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     Volume 6 Issue 44 | November 16, 2007 |

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Concepts that will Lead the Future

Imran H. Khan

There are a lot of new ideas and concepts (some quite hilarious) that is paving the way the future will be. While some of these are being ridiculed, there are others that is cool enough to make your face melt. Check out Drymer's new three wheeled electric bike prototype. This three wheeler, named the v0.5, boasts a motor capable of producing 250 watts, which roughly translates to a maximum speed of 25 km/h. Now looking at the ergonomics of the vehicle, I would say it's quite fast. The wheels at the front ensure a smooth ride, as they lean to support the rider during sharp turns. The bike also features a paddle assist system that allows the amount of power delivered to the motor to be user controlled. This also helps with the battery preservation. The v0.5 will be available with a cover, which will make the rider look like Einstein, or without a cover, which will make the toy look like something out of Back to the Future III. The way electric bikes go, this looks sleek but the price is expected to be a steep cool at about $8700.

There is a big buzz in he mobile world: Google will unveil their iPhone killer gPhone operating system (OS), tentatively codenamed Android. Sources are calling the OS a "a complete mobile-phone software stack" that will be followed shortly after by a SDK (Translation: this phone will have a lot of useful applications). This OS should be open-source and Linux based, so we can expect to have a lot of software developers burning the midnight oil over this one, but I'm just plain glad that this has finally materialised and is not just one of 'those' concepts.

Ok the USB powered Vacuum is a nifty though retro idea that has come into the holiday shopper's lists. It takes a visionary to say “you know, I want to make a tiny, retro vacuum for people to use on their desks”. And you know what? That man or woman did just that. Over at Whatever Works, they're already started to sell the USB Desk Vacuum Cleaner. Standing a mighty 8? high, this retro upright vacuum plugs into your computer or laptop's USB port to pick up those cookies crumbs from your 2:00pm raid of the fridge. “That family of dust bunnies that hide behind your computer monitor won't be safe as it vacuums up everything in its path” quotes the website that sells this little gizmo. The vacuum is surprisingly realistic in nature as it goes from being upright to almost flat to get under those hard-to-reach areas behind your monitor. It also comes with a 45? cord, so it'll clean even the largest of desks. This is quite perfect for me too being the neat freak that I am. With a price tag of just $20, it's sure to be a clean sweep.

Every once in a while, some new idea shows up that is just plain neat. The Dynamic Daylight Window from Philips is definitely in my neat pick for this week, maybe even for the entire month. From what I can see, it is a window that a user can control how much lighting he or she can get from it. In other words, if you want it to look like daylight or sunset out, you can adjust the lighting. Part of the adjustment is creating an artificial window blind effect, and the other is adjusting the very light itself, so the sky can turn a different color. The proposed use of Philips' Dynamic Daylight Window is to help people adjust to their jet lag. Apparently, the window is designed for hotels, and guests can adjust the artificial day or night light on the window to create some real sleep. This is not all it does, as it helps to create a mood. A user can create this branchlike effect across the window by simply waving their hand in front of it. So far, I have no idea how this technology works. I can't help but thinking it has something to do with a virtual background, and I don't even know if the “view” you're seeing in the picture and video is real. However, after what I have seen, I can't help but want to see one of these Dynamic Daylight Windows in person, maybe even own one myself.

Ok here is something we can look forward to by the road sides. Using traditional photovoltaics and a very non-traditional inflatable concentrator and tensegrity truss rigging structure, the folks at Cool Earth Solar have developed a system that could be far cheaper than polished aluminum mirrors. In fact, the inflatable versions are up to 400 times cheaper than regular mirrors and they are so lightweight that they can be suspended on cable lines as opposed to individual base systems thereby using far less steel in construction. That means faster installation and minimal land use disruption. Unfortunately, the design does have its drawbacks. For one, the inflatable mirrors would be fragile and less efficient than traditional methods due to the unique shape and the effects of wind on the non-rigid frame. So, in reality, the true cost effectiveness of such a set up is still unknown. Still, Cool Earth hopes to make solar power as cheap as non-renewable power within the next three years. Lets just hope it works out well and does not rain on their parade. While on the road, parking nowadays can be quite a hassle. Coming up with the perfect solution is the City Car. The design comes from the MIT Media Lab and consists of the stackable, foldable car concept that hopes to alleviate the urban traffic jams we waste so much of our lives in. These carswhich are supposed to be rentable near major transportation hubs such as airports and train stationssolve the last mile of public transportation by giving folks a small, low-cost way to drop their vehicles altogether. The cars themselves are supposed to be incredibly agile, being able to turn on the spot and drive sideways to parallel park. Now that's the kind of car I'm looking forward to.

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