Author: Marco van Beers

Algae Photograph
Guided Growth

Living Portraits

Paris based artist and researcher Lia Giraud has created this green portrait. Nothing special you might think, until you realize it is alive: the green goo consist of microscopic algae.

The creation process is as follows: first algae are placed in a petri dish full of chemical nutrients. The algae are then exposed to an image and they will react to the light and form solids of different densities, forming an image. The procedure is very similar to a classic photo development, although this technique takes over four days to give life to the portrait.

When you don’t like your picture, you can just put it in the sun and it will turn into a beautiful even shade of green.

Via DesignBoom


Touching your Unborn Child

Forget passing around those black and white low definition ultrasounds of your unborn baby at dinner parties. You can now pass around a physical model of your child.

Imagine the excitement of holding your baby in your hands before he or she is born! Thanks to 3D Babies and a mere $600,-  you can now experience that excitement. Or disgust, depending on the fact if you like 3D printed unborn children. Perhaps the next step will be ordering an animatronic baby which moves like your unborn child, in real time?

Via FastCoDesign


Bionic Eye: Limited Vision to the Blind

On Valentine’s day, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first treatment that can restore (limited) eyesight to (some) blind people. This means that the first “bionic eye” will come to the American market next year! This milestone device allows users to see “crosswalks on the street, the presence of people or cars, and sometimes even large numbers or letters.

The treatment involves sheets of electrodes implanted behind the eye, glasses with an attached camera and a video processer. With this system, the device bypasses the damaged retina and transmits images directly to the brain. According to the company which produces the implants, they could also be beneficial for elderly people with bad eyesight.

For the rest of us, we’ll just wait for implants that improve our “normal” vision.

Via IEEE Spectrum


A Robot to Make Rats Depressed

The robot in the picture above chases and attacks the living rat rights besides it. The W-3, as the robot is named, is designed to make rats seriously depressed. In fact, this robot is one of the best methods to induce depression in lab rats.

Making a rat depressed might seem strange or even unethical, but researchers have already done it for years. After all, you can’t develop antidepressants without having depressed rats to test them on. Current methods to make rats depressed, like making them swim for hours or giving them electric shocks, do not quite mimic the day-to-day situations humans go through. Therefore, the researchers at Tokyo’s Waseda University developed a robot that more precisely mimics the social stressors that can trigger depression in humans.

I wonder how a depression-inducing robot for humans might look.

Story via Spectrum IEEE.


Bionic man

It’s not really a man, and it’s not really a robot. Nor is it a cyborg, although this might be the most accurate description. This $1 million dollar bionic something is a showcase of what we are currently capable of installing in human beings along with a look at the future of augmented biology.

Read more


The Future of Solar Power? Snail Teeth!

Gumboot chiton is a marine snail with an appetite for algae growing on rocks. Grazing on rocks would destroy the teeth of others, but not the gumboot chiton. This snail produces the hardest biomineral yet discovered to deal with its punishing eating habits.

This mineral, called magnetite, has inspired a new type of solar cell and a new type of lithium battery. By understanding how the snail produces this mineral, researchers could develop similar ways to make nano-materials at room temperature. This will allow researchers to develop low-cost, high-efficiency microscopic structures.

Dr. Kisailus, of Riverside’s Bourne College of Engineering in California, believes that understanding the gumboot chiton will lead to solar cells that can capture and convert more sunlight into electricity, as well to more efficient batteries. “If we can reduce the size of particles in batteries, which at present, are massive on a nano-scale, this will reduce their recharge time and increase their power efficiency”.

Via Elements Science

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Living lamps like Latro Algea Lamp by Mike Thompson are nothing new. But design studio MADLAB has created Bacterioptica, a lamp that contains organisms and bacteria from the family that owns it. The statement reads:

“It is alive in a very literal sense: it cultivates, distributes and illuminates the bacterial life of its family members by way of a branching assembly of metal rods, glass petri dishes and fiber optics.

“Bacterioptica is adaptive by design, not only in its form and mechanics, but more importantly, in the way it evolves. Step- by-step instructions guide the family through procedures to experiment with and prepare each bacterial sample for its place in the chandelier. Whether featuring bacteria from the skin, the yard or the dinner guests, Bacterioptica is continually changing in shape and luminosity.”

With this lamp your family can literally light up your life.

Via DesignTaxi


Forget Me Knot

We all know BioJewellery; two wedding rings grown from bone tissue collected from two lovers. This intimate ring allows you to physically wear your partner around your finger.

Although these rings are very intimate and symbolic they are made of a material (bone) which is quite abstract. Bone is hopefully not something you usually touch and see from your partner.

Sruli Recht, an Icelandic fashion designer, has solved this problem. He created a ring with a slice of his own skin. A piece of rectangular skin is surgically removed from his belly. The skin is then tanned, salted and mounted on a 24 carat gold ring. Sruli also made a short documentary about this process, but beware this contains graphic scenes of the operation.

Although it might give you slight rushes of anthropomorphobia, with this ring you wear a piece of your partner which actually feels like him or her.



Edible Deodorant Candy

Remember Lucy McRay’s swallowable perfume? Well, now you can buy it.

Annu Alpi has developed a piece of deodorant candy which presumable makes women smell like roses for up to six hours. No more suffocating fumes. No more forgetting your deodorant in the morning. Just enjoy a piece of rose candy.

The best of it all; it also comes in a sugar free variant.

Via Incredible Things

Guided Growth

Bio-engineered Football

With the knowledge that footballs were once made of pig’s bladder and that in 2006 the first artificial bladder was transplanted into a patient, artist John O’Shea designed the first bio-engineered football made of lab grown pig’s bladder.

He harvested animal cells from abattoir waste, used rapid prototyping and very precise tissue engineering to create a modern version of the medieval football.

O’Shea hopes his ‘super-football,’ will encourage audiences to consider the importance science plays in our daily lives. Pig’s Bladder Football will be presented at the Abandon Normal Devices festival between 30 August – 7 September.

Via DesignWeek


Leaf Thermometer

Designer Hideyuki Kumagai must have been inspired by the seasonal colors of nature when he designed this thermometer.

Stick the leaves to your window, or make a bush at your office garden, and they will tell you how hot it is by changing color. If it is nice and warm (20-25 degrees) the leaves stay fresh green. When it becomes cooler they slowly turn brown. And if they turn yellow, then you know it is time to cool down.

Via JapanTrendShop.

Intimate Technology

End of Life Care Machine

Designer, artist and engineer Dan Chen has developed the ‘End of Life Care Machine‘, a machine designed to guide and comfort dying patients with a carefully scripted message. Chen, just graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, built the machine as one of a series of functional robots capable of reenacting human social behaviors.

The patient enters the specially designed room and lays on the bed. The doctor asks for permission to put the patient’s arm underneath the caressing mechanism.

“The device is activated, and an LED screen reads “Detecting end of life.” At this point, the doctor exits the room, leaving the patient alone by him or herself. Within moments the LED reads “End of life detected”, the robotic arm begins its caressing action, moving back and forth, stimulating the sense of comfort during the dying process.”

The machine then plays the scripted message:

Read more


Twitter Implant becomes a Reality

You all probably know the ‘Twitter implant‘ from the Nano Supermarket. Scientist at the University of Princeton now created the first working prototype.

The implant is actually a sensor which could be tattooed on a tooth. The tattoo could diagnose an infection and transmit that information to a medic. This would be useful for military personnel to determine wether or not a wound becomes infectious.

Although the tattoo does not exactly twitter your coffee intake, it is a big step in monitoring over distance. I wonder which Nano Supermarket product would be next to become reality?

Via Gizmodo


Cellphone Masts Disguised as Trees are Outdated

There is a new version of the well-known cellphone masts disguised as trees. Instead of adding fake nature to these masts, ChamTech Operations wants to put a layer of invisible technology onto nature, therefore keeping it “authentic”.

The small company developed a special nano particle mix spray which turns trees into high-powered antennas, a nice addition to the ‘Streetlight Trees‘.  The spray also works for enhancing the strength of current antennas. There will be no more failed calls with your iPhone 4 and no more annoyance over missing an important message due to poor signal strength. There could even be high bandwidth connections with cars, with the mix integrated in the white lines of the highway.

This pushes our ‘connectedness’ a whole lot further. Even when we decide to flee from social pressure to the forest (or any other remote place), we are still connected. Instead of being limited by technology, we are now limited by our conscience and our perseverance.


Hermit crab in his new house

Hermit Crabs Can Live Like Kings Again

As global houses shortages are on the rise, hermit crabs are impacted too. Hermit crabs do not make their own homes, but must scavenge for shells. The shell supply is decreasing and therefore they often end up using glass bottles or empty shotgun shells. This housing is not up to modern standards, let alone health and safety regulations. Project Shellter wants to save these beatniks and provide them with quality housing so they can live like kings again.

A collaborating between Makerbot and TeamTeamUsa is using 3D printers to produce new biodegradable shells. They are tested in the ‘crabitat’ to see whether or not the crabs adapt to their new housing. All shell designs are crowd sourced, so if you have some 3D modeling skills and a good idea, you can contribute by uploading your own design.

Via Crisp Green and Project Shellter


The future of Assisted Living

Arjen Born, a Dutch Photographer, envisions the future of assisted living through hilarious and moving photographs.

Photography often reside in the realm of the nostalgic past, but Arjen dares to look forward. He does not question if robots will assist us in our daily life, he questions how robots will do this.



Traditional Thanksgiving Meat

Greenridge Farm offers this pork molded in the shape of a piglet. But if you are more the traditional type of person, Greenrdige Farms also offer Turkey-breasts in the shape of an actual turkey. Perfect for a traditional Thanksgiving!

Will this pseudo-pig actually taste better in the shape of a piglet? Or does the shape reminds us too much of Babe, and becomes cruel to roast? At least it is a good marketing trick to distract you from what the piglet is actually made of.

Via Consumerist


Social Microbial life

MyMicrobes, interestingly dubbed “Fecesbook” by ABC News, is the new social network for your gastrointestinal bacteria. For only $2,100 and a bit of poo you can become a member of this ingenious network which connects you to like minded people through your own gut bacteria.

Peer Bork, a biochemist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, created this network after receiving 50 to 100 emails from people having troubles with their stomach or having diarrhea. It might look strange to connect people based on their microbiomes, but researchers think it will help people with similar digestive profiles to share and gather information about their digestive health. In the meanwhile they hope to gather data which could help to guide treatments for various diseases.

Imagine telling your children you met your wife because you both had the same bowel problems.

Via ABC News and PopSci

Intimate Technology

Sin free for just €1.59

For just £1.19 ($1.99, €1,59) you can download an app for your iPhone which offers tips and guidelines with the sacrament, “the perfect aid for every penitent” as the description reads. This, on itself, is not so special. There are dozen of apps which help you to confess, though this is the first which is officially approved by the Catholic Church.

The app allows users to keep track of their sins, and guides them through the sacrament (where Catholics admit their wrongdoing through).  The app is launched shortly after Pope Benedict XVI gave the advice to embrace digital communication. Although he adds: “It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”

Hopefully there will be a ‘Pocket Pope’ app in the near future.

Via BBC News, iTunes