sit on the rails as well smaller upstop and guide wheels that lock the cars to the tracks and keep them going where they’re supposed to.

“The Topper track gives a smoother ride than you get on an all-metal track,” says Kilcip, “and makes the overall roller coaster stronger than an all-wooden one.”

All that technology provides a relatively brief ride—just 87 seconds long, which is not atypical for roller coasters. For plenty of people, that’s way too short—which is what Six Flags is banking on to keep the turnstiles spinning. For plenty of other people, it’s precisely 87 seconds too long. And you know what? I’m not—um, I mean, those people aren’t—the slightest bit ashamed to admit that.

TIME

5 Coolest iWatch Mockups That Show What Apple’s Next Big Thing Might Look Like

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook addresses the crowd during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco
Stephen Lam—Reuters

Nobody really knows what it will look like (outside of Apple), but plenty of designers have dreamed about it

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference concluded with hardly any new updates about it’s mysterious “wearable” device which should debut in the fall, and perhaps will be shaped like watch, and just maybe will include a curved touchscreen 1.3 to 1.5 inches across — all of which is conjecture, really. The iWatch is still a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

Fortunately, a growing number of designers have drawn up their own fantasy designs, some of which are smart, eye-catching and a lot more interesting than the latest gossip from an anonymous parts manufacturer in China. Here are five designs that may help fill that little iWatch-shaped hole in your heart.

Classic – Netherlands-based designer Nermin Hasanovic kept all of the classic features, right down to the little turn-dial for mechanical hands, while revamping the watch face with clean, solid colors that are immediately recognizable as Facebook blue, iMessage green and iCalendar white.

iwatch3
Source: Nermin Hasanovic – Behance

Really Classic - Steampunks, your prayers have been answered with this pocket iWatch on a gold chain, compliments of designer Leonardo Zakour in Germany.

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 4.29.56 PM
Source: Leonardo Zakour — Behance

Blindingly Cute – From Texas-based designer Edgar Rios, a watch that you could practically eat.

4f37b975f52315460cb0b3c898f2205c
Source: Edgar Rios — Behance

 

Seamless - Credit goes to Berlin-based designer Thomas Bogner for eliminating the watch face entirely and embedding the screen in a seamless wristband. Just one problem: the text scrolled vertically. Todd Hamilton in San Francisco right-sided the text and debuted his design, one of the slickest ones to date, in an animated video that nearly brings the iWatch fantasy to life.

iWatch Concept from Todd Hamilton on Vimeo.

Boxy But Good – Designer Martin Hajek‘s incarnation of the iWatch and iWatch C mimic the design cues of the current iPhone range (metal on the high end, plastic on the low).

Martin Hajek
TIME technology

This Interactive App Lets You Play With the Words of Classic Books 

It brings word games to a whole new level

+ READ ARTICLE

Israeli designer Ariel Malka has created an entirely new way to read books: by untangling them. Malka’s app, He Liked Thick Word Soup, turns the text of classic books like Ulysses into strands of sentences that have to be reassembled as the reader makes their way through the novel.

The game “forces you to read with your fingers,” as the new media blog Creative Applications notes. To play, straighten out each sentence and match sections of it to the words that appear at the top of the screen. It necessitates a different kind of attention than just scrolling through an article or flipping a page—a kind of attentiveness that’s very useful when reading something like Ulysses, James Joyce’s intricate, dense book that appears in the app’s video.

TIME housing

Tiny Houses With Big Ambitions

Is the tiny-houses movement a viable solution for American homeowners?

+ READ ARTICLE

Anyone who’s been to the suburbs in the past half-century knows that American homes have been getting larger and more elaborate year after year. The average size of new homes has swelled by 50 percent since 1970, despite that the average family size decreased during the same period. And it’s not just here; similar trends have held sway in other prosperous, mostly Western countries.

As with most things, a countertrend, focused on homes that are smaller and simpler than the norm, emerged in recent decades. Sometimes referred to as the “tiny house movement,” the concept describes efforts by architects, activists and frugal home owners to craft beautiful, highly functional houses of 1,000 square feet or less (some as small as 80 square feet). It’s both a practical response to soaring housing costs and shrinking incomes, and an idealistic expression of good design and sensible resource use.

The most ardent advocates and early adopters of the concept were often looking to downsize and simplify their lives, create an affordable second home or find innovative ways to live outside the mainstream. Some small homes are on wheels and therefore resemble RVs, but they are built to last as long as traditional homes. Others represent clever architectural solutions to odd building lots or special design challenges. Aging baby-boomers see them as an efficient way to adapt to their changing needs. Most tiny houses are tailored for middle-class and wealthy families who made a conscious decision to “build better, not bigger.”

But natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and economic catastrophes like the Great Recession inspired many people to wonder if the movement might offer solutions to pressing housing crises, whether temporary or long-term. Cheaper to build and maintain, built mostly of ecologically friendly materials, requiring no building permits and taking up far less real estate than traditional houses, the appeal of “living small” is obvious to many people. Some imagine entire villages built of tiny homes as solutions to homelessness.

The movement itself remains small, however promising. Only about one percent of home buyers today go for houses of 1,000 square feet or less. That may be changing as more people become familiar with the ideas that animate the movement and as middle-class finances remain precarious.

Watch the video above and make up your own mind: Would you opt to live small if you could?

TIME Design

Interactive Map: Explore America’s Most Innovative Spaces

From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater to Walter De Maria’s Lightning Field, get off the beaten path to visit these 24 works of inspired design this summer. See an interactive map of these incredible locations here.

 

 

TIME Starbucks

These Are the Most Beautiful, Hand-Drawn Starbucks Cups You’ll Ever See

Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte

Artist and barista Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte spends some 40 hours creating each one

Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte is an artist and barista who works at the Starbucks across from the British Museum in London. He takes the chain’s “name on a cup” policy to the extreme with custom, hand-drawn line art. Some are so intricate they take as long at 40 hours to complete. Starbucks tells Metro U.K. “it’s fantastic how he takes our iconic cup design and makes it his own.” Here are some favorites; there’s full gallery on his Facebook page.

Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte
Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte
Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte
Gabriel Nkweti Lafitte

[Metro U.K.]

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