Think Globally, Pee Locally: Urine-Powered Disaster Zone Lighting

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An invention that I see becoming pretty popular in places where human overpopulation creates a torrid scenario for both waste management and lighting, let alone just having any lighting itself… solving the problem of lighting in places where there is no power (or even fuel to make the power) just does not get the kind of funding that it deserves.  This is urine-powered electricity.  From Reuters:

A toilet that uses urine to generate electricity will soon light up dark corners of refugee camps after being tested by students in the UK. The pioneering toilet, the result of collaboration between global aid agency Oxfam and the University of the West of England in Bristol, uses live microbes which feed on urine and convert it into power.

Led by Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos, the scientists developed microbial fuel cells that use bacteria grown on carbon fiber anodes that feed on urine, breaking it down and generating electricity which is stored in a capacitor. They used up to 24 of these microbial fuel cells in 2013 to prove that urine could produce enough electricity to power a mobile phone. For the pee-power toilet they are using 288 fuel cells, though a thousand-unit cell stack is planned for the next version of the device.

This is the work of Professor Ioannis Ieropoulos from The University of the West of England, Bristol:

Ok, for those of you that didn’t watch the video, from Power Technology:

The technology works by utilising specialised, naturally-abundant microbes, housed within the anodic chamber of the fuel cell as a bio-catalyst. When fed urine, the microbes naturally consume it as part of their normal metabolic process, which in turn generates electrons. When connected to a cathode, these electrodes are given a path and generate a current.

Urine has never been exploited for power purposes before now. Although it has been proven technically possible, can it be scaled up and is it practical? In this second phase of research the scientists want to prove the answer is yes to both of these questions. They will now be working to maximise the power output, which will inadvertently have the advantage of improved breakdown of the waste material, thus making it safer for disposal.

The ultimate aim, however, is to develop and refine the process to make enough energy to charge a battery, and in the future, be installed into domestic bathrooms to harness the urine and produce sufficient electricity to power showers, lighting or razors.

“The beauty of this fuel source is that we are not relying on the erratic nature of the wind or the sun; we are actually re-using waste to create energy,” said Dr Ieropoulos.

Why does it deserve funding?  One reason – lighting creates safety.  Families feel they can protect themselves during times like this when there is illumination.  We are humans; darkness is our #1 largest predatory fear bred by evolution, and we’ve been praying to the light during the darkness for millions of years, regardless of species.  Look at North Korea, for example, even though this isn’t what the article is really about — what do you think the lack of power and light does for people?  It allows you to enslave them:

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Proper management of human waste in places where a major disaster event has happened also happens to be the second most important thing to provide.  There are emergency waste management guides for conflict zones and disaster event zones all over the place, which should give an idea of the importance of something along these lines, providing a use for waste and a positive item to the zone itself.

 

Here’s a bit of an eye-opening reason why waste management in disaster regions is important… from Johns Hopkins/Red Cross (PDF link) on getting a community in a disaster zone involved in their own management quickly, which is what the Professor’s work does, by providing light:

Experience has shown that wide-ranging benefits result when communities actively involved in their own health and participate in water and sanitation projects. Using participatory approaches to engage the community has many benefits. Such approaches give community members the opportunity to build and strengthen problem-solving skills Public health guide for emergencies I 381 Water, sanitation and hygiene in emergencies 8 and empower them to take action. While communities, initially, might have limited capability to respond, giving them the opportunity to be involved helps with their own recovery process (see the mental health chapter for additional thoughts on the community recovery process). Through community involvement, water and sanitation programmes and projects can gain a thorough understanding of the needs, concerns and values of the beneficiaries. The local skills and capacities that exist among the disaster-affected population can also be identified and strengthened. Strong community involvement is critical for projects being sustainable long after external assistance stops.

The Good Professor’s work is being funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation too (and has been since 2013), which is super cool!  From the Foundation website news section:

“Today, 2.5 billion people practice open defecation or lack adequate toilet facilities  so we are always looking for new ways to ensure that less human waste winds up in the environment, untreated,” said Brian Arbogast, director of the Water, Sanitation & Hygiene team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “Innovations don’t need to be complicated or expensive in order to be impactful which is why we are so excited about the range of approaches these projects represent.”

GCE grants fund innovative ideas to tackle persistent global health and development problems. Phase II grants are awarded to Phase I winners whose projects have shown progress and are particularly promising. Phase II projects also show a strong alignment to the foundation’s strategic priorities and maintain the innovation and excitement of the great idea that was funded during the first phase.  We also look for projects which have demonstrated the development of partnerships and collaboration that would help move projects toward implementation.

New Phase II grants were awarded to five organizations working to improve water and sanitation conditions in the developing world:

  • University of the West of England, Bristol in the U.K. to develop microbial fuel cells that can be powered by urine. The electricity generated can be used to power sanitation of the waste, and even to charge a cell phone.
  • Beijing Sunnybreeze Technology Inc. in Chinato develop a waterless toilet including an inexpensive mini waste processor.
  • North Carolina State University in the U.S.to improve and develop a low-cost, portable auger-based technology that can reliably and hygienically empty a wide variety of pit latrines and septic tanks which contain waste with a range of moisture contents.
  • Rice University in the U.S. to extend the capabilities of a solar steam sterilizer into a self-contained human waste-to-fuel converter for the manufacturing of clean, safe biofuel to satisfy demands for energy sources and agricultural fertilizer in the developing world.
  • National University of Mexico in Mexico to develop a digital tool for water survey facilities around the world, so that faster and more reliable water quality analysis is available for efforts to reduce enteric diseases worldwide.
  • The University of Delaware in the U.S. to develop and implement breathable membranes that could not only protect groundwater from contaminants but also accelerate the drying and disinfection of human waste.

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Also, a cool interview from Financial Times with Professor Ieropoulis — it’s quick, read it:

CB: How did the idea for recharging electrical devices using urine come about?

Dr Ieropoulos: As a research group, we have been working with this same fuel cell technology for 12 years, feeding it with different “fuels” and putting it to the test by powering electronic devices. The types of fuel we have been experimenting with are different kinds of organic waste such as domestic waste water, rotten fruits, prawn shells, dead insects and grass clippings.

Urine was just another candidate “fuel”. However, the level of power output improvement was so good that we were able to charge a commercial battery [of a mobile phone] directly, for the first time.

CB: Does the fuel cell have a special name and how does it work?

Dr Ieropoulos: The technology is known as the Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) and works on bacterial metabolism. Effectively, live microbes, which we collect from the natural environment, inhabit the inside of these devices and break down the organic fuel for their growth and maintenance, which is exactly what they do in nature.

One byproduct of the bacterial respiration comes in the form of electrons, which are transferred on to the electrode surface inside the MFC. These electrons flow through a circuit, which produces the electrical current.

CB: As the Gates Foundation has supported the project, can we expect to see it mainly being applied to developing-world problems, where mains electricity is hard to find?

Dr Ieropoulos: This is the ultimate goal for the work carried out under the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, and not only as a means of electricity generation but also as a technology that can improve sanitation. But in addition, the work carried out under the UK EPSRC grant is primarily focused at developing this technology for the developed world.

CB: Do you know how Bill and Melinda Gates feel about your project?

Dr Ieropoulos: We do indeed, and this is through Dr Carl Hensman, our programme officer from the water, sanitation and hygiene programme. The co-chairs and trustees, Bill and Melinda Gates, are kept regularly informed and feel excited about our project, as they do for all the projects funded under the different programmes of the Gates Foundation.

CB: How might it be applied in the developed world?

Dr Ieropoulos: We consider the MFC to be a platform technology [something that enables products and processes to be developed from it], with numerous applications in different sectors of society.

The electricity is generated because the constituent microbes break down – and therefore treat – the organic waste, hence one area of focus is waste water treatment.

As the energy generated can be used for powering or recharging electronic devices, low-power electronics is another area of application. Biosensing is a third. This is exploiting the immediate response of the micro organisms to the presence of different compounds.

More recently, it has been demonstrated that MFCs can synthesise chemical compounds, while generating electricity. This means that elemental recovery [turning waste products into useful resources again] is an area that is beginning to grow. So, there are several avenues that can be explored in order to implement the technology in the developed world.

CB: Do you see this as a “disruptive” technology? Could it be an idea that will change the way people produce batteries for torches, say, or make domestic electrical appliances?

Dr Ieropoulos: At community level with waste water treatment, we do not necessarily see the MFCs as a disruptive technology at present, but rather as a complementary solution that can be part of a hybrid system. There is still some way to go before it can replace an existing technology such as batteries, but the EcoBot work we have been developing over the years has shown that small robots can be powered directly by MFCs, without any other form of power supply onboard. This is part of our self-sustainable systems work.

CB: Is it satisfying to see what from the outside seems a completely outlandish idea bear fruit?

Dr Ieropoulos: It is exciting, and this is the very essence of scientific research. To think about the difficult or even impossible and push the boundaries of current knowledge to see if it can work.

CB: How would you like to see this development being used in 10 years’ time? Does it have applications for helping counter global warming, for instance?

Dr Ieropoulos: In this timeframe, we would definitely like to see the technology deployed at different scales, in both the developing and developed worlds. There are so many sectors that MFCs can contribute to, either by cutting down energy consumption, increasing the efficiency of waste utilisation or even assisting in the recovery of useful nutrients from organic matter.

This is a technology that turns waste into useful commodities and it would be extremely beneficial to integrate it in existing processes, as it can help cut global warming.

Take a moment too and just view the contributions that Professor Ieropoulis has made to the field:
https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=73ox1OgAAAAJ&hl=en

Hat Tips:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/20/us-uk-peepower-urinal-idUSKBN0NB13F20150420
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/d704de86-6695-11e4-9c0c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3YQq0cL52
http://www.power-technology.com/features/featureurine-tricity-golden-power-from-human-waste-4159093/featureurine-tricity-golden-power-from-human-waste-4159093-1.html
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Media-Center/Press-Releases/2013/12/Gates-Foundation-Awards-Grants-to-Waterless-Toilets

World Health Organization Guide on Emergency Waste Management:
http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2011/tn7_waste_mangt_en.pdf

United Nations and Humanitarian Affairs Guide on Emergency Waste Management:
https://docs.unocha.org/sites/dms/Documents/DWMG.pdf

 

Chilean Volcano Video – Holy Volcanoballs

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This might be the most beautiful footage I’ve seen this year — this is the Chilean volcano that just erupted.  Its name is Volcano Calbuco, which in this video is spanish for “Amazing Video of a Chilean Volcano.”

Not really though…  check this out:

More information on this excellent story here:

http://www.weather.com/news/news/chile-calbuco-volcano-eruption-evacuations-alerts

From the article at The Weather Channel:

Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted for the first time in over 42 years on Wednesday, creating a remarkable scene of smoke plumes and ash shooting into the sky. A second eruption Wednesday night blasted red-hot rocks skyward and produced an extraordinary display of volcanic lightning.

The eruption forced authorities to evacuate 1,500 residents of Ensenada, a nearby town, as well as two smaller communities. President Michelle Bachelet has declared a state of emergency.

A high alert was issued by the National Mining and Geology Service, preventing access to the area around the volcano. Calbuco is also near the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, some 600 miles south of the Chilean capital, Santiago.

Parts of Argentina reported heavy ash falling after the eruption. According to analysis by Argentina’s meteorological service, the ash cloud was shot as high as 40,000 feet.

Fukushima, the Continued Nightmare — Get Ready to Freak the F*ck Out

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Some readers wonder why I find these kinds of stories important.  I normally don’t answer those kinds of emails because I cannot ever think of something to say that doesn’t typically start with what in the world makes you think the continued poisoning of our planet to make light is not somehow important?! so I usually just don’t answer back.

Ah, well.  Everyone has their priorities, right?

Check out this VICE News documentary on the current nightmare fuel taking place right now at Fukushima Daiici power plant in Japan.  Holy shit.

Can the Little People (ie, US) Beat Xcel Energy in Boulder? These People Say YES

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Xcel Energy, the people who started up the Colorado solar-to-home movement only to withdraw from it quicker than John Wayne Bobbitt lost his wang, are back at the douchebaggery again.  This time, a group of very smart and very environmentally conscious people called New Era Colorado is putting the kibosh on their plans for coal-fired world domination.  Check this out:

From the video page:

This is a grassroots David and Goliath campaign to create a landmark model for how communities can take control of their energy future: http://igg.me/at/localpowerYou can support this effort on Indiegogo:http://igg.me/at/localpower

This is pretty great.  These folks are simply trying to stop the mass amounts of money from flowing into the pockets of the “we don’t give a shit” power brokers and back into the hands of the community, and to save the Earth one city at a time.  Can you imagine what would happen if this works?  I for one would love to see solar panels and wind turbines out en masse instead of coal fired plants spewing black death into the atmosphere.  But, that’s just me.  I’m sure the Xcel Energy executives need their Mercedes and homes in the Hamptons, too.  Right?

Check out the Campaign for Local Power’s IndieGogo campaign.  Feeling frisky?  Donate ten bucks, you’ll literally change the world.

From the IndieGogo campaign website:

Back in 2011, our community did something no other community had ever done before: we voted to explore taking control of our power supply for the sole purpose of lowering our impact on the planet. Xcel Energy spent nearly $1 million dollars on that election, but lost–because a committed group of community advocates and a small nonprofit that engages young people in politics won the day. Outspent 10-to-1, the grassroots coalition registered voters, knocked on doors, and made thousands of phone calls.

With voter approval, the city launched an extensive analysis and found that it could get cleaner, cheaper power that was just as reliable all on its own.

But now, Xcel is back, with a misleading initiative they’ve helped place on Boulder’s fall ballot that would stop the city’s formation of a local electric utility dead in its tracks. Their ballot measure is masquerading as a way to reduce government debt, but it’s really just a dirty trick–the measure includes impossible, even illegal, requirements that would stall out the very process voters already approved.

They’re back to undermine our local process, because the city’s findings made it clear that they stand to lose more than the $35 million dollars in profits they make annually from Boulder. They know that Boulder is on the verge of setting a precedent of national significance that would threaten not just Xcel, but the very core of the coal energy’s business model–not to mention that industry’s billions of dollars in profits.

We out-organized them in 2011, and we know we can again in 2013 if we have the resources to achieve the reach we need. Boulder has already voted to move forward–this fight is about keeping the coal industry from holding us back.

Can you help these smart people defeat the coal giant in the region?  Like New Era Colorado on Facebook, I’m sure they’d appreciate it.  Xcel Energy will not.

The Light of War – Helicopter Blades, Dust, and Static Electricity Make St. Elmo’s Fire

Some people call the magical light that emanates from helicopter rotor blades that are changing pitch at night in the desert “fairy dust.”  Others call it “St. Elmo’s Fire.”  War correspondent Michael Yon called it the “Kopp-Etchells Effect,” for two soldiers that died in the battleground of Afghanistan — Benjamin Kopp and Joseph Etchells.

From an article at NPR, written by Robert Krulwich:

Corporal Benjamin Kopp was shot in 2009 during a battle in Afghanistan and died of his wounds just over a week later. He was 21. He’d had already served for three tours and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Because he had put himself down as an organ donor, his heart was quickly transplanted into a 57-year-old Illinois woman named Judy Meikle, who told The Washington Post, “How can you have a better heart? I have the heart of a 21-year-old Army Ranger war hero beating in me.” Other organs went to other recipients.

Joseph Etchells was also a corporal, but in a different army. He was a fusilier in a British regiment, also assigned to Helmand Province. He was 22 and died the same week as Benjamin Kopp. This was also his third tour of duty, and he was killed by a roadside bomb.

Photographer Michael Yon attended his battlefield funeral, a small affair where fellow soldiers removed the colorful feathers they wear in their caps and tossed them onto the Helmand River, “the same waters where ‘Etch’ used to swim after missions.” At the ceremony, Michael was told that Cpl. Etchells had wanted to be cremated, “then loaded into a firework and launched over the park where he used to play as a kid.” As nutty as it sounds, his friends say that was his choice. I checked the Manchester papers. There was a funeral. Thousands gathered at the church, so many they had to set up speakers for those who couldn’t fit in. But there were no “fireworks” …

Even in war, there is light.  Every time I write about something having to do with war and death, I am always reminded of my buddy Boz who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq, two weeks before he was finished with his tour.  I met Boz working a trade show at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX.  What a cool dude you were, Boz.

Boz, this one’s for you.

These images below are amazing when viewed at full size.  Just click on each one in the gallery below.

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A Random Snowstorm Video to Break Up the Summer Heat

from http://media.trendland.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/simon-beck-snow-art-2.jpg

from http://media.trendland.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/simon-beck-snow-art-2.jpg

It was hot as hell this week here in Ohio. You know those mornings when you wake up feeling like you just worked a whole night loading in a show because it was so hot and humid the night before?

Yeah. I was on a summer tour where our bus driver kept forgetting to reset the air conditioner after plugging into shore power. It was July. Those mornings SUCKED!

In my quest to get all of this old video processed, here’s a few minutes of a snowstorm from Denver that I must have grabbed back in 2009… enjoy its cold frostiness!

A Random Snowstorm in Denver, 2009 from Jim Hutchison on Vimeo.

Bruce Munro Makes Nature Better with Light, Again

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World-renowned light artist Bruce Munro is back on the scene with an installation at Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum, Nashville, Tennessee – and once again, he’s taken some color, a smidge of light, and improved upon the night time viewing of life in the park.  When asked about his experience in the park, Bruce Munro had this to say:

‘during my first visit to cheekwood earlier in the year, I had a visceral reaction to the scale and positioning of the estate’s buildings. they are at one with the landscape, breeding a sense of understated balance and harmony that truly inspired me and undoubtedly permeates the visitor experience,’ said munro. ‘this is the most perfect place to exhibit because it provides a variety of opportunities to respond to – each space varies in both scale and topographical character. in addition, cheekwood’s world class exhibition galleries are a veritable jewel in its crown. I feel lucky and privileged to install my work at this prestigious and beautiful estate.’

What do you think?  Leave a comment on the post, tell the world what you think about this installation!

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The Cheekwood site has a lot of great information about the installation, including the what-and-wheres of the pieces.  From the Cheekwood website:

Mansion Lawn and surrounding gardens/Field of Light
At the center of the exhibition’s many installations will be the Field of Light, which submerges the viewer within a landscape of 20,000 lighted glass spheres, each rising from the ground on a slender stem.This is the largest Field of Light expanse Munro has ever created in a rolling landscape, and is designed to utilise the existing pathways in the garden to allow people to wander through it and view it from various different perspectives.

Materials: Frosted glass spheres, acrylic rods mounted on stakes, bare optic fiber, halogen light sources with hand-painted color wheels

Japanese Bamboo Garden/Fireflies

Hundreds of cool white Fireflies will be installed throughout the bamboo leading into Cheekwood’s Japanese garden, creating a magical space of illuminated springs amongst the bamboo.

Materials: Copper tube, brass stakes, acrylic polymer fiber optic cable

Japanese Garden Pavilion/Candlelight
Visitors will have just exited the bamboo garden and the Fireflies when they arrive at the pavilion in the Japanese Garden. Candlelight will introduce something architectural in form and warm in color temperature. Hundreds of flickering LED candle luminaires will make the pavilion become an illuminated stage.

Materials: Treated timber, stainless steel fixings, LED candle luminaires

Japanese Garden Dry Lake/Blue Moon
The dry lake within the Japanese garden is an intimate space, set in a valley of rounded hills. The Blue Moon is 5’ in diameter and will appear as a giant hovering moon of flickering icy blues.

Materials: Clear acrylic spheres and acrylic polymer fiber, stainless steel

Robertson Ellis Color Garden/Water-Towers
Water-Towers is comprised of 40 structures built out of one-litre recyclable plastic bottles filled with water, laser-cut wood layers, and fiber optics connected to an LED projector and sound system. This installation beckons visitors to immerse themselves in the spaces between the towers to explore the spectacle of light and sounds.

Materials: LEDs, fiber optics, new one-litre PET bottles, audio system

Mustard Meadow/Light Reservation
Light Reservation is an assembly of tipi-like structures made from spent fluorescent tubes on an expanse of Cheekwood’s lawn by the ponds.

Materials: Redundant 60w fluorescent tubes, 12v electric fence modules, polymer filters, polycarbonate tubes

Reflection Pool/Fagin’s Urchins
Fagin’s Urchins are a site-specific installation created for the formal reflection pool at Cheekwood. Sap green spheres are positioned centrally in a line close to the water’s surface across the reflection pool. By night the surface of each sphere becomes an illuminated Lilliputian world of the night.

Materials: Polycarbonate, acrylic polymer fiber optics, stainless steel

Cheekwood’s Mansion Loggia/ Light Shower
The double height of the iconic Loggia in the Cheekwood mansion offers a wonderful opportunity for Munro to create a site specific installation of the Light Shower, an installation of 1,650 teardrop-shaped diffusers suspended from the ceiling by fiber-optic strands.

Materials: Acrylic diffuser drops, powder-coated mild steel, acrylic polymer fiber

Cheekwood’s Mansion Rotunda Staircase/Bell Drop Chandelier
The stunning rotunda staircase in the Cheekwood mansion will be transformed with the beautiful Bell Drop Chandelier. A cascade of fiber optic cables terminates in a miniature conical brass bell shade approximately seven feet from the ground floor level.

Materials: Brass, powder-coated mild steel, acrylic polymer fiber optic

Cheekwood’s Museum of Art Galleries/Exhibition
A gallery in the Museum of Art will be dedicated to small-scale works and videos from Bruce Munro.

 

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Thanks, DesignBoom!

SOCCKET – Kicking A Soccer Ball Gives You Light

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I haven’t seen something this awesome in a little while.  What you’re looking at in the images of this post is a device that was funded on Kickstarter called Soccket.  Soccket is a soccer ball that has a kinetic energy converter inside; once you kick the ball around for 30 minutes, you get 3 hours of LED light from the included flexible LED lamp.  Think of the implications of greatness that can come from this device — Soccket gives people in the Third World (or really any world) the ability to have light in which to live and study at night, all from playing for 30 minutes.  Soccket is also being fitted with a phone charger as well, which is apparently coming in the next round of Kickstarter funding.

Soccket (and Uncharted Play, Inc) is the brain child of co-partners Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman.  Talk about a cool story – from the Uncharted Play, Inc website on the founding:

In May of 2011, Jessica O. Matthews and Julia Silverman founded Uncharted Play–a new kind of social enterprise that would show the world that doing good and doing good business need not be mutually exclusive.

The Uncharted Play dream began in 2008 when Matthews and Silverman met during their junior year at Harvard College. Both studying to be social scientists with no experience in engineering, they nonetheless worked together on a class project to invent the SOCCKET– an energy harnessing soccer ball. Through this experience, both women realized that the world of play was truly uncharted territory when it came to tangibly addressing real issues facing the society. Though the future was uncertain, they knew that an enterprise grounded in sustainable, realistic solutions for happiness had an undeniable value.

After graduating from college, Matthews and Silverman set up shop in New York City and established an enthusiastic team to further develop the founders core values. The SOCCKET is constantly being reiterated to truly meet the needs of the end user, and development on several other fun and functional products has already begun.

From the Uncharted Play Kickstarter campaignUncharted Play, Inc is the company who invented Soccket:

The SOCCKET is a durable, energy-harnessing soccer ball. Using Uncharted Play’s patent pending technology, the pendulum-like mechanism inside the SOCCKET captures the kinetic energy generated during normal play, and stores it in the ball for later use as an off-grid power source. Just 30 minutes of play can power a simple LED lamp for 3 hours.

About one ounce heavier than a standard soccer ball, the SOCCKET is constructed from a custom water-resistant EVA foam that is both durable and soft to the touch. Designed and assembled in the USA, the SOCCKET is currently being piloted in select resource-poor areas of North America and South America.

Check this out!

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How Energy Efficient Buildings Work [Infographic]

Another infographic that is RELEVANT to my interests!

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I just find these things so very interesting and provocatively helpful; it’s an image, but organized in such a way that you’re led on a journey across, up, down, and along the image.  The jackpot at the end of the rainbow?  You learn something!

For instance, let’s learn about How Energy Efficient Buildings Work!

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LEDs, Lady Gaga Smell-Well, and Projections at Nuit Blanche 2012

Did you go to Nuit Blanche 2012 in Toronto in October?  Laura and I did, and we took some photos that I’m just now able to get to after the trade show season.  I spoke with lots of people on the street at Nuit Blanche this year, and everyone seemed to have a great time — the only thing that was a bit hard to manage was the influx of people that were present downtown for this event.  There were some awesome exhibits and light installations — but anything interactive was pretty much mobbed with people and hard to really get a sense of the artists’ messages.  Regardless, it was a lot of fun!  Check out some photos below, and experience my entire trip with the photo gallery at the bottom!

There were some fun words at the top of this post that describe how f*cked up some of the Nuit Blanche-goers got, it’s worth a quick peek.  It’s totally true — lack of organization, and a real lack of general community.  Read the post.

As we walked by the Hudson’s Bay Company in Toronto we noticed this freaky storefront window scene that we had to stop and check out — and it was Lady Gaga’s perfume on display.  That’s some pretty crazy perfume marketing, huh!  I definitely liked the design enough to take photos…

Lady Gaga's Smellwell

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Apparently this perfume makes you smell like a psycho mad scientist:

Lady Gaga Does Window Displays

Oh, officially of course Lady Gaga had nothing to do with Nuit Blanche, but her display was part of MY Nuit Blanche, so that’s why it’s here!

Something that we saw but didn’t really get a chance to experience was Beam of Underground Sun by Arezoo Talebzadeh and Kaveh Ashourinia — ostensibly, they had taken some very bright LED sources and put them down under the street at several meters down.  Arezoo and Kaveh also added some powerful fans and some silk cloth under the street to give the effect of waves of light being cast up through the grate they chose in the street.  Check this one out, it is beautiful, especially with the photos of no people around it:

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This, however, is what the real Nuit Blanche Beam of Underground Sun experience was, which was different than intended I assume but had its own jua de vive, if you will:

It was still beautiful, just mobbed with people standing directly in the way of the beam and the overall everything of the piece.

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You can kind of see down into the shaft with the fan, the fabric, and the LED units:

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It was pretty cool to be standing in an intersection of Bloor Street with no one trying to honk at me or run me down!

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Probably one of the coolest things I saw this year at Nuit Blanche was the installation called Planes by Tricia Brown Dance Company — and it was awesome!

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…and behind the walls you can see a little behind-the-scenes action!  I almost didn’t want to see this — the movement of the dancers and the projections themselves were so riveting that seeing the how-to took away from it for me.  Ah, the life of making mystery for the audience!

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Check out the Gallery View below of the Nuit Blanche event in Toronto — and check out the official Scotiabank page on Nuit Blanche so you can see the intended (and actual) views of the art from this year’s show!