Taking the pole out of street lights


When thrown a challenge by city planners and architects to design an outdoor lighting system that helps to declutter streets, Dutch electronics company Philips created FreeStreet, a street lighting system that replaced vertical streetlight poles with horizontally-strung cables that have clusters of LED lights built into them. The system won its designers a 2011 Dutch Design Award, and is available for use in Europe.

Go remote at home

With its new all-in-one Uppleva range (incidentally the Swedish word for experience), IKEA is set to move into the world of “hybrid furniture”. Integrating a home entertainment unit with AV equipment from Chinese manufacturer TCL, the Uppleva comes with a full-HD, smart LED TV, a combined Blu-ray, DVD, and CD player, and a 2.1 sound system featuring a wireless subwoofer, all operated by a single remote control. The idea behind the Uppleva is to rid a home of all the wires that are an inevitable part of owning multiple devices. The customer chooses the size of TV that’s right for them (between 24- and 46-inches) and the frame that suits their style. They then choose the piece of furniture that they want to have in their house. The price? 6,500 Swedish kronor (around US$955). The Uppleva range will first be available in IKEA’s home country of Sweden, as well as France, Germany, Italy, and Poland. The rest of the world will follow in 2013.

Bottom’s up

The MagicBath from Italian design firm BluBleu is a specially designed baby bath featuring an air massage system for your little one’s derriere. The €1655 (around US$2,185) MagicBath also features “relaxing” underwater LEDs and is designed to stand at waist height for a parent and is supported on four curved and stable legs. The acrylic tub is shaped to support a newborn in the correct position at one end, and allow them to sit at the other end from six months to one-year-old.

How much dirt are you breathing in?

A new personal exposure monitoring device, known as the MicroPEM, created by North Carolina-based RTI International, measures the pollutant content of the surrounding air as well as the wearer’s activity level via built-in accelerometers. It is also small enough to be worn on an individual’s body as they perform different tasks. In a recent study supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, scientists from RTI and several American universities outfitted test subjects with MicroPEMs. They then performed a number of activities, such as sitting, standing, walking on a treadmill, climbing stairs, or sweeping. When the motion data was subsequently processed, researchers were able to accurately calculate the breathing rates that accompanied the different activities. This data could then be combined with a real-time record of the pollutants that were present at the time, along with the subjects’ physical reactions.

Winds of change

A new prototype wind turbine, 30 years in the making, and designed for flat-pack shipping and easy assembly, has been erected at Keele University in the UK. Like other vertical axis turbines, the prototype, designed by McCamley, is well-suited to the gusting winds of inner cities, though the company is quick to point out the design is also suitable for rural installations. The turbine is able to begin rotating during light breezes as modest as 1.8 m/s (4 mph) in speed. The present target is to develop a 12-kW model within the next six months.

For your camping comfort

The Terra Strenua Outfitters NYX is an ultralight multifunctional cot for the outdoors and is designed to roll up into a small, portable package, assembles in minutes, and uses some of the lightest materials available. When you go car camping, you can bring all kinds of comforts – air mattresses, furniture, campers, etc. – from home. The NYX packs small enough to put in your backpack and has an actual framed structure. It stands 5 inches (12.7 cm) off the ground, stretches just over 6 feet (185 cm) in length and holds weights up to 325 lbs (147.4 kg). In order to keep its weight down to backpacking standards, the NYX uses cuben fiber, an ultralight but durable fabric that’s used in sailcloth and some of the market’s lightest tents and backpacks. Terra Strenua is currently looking to secure needed funds via Kickstarter. It hopes to start taking dealer orders this summer.

infiniti3D system uses one-of-a-kind key to prevent bicycle component theft

The new infiniti3D system, made by British bike bits company Atomic22, consists of a one-of-a-kind key tool, along with matched fasteners (bolts, wheel skewers, etc.) that replace the ones already installed in the bike’s components. Thus, the only way that any one user’s infiniti3D fasteners can be removed is with their own unique key, thereby literally stopping parts-pilfering thieves in their tracks. First-time customers pay £30 (US$48) for a single key – unfortunately that price doesn’t include any copies, as the production process is reportedly quite involved. The specifications of each client’s key(s) are kept on file, however, so replacement or duplicate keys can be ordered. The infiniti3D system is still quite new in the marketplace, although it has already been used on a high-profile concept bike – Slovakian frame designer Bra?o Mereš incorporated it into his aramid/carbon fiber composite-framed X-9 Nighthawk bike, which was unveiled this month in Berlin.

A fridge that’s cool, really cool

Legendary guitar amp company Marshall introduces a Marshall stack mini fridge. Adorned with authentic logos and knobs that go to 11, the refrigerator interior has 4.4 cubic feet of space and a high efficiency freezer. Priced at $300, it’s a high efficiency freezer so you don’t have to worry about your electricity bill going through the roof.