In Pictures: This Week’s Most Futuristic Designs

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City of Dreams Hotel

Designed by architectural superstar Zaha Hadid, this tower is a hotel design planned as part of a major development in Macau, East Asia’s answer to Las Vegas. The webbed shape encompasses two towers connected by a roof section and two walkways, and is designed to be a statement building in a development for luxury gambling and boutique shopping.


Image courtesy of Melco Crown Entertainment.


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BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine

This is a helium-filled wind turbine that will be deployed over Alaska to provide electricity and Wi-Fi access to remote areas. Developed by MIT startup Altaeros Energies, the turbine will sit 1,000 feet in the air, meaning it will capture energy from far stronger air currents than ground-based turbines.


Image courtesy of Altaeros Energies.


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True Player Gear VR Headset

After Oculus VR was sold to Facebook this week, many gamers were despairing that their virtual reality dreams would be ruined by the social media behemoth. But never fear, a rival has appeared. After nine years of development the Canadian True Player Gear was announced, boasting high technical specs and strong engine support. Plus with that design anyone wearing it is probably going to look like a Cyberman.


Image courtesy of True Player Gear.


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Wind Turbine Loft

For some this will be the dream home, while for others it would be the ultimate nightmare. This is a design for a secluded loft built into a wind turbine, which could be used as a luxury getaway, as a place for turbine maintenance workers to stay, or as a unique town built into an offshore wind farm. With cities becoming increasingly crowded, we reckon some people would love to live here.


Image courtesy of Morphocode.


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Digital Paper System

Sony has previewed its answer to the Kindle before, but only now has it revealed the price – an eye-watering $1,000 (£660). Nevertheless, with PDF support, the ability to annotate and sync documents and the thickness of 30 sheets of paper, as well as built-in Wi-Fi and a 3 week battery, this does seem like the dream gadget for office work on-the-go. Sony are pitching this to businesses, so here’s hoping it becomes a must-buy for companies.


Image courtesy of Sony.


Forgot your phone charger? Don’t worry, the future’s got your back

Imagine that your mobile phone never ran out of battery, you didn’t have to think to charge it up and wherever you went it would always be topped up: that’s what the future will hold.

Wireless charging has been round for a while but has failed to fully break into the consumer market, but the number of inventions built around charging your phone with new technology being dreamed up by scientists and engineers is ever-increasing.

If they get their way and even half of the crazy charging inventions become a reality, then we’ll never have to plug our phones into the wall charger again.

In short, science is great, and here’s some of the most bizarre and brilliant ways you could be charging your phone in the future:

Beer-powered charging

If your phone dies on a night out when you’re in a bar then just pull out this device and use your beer, coffee or beverage of choice to re-charge your phone.

The Epiphany onE Puck claims to ensure your phone will never die again while being tiny, lightweight and portable. The device works with either hot or cold energy.

It managed to raise $132,000 when it was on Kickstarter, and Epiphany Labs, the company behind the device, says it will begin shipping this month.

Source: Kickstarter.


Charge while you walk

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Even something as simple as walking can be harnessed to create power that could one day re-charge the battery of an empty phone.

Researchers for the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a self-charging power cell that converts mechanical energy to chemical energy.

They say that anything that involves mechanical energy, including walking, could provide power when using the cell.

Source: Georgia Institute of Technology.


Image courtesy of: Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek.


Power up from thin air

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We can’t see it but there’s a lot floating around right in front of our eyes, and in recent years this has included an increasing amount of power from wireless signals.

Scientists from Duke University, US, have created a cheap way to harness the loose power. Their device converts microwave signals to direct current voltage that can recharge a phone or other small device.

The technology used to harvest the power could also be used to collect energy from other sources including satellite signals, Wi-Fi or sounds.

Source: Duke University.


Teeny tiny windmill power

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A minute windmill with the ability to fit on a grain of rice could provide power for electrical devices.

In fact the windmills are so small – only 1.8mm at their widest point – that up to ten of them could squeeze onto a single grain of rice.

Wind created by moving a phone with tiny devices on would generate the electricity that could be collected by the phone’s battery. You can see a video of a windmill in action here.

Source: University of Texas Arlington.


Power up with vibrations

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When you throw your phone down on the passenger seat of your car and drive off, the vibrations from the car automatically charge you phone.

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, have created a nanogenerator that can harvest and convert vibration energy.

These vibrations could be from any source, from a vehicle’s engine to an overly zealous washer/dryer.

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Rice-based phone batteries

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Rice husks could well become standard ingredients in batteries. While not being a way of directly recharging your phone, the husks could be used to power batteries.

The outer-shell of rice is made up of 20% silica, an oxygen and silicon combination.

The silicon could be used for high-capacity lithium batteries, giving products such as mobile phones and laptops a longer time between charges. The researchers behind the advances have apparently already received interest from battery makers.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.