May 23, 2013
Summer 2013 may just turn out to be the summer of the bike.
The biking revolution has been gathering steam. In 2010, 3 times as many new bicycles (15 million) as new cars were sold in the US. Bicycling is now the second most popular outdoor activity, and between 1990 and 2009, the number of bike commuters rose by 64%. That number may be about to get another giant boost.
Next week, New York rolls out CitiBike, its long-anticipated bike sharing/rental program, designed to encourage the use of bikes for short trips instead of a taxi or bus. It will launch with 6,000 bikes and 330 docking stations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Membership isn't free – about $95 for a year – but the program has already registered over 10,000 members (more than 5,000 in the first 30 hours).
Boston and Washington already have bike sharing programs in place – in DC they’re breaking records, now up to 10,000 trips a day – and Chicago is next, starting in June!
The energy around bikes isn’t just about getting more people to ride regularly. There’s been an explosion of innovation around the bike itself. E-hybrids, like Currie’s E-Zip Trailz (the most popular model at Walmart) are a new breed of cycle that combine standard human-powered pedals with a supplemental electric engine to help riders breeze up hills or go long distances.
And on the leading-edge, there’s the new Mando Footloose, a sleek, design-forward foldable hybrid that completely does away with the bike chain. Instead, the pedal crank turns an alternator that generates power. Even without pedaling, riders can go 30 km on a full charge (that’s 18 miles on these shores, but currently the Footloose is only available in Asia and Europe).
Let’s not forget about the rider. Creative minds have also been developing fresh new bike accessories, like the Carrera Foldable Helmet. This stylish piece of safety gear is made up of adjustable strips, allowing it to extend to fit even the biggest of heads and to accordion away to neatly fit in a bag or backpack as well.
May 21, 2013
With the announcement of the latest Xbox just a few hours ago, Microsoft has moved the brand closer than ever toward providing a total entertainment system. Games are still a big part of the equation, but Xbox 1's real innovations are in its media center capabilities. Skype calling is now an integrated feature, and a strong emphasis has been placed on the ability to download apps and control a television through voice commands. We're particularly excited to see the growing influence of Kinect technology, originally introduced as an aftermarket peripheral for the last-generation system. Capable of tracking users in a room through visual and sound input, the Kinect may someday be seen as the first step toward a truly seamless link between physical and digital space.
Image via Wired
May 15, 2013
When was the last time you logged into Google+? Like many of us, you probably rushed to claim your username early on, checked the site a few times, and let your interest slowly taper off. Despite some truly clever innovations and an enormous pool of users, Google+ has never really achieved the critical mass necessary to make it a Facebook contender.
At today's Google I/O conference, developers announced a redesign for the social network that will add a Pinterest-style image grid and an emphasis on photos. It's not exactly a new concept, but it follows an established trend in social web development toward image-based sharing vs. traditional text (i.e., blogging). With Google's programming and marketing muscle behind it, we wouldn't be surprised if a revival of the underappreciated Google+ is on the horizon.
Image via Droid-Life.com
May 10, 2013
We're a nation of snackers, and a lot of those snacks - from buffalo wings to the latest food truck offerings - are finger foods. If only there was a tool that let us grip those foods without getting our fingers sticky...
Enter Trongs, a new plastic utensil that looks a little like a cross between a staple remover and a T. Rex's hand. The little plastic claw lets you use all of your manual dexterity without getting your hands dirty, and can completely alleviate those awkward moments when you're pulling a slice from a pizza and have no choice but to use your fingers to separate it from its neighbor.
It'll be a difficult path from novelty item to table setting fixture, but we think the brilliant convenience of Trongs is too cool to ignore - and it's certainly indicative of current American eating trends. Watch out, Spork - there's a new new utensil in town.
May 3, 2013
We’ve all heard the scary stats about faux-fish. It's estimated that as much as one-third of seafood sold in restaurants and grocery stores is mislabeled.
"I Love Blue Sea," a San Francisco-based seafood company, started three years ago by selling sustainable seafood curated from the product list of its local distributor. Recently, the company has created a platform that connects consumers directly to fishermen and producers. When a customer selects a product from I Love Blue Sea’s website, the order is stored in the site’s system and sent to the producer shortly before the scheduled delivery date. Seafood is shipped via Fedex and customers typically get their seafood 24 to 48 hours after it leaves the water.
This model is a win-win for everyone. Fishermen can earn two to three times as much cash as they usually would by selling directly to consumers. Although customers are paying a little more than they would at a grocery store, they can be confident in the provenance and quality of their seafood. Although this model might have trouble scaling up - and the price point might be a bit high for the typical household - the success of this initiative indicates that there is a growing demand for traceable seafood among consumers and a willingness to embrace unusual and innovative business models in order to get it.