As we enter mid-August, millions of people will load up the car and head out to the beach for summer vacation. But no matter how much energy you put into building a sandcastle, it's unlikely to be as impressive as the structures produced by Stone Spray, a solar-powered, robotic 3D printer that can create entire buildings out of sand. It's hard to deny that 3D printing has the ability to change the world -- especially after learning about a two-year-old girl who gained the use of her arms with the aid of a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton (she calls them her "magic arms").
We're excited about 3D printing's potential to build sculptural, eco-friendly forms, but that isn't the only type of green building we've been monitoring over at Inhabitat. Over in Europe and Egypt, architecture students are putting the final touches on their Solar Decathlon 2012 projects. One of our early favorites is the University of Porto's Casa em Movimento, a modular home that's almost entirely covered in solar panels. Over in the Netherlands we spotted Eindhoven's Evoluon Center, which looks like a massive flying saucer that's about to take flight. And here in the US, we were excited to peep some beautiful new renderings of One World Trade Center, showing New York City's tallest new building from a number of different vantage points.
Green technology isn't limited to architecture and design, though. For many of us, the iPhone has become an indispensable communication device -- and now a new app developed by Lapka can measure environmental radiation and whether or not your food is organic, turning your smartphone into a tool for good health as well. "Constrvct," another nifty app produced by Continuum Clothing, will enable you to turn a favorite photo into a piece of clothing.
America watched with bated breath as the Curiosity Rover touched down on Mars, inspiring a few enterprising geeks at BattleBricks to immortalize the rover in miniature Lego form. One of the most anticipated new green cars, MIT's Hiriko Fold city car -- an ultra compact car that folds into an upright position -- is set to hit the market next year for the reasonable price of $16,000. For high rollers, Aston Martin has teamed up with Factor Bikes to create a two-wheeled version of its iconic One-77 Coupe that will cost a whopping $39,000.
It was also a big week for lighting news as we learned that compact fluorescent light bulbs emit potentially harmful UV radiation -- another good reason to make the switch to LEDs. In one of the most innovative new uses of LEDs, Zoon Designs has created LED handrails that light the way while transforming any common stairwell into something out of the movie Tron. And in another equally interesting use of light emitting diodes, German designer Viktor Alexander Kolbig has developed a living lamp that can be controlled by lightly touching its petals and leaves. But some of our favorite designs are the ones that do social good, like Olafur Eliasson's Little Sun -- a portable solar-powered lamp that's being distributed to people who live without electricity worldwide.