A recent Royal College of Art grad has developed a bike that can charge your gadgets as you pedal around town. The designer hopes the bike could foretell a future transportation system that would use resonant inductive coupling to power electric bikes. And for minimalist cyclists, Lucid Design has created a full-size bike that breaks down and fits into a tiny circular backpack. A team of NASA scientists recently conducted successful trials of a propellant-free microwave thruster that was previously thought to be impossible. If it proves to be a viable technology, microwave thrusters could remove the need to carry fuel on spaceships.
The dog days of summer are upon us, and there's no better place to be than at the pool. Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron's drool-worthy Naturbad pool in Switzerland ditches the chlorine in favor of all-natural biological water filtration techniques. The gorgeous pool uses water lilies and irises to naturally filter and absorb bacteria and other compounds. China's Shanghai Tower, soon to be the world's second-tallest building, is nearing completion. Although it won't top the Burj Khalifa in height, it will have better green credentials -- the LEED Gold tower will feature state-of-the-art wind turbine technology, a rainwater-recycling system and geothermal energy. On the green energy front, scientists have figured out a way to create efficient, affordable spray-on solar cells. The new technology could make solar production quicker and more affordable. Lego bricks are a favorite toy of both children and adults, but the plastic pieces aren't as popular with environmentalists these days: Millions of Legos were lost at sea in 1997, and they're still washing up on beaches in the UK, harming wildlife and the environment. And in an effort to clean the world's waterways, James Dyson designed a river barge that uses his vacuum technology to remove trash from rivers and canals.
This time of year, few people in the Northern Hemisphere are thinking about snow -- except for Norway-based Koen Olthuis and Dutch Docklands, who have announced plans to build a five-star floating hotel off the coast of Norway that is shaped like a snowflake. With a glass roof, the hotel will be perfect for viewing the northern lights. The popular tourist town of Brighton will soon be getting a pod-like lookout tower designed by Marks Barfield. From the top of the 450-foot tower, visitors will be able to see for 30 miles in every direction. The Russian design studio Radugadesign recently unveiled an impressive brain-shaped sculpture that's tricked out with lights and sounds at Moscow's New Media Night Festival. And Slovenian design studio Allergutendinge built a tiny off-grid house in the middle of an apple orchard in Germany. The minimalist two-story structure features a kitchen on the ground floor and a bed and deck on the upper levels.
Elsewhere in the world of green design and innovation, Inhabitat talked to Yves Béhar, creator of the Jawbone Up, the Jambox and the Sodastream Source, about green design and information overload. The US Army is developing 3D-printed custom uniforms for its soldiers. The technology will enable the Army to integrate critical features like armor, wicking materials and waterproof elements. Sitting is the new smoking, so a pair of MIT graduate students recently came up with a design for an attractive standing desk made with a CNC router that can be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle in just a few minutes. An Indian entrepreneur created a clay refrigerator that keeps food cool without using any electricity. And in Colorado, Daily Tous Les Jour has designed a musical swing set that lights up and emits sound as people rock back and forth. The musical swings are currently set up at the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, and after the festival ends, they'll go on the road, making stops across the country.