Anti-Surveillance Clothing

The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

Read more: Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

Human Powered 3D Printer

human-powered-3d-printer

The Trophy is a 3D Print Machine, consisting of an Ultimaker 3D printer and a stationary bicycle to power it. Pierre-Clement Niviere designed it to make people aware of the high energy consumption of printing a 3D-object, criticising a technology that’s usually presented as an environmentally friendly way of production. The set-up also involves the maker in the creation process, raising questions about how 3D printing is changing making.

See it in action. Previously: Mechanical 3D-printer. Thanks to Pim Rooymans.

Pigeon Towers: A Low-tech Alternative to Synthetic Fertilizers

pigeon-towers-iranPhoto credit: Bekleyen, A. (2009). The dovecotes of Diyarbakır: the surviving examples of a fading tradition. The Journal of Architecture, 14(4), 451-464..

Many societies, ancient and contemporary, have innovated ways of supplying their fields with fixed nitrogen and phosphorus—two crucial ingredients for crop productivity. One is crop rotation, which alternates nitrogen-fixing and nitrogen-exhausting crops. Farmers around the world make use of chickens, ducks, and geese to add “fresh” guano to their fields. Cattle manure is another useful alternative—although it often lacks in phosphorus. Much more labor intensive than simply adding fossil-fuel derived synthetic fertilizer, these practices tend to build up soil, limit greenhouse gas emissions, and lead to less run-off into rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Persian pigeon towers are one of the more elegant solutions to the nitrogen-phosphorus problem. These are essentially castles built for thousands of wild pigeons, strategically placed in the middle of the fields. Their droppings were shoveled up once a year and sold to nearby farmers. While most pigeon towers existing today are in disrepair, the oldest still standing are dated to the 16th century (but they are assumed to have existed over 1,000 years ago) and helped fuel the cultivation of Persia’s legendary orchards, melons, and wheat production.[1] [Read more…]

Wind Power System Made from Plastic Buckets

A wind power system made from plastic buckets is seen on boats at a floating village in Hanoi, Vietnam June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

A wind power system made from plastic buckets is seen on boats at a floating village in Hanoi, Vietnam June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kham

“Vietnamese families living in slums along the Red River in Hanoi are using red plastic buckets and old printers to help light homes, cook meals and slash electricity costs by as much as a third.

The recycled goods form the blades and motors of electrical generators that power old motorcycle batteries to illuminate lamps with a brightness equivalent to a 45-Watt light bulb.

Though the output generated is small, it makes a significant difference for families previously denied power because they lived too far from a power station or had to ration supply because of the expense.”

More pictures and information at Reuters: Plastic buckets, broken printers shine light on Hanoi’s poor. Via Playground Magazine.

See all our low-tech windmill posts.

Lamella Roofs

lamella roof

A lamella roof, also known as the “Zollinger roof” (after Friedrich Zollinger), is a vaulted roof made up of simple, single prefabricated standard segments (mostly in timber) as a way to span large spaces. The individual pieces are joined together with bolts and/or plates to form a rhomboid pattern. Wooden sheathing covers the structure on the outside. The lamella roof was patented in 1910 and became popular between the World Wars, especially in Germany when metal for construction was in short supply. Some of these structures are now almost 100 years old and many of them remain in very good condition.

Read more: Lamella Roof, Open Source Ecology.

Battery Powered Rail Vehicle Claims New Efficiency Record

battery powered rail vehicle

Students from Dalarna University, Sweden, have won a competition for creating efficient rail-based transport, claiming a world record in the process. Team Eximus 1 was competing in Delsbo Electric, where teams must design and build a battery-operated railway vehicle that uses as little energy as possible. Delsbo Electric is open to college and university students. It was inspired by the Shell Eco-marathon, with the concept translated for rail-based rather than road-based travel.

Vehicles must carry between one and six passengers weighing a minimum average of 50 kg (110 lb) each. Vehicle efficiency is measured on a per person basis, meaning vehicles carrying six passengers are not at a disadvantage. The Eximus 1 carries five passengers. The vehicle is estimated to weigh about 100 kg (220 lb) and to measure about 5,500-mm (217-in) long by 1,500-mm (59-in) wide. It was powered by four 12 V, 45 Wh batteries linked together in parallel and a 500 W motor.

The team’s final efficiency score was 0.84 Wh/person-km (watt-hours for every kilometer traveled by each passenger). Delsbo Electric claims that is a new world record. “We have done research and not found any information about somebody or something traveling as efficient rail-based in the world. In fact, it seems like Eximus 1 achieved a lower energy consumption per person than the current Shell Eco Marathon record.”

See & read more at Gizmag: Silver machine rolls down the track to new efficiency record. Vehicles from other participants can be found here. Thanks to Frank Van Gieson.

Related:

Zero Electricity Air Cooler

Eco-Cooler airco without electricity

Over 70% of Bangladesh’s population live in corrugated tin huts across the countryside. During the long summer months, temperatures reach up to 45° Celsius, making these huts unbearable to live in.

To address the issue, Grey Dhaka teamed up with volunteers from Grameen Intel Social Business Ltd to create the Eco-Cooler – a zero electricity air cooler, which uses re-purposed plastic bottles cut in half and put into a grid, in accordance to available window sizes.

Based on wind direction and airflow pressure, the Eco-Cooler has succeeded in decreasing the temperature in tin huts by up to 5° Celsius. After initial tests, blueprints of the Eco-Cooler were put up online for everyone to download for free.

Thanks to Adriana Parra.

Smart Technology is a Solution Looking for a Problem

iabR Hans tak

Picture by Hans Tak, International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2016

Technologies like driverless cars and smart heating systems could end up making cities dysfunctional according to Maarten Hajer, chief curator of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2016. Speaking at an opening event for the biennale, Hajer called for architects and designers to stop treating the advent of smart technologies as inevitable, and to question whether they will solve any problems at all.

“People with lots of media force pretend to know exactly what the future will look like, as if there is no choice,” he said. “I’m of course thinking about self-driving vehicles inevitably coming our way.” Discussions about the future of cities are at risk of being “mesmerised” by technology, he added. “We think about big data coming towards us, 3D printing demoting us, or the implication of robots in the sphere of health, as if they are inevitabilities. My call is for us to think about what we want from those technological advances.”

“I have nothing against good technology, it’s wonderful, but you always want social problems to be the priority. If it doesn’t help us get CO2 down, if it doesn’t help us make cities more socially inclusive, if it doesn’t help us make meaningful work, I’m not interested in smart technology. Sometimes I think: “if smart technology is the solution, then what was the problem again?”

Read the full interview at Dezeen. Thanks to Anne-Marie Pronk.

Electrically Powered Bicycle Trailer & Hand Cart (DIY)

electric powered bike trailer

The German-made Carla Cargo is a three-wheeled cycle trailer with an electric assist motor. It can be pulled by any type of bicycle (including a cargo cycle or an electric bike), and it allows you to carry heavy (up to 150 kg) and bulky cargo (a loading platform of 60 x 160 cm). Uncoupled from the bicycle, the Carla Cargo works as a hand cart for large or heavy loads. The vehicle weighs 40 kg including the battery, and has a range of 40 to 60 km.

carla cargo bike trailerThe electric motor is built into the front wheel and can produce 250 watts as a trailer (up to 23 km/h), and 500 watts as a handtruck (up to 6 km/h). The lithium-ion battery has a capacity of 11 or 15 Ah. The vehicle has two disk brakes and a parking brake, which are controlled via the handle or the bicycle handlebar.

The Carlo Cargo sells for about 4,000 euro. The construction manual is freely accessible online, but only in German for now. The trailer/handcart is present at the International Cargo Bike Festival, April 16-17, in Nijmegem, the Netherlands.

Previously: 8-wheeler cargo cycle.

Capturing Indigenous Knowledge

Kwakiutl-Boat

A Kwakwaka’wakw canoe in 1910. Picture by Edward S. Curtis.

Engineering4Change highlights a video series about indigenous knowledge. From their article:

Thirteen video interviews in a YouTube playlist and a research paper expound the value of indigenous knowledge, the knowledge gleaned from the world throughout millennia that is not formally enshrined in academia. Ignoring indigenous knowledge can cripple engineering projects, and learning from it can enhance them, says Khanjan Mehta, Director of Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship Program.

Carolyn Sachs tells a story of women tending maize fields in Swaziland who ignored the advice from visiting agricultural scientists. The consultants said the farmers should weed their fields, but what looked like weeds to the visitors were actually dietary staples and a source of Vitamin A that the visitors did not recognize.

Bruce Martin explains how Ojibwe fishermen in northern Minnesota read the water to predict the location of the catch and the day’s weather forecast, sometimes better than fish-finding sonar and the local weather channel.

In another video, Audrey Maretzki tells the story of a woman in a nutri-business cooperative in Kenya who described the nutritional values of two grains. Boys raised on maize are fat and boys raised on finger millet are wiry and will beat the maize-fed boys in a fight, the woman said.

“That hit me like an ‘aha’ moment, because I knew that wimby [finger millet] was a more nutritious grain than corn. And to have her tell that in her own way was a recognition on my part that in fact there was a lot of knowledge there that we needed to figure out ways to capture,” Maretzki says in her interview.