Glowee
Glowee

French Start-Up Releases Bacteria-Powered Lights

Glowee
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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Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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SmithGroupJJR
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Futuristic New Street Toilets Are Coming to San Francisco
SmithGroupJJR
SmithGroupJJR

San Francisco’s streets are getting shiny new additions: futuristic-looking public toilets. Co.Design reports that San Francisco’s Department of Public Works has chosen a new design for self-cleaning street toilets by the architectural firm SmithGroupJJR that will eventually replace the city’s current public toilets.

The design is a stark contrast to the current San Francisco toilet aesthetic, a green knockoff of Paris’s Sanisettes. (They’re made by the same company that pioneered the Parisian version, JCDecaux.) The tall, curvy silver pods, called AmeniTREES, are topped with green roof gardens designed to collect rainwater that can then be used to flush the toilets and clean the kiosks themselves. They come in several different variations, including a single or double bathroom unit, one with benches, a street kiosk that can be used for retail or information services, and a design that can be topped by a tree. The pavilions also have room for exterior advertising.

Renderings of the silver pod bathrooms from the side and the top
SmithGroupJJR

“The design blends sculpture with technology in a way that conceptually, and literally, reflects San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods,” the firm’s design principal, Bill Katz, explained in a press statement. “Together, the varied kiosks and public toilets design will also tell a sustainability story through water re-use and native landscapes.”

San Francisco has a major street-poop problem, in part due to its large homeless population. The city has the second biggest homeless population in the country, behind New York City, and data collected in 2017 shows that the city has around 7500 people living on its streets. Though the city started rolling out sidewalk commodes in 1996, it doesn’t have nearly enough public toilets to match demand. There are only 28 public toilets across the city right now, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

These designs aren’t ready to go straight into construction first—the designers have to work with JCDeaux, which installs the city’s toilets, to adapt them “to the realities of construction and maintenance,” as the Chronicle puts it. Then, those plans will have to be submitted to the city’s arts commission and historic preservation commission before they can be installed.

[h/t Co.Design]

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