Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A wheelchair with pedals; this really makes no sense

Why on earth would a company make this product? It seems logical to assume that the majority of people confined to a wheelchair cannot make use of their legs and may possibly have a hard time pedaling. Well, British wheelchair attachment company Speedy has disregarded common sense and felt it necessary to start producing the Pedalofit. This attachment gives any wheelchair a third wheel and it has seven speeds along with handlebars and hand brakes.

Speedy does make other wheelchair accessories that do make a bit more sense. Such as an electric variation of this.

The angry customer FedUp with FedEx

What do you get when FedEx has an angry customer with a love of typography? A package bearing a rich combination of typographic expression:

Japan exempts programmers from jury duty because they are “too busy”

The Japanese supreme court is currently developing guidelines as to what type of jobs are allowed to decline jury duty summons for a new citizen judge system, which is planned to be introduced in May 2009.

The current list of excusable jobs in the initial draft includes System Engineer (or, “SE”, which is a bit different from the original meaning. SE is now a Japanese IT industry expression that means senior software engineer). The reasoning behind this decision is that some people feel that the programmers may need to be dispatched for emergency system troubles.

The current bill for the citizen judge system states refusal of duty is only permitted when the selected citizen is: over 70 years old, a student, severely ill, in charge of caring relatives and minors living together, or attending causes brutal mental and/or economical loss

Inside the Nike Research Lab

Ever wonder what Nike’s famous research facility looks like or what they do in it? If so, watch the above video.

The “ultimate” shopping bag for geeks

Joao Sabino is a designer from Portugal who has created quite the geeky shopping bag. The bag is made from hundreds of keyboard keys.

How many keyboards do you think he ripped apart?…

Swedish Company Develops New Airbags for Motorcycle Riders

Ask any motorcyclist what the most dangerous part of riding is and most of them will tell you, "People in cars that aren't paying attention." Not too long ago, an airbag suit was developed to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries to riders. Autoliv Inc., out of Sweden has developed a new system that should cut the numbers even further.

The system uses an airbag mounted in the A-Pillar of the car. When a front end impact is detected, the airbag will inflate, covering most of the hood and some of the windshield. Studies show that many of the injuries and fatalities could be avoided if this simple measure was taken. In fact, the Dutch Cycling Federation estimates that over 60 lives could be saved and over 1500 serious injuries could be avoided every year by using these airbags.

The system won't only serve motorcycle riders however, it will cover pedal bikes and pedestrians as well. Obviously these accidents will be at a much lower speed, but the impact on the hood will still be reduced by a significant amount. It should else help in the event of a head on collision with another car if either the driver or passenger is ejected through the windshield.

No official word on where or when the system will be installed, but with so much potential, it shouldn't take long.

Source : Autoblog

Preserved Coelacanth Highlights Tokyo Evolution Exhibition

A fish out of water... and out of timeA fish out of water... and out of time
Japan's National Museum of Nature and Science has acquired a preserved Coelacanth to highlight its "Darwin" evolution-themed exhibition being held in Tokyo. The Coelacanth, a fish often referred to as a "living fossil", has changed very little since the species originated approximately 380 million years ago.

Preserved specimen of a coelacanth from the Fish Division specimen collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (photograph by Sandra J. Raredon)Preserved specimen of a coelacanth from the Fish Division specimen collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (photograph by Sandra J. Raredon)

The Coelacanth, an odd-looking deep-water fish, caused a sensation in the scientific community when a fisherman landed one 70 years ago off the coast of Madagascar.

Fossil coelacanths have been found in rock layers dated to approximately 380 million years ago, and until its rediscovery in 1938 it was thought the species went extinct about 70 million years ago. The first coelacanths coexisted with one of the earliest vertebrates to walk on land, Ichthyostega.

Coelacanths are lobe-finned fish with bones inside their fins. It is thought that similarly built fishes evolved these movable fins into arms and legs able to support their weight on dry land, and by doing so, take advantage of a new ecological niche. As for the coelacanths themselves, their body design was so well adapted to life in the deep sea that they have changed remarkably little over an immense expanse of geological time.

Something's not-so-fishy about this fin...Something's not-so-fishy about this fin...

The "Darwin" evolution exhibition now taking place at the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo features a 1.7 metre (5.5 ft) long coelacanth caught off the coast of Tanzania in 2005. The fish was preserved in resin before being put on display.

By observing this amazing "living fossil", visitors to the exhibition will be able to more fully imagine a time in our planet's remote past when the earliest human ancestors to walk the earth were gasping their first breaths. (via Yomiuri News)

MoneyMaker Pump Inventor Wins Lemelson-MIT Sustainability Award

Super MoneyMaker Pressure PumpSuper MoneyMaker Pressure Pump

Dr. Martin Fisher, inventor of the MoneyMaker irrigation pump has won the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for sustainability for his invention. The pump, available now in three versions, has helped more than 300,000 African farmers become entrepreneurs and rise out of poverty. Fisher, through his non-profit organization KickStart, has taken an active role in helping to spread his technology to farmer/entrepreneurs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mali.

Dr. Fisher, who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, spent several years in East Africa as a development worker, but decided that raising funds and giving them to poor Africans was not a sustainable approach to development. Instead, he founded KickStart to develop technologies to "kick-start" businesses in poor countries. His supply chain turns out to be a profitable venture for the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers, as well as the entrepreneurs using the technologies.

The Super MoneyMaker Pressure Pump is a mini-irrigation solution for the farmer with a small plot, up to a few acres of land. It can go as far as 30 feet below the surface of the pump to an underlying water source and draw water up to 46 feet above ground through pressurization. The above ground distance is very important to irrigate hilly land, as it means the water can be sprayed from the source for up to forty-six feet.

Operation of the pump is achieved by a person using his or her arms, legs, and body weight to rock the machine. There are three models of the MoneyMaker currently available: The Super MoneyMaker Pressure Pump, the most powerful model that sells for $100; the MoneyMaker Plus Pump, a smaller scale leg-operated pump that sells for $35; and a MoneyMaker Hip Pump that sells for $33. (Unfortunately, the MoneyMaker pumps are only sold in Africa right now.)

The $100,000 Sustainability Award is made by Lemelson-MIT annually to the inventor who has demonstrated ways to advance economic opportunity and community well-being in developed or developing countries without harming the natural environment.

Jerome Lemelson, who with his wife Dorothy, founded the Lemelson Foundation, was one of the most prolific inventors in history, having received 550 patents during his 40 years of inventing. He contributed to many fields, from aeronautical engineering to electronic vision/scanning to toys and games. He fought hard for the rights of independent inventors, for several of his patents were infringed by big companies.

Kickstart has designed other technologies for the developing world, including an Oilseed Press to extract pure oil from seed. The resulting oil is ready for sale once pressed and the remaining "seedcake" is a great high protein supplement for animals.

Keyboard Pants: The Ultimate in Typing Readiness!

I like to consider myself of the geek culture but this pair of jeans may even be too strange for the likes of me. That didn't stop designer Erik De Nijs from creating a pair of trendy-looking jeans with a keyboard stitched right into their front! Once you stop gawking, please take a minute to consider the practical applications: never allow yourself to stop off at a keyboard-less computer and be unable to utilize it again!

The utility of these pants does not stop at the keyboard stitched across their front, no sir. Notice the mouse built in to the rear of the pants on a lanyard-like attachment- what easy access! It could double as a way to punish those pesky pick-pockets.

From my research, I can't tell how they interface with the computer. Nor can I understand how this concept could be anywhere even in the ballpark of comfortable. Some guy just got so fed up of having to carry a mouse, keyboard, and speakers along with his laptop. that he decided to do something about it, kudos to him. But really? A keyboard across the front of your britches? The next step is a shirt with an LCD monitor built-in to the chest.

Via Vous Pensez

Japanese Spacecraft Records Full Earth Rising Over the Moon

The Earth as seen from the MoonThe Earth as seen from the Moon
Japan's Kaguya spacecraft has relayed the very first Full Earthrise movie in high definition (HD) video, giving humans a uniquely beautiful view of our small blue planet just in time for Earth Day.

Japan's Kaguya lunar orbiter showing fields of wide- and narrow-angle camerasJapan's Kaguya lunar orbiter showing fields of wide- and narrow-angle cameras
Kaguya orbits the moon at an altitude of just 60 miles (100 km), allowing its HD television cameras to record the finest video footage ever taken in space. Although film and photos of the colorful earth rising above the desolate lunar surface have been taken before, most famously by Apollo 8 and 11 astronauts in 1968 and 1969 respectively, never before has a rising Full Earth been caught on video - truly the ultimate in "satellite TV"!

Waning Earth, photographed earlier by KaguyaWaning Earth, photographed earlier by Kaguya

The following video sequence shows not only the spectacular full Earthrise, but also an Earthset:

Kaguya, named for a mythical moon princess from Japanese mythology, was launched (click here for launch info & video) late last year on a Mitsubishi H-IIA rocket from the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) space center on Japan's southern Tanegashima Island. The orbiter, whose stated mission is to "gather data on the chemical composition and mineral distribution of the moon, its surface features and gravity field", has performed flawlessly to date.

The exquisite view of our planet provided by Kaguya is a poignant reminder that the Earth is just one small, fragile oasis in the vast emptiness of space... well worth taking care of! (via informitv, video c/o JAXA)

In Celebration of Earth Day: Amazing Recycled Architecture

Ever since the day my mom found out I was writing for an environmentally friendly blog she's continuously suggested I write something on homes made from junk. For Earth Day and in honor of my mom who taught me to be creative, a good person and to love trees, below is a list of unique and innovative homes made of recycled material.

1. Cardboard House

Remember the days when your dad would cut out a door and some windows out of a giant cardboard box and then you got inside box to play house? Well imagine now a giant more sophisticated version of a house made of cardboard and you may see something like inexpensive temporary housing option made from cardboard. All the material in the house is recycled. To find out more about it go to Houses of the Future.

2. Scrap House

Some save scrap in their garage to build stuff for their homes. Others find scrap at garbage dumps and use it to build a home. This is a 700 sq ft single-family house built for Earth Day 2005from salvaged scrap material. The house has furniture, a kitchen, a bathroom, two bedrooms, a deck, and a yard. Watch the video and listen to where some of the scrap comes from and how much it all cost. Check out the funky music in the background too. For more on the scrap house project visit Scrap House .

3. Phone-booth Home

With the Internet available there is hardly any use to look up addresses or phone numbers in the phonebook anymore. Yet still we receive them and since there is no -opt off the phonebook list- available in 2005 a group of Architecture students from Dalhousie University decided to build a one-room home with it. To build it they used about 7,000 phone books. Can you imagine the potential of this?

4. Highway House

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This house was built from dismantled highway pieces. In 2006 Pedini, a civil engineer used steel and concrete left as waste, from a $14.6 billion highway construction project in Boston, to make the "Big Dig House" in just 3 days. The house, which is now on a hill in Lexington, is 4,300-square feet large. The house cost $645,000 to build and kept tons of steel and concrete from ending up in the dump.

5. Bottle House

Environmental activist in Bolivia have created a house that can help the environment as well as those in need by making a house made out of bottles. Thousands of bottles are filled with sand and then connected together and reinforced with cement and steel. Watch the video to take a look at this fascinating environmentally friendly and affordable home. For more pictures on other amazing bottle houses click here.

6. Railroad Car House

In Sausalito, California a house is made of a Pullman car from the San Francisco Northern Pacific Railroad. It is among a community of floating houses and is hooked up to sewage, electricity and water. They are also secured to docks.

7. Shipping Container House

Designer Keith Dewey built this house for his family. He reused eight decommissioned containers (once used to hold consumer goods) to build this two-story house. The inside of the house is eco-friendly too. For example, a reclaimed claw-foot bathtub for the bathroom and the cabinets and floor are made of bamboo. The neat thing about it is that this idea is catching on quickly. More and more designers are using shipping containers to build homes .

8. Boeing 727-200 House

Jo Ann Ussery, a grandma, had the right idea when she bought a Boeing 727-200 and turned this retired jetliner into her new home. The house has three bedroom' news.html?in_article_id? news articles live pages http:>"> src="" alt="" title="" class="image _original" width="468" height="316" />

The Gingerbread House is not eatable nor can it be lived in, but it is an amazing piece of work knitted together from top to bottom. Almost everything in the house, for the exception of a wooden door and windows is knitted. The furniture, the food, the garden, the 12-foot trees, etc are knitted. Designed by Alison Murray, the 140 square foot house was knitted by hundreds of women across the world.

15. Earthship Homes

Earthship is an organization that builds homes made of recycled material. Their main material consists of tires, aluminum, glass and plastic bottles. Want to take a part (volunteer, build etc) in recycled architecture checkout Earthship .

16-22. Is there a unique recycled house I haven't added to the list? Please feel free to send me a link or add it in the comments section.

I hope you have enjoyed the list and that it inspires you to think twice before throwing something in the garbage. You never know what can be turned into a home. Imagine waking up in the morning in your eco-friendly home and everything you see and touch from floor to ceiling has been made from recycled or reused material, but it doesn't look recycled, unless you want that look. Recycled homes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are prettier than the others, but the general goal is the same: to make what some think of as trash into a treasure of shelter for everyone. It can be done. It has been done.

Happy Earth Day!

For more ideas or books to read on recycled architecture visit Green Home Building.

Exhaust Jack Takes the Work Out of Changing a Tire

Have you even been on the side of the road with a flat tire and had to cringe at the though of pulling out the old scissor jack, crawling on the ground to get it in the right spot and spending the next 10 minutes lifting the car far enough to do the job? Next time this happens, the Exhaust Jack could be your answer.

As if we needed any more proof that the human race is doomed to laziness. Anyway, the Exhaust Jack does exactly what you are thinking. All you have to do is take it out the bag, unfold the oversized cushion, place it under the frame of the car and insert the hose into your tailpipe. According to the designer it is able to lift a 3 ton vehicle up to 18 inches and hold it there for 45 minutes, which should accommodate even the most unsavy driver.

It is also 100% safe for your vehicle. The pressure build up will usually never exceed 0.7 atmospheres, which is roughly 10.3 PSI. It can also be used to free stuck vehicles if you are off roading and I'm sure at least one person has found it useful in a non-automotive purpose. (Buy here )

From : Gizmodo