The Design blog

The Design blog


Hybrid human powered vehicles to transform future transport

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:32 AM PST

Asmita Prasad:

The concept

In the recent years, auto manufacturers and common folks have started to take hybrid automobile technology more seriously and various government agencies and local municipalities around the world have responded to the green movement by enforcing a new system of taxation where hybrid vehicles, all-electric vehicles and human powered vehicles have been subjected to various kinds of tax exemptions to promote their use among common people. Though EVs and hybrids are nothing new to us, a new kind of hybrid vehicle called a human-electric hybrid vehicle, however, is still news to the masses. That being said, the technology behind this new breed of green vehicles is nothing new though its application in this new form has surprised many people. In layman's terms, a human-electric hybrid vehicle is basically something like a human-powered vehicle (e.g., a bicycle) that has the capacity to use an electric motor/generator to turn human effort into electricity that can be stored in batteries for use at a later time or can be used directly to run an electric engine that can propel the vehicle when the user is not pedaling.

Hybrid human powered vehicle
Hybrid human powered vehicle

The Inspiration

Harvesting human kinetic energy to power a vehicle or part of it is again not a new concept. Right from the first bicycles, harvesting good old human power has provided an immediate solution to various mechanical challenges and fuel limitations. In a world that is fast running out of fossil fuel, these alternate methods are becoming mainstream again and designers are investigating the possibilities for widespread and feasible applications for human powered or human-electric powered hybrid vehicles. Early examples of the use of human power to jumpstart a vehicle or even provide occasional assistance to engine-run vehicles came into being as early as 1897 when inventor Hosea W. Libbey created a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle. By the early 20th century, motorcycles like the 1912 Douglas that used pedals to provide a jumpstart to the vehicle arrived on the scene. Mopeds and auto cycles that evolved from such improvements gained popularity in the 1990s with the British made Cyclemaster and Czech made Jawa. Though these low-powered two-wheelers still exist today, the human-electric hybrid vehicle is a further improvement on the same technology that replaced the fuel-run engine with an electric motor and batteries.

Eco Credentials

A human-electric hybrid vehicle would be the ultimate zero emissions vehicle, which would have a zero carbon footprint. Unlike most electric vehicles that need to be recharged using grid power (given the state of photovoltaic we are discounting them as credible sources of alternate electric power) that in turn is mostly made from coal or other fossil fuels, the HEHV would be powered solely by the electricity a rider generates. Generating electricity on demand and using it as and when needed, these vehicles would ensure minimum wastage of grid power and one wouldn't have to wander about looking for EV recharging stations or wait around for vehicles to attain a decent charge to be able to use them. The HEHV would thus be the ultimate, grid-independent, green personal mobility solution that can be adopted by the masses with ease.

What makes them stand out?

Since a HEHV would typically carry a small electric motor and battery, they will also be potentially chargeable via low-output alternate power sources like windmills and solar panels when the user wants to run it in electric only mode. Disposing of high storage density batteries with limited life that are used with all-electric vehicles and environmental effects of power distribution and electricity generation need to be taken into account when calculating the actual "greenness" of current EVs. By that standard, most current EVs and hybrids aren't exactly zero emissions which makes a great case for the HEHV since the latter only relies on human power to generate electricity needed by it.

Feasibility

Using the same model of calculation that Scottish inventor James Watt used to derive the "horsepower" of the steam engine (a term that is still used to measure the output of a machine or engine), human kinetic power too can be calculated. One unit of Watt's original horsepower equaled 745.7 watts. To measure the horsepower that human beings can sustain over time, we can use a cycle power meter (like the one used by Tour De France cyclists) to measure the amount of power a human being can actually produce via their own efforts when supplemented by a mechanical aid like the pedal-chain-and-gear of a bicycle. By the estimates put forward by Cycling Power Models, over 450 W are produced by elite cyclists over a one hour journey and a healthy amateur cyclist can generate about 200 W in the same time. Judging by these figures, a human-electric hybrid vehicle is not only tremendously feasible as an individual commute option used by the masses but also incredibly easy to manufacture and use. By simply mating this kind of human effort with an efficient electricity storing battery and an equally efficient electric motor, a human-electric hybrid vehicle can be produced that would be an appealing zero-emissions green vehicle that wouldn't need to rely on grid power or solar/wind power to recharge.

Related trends

1. Human Car

Human Car
Human Car

The Human Car manufactured by a Seattle-based company of the same name, is a vehicle that uses the principles used to propel a tandem railroad trolley to drive a human driven four seater four wheeler. Costing $15,000 each, the Human car weighs 400 pounds and is made of aluminum and carbon fiber. The push-pull hand mechanism of the Human Car makes it a feasible human-power only vehicle concept though it can practically be used only in shared use and community use vehicles.

2. NoVelo human-powered vehicle

NoVelo human-powered vehicle
NoVelo human-powered vehicle

Created by a University of South Australia student named Tim Turrini-Rochford, the NoVelo is a HEHV that comes with a built-in 300W hub motor. The vehicle is based on the classic velomobile and can hit a top speed of 50kph.

3. Trimtab 3X3

Trimtab 3X3
Trimtab 3X3

A collaborative effort between Stress Engineering Services and Losantiville Kunstwerkhaus, the Trimtab 3X3 was conceived by designer David Parrott. The vehicle comes with flatbed storage adaptable nylon seating and skins and a canopy for all season use. The electric assisted recumbent tricycle is basically a 3×3 vehicle with two 3hp electric motors powered by dual 50ah batteries that are recharged by human effort.

4. Road Star-S hybrid human-electric urban utility vehicle

Road Star-S
Road Star-S

Powered by an electric motor and pedal power, the Road Star-S is a light utility vehicle that uses a lithium polymer battery, a 400 W electric motor and good old leg power to ferry the driver and a friend around the city.


Social Soundmachine interactive tabletop brings like minded musicians together

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:28 AM PST

Asmita Prasad:

Created in collaboration with industrial designers, music producers and DJ's, the Social Soundmachine by designer Ramon Schreuder of design studio Lewis & Davis is an interactive tabletop, which can be used by many people to create musical tracks together. Just like an interactive game, the Social Soundmachine opens up new possibilities for creative collaboration that lets people feel greatly inspired by their friends while spurring spontaneous conversations. With a social function at its heart, the Social Soundmachine brings people together in a world where face-to-face interactions are getting rare and everyone is digitally connected.

Social Soundmachine
Social Soundmachine

To enable the interactive tabletop to locate physical objects and uniquely identify them on its surface, the multi-touch setup of the Social Soundmachine uses Direct Illumination that sits atop a custom made tabletop. The main hardware components of the sound maker include a unique set of special "barcodes" (fiducials) integrated within the underside of the game pieces, infrared illuminators , a custom developed projection surface, a digital video projector, a notebook and a FireWire camera.

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Social Soundmachine
Social Soundmachine is an interactive tabletop

The surprising musical building blocks of the interactive tabletop have been sourced from multiple genres and each high-quality sound bit has been contributed by various DJ's and producers in collaboration with each bit of audio content being specially composed for the project. Developed by Javeline's Rik Arends, a multimedia framework called FlowML forms the foundation of the application.

The interactive tabletop is designed to make any user feel like a real music professional in no time, which is made possible by the collaborative experience that is very intuitive and accessible. The interaction with physical objects provides the ultimate fun to the Social Soundmachine and since the custom-made software lets sounds stay in rhythm and tune, you don’t have to worry about sounding awful at all.

At the Dutch Design Awards 2009, the Social Soundmachine was short listed as one of the finalists and is even exhibited across the globe at numerous galleries and events including Amsterdam-based Holland Casino's restyled Lido Club where a "DJ Game" on a basic adaptation of the Social Soundmachine can be played by visitors who have to pre-book the Multitouch DJ tables at the public-accessible gig.

The Lewis & Davis studio in Amsterdam also provides a physical demonstration of the Social Soundmachine to serious fans, event producers and curators. The jury that presided over the finals of the Dutch Design Awards was treated to the possibilities of the Social Soundmachine via this awesome demo video.

Social SoundmachineSocial Soundmachine is an interactive tabletop

Source: Social Sound Machine


Sleek 'Novero Solana' laptop becomes a tablet for users on the go

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:26 AM PST

Jaspreet Kaur Walia:

Novero till date was known for rolling out Bluetooth products, but not anymore! The company has come up with the impressive Solana, which is an interesting crossover between a laptop and a tablet. The innovative design was presented recently at the Mobile World Congress held at Barcelona. Novero Solana will endow a user with the flexibility to shuttle between Windows 7 and Android at a push of a button, which will surely create ripples in the world of electronics.

Novero Solana
Novero Solana

Solana is stylish and comes tagged with the much needed portability, which is a prerequisite in today's fast paced world. It will change from a laptop to a tablet in just a fraction of seconds. The presence of a dual operating system will make it an instant favorite. The laptop/tablet has a black glossy outer skin with a silver colored trim and weighs just 1.3 kg. Novero Solana is a 10 inch hybrid, which has a flip rotating design. Simply push the display and see it literally swirl, which means the screen can be turned all the way around. Close it over the keyboard and swap the laptop into a tablet. This is very easy and of course amazing.

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Novero Solana
Novero Solana the Laptop/Tablet Hybrid at MWC 2012

The amazing gadget has a capacitive touchscreen, which is pretty responsive. Solana runs on a touch enabled version of Windows 7 and the screen as well as the trackpad can be touched interchangeably. The awe-inspiring device runs on Intel dual-core Atom N2600 Cedar Trail processor. It features a 2GB DDR3 RAM and has a solid state drive that can store 32-128 GB. The 9.7 inch LED back lit display has a 1024 by 768 of resolution. The touch sensitive device comes fitted with an accelerometer, ambient light sensor and a 3MP video camera. The presence of two 1W stereo speakers can come up with a collective power of 2W, which will unfurl a great experience.

Novero Solana has a 6 row full QWERTY keyboard, which will make typing fun. Apart from this, the impeccably styled gadget has a trackpad with multiple touch and gesture support. The best part being, it is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and HSPA+ compatible, which will offer connectivity like no other gadget. This will help you stay in touch with your family and friends even on the go. The design has a SIM card and MicroSD card reader slot plus 2 USB ports. It comes with one of the highest standard battery capacity, which will always be ready to use. Novero Solana is a great gadget that will kill the need of carrying multiple computing devices as it is a complete package inside its frame.

The 10 inch convertible tablet will be a stylish addition to the world of everyday computing and mobile entertainment. Solana is expected to come stashed with a price tag of $700 and will be available somewhere in the second quarter of 2012.

Via: Chipchick


Magnificent Pegasus statue made using 3500 smartphones

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:21 AM PST

Jaspreet Kaur Walia:

There are art pieces and then there are masterpieces, but the Pegasus statue is nothing less than awe-inspiring masterpiece. The winged divine horse has been fashioned using a whopping 3500 Huawei smartphones by Machine Shop from London. The colossal structure was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Spain by the Chinese manufacturer along with the Ascend D Quad.

Pegasus sculpture
Pegasus sculpture

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Pegasus statue
Pegasus statue fashioned from 3,500 phones

The staggering sculpture surely captivates senses and is 19 feet tall with 16 feet wingspan. It has a meticulously crafted frame which has been made using almost 650 yards of iron rods. The iron rods were neatly cut and soldered, after which phones were wedged on it using sticky pads. The frame has been used to smartly place Ascend D Quad handsets, which is definitely a very clever way to advertize and fetch the much needed attention towards the latest gadget.

The attention grabbing piece of art stands with utmost panache and as is evident from the pictures brand new handsets have been used to make the structure shine like it does. It took a good 720 hours to bring the awesome creation to life and make it look what it does. The structure is a great inspiration when it comes to using odd resources to come up with new art, which is a great idea of using waste in an aesthetic way. Now, all we have to see is how many competitors does this massive Pegasus statue slay in order to get crowned as one of the best smartphone's ever.

Via: Cnet


ibali public furniture activates when people sit on it

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:14 AM PST

Shallu Sharma:

A unique public furniture concept has been brought into existence to provide extra service to the people of Cape Town. This city is the second most populous city of South Africa and is well renowned for being populated with inspirational people. The furniture design we are talking about has been termed as ibali and aims to create better and out of routine place for Capetonians.

ibali
ibali

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ibali
ibali, a public furniture design concept

This piece of furniture consists of three parts, namely, the photovoltaic frame, the talking tree and the cast concrete seating cube. Each part has its own importance with photovoltaic tree generating electricity for making ibali self sufficient. The talking frame is the central and the main part of the furniture with bright yellow steel enclose in form of a speech bubble. It comes loaded with sensors and audio technology, which gets activated as soon as people sit on it. It comes equipped with MP3 player powered by battery pack and photovoltaic panels and is used to play sound tracks through a speaker system. The third part comprises of a concrete cube which is used for seating by public.

This innovative idea of using hi-tech furniture for public convenience would benefit citizens and makes them soothe their mind and body as music is the best remedy to get rid of all stresses. Each and every part has been crafted keeping minute detail in mind. In fact, even the selection of yellow color signifies Cape Town's effort to become World Design Capital by the year 2014.

Source: Formula-d


Robotic shopping cart doesn’t offer any space for unhealthy eatables

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 05:12 AM PST

Radhicka S Saxena:

Imagine a pushcart following you around while you are shopping for groceries at the supermarket. Seems like a scene from the sci-fi flick you were watching the other day, doesn't it? But, this futuristic fancy could soon become reality. Microsoft Kinect's cutting edge motion sensing technology could make this fantasy inspired whim come true.

Kinect-enabled shopping cart
Kinect-enabled shopping cart

If everything works out right, then you will soon see these pushcarts in action at Whole Foods. In fact, you might also spot them veering around at their partner store in Texas, Chaotic Moon. Although the release date of these hi tech handcarts are not out yet, the demonstration of the first prototype was given at Microsoft's Washington campus at Redmond.

You will see typical robotics traits in this cart. There is no need to wheel it around as it will lug behind you automatically. Elderly people and those with a puny frame will really like this feature. The cart can analyze and evaluate on its own and even converse with you. Prior to using the cart, you need to upload your shopping list here. Then, the cart will guide your shopping jaunt and even tip you on where to find specific items in the mall.

The intelligent cart will tally all items hoarded inside with the shopping list you supplied. The cart checks if the items you stashed inside agree with your dietary rules and gives out remarks whenever it notices a discrepancy. Its call outs are not easy to snub as they are nothing like the beeps of regular gizmos. It does not ring an alarm but sends out gabby remarks such as "The pasta you picked is not gluten free." In the end, it even helps you with the checkout process and charges to your account.

A number of handy machinations make this possible. Along with motion sensing, the intelligent cart also makes use of voice as well as motion recognition technology. Gizmos for scanning have also been installed. Thus, it can check items placed in the cart with your shopping list. It also scans your loyalty card when you start out to shop. The cart effortlessly tags along with you thanks to its ability to pick up your voice and body outline. The ingenious gizmo thus speeds up your trip to the supermarket and cuts down the hassles involved.

Kinect-enabled shopping cartKinect-enabled shopping cart is smarter than the shopper

Via: Dvice/ Cnet


Vimos Bedroom redefines luxury for the customers of El Palacio de Hierro

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 04:51 AM PST

Asmita Prasad:

Created to be a part of the Kupper Collection of the high end Mexican El Palacio de Hierro chain, the Vimos Bedroom by designer Francisco Menchaca uses intuitive technology and integrates it seamlessly into everyday life. The furniture and the user are integrated into an organic whole by using the principal element of interaction via a red line that captures the senses of the user. Other finishes and surfaces too are created to indulge the user's sense of touch and vision and immerse them in luxury with brilliant red surfaces in glass.

Vimos Bedroom
Vimos Bedroom

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Vimos Bedroom
Vimos Bedroom by Francisco Menchaca

By carefully combining current trend, technology and innovation and using it to create a profile of the average customer of El Palacio de Hierro, the designer has created something of a signature bedroom line for the store that can be seen as being synonymous with the high-end retail that the store deals with. The bedroom suite itself is fashioned out of the high quality glass, wood and plastic elements to create a mirage of contemporary luxury that has its roots set in the hottest trends that have set the store apart from its rivals in the past.

With a switchboard in the headboard, the Vimos Bedroom allows its users to not only manipulate the LED lights integrated within the interior details of the bed and the integrated night stands but can also be fitted to provide controls for the lights and electronics fitted in a room. The bed is comes fitted with an inner drawer with automatic movement to ensure that the user can make full use of the storage space provided by the bedroom suite without them having to exert any extra physical effort into the process.

[Cheers Francisco]


F12 Berlinetta in run to be the fastest Ferrari ever

Posted: 01 Mar 2012 04:47 AM PST

Asmita Prasad:

Ferrari has always been good at getting their priorities right when it comes to designing fabulous cars that may not be the fastest or the mightiest in their segment but they still drive pretty smooth and win all the hearts. Their latest endeavor, the F12 Berlinetta, is all set to further the legend of the fabulous and ferocious Prancing Horse-branded supercars. Replacing the 599 GTB Fiorano, the new flagship Ferrari would be debuted at the Geneva auto show and is said to pack in more punch than the Lamborghini Aventador, which makes it the most powerful road car the automaker has ever built.

Ferrari F12berlinetta
Ferrari F12berlinetta

The F12 Berlinetta is designed to provide "an unrelenting surge of acceleration" with 2,500 rpm offering 80 percent of the 509 pound-feet of torque of the total 750 horsepower the Italian vehicle produces though Ferrari officially state that the 6.2liter V12 engine in the F12 Berlinetta outputs 740bhp. With a top speed set at something upwards of 210mph, the Gran Turismo, even with its 3,362lbs frame can do the 0-62 mph sprint in 3.1 seconds doubling the acceleration in a mere 8.2 seconds.

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Ferrari F12berlinetta
Ferrari F12berlinetta the Most Fabulously Ferocious Ferrari Ever

The usual electronic driver aides also make an appearance in the vehicles that are derived from Ferrari's F1 car like the dual-clutch gearbox and carbon ceramic brakes. Even though fuel economy is not a major concern for anyone who has the resources to use the F12 Berlinetta as their daily commuters, the auto maker says the vehicle has reduced its fuel consumption 30 percent when pitted against its predecessor which gives it an efficiency of 15.6 mpg combined or 15 liters per 100 km in both city/highway conditions.

On to the more cosmetic aspects of the F12 Berlinetta now and the spruced up good looks of the ferocious beast is once again all business. With a drag coefficient of 0.299, the vehicle is touted to produce significantly less drag than the 599 as well as 76 percent more downforce thanks to the odd but technically necessary "S" curve flare on the side. Scaglietti, a longtime collaborator of Ferrari, has provided much of the bodywork for the beast which sits pretty on sturdy space frame aluminum chassis that makes it such a good gift for trophy wives/girlfriends with not so refined driving skills.

The exact specifications and tech goodies on offer with the model as well as everything that we can expect its interiors to boast of, will be made available to the public and the press when the vehicle is debuted at Geneva. And though Ferrari has made its intentions to have the vehicle available in most European showrooms by spring later this year, they haven't dropped a single peep about the kind of price tag this ferocious beauty might sport. Watch this space for more on that though.

Via: Wired


Mount Gino stretcher system for easy and quick rescue

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 10:59 PM PST

Jaspreet Kaur Walia:

Emergency comes uncalled and uninformed. It does not keep in mind weather conditions or rough terrains and can just strike anytime and anywhere. Keeping this fact in mind, Mount Gino has been designed that will prove to be a blessing in times of need. It is a stretcher system, which will make sure that rescue operations in difficult to reach areas become quick and efficient. Medical equipments like these are indispensable and need to be present everywhere, irrespective of the location and climatic conditions.

Mount Gino
Mount Gino

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Mount Gino
Mount Gino a rescue stretcher

Mount Gino will be perfect for locations that can't be accessed easily. Snow and water are two such things that prove to be a hurdle when quick rescue operation is needed. This is where Mount Gino comes into the scene. It has been specially designed keeping the ARS or Alpine Recue Switzerland and REGA in mind. The easy to use tool will make rescue operations faster and will ensure a safe transport of victims. The medical equipment is easy to carry and assemble. The presence of color codes makes the whole assemblage process self explanatory and hence easy. It is normally seen that two people or rescuers carry a stretcher held from either ends, which can prove to be impractical in case the area is loaded with snow and hence can delay the rescue operation. But, Mount Gino can be carried on the shoulders just like a backpack and can be promptly pulled together at the accident site without wasting much time.

The design is practical and has multiple settings for various kinds of terrains. Two long slide bars can be formed when all the four handles are fitted together. Such a setup will prove to be very useful in areas that are covered with snow. It can be pulled on snow easily, thanks to the long handlebars that have a flexible joint. The core has been fashioned like a surfboard, using foamed PVC that makes it a winner when used on water and snow. This makes it possible to pull or lower the stretcher with the help of carabineers and ropes, in case the rescue operation sees the involvement of a helicopter. The patient/victim is nicely secured in an inflatable bag that has a double bottom. Buckles are present on the shell, which are used to fasten the patient so that he/she doesn't fall off. Apart from this, the patient can also be fixed in a sling by the rescuer.

The rescue stretcher will ensure a safe transport from the accident site if it is a difficult and steep territory. Mount Gino comes tagged with an easy usability quotient, which is worth praising. It will ensure that causalities are dealt in a better way and will shower lots of usefulness in case of an emergency situation.

Via: James Dyson Award


Peravaes MonoTracer MTE 150 blends sustainability with performance

Posted: 29 Feb 2012 10:52 PM PST

Jaspreet Kaur Walia:

Electric vehicles are becoming a hot favorite and the soaring demand is a fine example of their popularity. Though these are not as speedy as the conventional rides, but are a great way to commute around the city without the fear of polluting it with poisonous fumes. Adding to the inexhaustible list is the Peravaes MonoTracer MTE-150, which is a cross between a motorbike and a car. It will smother senses with the excitement of a bike and endow the user with the comfort of a four wheeled vehicle.

Peraves MonoTracer MTE-150
Peraves MonoTracer MTE-150

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Peraves MonoTracer MTE-150
Peraves MonoTracer MTE-150: Kevlar monocoque cabin cycle

Swiss company, Peraves won the Automotive X-prize and its time the sumptuous two-wheeler enters mass production that will let eco lovers savor what it offers. The vehicle is highly efficient and performance wise will intoxicate senses with all it has to deliver. The company upgraded drivetrain with a 3rd generation 150kW AC propulsion. The eye appealing vehicle can come up with 525 MPGe when driven at a constant speed of 45 miles per hour, which sure is impressive. But, users should expect nothing more than 350 MPGe as driving at a steady speed is not a very realistic thing. A display at the front will clearly put on show the speed plus the power being consumes as well as conserved.

The Peravaes MonoTracer MTE-150 will come fitted with a lithium polymer battery pack, which will produce energy worth 20kWh with an impressive range of 200 miles. If you are speed lover, then hold your breath as the beauty on two wheels can jump from zero to 60 mph in as less as 5 seconds. The inside is spacious and has ample legroom and headroom, lending the much required comfort. It comes fitted with a small set of wheels, which can be deployed by pressing a button on the left handlebar. These will prove to be of utmost help when one needs to stop as it is not possible to put the feet down to stabilize the ride. The MTE-150 will unfurl a comfortable riding experience, which comes tagged with efficiency and eco friendliness.

Via: Autobloggreen


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