Apple dominated the news cycle this week with the debut of the iPhone 5, as the internet was buzzing with details about the lighter, thinner and faster new iPhone. But not everyone was thrilled with the news. A journalist in China spent 10 days undercover working at a Foxconn factory, detailing the grueling conditions workers undergo to produce the new gadget. Apple wasn't the only tech company in the news this week, though; Google got some time in the spotlight this week too, as the company's new augmented-reality glasses were trotted down the runway at New York Fashion Week. Continuing the trend of high-tech fashion, British designer Dominic Wilcox unveiled a GPS shoe that guides you home from anywhere in the world.
This week, a team of Finnish researchers did what we would have thought was impossible, building an electricity-free computer that's powered by water droplets. Israeli designer Nitsan Debbi cooked up a batch of working electronic products made of bread. A Boise-based tech company used 3D printing technology to produce a new working beak for an injured bald eagle. Artist Luzinterruptus fitted 10,000 books that had been discarded by public libraries with LED lights and covered the streets of Melbourne with them, and in an exciting development the much-anticipated Low Line underground park in NYC debuted a full-scale model of their incredible fiber-optic solar-concentrating technology in New York City's lower east side. And in a surprising development, a researcher in Switzerland discovered a special strain of fungus that can make an ordinary violin sing like a Stradivarius.
In Inhabitat news this week, we announced the 40 finalists in our design-a-laptop-bag contest that we partnered on with HP. There are some pretty awesome and innovative laptop bag designs in this competition, and the top 40 are duking it out to win $10,000 and a possible production run, so please be a judge and go vote for your favorite laptop bag here. Speaking of design contests, we also kicked off the European Solar Decathlon this week with a look at six incredible solar-powered homes that are competing at the European Solar Decathlon right now to win top prize.
We love finding simple solutions to seemingly complex problems, and aircraft manufacturer Airbus' vision for the future of aviation is just that. Part of the vision calls for flying jets in the same formation as a flock of birds, which would reduce energy use and carbon emissions. In other green transportation news, Cannondale unveiled a chainless concept bike that can changes shape as you ride it. In Utah, a grad student from the University of Denver shattered a world speed record by hitting 216 MPH on a home-built electric motorcycle. And in one of the most remarkable stories we came across this week, a Honduran man who is confined to a wheelchair has devoted most of his life to building a helicopter out of scrap metal.
A new study from the Carnegie Institution for Science found that there's enough wind power to meet the whole world's energy demands. And with the help of airborne wind turbines, we'd be able to generate even more power than with ground- and ocean-based units alone. In solar news, Morocco is on its way to becoming a world-class solar energy producer, as the country recently announced plans to harvest 14 percent of its energy from the sun by 2020. For renewable energy on a smaller scale, a graduate student in Israel developed a prototype for an elegant rocking chair called Otarky that produces energy from its rocking motion and can be used to charge devices and power a lamp.