This weekend, the North Hall of Manhattan's Jacob Javits Center was transformed into Engadget Expand, a showcase of some of the hottest emerging technology on the market (and not yet on the market) today. While most of the buzz at the event was focused on HD screens and LeVar Burton’s “You Are the Generation” speech, there were also plenty of green gadgets to check out. Inhabitat was on the showfloor, and saw some fascinating new electronics to help make the world greener including a giant robotic foot, an electric skateboard and an inventive aeroponics system. So come with us as we check out some of our favorite green technologies from Engadget Expand!
At first glance eatART’s (Energy Awareness Through Art) Prosthesis might not look like it has a single green idea behind it – but it’s actually a zero-emissions robot completely powered by hydraulics and electricity. As its name implies, the Vancouver-based group normally creates projects promoting energy awareness through art and its latest robot leg is no different. Although its already much taller that the average person, this is just a 2/3 scale prototype. The final robot will have four much bigger legs to stand 16-feet tall, 25 feet wide, and will weigh 7,500 pounds.
Despite its massive size, it’s an entirely zero-emissions machine that uses an electric battery to charge a hydraulic, on-demand pressurization system. The machine is designed to be an “Anti-Robot” – meaning there isn’t actually any software – only a person can make this machine move by strapping themselves into a mechanical control system. So yes, it’s basically a real-life Jaeger out of Pacific Rim – in action, it also resembles a very angry stomping robot. To help make the robot a reality, eatART is looking for $100,000 in funding through Indiegogo.
Smart Power Strip
Home automation is still a tricky thing, but Roger Yiu is trying to make it simpler by eliminating the need for smart devices and individual voltage devices with one simple Smart Power Strip. You can monitor and remotely control anything you plug into this power strip with the help of a smartphone app. From your phone you can switch on or off the power and even program the strip to shut off devices automatically once they’ve used up too much juice. Yiu has also launched a Kickstarter campaign, where he is offering the final version of his powerstrip for a discounted price of $99.
Zboard Electric Hoverboard
We’ve already seen electric cars, planes, bikes, boats, and trains but one major thing that’s been left out is skateboards. Luckily for you, ZBoard has stepped forward to rectify this situation, and they even have a board for Marty McFly impersonators. The Back to the Future-inspired Zboard Hoverboard is currently up for $1,500 preorders on Indiegogo as part of a charity to support the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation. Meanwhile, for a little less style you can also nab an $800 Hoverboard Classic. Both boards come equipped with a 400-watt electric motor that tops out at 18 miles per hour and a range of 20 miles.
Aeroponic systems are cropping up left and right as of late and GrowCubes might be the most mobile of systems. Instead a simple closed off planter box to grow food at home, Chris Beauvois and Christian “Joy” Holter designed GrowCubes to put vegetables on a rotating pinwheel of planting trays. Basically each tray has a set of holes to receive growing beds, which are lined with polypropylene, an extremely inert material that even pathogens or bugs can’t live in. However, plants take root in this plastic material especially well.
The GrowCubes themselves are also set up as a closed off aeroponic environment that uses no soil and 90-percent less water. A misting system spritzes the plants in the box, infusing their roots with the necessary moisture and nutrients. Each indoor farm system can be automated and remotely controlled using a network of sensors.
The pair of inventors has been working on the system for three years at a Brooklyn hackerspace called NYC Resistor as well as two other sites in the New York Area. At the beginning of next year GrowCubes hope to launch a crowd funding campaign next year.
3D Systems Sense
MakerBot may have been the first to put an affordable desktop 3D scanner into the world, but 3D Systems is out to claim the title of the world’s first affordable handheld 3D scanner, called the Sense. It’s just like a handheld scanner except that instead of just photocopying book pages, this $400 device can scan your face. The 3D printing company better known for making professional 3D printers created this handheld device by combining infrared sensors and regular video recording using technology that’s known as an RGBD camera.
The Sense has an IR blaster and receiver to map textures as well as depth to create a monochromatic 3D model. By adding in HD video recording, the device can also scan the color of the subject. 3D Systems’ accompanying software renders the scan into a watertight 3D model that you can send directly to the 3D printer or upload it on the Internet.
Ever since Arduino made its big splash in the microcontroller world, it seems like everyones been trying to get into the market with his or her own quirky DIY electronics board. BITalino, created by Hugo Silva, is perhaps the most unorthodox thing we’ve ever seen. For starters it’s meant to be broken down into tinnier bits.
Just about every piece splits apart into its own sensor including an accelerometer, heart-rate sensor, muscle activity sensor, and a sensor to measure sympathetic nervous system activity. The idea behind this health oriented technology is you can use BITalino to build yourself a much more affordable, self-made smart watch or electronic medical device, which are normally only provided by hospitals for up to $5,000, for just $200.
The NutriSurface is a smart, Internet connected food scale that can help you eat better. It might look like a simple chopping board, but the surface, created by Andy Tsai, is a wireless scale that tells you the exact nutritional value of a meal. So if you wanted to know how healthy your apple was, you would pull up the accompanying smartphone app (iOS and Andorid) to pick out the apple and then set your fruit on the scale. From there it would show you its exact weight, vitamins, and caloric value.
Although most foods come with nutrition labels, Tsai’s NutriSurface could provide people with a much more centralized tool and useful tool for those people that want to see exactly how unhealthy a pound of ground beef really is. Tsai plans on selling his Nutrisurface system on retail next March at $150 for the chopping board and $100 for the smaller coaster. He also has plans to launch an Indiegogo campaign for the product sometime before then.