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December 22, 2013

Inhabitat’s Week in Green: doggie translator, full-size Lego hot rod and skyscraper cemeteries

by John_A

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

Do you ever wish you knew exactly what your dog is thinking? A team of designers from the Nordic Society for Invention and Discovery is playing Doctor Dolittle — they’ve developed a doggie headset that can read animal brainwaves and translate them into human speech. That’s just one of the many amazing scientific breakthroughs we’ve witnessed this week. South Korean scientists developed the world’s first nanobot that can both detect and treat cancer. Rawlemon unveiled a gigantic crystal ball that can magnify solar energy 10,000 times — that’s enough to harvest light from the sun, moon and clouds. For the first time, researchers at the University of Cambridge used an inkjet printer to print living retinal cells, which could be used to replace defective eye tissue. And this week, Inhabitat interviewed Natural Machine’s Chief Marketing Officer Lynette Kucsma to talk about an amazing new 3D printer that can cook up edible designs.

In green transportation news, the BMW i8 Spyder plug-in hybrid — which was originally unveiled back in 2012 — is finally set to hit the road by the end of 2015. Porsche is returning to the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race with its new LMP1 919 Hybrid racer. And a couple of Lego builders have created a life-size hot rod made almost entirely from Lego bricks. Oh yes, and it runs on nothing but air.

What happens when cemeteries run out of space? Norwegian designer Martin McSherry has come up with a clever solution: Build skyscraper cemeteries to house the dead. In other green design news, researchers at Purdue University recently discovered that cellulose nanocrystals — the structural basis of plant life — have the stiffness of steel. Singapore-based company Nevhouse recently unveiled a line of low-cost prefab houses made from recycled plastic that are fire and earthquake resistant. And after six months of negotiations, IKEA’s temporary flat-pack shelters will be available to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

On the green energy front, a new government-sponsored initiative in Mongolia is looking to provide nomadic peoples with clean energy. Warren Buffet’s utility company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., announced last week that it placed a massive order for 448 wind turbines, worth $1 billion, which will be installed in Iowa. Department of Energy scientists have figured out a way to convert algae into crude oil in less than one hour. And a new European research project has found that grass could be one of the best and most prolific sources of biofuel on the planet.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your lights stayed on during power outages? SmartCharge just unveiled a brilliant LED lightbulb that works even when the power is cut. The clever bulb has a built-in battery, and it can be switched on in emergency situations. And in case you’re looking to replace your old incandescent bulbs, Inhabitat provided an up-to-date roundup of all the latest alternatives that will save you energy and money. In other design and innovation news, London architect Daniel Widrig recently showed off his new line of customizable 3D wearable sculptures, which are built on 3D scans of the wearer’s body. Here’s a new product you didn’t know you needed: a stainless steel ring with a digital display that lets you control your smartphone without lifting a finger. Because, you know, handling a smartphone is such a chore. And Inhabitat reviewed Bang & Olufsen’s BeoPlay H6 headphones, which match form and function make a great addition to any holiday wish list.


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