Sci-fi poem!

At eighteen she is ready to tackle the Instrument. Spreads fluidly as when water leaks through cobblestone cracks, plug lines evaporate invisibly as an electric impulse through the air rips into the fabric of time and inscribes a healing magic after it. The oroburos encircles the fibrous, brittle bones of her wrist. An air jet rumbles in her chest. In the room it’s black almost, gray walls, deeply purple lacquered furniture, the hint of a picture frame unlit, too many switches in their “off” position. The jet rumble has escaped her. Face hot with the expectation of the completely unexpectable, something buds up out of her, perhaps a valuable liquid, perhaps some falsely wired circuitry, perhaps the memory of a year playing jax and rock-paper-scissors with other children in the school yard, paper and scissors and other children and schoolyard mixed up in the fabric, too distant to see clearly, too foreign to really feel it again, a quiet rumpling like a mosquito in her ear, a paper-cut snake bite now ghosting her fingertip, that tiny bubble of blood like the steady light of error. And though she was good at jacks and always won at rock-paper-scissors, on that fast emptying playground with its generator hum she couldn’t find the way to her name. Created a rift in that time space, the unborn twin of the mind. It is this that captures her always, a sudden shift in breath, the slight shudder her eye makes as it lists away from the screen, forgetting and remembering the same, her sight catching something not in the screen but on it, or backwards from it, the glow of an earlobe or the mirrored reflection of fingers, almost wires, punching keys. Shapes in her mind the first edges of reality, its encumbered layers not visible but just…

her mind can touch it sometimes. The Instrument blinks blue, yellow, blue against the farthest wall. Something in her fissures. There is nothing trailing behind to fill it up and like a sphinx, slowly rising from the dust gold sand, rippling off its fur the haze of time, the overlayment of memory and myth and meaning, it simply is now. Instrument makes a sound like an old crone’s cackle. Maybe her bones crack. Maybe the rift in time opens up and she slips into it, bare-footed and calm-eyed, the world re-stitching itself up after.

Future Kitchen, Today

The Future Kitchen, Today

Jane Jetson had only to push a button for dinner to be laid out on the table. We all sighed wistfully as we watched while the futuristic kitchen did all the dirty work. As I was organizing my cabinets after grocery shopping the other night, I was thinking about Jane Jetson and wondering when my future kitchen would arrive and what the color of the flying car would be that would deliver it. I started searching around on the internet, looking for glimmers of fully-automated electronic kitchen slave in the ether. I found a pantry that keeps track of your groceries, suggesting recipes for the night’s meal or reordering commonly used supplies as they run low; a counter top that can read ingredients, suggest baking techniques and display an interactive projection that teaches you the proper way to slice a fish for sushi. And then I was confused. The images I was looking at where not drawn, or computer generated, or fabricated for a movie set, they were real, and they are available now.

Watching a clip form Fulton Innovation’s project eCoupled I experienced a musty blast from the past-future. Like a scene from a futuristic television show, eCoupled’s test kitchen uses an autonomous, intelligent system that allows for wireless (and almost invisible) powering of blenders and stove-tops right on your counter, a cabinet-front display of your pantry inventory, as well as a screen for issuing instructions and reading temperature while you cook. By radio labeling food cartons, storage appliances can help manage the contents and track nutritional information, making suggestions to help you maintain a healthy diet (“do you really think you need one more candy bar, Tubby?”).

Culture Lab's Ambient Kitchen

When it debuted at the largest technological tradeshow CES in 2011, eCoupled was far from the only working model of a futuristic kitchen. In August of 2012 a group of computer scientists from Philips Research in The Netherlands and Culture Lab at Newcastle University demonstrated the Ambient Kitchen, a “pervasive sensing environment designed for improving cooking skills, promoting healthier eating, and helping cognitively impaired people to live more independent in their own homes.” Evert J. van Loenen of Philips Research believes that by adding these adaptive user-systems, digital environments can be created “which improve the quality of life of people by acting on their behalf.” These innovations not only enable us to work more efficiently in the kitchen, they also attempt to improve our interaction with technology by making it more intuitive, efficient, and secure.larder

Philips Design: ‘larder’ is a dining room table that doubles as a food storage system and evaporative cooler– similar to a kind of natural refrigerator.

With every new advancement in technology, however shiny and bright and new, there are dissidents. Evgeny Morozov, writing for Slate Magazine, sees the ambient kitchen as an Orwellian nightmare, one that removes the unique human capacity for inspiration, experimentation and error, effectively undermining the human condition through technology. “As a result, chefs are imagined not as autonomous virtuosi or gifted craftsmen but as enslaved robots who should never defy the commands of their operating systems,” he writes. The Luddites took up this tome during the industrial revolution, tearing down textile machines and raising cries about the dehumanization that mechanization brings. As textile machines began mass producing the majority of the world’s clothing, many fashion designers kept to the hand made, individually designed article. I, however, simply do not have the 15,000 dollars to spend on a hand sewn Valentino dress. Morozov suggests that if tasks are delegated away from humans, we will somehow lose all sense of how to push forward, to improve and enhance our society; that, if machines are to take over daily tasks, we’ll have nothing left to do but sit on the couch and twiddle our thumbs. Yet, there are millions who pop a TV dinner in the microwave every night, to have more time to, as the name suggests, watch TV. Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of the frozen dinner, we could have a gourmet meal sourced from Alice Waters at Chez Panisse? I don’t believe that machine produced Mona Lisas will ever overtake the original, but I am happy that I can remember it in an art history book.

Many of these developers believe the kitchen is “the heart of the home” and seek to build intimacy between parents and children, raise self-confidence, and provide robotic or computer coached learning experiences in the kitchen. Electrolux, an innovative appliance design company, works from extensive consumer-based research to determine what advancements would be most helpful, and design their products accordingly. Their futuristic kitchen concept is called, simply, “The Heart of the Home,” a revolutionary kitchen design that uses an amorphous surface for cooking and visual aids with i-pad like sensibilities. The company says the design was inspired by “the person driven by culinary curiosity using new technology without removing the essence of cooking.”


Electrolux “Heart of the Home” Concept

Developers are also looking toward technological advancements that would help the environment and create sustainable kitchens. Philips eco-friendly microbial home was on display at Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven in 2011, premiering a concept home design that “adopts a systemic approach to domestic activity, connecting machines into a cyclical system of input and output that minimizes waste.”  Leading furniture and design company Ikea commissioned a report by The Future Laboratory entitled “On the Future of Kitchens”, which focuses on how environmental responsibilities will reshape our homes. Their aim is to develop kitchens where food is grown and stored, waste is recycled and turned into energy, and where computers help to track energy use and makes energy-efficient decisions for you. Natural refrigeration methods are being developed that use sand to keep things cool, reclaimed wood and stone for structural materials. There are even hopes of a fridge that helps to maintain and manage your emotional well-being by 2040.

In the future of futuristic kitchens we see trends toward family oriented technologies, around the clock on-call nutritionists, recipe and pantry management, and an ease of cooking and baking that allows for more time spent with our hands free. Maybe then we can find the time to make those moving sidewalks, jet packs and flying cars a reality.

Design Boom has the coolest stuff…

Philips eco-friendly microbial home

First of all….what? Second of all, what?? Check out the urban beehive halfway through. This is genius designing…way to go Philips.

the ‘microbial home’ concept by philips design

the ‘microbial home’ by philips design is a concept home design that adopts a systemic approach to domestic activity,
connecting machines into a cyclical system of input and output that minimizes waste. as the designers explain,
we view the home as a biological machine to filter, process, and recycle what we conventionally think of as waste.’
from domestic beekeeping (‘urban beehive’) to gardens that decompose plastic waste (the ‘paternoster’),
view more information about each of the component prototype devices below.

the ‘microbial home’ was on exhibition at the piet hein eek gallery during dutch design week 2011 in eindhoven, the netherlands.

the ‘methane bio-digester’ kitchen island generates energy for use in cooking and heating

methane bio-digester

the ‘bio-digester’ is a kitchen island that includes a chopping surface with waste grinder and gas cooking range.
in the device, ‘bio-gas’ is produced by developing gas-generating bacteria cultures that live off of organic waste.
the bacterias’ gas is collected and burnt, for use in the built-in cooking range and lights or sent through to heat water pipes
and be used in other components of the ‘microbial home’.

view of cutting surface

detail on cooking range
image © designboom

‘larder’ evaporative cooler dining room table


‘larder’ is a dining room table that doubles as a food storage system and evaporative cooler– similar to a kind of natural
refrigerator. the center of the table is composed of inset terra cotta boxes, whose outer surface is warmed by the hot water pipes
from the methane ‘bio-digester’. the compartments vary in wall thickness and volume, providing spaces of diverse temperatures
for storing different kinds of produce.

detail on terra cotta cooling compartments
image © designboom

the ‘paternoster’ mushroom garden decomposes plastic waste


the ‘paternoster’ is a ‘plastic waste up-cycler’ that uses mycelium fungus to break down plastic packages and bags.
enzymes within the fungus can decompose the plastic, utilizing the material for food and thus producing edible mushrooms
(as long as the inks on the plastic do not contain toxic materials). mushroom cultures are grown in glass and inserted into
a holster wheel within the device. each week, plastic grounds are mixed with the mycelium. the front surface of ‘paternoster’
can be opened to reveal all of the machine’s inner workings for educational purposes.

detail on inner gear
image © designboom

‘urban beehive’

urban beehive

the ‘urban beehive’ is designed to facilitate domestic beekeeping. installed into an exterior wall, one side of the device offers
an integrated flowerpot below an entry tunnel for the bees. as the creatures fly into the main hive, they find a preexisting
honeycomb structure on which they can build their wax cells. the glass shell permits the entry of orange light, which bees
use for sight, while rendering visible the interior structure and work of the bees.

the exterior side of the device
image © designboom

detail on hive
image © designboom

image © designboom


‘bio-lights’ use either bioluminescent bacteria, fed with methane and composted material from the ‘methane bio-digester’,
or fluorescent proteins to generate light for home. the lamp structure is a wall of glass cells suspended in a hung or freestanding
steel frame, filled with biological cells. the low-intensity light generated requires no electricity and might be adapted to urban,
highway, and navigational use in addition to domestic.

the ‘filtering squatting toilet’

filtering squatting toilet

the ‘filtering squatting toilet’ requires no external energy, saving water by using a special flush mechanism.
the device filters excrement to the ‘methane bio-digester’ for use as energy.

research suggests that squatting toilets provide health benefits such as decreased risk of colorectal cancers,
in comparison to sitting toilets, and in the philips design, a built-in handrail improves comfort and balance.

The Wonders of Technology

The ppl over at lifeboat foundation are totally awesome. Not only for their beautiful webdesign, but because their content is super interesting.They’ve done a list on 10 materials to watch for in the (+/-)future. Can you imagine diamonds used as building materials? How about floating cities made from a foamed-up titanium/aluminum mixture? I’d actually love to hear your imaginings of a world with diamond buildings and floating cities – leave a comment if your imagination runs wild.

Special Report

10 Futuristic Materials

by Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member Michael Anissimov.

1. Aerogel

Aerogel protecting crayons from a blowtorch.

This tiny block of transparent aerogel is supporting a brick weighing 2.5 kg. The aerogel’s density is 0.1 g/cm3.
Aerogel holds 15 entries in the Guinness Book of Records, more than any other material. Sometimes called “frozen smoke”, aerogel is made by the supercritical drying of liquid gels of alumina, chromia, tin oxide, or carbon. It’s 99.8% empty space, which makes it look semi-transparent. Aerogel is a fantastic insulator — if you had a shield of aerogel, you could easily defend yourself from a flamethrower. It stops cold, it stops heat. You could build a warm dome on the Moon. Aerogels have unbelievable surface area in their internal fractal structures — cubes of aerogel just an inch on a side may have an internal surface area equivalent to a football field. Despite its low density, aerogel has been looked into as a component of military armor because of its insulating properties.

2. Carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes are long chains of carbon held together by the strongest bond in all chemistry, the sacred sp2 bond, even stronger than the sp3 bonds that hold together diamond. Carbon nanotubes have numerous remarkable physical properties, including ballistic electron transport (making them ideal for electronics) and so much tensile strength that they are the only substance that could be used to build a space elevator. The specific strength of carbon nanotubes is 48,000 kN·m/kg, the best of known materials, compared to high-carbon steel’s 154 kN·/kg. That’s 300 times stronger than steel. You could build towers hundreds of kilometers high with it.

3. Metamaterials

“Metamaterial” refers to any material that gains its properties from structure rather than composition. Metamaterials have been used to create microwave invisibility cloaks, 2D invisibility cloaks, and materials with other unusual optical properties. Mother-of-pearl gets its rainbow color from metamaterials of biological origin. Some metamaterials have a negative refractive index, an optical property that may be used to create “Superlenses” which resolve features smaller than the wavelength of light used to image them! This technology is called subwavelength imaging. Metamaterials would used in phased array optics, a technology that could render perfect holograms on a 2D display. These holograms would be so perfect that you could be standing 6 inches from the screen, looking into the “distance” with binoculars, and not even notice it’s a hologram.

4. Bulk diamond

We’re starting to lay down thick layers of diamond in CVD machines, hinting towards a future of bulk diamond machinery. Diamond is an ideal construction material — it’s immensely strong, light, made out of the widely available element carbon, nearly complete thermal conductivity, and has among the highest melting and boiling points of all materials. By introducing trace impurities, you can make a diamond practically any color you want. Imagine a jet, with hundreds of thousands of moving parts made of fine-tuned diamond machinery. Such a craft would be more powerful than today’s best fighter planes in the way an F-22 is better than the Red Baron’s Fokker Dr.1.

5. Bulk fullerenes

Diamonds may be strong, but aggregated diamond nanorods (what I call amorphous fullerene) are stronger. Amorphous fullerene has a isothermal bulk modulus of 491 gigapascals (GPa), compared to diamond’s 442 GPa. As we see in the image, the nanoscale structure of the fullerene gives it a beautiful iridescent appearance. Fullerenes can be made substantially stronger than diamond, but for greater energy cost. After a “Diamond Age” we may eventually transition to a “Fullerene Age” as our technology gets even more sophisticated.

6. Amorphous metal

Amorphous metals, also called metallic glasses, consist of metal with a disordered atomic structure. They can be twice as strong as steel. Because of their disordered structure, they can disperse impact energy more effectively than a metal crystal, which has points of weakness. Amorphous metals are made by quickly cooling molten metal before it has a chance to align itself in a crystal pattern. Amorphous metals may the military’s next generation of armor, before they adopt diamondoid armor in mid-century. On the green side of things, amorphous metals have electronic properties that improve the efficiency of power grids by as much as 40%, saving us thousands of tons of fossil fuel emissions.

7. Superalloys

A superalloy is a generic term for a metal that can operate at very high temperatures, up to about 2000 °F (1100 °C). They are popular for use in the superhot turbine areas of jet engines. They are used for more advanced oxygen-breathing designs, such as the ramjet and scramjet. When we’re flying through the sky in hypersonic craft, we’ll have superalloys to thank for it.

8. Metal foam

Metal foam is what you get when you add a foaming agent, powdered titanium hydride, to molten aluminum, then let it cool. The result is a very strong substance that is relatively light, with 75–95% empty space. Because of its favorable strength-to-weight ratio, metal foams have been proposed as a construction material for space colonies. Some metal forms are so light that they float on water, which would make them excellent for building floating cities, like those analyzed by Marshall T. Savage in one of my favorite books, The Millennial Project.

9. Transparent alumina

Transparent alumina is three times stronger than steel and transparent. The number of applications for this are huge. Imagine an entire skyscraper or arcology made largely of transparent steel. The skylines of the future could look more like a series of floating black dots (opaque private rooms) rather than the monoliths of today. A huge space station made of transparent alumina could cruise in low Earth orbit without being a creepy black dot when it passes overhead. And hey… transparent swords!

10. E-textiles

If you meet up and talk to me in 2020, I’ll likely be covered in electronic textiles. Why carry some electronic gadget you can easily lose when we can just wear our computers? We’ll develop clothing that can constantly project the video of our choosing (unless it turns out being so annoying that we ban it). Imagine wearing a robe covered in a display that actually projects the night sky in realtime. Imagine talking to people over the “phone” just by making a hand gesture and activating electronics in your lapel, then merely thinking about what you want to say (thought-to-speech interfaces). The possibilities of e-textiles are limitless.

Futurist Profile: Nick Kaloterakis

Nick Kaloerakis is an amazing designer with a mind for futuristic development. Very focused on metallic streamlined designs, Nick’s work is indicative of a trend towards envisioning melded technologies: electronics with engineering and elegance. For example, Nick draws a stunning image of hypersonic jets, streamlined to make trips from New York to Tokyo in 2 hours. Check out his work for an insight on how awesome designers are viewing future technologies:

You can find Nick’s work gracing the covers and insides of Popular Science, National Geographic and Discovery Channel.

Data is Power by Nick Kaloterakis


Mars Rover by Nick Kaloterakis

Deus Ex Machina by Nick Kaloterakis