Beauty, Design, Smart Ideas.

Posts from the ‘Technology’ category

If you averaged the world’s handwriting into a single typeface, what would it look like? BIC took on the challenge, combining hundreds of thousands of hand written letterforms from various demographics into a unified form. You can see the difference between different countries, ages, genders and professions, blended into one.  Via DesignBoom:
BIC-unified-typeface-designboom-01 BIC-unified-typeface-designboom-03 BIC-unified-typeface-designboom-05 BIC-unifies-the-worlds-handwriting-into-a-single-typeface-designboom-01

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The Burj Khalifa will simply be another tall building when these two towers are completed. The Phoenix Towers, to be built in the huge city of Wuhan, in central China, will rise a full kilometer into the sky. At 3,281 feet tall, this enormous undertaking plans to incorporate a huge number of green energy technologies, including wind, solar, thermal, biomass boilers and hydrogen fuel cells. At well over 200 floors and built on an island, the towers will be huge and garish, but also a hugely visible symbol of sustainable ingenuity and design, something lacking in modern China. Designed by UK Architecture firm Chetwoods. Via the architect:

Based on the traditional Chinese Phoenix – two birds, male Feng and female Huang; The plan was generated from Yin/Yang form to represent perfectly balanced union; Symbiotic – the Feng tower uses cutting edge technology to feed the Huang tower with renewable power.


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Watson's sauce

And with the twist of a cap, food may never be the same again.  IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, can cook. And really well, apparently. IBM gave the supercomputer a huge list of food ingredients, their flavor profiles, and the basic understanding of what makes humans like the taste of certain things, and not like others. Watson did the rest, combining flavors and ingredients it mathematically chose, and created some really interesting sauces and recipes. While somewhat scary, it’s also pretty darn exciting, and promises a lots of new flavor combinations for future dinner tables. Via FastCo Design:

How the machine’s AI cross references three databases of information:

  1. A recipe index containing tens of thousands of existing dishes that allows the system to infer basics like “what makes a quiche a quiche”
  2. Hedonic psychophysics, which is essentially a quantification of whether people like certain flavor compounds at the molecular level
  3. Chemoinformatics, which sort of marries these two other databases, as it connects molecular flavor compounds to actual foods they’re in

Via FastCo:

[IBM] sent a lucky few journalists a beautiful bottle of Bengali Butternut BBQ Sauce, a golden, algorithmic elixir born from the silicon mind of Watson himself.

When I unwrapped the brightly colored box and found the bottle inside, I immediately flipped to the back label. Most BBQ sauces start with ingredients like vinegar, tomatoes, or even water, but IBM’s stands out from the get go. Ingredient one: White wine. Ingredient two: Butternut squash.

The list contains more Eastern influences, such as rice vinegar, dates, cilantro, tamarind (a sour fruit you may know best from Pad Thai), cardamom (a floral seed integral to South Asian cuisine) and turmeric (the yellow powder that stained the skull-laden sets of True Detective) alongside American BBQ sauce mainstays molasses, garlic, and mustard.

I pour a bit of the bottle onto a plate of roasted tofu and broccoli–even a pork lover has gotta watch his cholesterol–and tentatively took a bite. Watson’s golden sauce may have the pulpy consistency of baby food, but it packs a surprising amount of unique flavor.

Immediately, you can taste the sweet warmth of the wine and the squash. The tamarind blends seamlessly, backed by a duo of vinegars, to tickle your tongue with just the right amount of tartness. The other flavors combine to leave an indefinable, warm aftertaste that, as you have a few more bites, actually heats your mouth–thanks to Thai chiles.

I test it again and again. Finally I just slather my plate in the stuff. It’s delicious–the best way I can describe it is as a Thai mustard sauce, or maybe the middle point between a BBQ sauce and a curry. Does that sound gross? I assure you that it isn’t.

Watson can cook!

An infographic about Watson and the future of food


How Watson categorizes flavors and ingredients


Watson’s creations being served out of the IBM Cognitive Cooking food truck

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The Watson food interface.


I.M. Cooling Tower, Belgium


Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop, Namibia

Kolmanskop was a small settlement in Namibia that saw a boom in the early 1900s when German settlers realized that the area was rich in diamonds. The surge of wealth gave out after WWI, however, when the diamond field began to deplete. By the 1950s, the town was completely deserted, and is now visited by photographers and tourists.

102-Year-Old Floating Forest in Sydney, Australia

This is the hull of the SS Ayrfield, a large steam ship condemned to dismantling in Homebush Bay, Australia after WWII. When the dismantling yard closed down, however, it and several other ships remained where they were. Now, it is a beautiful and haunting floating forest that serves as an example of nature’s capacity for survival.

The Maunsell Sea Forts, England

The Maunsell Sea Forts were erected near the Thames and Mersey rivers in Britain to help defend against potential German air or naval raids during WWII. After being decommissioned in 1950, they have been inhabited by various new tenants, including pirate radio operators and by the Principality of Sealand, which claims to be an independent sovereign state.

Last House on Holland Island, U.S.A

This house was part of what was once a fairly successful small island colony in Chesapeake Bay in the U.S. Rapid erosion of the island’s mud and silt coast, however, meant that there was less and less room to live on the island. This house was the last one left on Holland Island before it too collapsed in 2010.

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat was established on Feb. 4th, 1970 in Ukraine near the border of Belarus as a Soviet nuclear city. It was home to many of the workers who worked in the nearby Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which melted down disastrously in the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster. After being evacuated, Pripyat remains a radioactive ghost town that can only be visited through guided tours.

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 fernando barbella imagines signs from the near future

Let’s say you’re doing errands or traveling on a casual Tuesday, in the year 2028. Here are some road signs and other signage you might come across. From the mind of designer Fernando Barbarella, there is some very clever and creepy concepts at play. Via DesignBoom:

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

signs from the near future

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Getting a sense of perspective for our solar system is sometimes tricky. Planetary bodies and their satellites are in comprehensively huge, right? Well, maybe not with Mars, and it’s wee moons, Phobos and Deimos. Dinky by most measures, this cute and clever video infographic gives you a nice reference for their size and orbit. Well done. Via The Daily Beast:

Moons of Mars // Moss and Fog

Mars has two moons, Phobos and Deimos

Moons of Mars // Moss and Fog

Compared to our own moon, they are quite rinky dink, though still the size of Mt. Everest or so.

Moons of Mars // Moss and Fog

Their own gravity is weak enough that they don’t even form nice clean spheres.

Moons of Mars // Moss and Fog

Possibly formed from an asteroid belt

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If you ever want to freak out your neighbors, just hire architect Bernd Zimmerman, and let him take the reins. His project in Stuttgart literally clads a residential house with hundreds of funhouse mirrors. Meant to reflect the surroundings and make a statement, we think it’s fabulous, but wonder how blinded you’ll be when the sun hits it just right. Via UrDesign:

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Our friends at Grove have created a great line of wood products that protect your tech. Starting with bamboo phone cases, they’ve expanded to laptop cases, phone docks and the like. Now they launched a very cool laptop/tablet sleeve made from wood and wool. It’s a beauty.
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If you’ve ever been the Banff or the Jasper area, you know the jaw-dropping glacier views are pretty spectacular. The colors, the scale, the pristine and largely untouched beauty is second to none. But if you’ve ever asked yourself why there wasn’t an enormous glass skywalk jutting 90 feet out of the mountain, your prayers have been answered. The Glacier Skywalk, from Brewster Travel Canada is set to open this month, and it looks pretty great. Hope you’re not afraid of heights! Via DesignBoom:GSW_vertical_tallgkw glacier-skywalk-jasper-national-park-canada-designboom-02 glacier-skywalk-jasper-national-park-canada-designboom-03 glacier-skywalk-jasper-national-park-canada-designboom-04 glacier-skywalk-jasper-national-park-canada-designboom-05

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