This is Moss FM, the world’s first plant-powered radio and “the first working moss-powered object requiring more electricity than an LCD.” It was created by Swiss product designer Fabienne Felder in collaboration with Dr. Paolo Bombelli from the University of Cambridge. Powered by the process of photosynthesis, Moss FM is an example of biophilic design. “Biophilia is a hypothesis that there is an instinctive bond between plant life and human beings.”

According to Felder, “Moss FM makes use of an emerging biophilic technology called Biophotovoltaics. Electrons and protons produced by photosynthesising plants are harnessed and transformed into electrical current.”

Click here to watch the Moss Radio in action. At present the radio can run for a few minutes powered by a battery that is charged exclusively by moss.

You can learn more about Moss FM and Biophotovoltaics here on Tumblr at mosspower.

[via Design Taxi]

We often hear about the incredible variety of vending machines in japan that dispense everything from hot meals and new phones to clean undies, but this is the first time we’ve read about a giant vending machine specifically designed to replace an entire grocery store.

The village of Clifton, Derbyshire, England lost its local shop 14 years ago, which meant that when residents needed something as simple as a pint of milk, they had to drive over two miles simply to reach the nearest supermarket. Local electrical engineer Peter Fox invented this marvelous machine to replace his village’s long-absent convenient store.

The faux brick exterior and awning give the modern automatic shop a traditional feel. “The machine, which contains chiller compartments, stocks essentials such as bread, milk, eggs, toiletries, pet food – and umbrellas. Residents select their items, pay by cash or credit card and take the goods from the dispenser.”

Mr Fox thoughtfully designed the machine so that it can dispense a wide variety of products regardless of their respective weight or delicacy.

"It works by lifting a small basket up to each shelf before a mechanism pushes out the desired product.That way it only has a small distance to travel, preventing milk bottles from bursting or eggs from smashing."

The machine is also linked to a website which allows villagers to check stock availability before they even leave the house. 

Visit Dailymail.co.uk to learn more about this Peter Fox’s awesome automatic shop.

[via Foodbeast and Dailymail.co.uk]

While it’s true that a bunch of ants can ruin a picnic or turn a camping trip into a stinging nightmare, they’re also amazing. The New York Times posted this fascinating video from the Georgia Institute of Technology about researchers studying how groups of fire ants can flow together like a liquid or band together in a solid, rubbery mass. Both of these awesome behaviors may facilitate the development of self-assembling robots and self-healing materials.

For more information about astonishing ant physics, head over to the New York Times.

[via Laughing Squid]

Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.
Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.
"However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins."
[via Fashionably Geek and Gizmodo]

Forget Google Glass, Android Wear, Smartwatches or contact lenses that give you night vision. Instead let’s talk about the awesomeness that is this 17th century Chinese abacus ring. It’s wearable tech from the Qing Dynasty, perhaps the world’s oldest smart ring.

Measuring a mere 1.2 centimeter-long by 0.7 centimeter-wide, the miniature abacus is a fully functional counting tool, but it’s so tiny that using it requires an equally dainty tool, such as a pin, to manipulate the beads, which are each less than one millimeter long.

"However, this is no problem for this abacus’s primary user—the ancient Chinese lady, for she only needs to pick one from her many hairpins."

[via Fashionably Geek and Gizmodo]

Today we learned that the reindeer in Finland are magical creatures with luminous antlers. We’re still waiting on confirmation that they can also fly.

Okay, maybe not, but the truth is still pretty awesome. The Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association is testing a reflective spray on the antlers of 20 reindeer in hopes of preventing their caribou from being struck by motorists at night. Roughly 200,000 reindeer roam the wilds of Lapland. So far reflective tape and road signs have been ineffective in preventing the road deaths of thousands of the animals, so the herders are hoping this spray will be much more effective.

But first they have to see how the animals react to it and find out if it can withstand the harsh Arctic climate. Produced by Swedish company Albedo 100, it’s made of transparent glue and “reflective microspheres”.

"The goal is specifically to prevent road accidents, "Anne Ollila, the association’s executive director, told YLE, the country’s public broadcaster. “The spray is being tried on their fur, but it is maybe more effective on their antlers because the reflection can be seen in every direction.”

We hope it this radiant experiment is a success. Or, failing that, that the reindeer really do learn how to fly.

[via Chris Hauk, CKOM and Strombo]

Here’s an awesome high-tech sweet for geeky valentines. Liz and Kyle von Hasseln of The Sugar Lab (previously featured here) used their ChefJet™ 3D printer to create these beautiful long stemmed chocolate sugar roses for Valentine’s Day.

It took their machine about an hour to produce three 7-inch-long chocolate roses. Although the long slender stems are delicate, the roses are strong enough to be displayed in a vase. According to Liz and Kyle, the roses taste like a rich chocolate cookie. Yum!

[via Cubify]

While some artists are hard at work perfecting depictions of hyperrealism and photorealism, Austin, Texas-based artist Shawn Smith uses composite wood, ink and paint to painstakingly create an awesome series of modular sculptures that appear pixelated. Smith calls his animals and objects Re-Things.

"My work investigates the slippery intersection between the digital world and reality. Specifically, I am interested in how we experience nature through technology. When we see images of nature on TV or on a computer screen, we feel that we are seeing nature but we are really only seeing patterns of pixelated light."

Instead of using real animals as subjects, Smith bases his pixelated creations on digital images found online, creating three-dimensional representations of two-dimensional images.

"I build my "Re-things" pixel by pixel to understand how each pixel plays a crucial role in the identity of an object. Through the process of pixelation, color is distilled, some bits of information are lost, and the form is abstracted. Making the intangible tangible, I view my building process as an experiment in alchemy, using man-made composite and recycled materials to represent natural forms."

Click here to view more of Shawn Smith’s fascinating Re-Things.

[via Weezbo]

3D modeler Sean Charlesworth designed, printed and built this tentacular Octopod Underwater Salvage Vehicle as his thesis project for a Masters of Science in Digital Imaging and Design at NYU. Inspired by the Nautilus from Disney’s 1954 film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Sean’s awesome mechanical octopus-shaped vehicle is beautifully detailed. It features LED lights and an assortment of other working features such as a functional door, hoist, latches, and opening floor panel.

"…the model was designed in CINEMA 4D Studio and different materials, types and colours were assigned to each part. The digital models were printed at the New York University Advance Media Studio on an Objet Connex500 3D Printer. The Objet Connex500 is Objet’s pioneering multi-material 3D printer featuring a large build tray size of 500 x 400 x 200mm and can print from a range of 107 different materials, with up to 14 different materials in a single part."

Click here to learn more about the amazing Octopod and then visit Sean Charlesworth’s website to check out more of his 3D design and modeling work.

[via io9]

Designers Liz and Kyle von Hasseln of The Sugar Lab (previously featured here ) teamed up with artist Josh Harker (previously featured here) to create this stunning one-of-a-kind 3D-printed El Dia de los Muertos filigree sugar skull. Based on Harker’s Cráneo de La Calaca and created for Halloween 2013, this edible beauty is one of the loveliest sugar skulls we’ve ever seen.

[via Lost At E Minor and Cubify]

These beautiful geometric objects are 3D-printed sugar sculptures and they’re some of the prettiest pieces of candy we’ve ever seen. They were made by 3D Systems and The Sugar Lab. The latter is a micro-design firm created by Liz and Kyle von Hasseln, a husband and wife team dedicated to the awesome craft of creating bespoke, 3D-printed edible confections.

‘The overlap of technology, food and art is so rich, and the potential for customization and innovation is limitless,’ said Liz von Hasseln, cofounder of The Sugar Lab. Existing commercial applications for printable sugar include complex sculptural cakes for weddings and special events that are made possible only with 3D printing, and customizable confections for bake shops and restaurants. continued von Hasseln, ‘We see our technology quickly evolving into a variety of flavors and foods, powered by real food printers for professionals and consumers alike and we could not think of a more qualified partner than 3D systems to help make that a reality.’

3D Systems and The Sugar Lab introduced two food printing appliances at CES 2014, the ChefJet and the ChefJet Pro:

The ChefJet will deliver single-color prints; while the more advanced ChefJet Pro will dispatch full color prints. Both can produce either sugar or milk chocolate confections, in different flavors that include cherry, mint and sour apple, and will be available to the market later this year.

Click here to watch a demo of the ChefJet™ at CES 2014

[via designboom]