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This Sweater Is Also a Physical Therapist

Image Credit: Vigour

Dutch fashion designer Pauline van Dongen’s latest creation is better suited to a doctor’s office than a runway. Vigour, her collaboration with smart textile designer Martijn ten Bhömer, is kind of a wearable physical therapist. The sweater, woven with sensors and conductive fibers, is aimed at older adults, especially those with dementia. 

The sensors, located in the lower back and under the arms, record motion data while the wearer completes exercises, providing the physical therapist with active feedback on the patient’s progress through an iPad. It also makes sounds, providing aural feedback to help dementia patients better remember whether they’re doing the exercises right. 

Vigour from STS CRISP on Vimeo.

The knitted cardigan is designed to look and feel much like a regular item of clothing, so that older adults don’t balk at the stigma of wearing a medical device. Thus, it’s also comfortable enough to be worn all day, which like other fitness trackers, may encourage the wearer to stay active. Physical activity has been shown to reduce cognitive impairment, and may slow the onset of dementia. 

The sweater debuted at Dutch Design Week in the fall. Since then, the creators have improved the sweater’s software and sound controls. It comes in six colors right now, though it’s not yet available on the commercial market. Regardless, we eagerly await the day when a cozy sweater can be considered a health and fitness product. 

[h/t: Co.Design]

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Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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iStock

In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animals that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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