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Arming ourselves with the design and communication skills necessary to bring about positive change. Advertising. Graphic Design. Industrial Design. Environmental Design. Automotive Design.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Voltaic Solar Bags

The Voltaic solar bags are mobile power generators, designed to charge your devices without tying you to a power outlet, which makes them ideal for traveling. Included with each bag is a Li Ion battery pack which stores any surplus power generated, so it is available when you need it – not just when the sun is up. The battery pack can also be charged using an AC travel charger or car charger (both included). This makes the Voltaic bags just as useful on the grid as off. They provide enough power to charge a cell phone, ipod, pda or camera, but unfortunately not enough for a laptop. Thinking in the right direction.

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Solar Cell Phone

At CeBIT 2007, Chinese electronics maker, HTW, introduced a cell phone that can be charged by the sun. It gets 25 minutes of talk time from just 40 minutes of charging in sunlight, it can be charged with indoor light when no direct sunshine is available and even candlelight. Called the 'Light-Energy Mobile Phone', it is a relatively slender clamshell with an 84 x 47.6 x 0.8mm solar panel built into the flip side. As for the practicalities of putting such a handset on the market, Hi-Tech says the panel is encased in toughened glass and would stand up to all the rigors of a regular mobile.

From: Treehugger

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

BBC Climate Challenge Game

The BBC Climate Challenge Game is pretty much enviro-geeky-awesome. It puts you in the presidential seat to reduce carbon emissions along with a world environmental summit. You have to balance wealth, energy, water, food, air quality and public opinion while you tray and achieve climate change initiatives. It takes you far into the future, offering solutions such as adding light rail, requiring residential fuel cells, and importing and exporting energy. At the end, you earn rankings based on the environment, wealth, and popularity. I was 4% popular, but at least the world still existed.


Note Table

If you're anything like me, you are constantly sketching, drawing and doodling. Naturally, I love this table design from Tom Seymour. While I can't tell if this is the actual model, or a prototype, I like it, and want it. Unfortunately, I won't be coughing up the £700 price tag anytime soon.


TED2007: Icons. Geniuses. Mavericks.

TED2007 began yesterday and goes through March 10. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a conference that brings together some of the most intelligent leaders of industry, science, politics and art to develop cross-pollination of ideas. The point is to create a web of thought that will lead us to a brave, smart new future.

TED Talks podcasts are fascination periodic presentations given by people working on the coolest projects in the world. Wow, I sound inarticulate in comparison to TED spearkers.

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Alchemi alive and kickin' in China

Ever wonder if your site is among the many censored for content by the Chinese government? Well put your worries to rest with The Great Firewall of China. As the caption above states, it allows you to test your website for Chinese filtering. I'm sort of surprised we got off scott free, especially with the Mao Beer Tap. Anyone in the blogosphere up for some communist subversion?

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Adobe Creative Suite 3

As if we need to spend more time clicking, Adobe Creative Suite 3 launches at the end of the month. While Adobe is remaining tight-lipped on the details, this excessively long video tells us next to nothing.

We can infer, however, that six colored sides of the box represent Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash and Fireworks packaged as one. If so, this is the first full merging of Adobe and Macromedia. I just can't wait to trade in my Powerbook for an Intel Mac. For slightly more info, check out the Adobe UK Site.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Light Bulb Art, Incandescents Needed

alchemi is in search of discarded incandescent bulbs that have been exchanged for Compact Fluorescents (CFLs). The intent is to create various works, such as the one above, to encourage use more energy-efficient CFLs. If you are in the Portland, OR area, please contact us at (catchermag at gmail.com). We are looking to obtain several hundred, preferably the same wattage and color, and would rather not do any unnecessary shipping. If you have a large amount of incandescents that need to be swapped for CFLs, we could probably assist installing. Thank you.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Toyota Hybrid X Concept: The Missing Link?

While I may be saving myself for electric, I see an efficient, plug-in hybrid as a logical intermediary step. Enter from Geneva, the Toyota Hybrid X Concept. An obvious processor visually to the Prius, the X, hopefully, will be Toyota's next in a successful line of hybrids.

The open, airy design, with suicide doors makes this a great touring vehicle. And with Toyota's commitment to PHEVs (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles), the next generation Prius has been said to deliver up to 100mpg. Toyota claims it at step close to zero emissions. I hope so. But Toyota, ditch the hideous 20 inch blades before you take that step

From: Jalopnik

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

the small things

A lot of changes that I have suggested in recent posts require major purchases, huge investment capital, or drastic political change. Here are a few truly simple things that can be done to reduce your carbon footprint. Starting with the Earth Day footprint Quiz.

This is the Garden WaterSaver. Well actually, it's just the little diverter, but it's a very clever, simple design. The entire set-up shown can be made for less than $40 and it is an easy way to capture rain water for your garden. Nothing really new here, but water cisterns are often overlooked as a way to make a change.

Global Warming Facts has posted a nice list of the Top 50 Things to Stop Global warming. I like the list because it provides easy to implement, inexpensive measures that anyone can do. Download the pdf here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

EEStor: EV Ultra-Capacitor

EEStor claims to have created the holy grail of EV propulsion, the EV Ultra Capacitor. Unlike regular lithium-ion battery cells, the EEStor Ultra Capacitors, or EESUs as they are called, are lighter, more versatile and can be charged and discharged up to a million times. And the EESU power system would not need to be replaced for well over a million miles. If replacement were to ever necessary, the units are fully recyclable, and unlike batteries, contain no environmentally harmful compounds.

As of now, the rights to the EESUs have been give solely to ZENN (shown above) for all vehicles up to 2,645 (Accord size), a group that makes up 40 million of the cars on the road now.

Paul Scott, co-founder of Plug In America, puts the capability of EESUs in perspective:
"I drive an electric Toyota RAV4 with a 1,000-pound battery that is capable of holding 27 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of power. I could replace my battery with three EESUs, weighing a total of only 300 pounds, that are capable of holding 45 kWhs of power. The additional power and reduced weight would more than double the vehicle's 120-mile range and it would recharge in a matter of minutes off 220 volts, slightly longer when using household 110 volts."
ZENN proposes that we'll be able to cross the country without stopping for longer than it takes to grab a bathroom break. If those bathroom break fill-ups happen to be at a solar electric filling station, you could be carbon neutral, my friend.

From: Edmund's

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Kawasaki Heavy Industries is unveiling the "giga cell-powered" SWIMO in Japan. Power is delivered by the same nickle metal hydride batteries we've been using for years in less demanding applications. It only offers about 6 miles on a charge, but recharging stations at various subway stops could keep it in motion all day long without using fossil fuels — possibly by solar.

Hitting Japan in 2007, the SWIMO transporter should make the daily commute a bit gentler on mother Earth, provided the right power at its source. I have long wanted to see energy-autonomous public transportation. This certainly is a step closer.

From: Engadget

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Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse aims to have an airplane take off and fly autonomously, day and night, propelled uniquely by solar energy, right round the world without fuel or pollution.
More of a symbol than an actual practical application, I see the Solar Impulse a step in the right direction for energy-autonomous flight. While current solar technology may be too expensive and ineffective for commercial flight, offsetting the airline industry's dramatic fossil fuel consumption could be a start. Picture solar panels lining planes, and solar an wind holding stations at airports.

The site also provides a nice history of solar flight to date, including information about Solar Impulse's older brother NASA Helios (shown above).

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Zink: Inkless Printing

ZINK (Zero ink) Imaging has invented a new way to print and experience full-color digital images without ink cartridges or ribbons. A simple approach to printing, ZINK Digital Imaging Technology embeds color-dye crystals into ZINK paper for affordable, durable and high-quality prints.

DEMO, a website that showcases products looking for investors (ahem Wii Weights), has a more in-depth look at the Zink technology, and a video explaing some of its potential applications.

TreeHugger points out the most important aspects — environmental implications.
"The point out that the eco-efficient aspect of this technology is that it eliminates wasteful ink packaging and discarded ink cartridges. ZINK says the paper is non-toxic and recyclable".
And the technology is such that it is easily applied to larger scale printers. Billboards? Ink has long been the bane of environmentally conscious designers. Even the most eco friendly of inks can often render papers relegated to deep down-cycling.

While I think it is a technology worth noting, Zink will truly impress me if they create the paper in a manner that is infinitely recyclable. Perhaps after use, the paper is dipped in a solution that returns the crystal to their original state, allowing for another round of printing without relying on virgin pulp.

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World Time Clock

Designed by Charlotte van der Waals, This barrel-shaped desk clock has 12 sides, each with the name of two major cities. Altogether, the 24 cities represent the 24 Global Time Zones. To find the local time in another time zone, simply roll the clock so the city representing that time zone is on top. Available to purchase at Junro for $75. Good design comes at a price.


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Jen Stark: Paper Artist

Jen Stark, a recent graduate of Maryland Institue College of Art (MICA), and up and coming fine artist, uses layered colored papers to create amazing works. While at her site, be sure to check out her drawing section. It's always nice to find artists talented in multiple disciplines.

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There's a lot of web buzz out there these days about HDR (High Dynamic Range) Photography. HDR uses a combination of multiple sots with varying shutter speeds to produce surreal images with exaggerated detail in the highlights and shadows. While many of the shots end up looking like bad CGIs, it can be a way to bring added reality to your photography.

The HDR Tutorial Roundup
offers possibly the most comprehensive catalog for creating your own imagery.

I have attempted a few, and I have found that the trick, like any other Photoshop effect, is to hide the fact that an effect was used.



Storytellers, the only project to touch the hands of all three years of 12, is complete and out the door. It is a rich, complex look into the lives those who devote their lives to the stage, and an excellent introduction to one of the most pure Shakespearian troupes in the country.

The short film has already been chosen as an Official Selection for the Ashland Film Festival, and I'm sure others will be soon to follow.