Green Design: Corky
Corky is a cute mouse that remedies one of the annoying problems with wireless mouses (and technically it is mouses, as grating as that sounds): throwing away batteries. Corky gathers kinetic energy from the movement of your hand and translates that movement into electrical power to run. One of 18 finalists in this year’s Green Design competition, Corky is ready for action on the concept front. Elements within the mouse’s shell capture energy when it rolls around and then a piezoelectric element stores the power for the mouse to use. The more you scroll, the more juice Corky gets.
Green Design: InCharge
The people over at the design firm Pensa must really hate sorting rechargeable batteries. That’s because they’ve come up with a cool design gadget that sorts and charges all sizes of batteries with a flick of the wrist. A self-sorting design unit called InCharge sends power only to batteries that still need charging, and when all the batteries tossed into the unit are charged, the smart plug just shuts down all power to the device. Presto change-o and no heavy lifting involved.
Green Design: Go Mechanical Charger
Mechanical chargers that are operated by hand have been around for a while, but this one by Indian-startup design firm Elephant brings some new green features to the table. You can charge the phone’s battery with one hand while you’re talking and holding the device with the other, which is super-handy when your cell is about to go kaput in the middle of an important conversation. The charger is low cost and light both on materials and your hands, which is helpful. And, of course, since you charge the battery by cranking a wheel, no electricity is needed. Look, ma, no fossil fuels!
Green Design: Gentoo Concept Car
It’s an egg, it’s a car, wait: it’s Gentoo! This little oval-shaped vehicle (partially inspired by penguins) rolled out of the design studio this spring and straight into our hearts. With only two wheels, the Gentoo uses a balancing mechanism to stay upright, but it looks like it could duck and weave through freeways easily. The car is all electric with a lithium battery.
Green Design: Green Bottles
Now that milk cartons have gotten an update, it’s only fair that soda bottles also receive their own green makeover—by making bottles that are square and produced from sugar cane byproducts. The creator says that while plastic bottles are completely recyclable, only about 50% of them actually end up recycled, so making the bottles out of greener materials is necessary to keep them out of landfills.
Also, the redesigned cap is smaller and uses less plastic. When crushed, these bottles shrink to a third their normal size, so popping one in your pocket to carry isn’t a problem. And they’d make great blocks for stacking.
Green Design: Multitap Lighting
Green design can be about more than just energy savings–it can also gently nudge people to change their daily habits. That’s the case with this Multitap Lighting concept. The lights suck up extra energy from unused gadgets plugged into different outlets and put it into pretty ambient touch lighting on your wall. The end result is an instant reminder to unplug that cell phone charger.
Green Design: Green Noise
Airports, and especially runways, are super-noisy and annoying to neighbors. Now, a design firm has created a concept gadget to at least make something from the roar. Called green noise, the idea is to trap sound energy and convert it into electrical energy to power runway lights. It features a conical speaker-form to endure the elements and the modular structure stands on a tripod base for easy maintenance. This is a concept that could easily be integrated into existing infrastructure–and it looks cute besides.
Green Design: Window Fridge
Listen up, world. We’ve got electric cars, human organs grown on the backs of lab animals, and cats playing piano. Can we at least get some windows into the fridge? This concept features a glass design that can be either transparent or opaque, depending on the amount of electricity flowing through the door. The inner part circles around like, oh yes, a vending machine, so you can see all the options before opening the door and letting the precious cool air out. When you spot the exact thing you want, you can open a smaller compartment, keeping the rest of the fridge cool. Brilliant.
Green Design: Artificial Leaf
Last year’s roundup of design contests featured a gizmo that pulled humidity out of the air and turned it into drinkable water. This year, designers are working on a similar concept for plants. But wait, you might ask, don’t plants do this anyway without our help? They certainly do, but sometimes they don’t get enough water this way. Your elegant orchids need a lot of tender loving care and the Dew Drop might be just the thing to deliver water straight to the plant.
Green Design: Fiskars Lawnmower
Whoa! Gas-powered mowers crank out 5% of all U.S. air pollution, which represents a nasty habit we need to kick. You can start with this nifty concept from Fiskars that just came on the market. A big cutting reel plus heavy blades make a fly wheel-esque contraption that stores energy for any big pushes you might have to make. Plus, the blades are adjustable from one to four inches.
Green Design: Automan Subwoofer
Here’s an idea that combines space-saving planning with green design: an ottoman that’s also a subwoofer made entirely out of used tire products. Now you can bump to your favorite tunes while reclining and putting your feet up on the speaker (I would wonder how the ottoman’s placement affects the sound). The cushions are constructed by local artists with local materials. This very cool project was inspired by a massive tire fire in Ontario back in 1989, when 14 million tires burned for 17 days. That smell must have been atrocious.
Green Design: Illumicharger
Recycling light energy? Saving energy doesn’t get any easier than this gadget, which soaks up ambient light from light bulbs or the sun and turns it into juice for any USB-enabled device. I’ve long wondered why there isn’t some kind of solar-panel flooring that could absorb energy from the ceiling lights and cycle it through, sort of like those fountains that constantly recirculate water. Maybe the Illumicharger will lead the way to an ambient-solar future. In any case, the conceptual gizmo features a shell made from recycled and corn-based plastic and waste-free packaging.
Green Design: Empower Chair
The Empower lets you turn rocking energy into a charge for your laptop, cell phone, or other device at the airport. You know how people rush around outlets and challenge each other in tiny fiefdoms at the boarding gates? This concept would fix all that because everyone could charge–but they’d have to rock for it. The chairs, which are easily moved or altered into bench seating, turn kinetic energy into electricity for your gadgets.
Green Design: Froot Biodegradable Computer
Dell has jumped on the green concept design bandwagon with a sustainability contest and one of the results was this cool design called Froot. The device uses a projected keyboard rather than a physical one and has a built-in pico projector to view your desktop screen on the wall. The concept might be made from a starch-based polymer for biodegradability and is shown in bright fruit-like colors.
Green Design: Green Phone
The energy used to produce a cell phone is three times more than the energy used during the phone’s typical lifetime of two years. Clearly, this is unsustainable as there are five billion cell phones in use worldwide. That represents a lot of energy and nasty materials to clean up and why concepts like this green phone from Nokia will become even more important in the future. The designer says this phone will last five years, plus it’s 85% recyclable when it’s done.
Green Design: EcoNav
The EcoNav is the first navigation device to bring environmental awareness into the navigation system. The gadget displays information about how to save fuel and real-time carbon dioxide emissions. It can calculate data for 6,000 car models, according to the makers. You might just learn that it’s way more efficient to drive at 55 mph than 75 mph– something that my father has practiced for years and has led to far too many grumpy passengers. It’s good to see eco-awareness integrated into GPS systems and this is certainly something that will be featured more in the future.
Green Design: Niteo
The Niteo is both a lamp and a charging station for other gadgets. Powered by chemical energy, it is also available in a bio-convertible substrate. The designers don’t fully explain what this means but it probably translates into some sort of goo that gets broken down to power the machines off-grid. A device like this would be particularly useful in India or other places where nighttime tends to be dark and mobile phones are ubiquitous.
Green Design: Rocco
This year, design contests are all about rocking and Rocco is no exception. The plastic pal for kids turns kinetic energy from rocking into pretty lights for Rocco. The internal battery is charged through inductive coupling, while the transfer of current flow from one wire induces voltage through another wire. The handles on Rocco, made from recycled plastic, glow brighter as they charge. The handles themselves can be removed and used as a light source.
Green Design: Wind Up Socket
The concept for the Wind Up Socket is easy to grasp–it’s just like an egg timer in the kitchen or a turnable heater in the bathroom. Just set the amount of time you want the electricity to run through the plug and presto, you have instant energy-usage awareness. Game on the Xbox for 20 minutes? No problem. One hour of TV and then bedtime? Instant discipline. My only concern is that it’s pretty bad for devices to have the plug pulled when they’re still running.
Green Design: Green Ring
Green Ring is one of those gadgets that carries a deeper message about how it’s time to start paying attention to air quality and deforestation. It’s a tree stump-inspired wall hanging that breathes your indoor air and tells you when things are getting dirty. Made from recycled plastic with waterborne paint, long-lasting LED lights, an indoor air pollution sensor, and a kinetic energy pull-string mechanism shaped like a tiny tree branch, Green Ring has all the eco-cred you’ll need to impress those cool kids from the co-op. When it starts to run out of juice, just pull on the branch until its lights power up again. Green is the new black, after all.