TED- “ideas worth spreading”

Lately, I’ve been completely hooked on watching TED videos.  A good TED clip can give me everything I’m looking for when I have a few moments of free time… information, happiness, tears, confusion, awe, amazement, empathy, and more than anything, inspiration.

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TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, the three elements which were the founding premise for this small non-profit back in 1984.  Today TED brings together people from every industry and occupation imaginable, from all over the globe.  It is a platform for individuals to give their story, in 18 minutes or less, about anything, and the topics are all incredible: Biomimicry, water purification, creativity, slowing down in life, happiness, environment, homelessness, intelligence, inventions, ideas, ideas, ideas…. endless, profound ideas.  Not every presenter is poetic, not all presentations are inspiring, but each has something unique and fresh to offer the viewer.

Two of my all time favorite speakers are Jill Bolte Taylor “stroke of insight”, and Elizabeth Gilbert “on nurturing creativity”.  Another fascinating one I just watched tonight, Johnny Lee “demos Wii Remote hacks”.  Check them out, be prepared to open your mind.

 

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Elizabeth Gilbert speaking at TED

 

 

 

The Air Car

We’ve covered the new Prius hybrid and the Chevy Volt, electric bicycles, and C,mm,n, (a new kind of vehicle that could run on an electric grid system)… what’s next? 

The car that runs on AIR.


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Okay, so it looks kind of like a futuristic clown car. (Don’t worry, there are other models!) But this little pod on wheels could revolutionize transportation in a huge way.

The Air Car is a product of  Motor Development International (MDI), a project initiated and directed by CEO Guy Negre.  Negre and his team of  engineers produced their first compressed air engines back in 1996, and have been perfecting the design ever since. The essence of the Air Car is the motor:  a “mono-energy” engine which operates strictly on fresh, clean, compressed air stored at high pressure.  The air is compressed by a generator, and the generator can be run, not on gasoline, but on air, essentially making the fuel source for this vehicle an endless and renewable cycle.

Technically speaking, this is how it works:

“Air cars using this engine will have tanks that will probably hold about 3,200 cubic feet (90.6 kiloliters) of compressed air. The vehicle’s accelerator operates a valve on its tank that allows air to be released into a pipe and then into the engine, where the pressure of the air’s expansion will push against the pistons and turn the crankshaft. This will produce enough power for speeds of about 35 miles (56 kilometers) per hour. When the air car surpasses that speed, a motor will kick in to operate the in-car air compressor so it can compress more air on the fly and provide extra power to the engine. The air is also heated as it hits the engine, increasing its volume to allow the car to move faster.*”

The Air Car is set to be produced in the US by Zero Pollution Motors, and distributed sometime in late 2009/early 2010, according to Popular Mechanics.

Compressed Air Engine

Compressed Air Engine

Other Models

Other Models

Guy Negre in one of his Air Cars

Guy Negre in one of his Air Cars

*source:  “How the Air Car Works” by Christopher Lampton

Electric Bicycles

Saturdays at Wholefoods market are always an event.  Live music, free food, and even a back massage station are weekend staples.  Recently, there was a tent in the parking lot of our local Wholefoods set up to promote The Electric Bicycle Store, located in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  After test driving a few sleek, incredibly stylish electric bike models, I realized what all the hype is about.

Scott Balson, of The Electric Bike Store, on the A2B model

Scott Balson, of The Electric Bike Store, on the A2B model

Call it the lazy man’s bike, or call it an ingenious marriage between a motor scooter and a traditional bicycle… call it what you will, these hybrid two-wheel transports are fabulous!  The first one that caught my eye was the A2B Metro, by Ultra Motor.  This LEV (Light Electric Vehicle) is so chic it makes you want to buy new clothes just looking at it.  It rides like butter, goes up to 20mph, and is absolutely silent when in motor-mode.  Using it is simple, if you want a bicycle, you just peddle.  If you want a scooter, you rev the throttle just like on a motorbike, zooming on to your destination without a wake of smog or a drop of sweat.

Testing the fold-up model!

Testing the fold-up model!

Another favorite is the fold-up model, ECO Easy Rider 1800 Li 3 Mariner.  Big name, small ride.  It’s compact, zippy and utilizes a lithium battery for power (just like an Apple laptop!).  The great thing about these electric bicycles is that they don’t look goofy nor are they clunky, nay, they are modern, light and gorgeous.  If you don’t want something uber snazzy, there are handsome mountain bike and cute beach cruiser styles as well!  I know I’ll have to save up for a while to afford the price tag ($600 and up) on one of these sweet rides, but it’ll be worth it.

A2B Metro

A2B Metro

Mariner, fold-up model

Mariner, fold-up model

"Kyoto" electric mountain bike

"Kyoto" electric mountain bike

"Haley's Comet" electric cruiser

"Haley's Comet" electric cruiser

C,mm,n: open source mobility

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Can you imagine hopping in this wicked vehicle to commute to work, but instead of driving, you sit back and check your email, surf the net, then take a nap?  Yes, it’s the future, somewhere around 2020, and your car is driving YOU.

C,mm,n (pronounced common) is an open-source platform for the future of personal mobility.  A place where people with innovative concepts on how to get around can go to get and submit ideas.

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“Just like open source software, the product is ‘open to all.’ The c,mm,n car blueprint and the c,mm,n mobility concepts are freely available under an open source licence. This allows the whole world to take part in the development of truly sustainable mobility. Everyone is free to use and modify the design. The only condition is that any resulting derived designs are returned to the c,mm,nity as open source. We believe that the best results are achieved through cooperation.”

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Remember that futuristic Tom Cruise movie Minority Report?  The cars zipped along a kind of magnetized track and all the driver had to do was push a button and go.  Well, the C,mm,n idea is very similar.  But so much cooler!  The C,mm,n car would be electric, of course, and your dashboard would be something like a giant iPhone.

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The possibilities for future transportation are virtually limitless.  It just takes some good ol’ teamwork, creativity, and immense vision.  Okay, and technical engineering skills could help. There’s about 800 people involved in the “c,mm,nity” right now, want to join the endeavor?

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Electric Car by They Might Be Giants

This video reminded of why I will ALWAYS be a They Might Be Giants fan!  They Just released the making of video (below) yesterday.

Renovo Bicycles

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So after far too long, I have finally gotten back on the saddle and am loving every spandex filled minute!  Blue and I are still together, you don’t just give up on one another after a summer of 4,300 miles together.  But with my new discovery of Renovo Bikes, I’m inspired to upgrade.

After years of dedicated research and development, the Renovo company was finally started the summer of 2007 in Portland, OR.  Beautifully crafted from your choice of woods– ash, walnut, bamboo…- each species will lend itself to a different weight and tightness so that you can get the exact ride you are after.  As they refine their process the bikes are still mostly hand made.  The Wheelers (convenient owner name right?) don’t look internationally like their competitors  to begin crafting their bikes.  Nope, they start with a good sustainable basic: wood.  Building on their years of refinement they shape the bikes by hand and with the help of computer guided router.  Many people compare the ride to a carbon fiber bike but Renovo claims that the wooden frame is even better.  Unlike carbon fiber, the wood has even more give and durability.  Because the wood is the same density all the way through, if you scuff it the frame you can simply buff it back to new.

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Clearly they are beautiful, but for $2,500 dollars how does it ride?  This is what others have had to say:

“The smoothest bike you’ll ever ride, stealth quiet, light and responsive, stiff as you want. Renovo hollow wood and laminated bamboo frames will forever change your understanding of what a bicycle should be, and how these natural materials can perform when designed to their strengths.”

Sounds like it’s worth every penny.

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VOLT

You know… 230 mpg?  The all new face of Chevy, the Volt, has been on our radar here at Innovate for the past couple weeks, time to write.

The not-yet in production extended-range electric vehicle is declared to be the “first mass-produced vehicle to claim more than 100 mpg composite fuel economy”.  Ok, not bad, but does it look good?  Indeed.  Notwithstanding the practical four-door style, the Volt has a front end that would give many a sexy sports car a run for it’s gasoline.

The fact that “a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile” makes this car even more appealing.  Can you wait ’till the end of 2010 for it’s release?  I think I’ll need a new car by then…

For all the fascinating details, and more images, check out the Volt press release and chevrolet.com

image, GM

image, GM