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Glowee

French Start-Up Releases Bacteria-Powered Lights

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Glowee

In a world of increasingly scarce resources, viable power alternatives are at a premium. A Paris-based company called Glowee has seized this opportunity, creating a line of lights powered exclusively by bioluminescent bacteria.

“Our goal is to change the way we produce and use light,” Glowee founder Sandra Rey told New Scientist. “We want to offer a global solution that will reduce the 19 per cent of electricity consumption used to produce light.”

Glowee is not the first bioluminescent lamp producer on the market; Dino Pet is a dinosaur-shaped glass lamp filled with glowing dinoflagellates. But Dino Pet is a fun work of art, whereas Glowee inventors envision their product replacing traditional light bulbs in storefronts, parks, subways, and other public spaces.

Glowee’s “magic light,” as it’s called on the company website, is produced by the bacterium Aliivibrio fischeri. In the natural world, A. fischeri is best known for its relationship with the adorable, glowing bobtail squid.

Glowee scientists cultivate the bacteria in the lab in a nutrient-rich gel. The gel is then deposited in glass cases much like traditional lightbulbs, except these bulbs can be any shape at all.

Beautiful though it may be, the bacterium is not especially long-lived, which presents an obvious hurdle for the lamp maker. By manipulating the gel, Glowee team members have been able to increase the duration of the glow from a few seconds to three days. It’s a huge improvement, but Glowee’s got a long way to go to stack up against long-lasting electric bulbs.

They’re now experimenting with genetic engineering to breed hardier bacteria with a brighter glow. They’re also building in a molecular on/off switch, which could enable the bacteria to conserve energy during the day and glow only at night.

So is it practical to rely on live organisms to produce commercial levels of light? That remains to be seen. But it’s definitely cool.

All images courtesy of Glowee.

[h/t New Scientist]

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Courtesy Umbrellium
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Design
These LED Crosswalks Adapt to Whoever Is Crossing
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Courtesy Umbrellium

Crosswalks are an often-neglected part of urban design; they’re usually just white stripes on dark asphalt. But recently, they’re getting more exciting—and safer—makeovers. In the Netherlands, there is a glow-in-the-dark crosswalk. In western India, there is a 3D crosswalk. And now, in London, there’s an interactive LED crosswalk that changes its configuration based on the situation, as Fast Company reports.

Created by the London-based design studio Umbrellium, the Starling Crossing (short for the much more tongue-twisting STigmergic Adaptive Responsive LearnING Crossing) changes its layout, size, configuration, and other design factors based on who’s waiting to cross and where they’re going.

“The Starling Crossing is a pedestrian crossing, built on today’s technology, that puts people first, enabling them to cross safely the way they want to cross, rather than one that tells them they can only cross in one place or a fixed way,” the company writes. That means that the system—which relies on cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor both pedestrian and vehicle traffic—adapts based on road conditions and where it thinks a pedestrian is going to go.

Starling Crossing - overview from Umbrellium on Vimeo.

If a bike is coming down the street, for example, it will project a place for the cyclist to wait for the light in the crosswalk. If the person is veering left like they’re going to cross diagonally, it will move the light-up crosswalk that way. During rush hour, when there are more pedestrians trying to get across the street, it will widen to accommodate them. It can also detect wet or dark conditions, making the crosswalk path wider to give pedestrians more of a buffer zone. Though the neural network can calculate people’s trajectories and velocity, it can also trigger a pattern of warning lights to alert people that they’re about to walk right into an oncoming bike or other unexpected hazard.

All this is to say that the system adapts to the reality of the road and traffic patterns, rather than forcing pedestrians to stay within the confines of a crosswalk system that was designed for car traffic.

The prototype is currently installed on a TV studio set in London, not a real road, and it still has plenty of safety testing to go through before it will appear on a road near you. But hopefully this is the kind of road infrastructure we’ll soon be able to see out in the real world.

[h/t Fast Company]

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iStock
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fun
Here's How to Turn an IKEA Box Into a Spaceship
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iStock

Since IKEA boxes are designed to contain entire furniture items, they could probably fit a small child once they’re emptied of any flat-packed component pieces. This means they have great potential as makeshift forts—or even as play spaceships, according to one of the Swedish furniture brand’s print ads, which was spotted by Design Taxi.

First highlighted by Ads of the World, the advertisement—which was created by Miami Ad School, New York—shows that IKEA is helping customers transform used boxes into build-it-yourself “SPÄCE SHIPS” for children. The company provides play kits, which come with both an instruction manual and cardboard "tools" for tiny builders to wield during the construction process.

As for the furniture boxes themselves, they're emblazoned with the words “You see a box, they see a spaceship." As if you won't be climbing into the completed product along with the kids …

Check out the ad below:

[h/t Design Taxi]

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