Finnish designers Sanna and Mika Myllylä from Living Spaces, have created a modular furniture concept that can transform in a matter of seconds. Dubbed BiT, the series of upholstered shapes easily join together using magnets, giving the user the freedom to modify the furniture for various uses.

The idea was inspired to provide a space-saving solution for small homes, while also proving a fun and innovative living room or bedroom for families with small children. After years of developing the concept, the duo have now completed a working prototype, with hopes of taking their creation to the market through a crowdfunding campaign.

Specifically designed to transform between several layouts and uses, the BiT collection of modular shapes can be used to create a three-seater sofa; modular L-shaped sofa; double sofa; single armchair; gaming station; sofa desk; coffee table; bedding for one or two people; or an entire transformable kids play center.

Taking inspiration from children’s building blocks, the BiT series can be used to build pretty much any shape you or your kids can imagine. A bunch of accessories also means gamers can create their ideal gaming station, including: Games FPS Armchair; Games F1 and IndyCar Armchair; Games Car Simulator Armchair; and Games Fighter Jet Armchair. Furthermore, the small parts mean the sofa is lightweight and easy to transport or move around.

“Owning a couch has many challenges,” says Mika Myllylä, CEO and Innovator at Living Spaces. “I and my wife Sanna were both moving quite a lot. Carrying heavy upholstered furniture was such a drag that I often abandoned the sofa at a recycling centre before relocation … After our daughter hurt her head on a sofa arm while bouncing on the couch we decided we had had enough of traditional sofas. We wanted to give our daughter the most educative and active environment possible. We also wanted complete, unlimited freedom to decide how we would like to use the living room. After five years of intensive research and development, it is complete.”

Keeping child safety in mind, BiT features a series of different shaped soft sofa pieces that fix together using strong interior magnets. The modules are frameless and don’t have any hard corners or parts (except for the add on accessories), making them safe for children aged four and over. The series also incorporates back support elements and is designed to offer good back and postural support, consistent with traditional sofa lounges and armchairs. The blocks are made with solvent-free materials and do not contain any wood or toxic glues, paints or lacquer.

“Our idea was to create furniture that could be reformed to meet everyone’s daily needs regardless of age,” say the duo. “We put safety and cleanability to our first priority. Safetyness and low weight were achieved by making every piece frameless. That, in turn, helped to leave out lots of traditional sofa’s components. BiT adapts to a variety of everyday situations such as surprise guests, changing social situations, children’s physical play and demanding project and gaming environments. We wanted a soft companion to follow us everywhere for years instead of months. The sofa shouldn’t be a disposable product.”

Sanna and Mika Myllylä are currently seeking crowdfunding support to help launch BiT onto the market. Interested buyers can support the project via Indiegogo until the 29th of April 2019 with prices staring at US$231 for a two-piece ottoman. Shipping is slated for October if all goes to plan.

BiT takes modular furniture to the next level [New Atlas]

With all that said, however, the latest Samsung manufactured product may still surprise you: A Samsung-branded flower vase that just so happens to double up as a throwable fire extinguisher. (Insert joke about this pairing perfectly with Samsung’s recalled Note 7 smartphone, with its habit of inconveniently bursting into flames at the drop of a hat.)

The fire-extinguishing flower receptacle looks like an ordinary translucent red glass decorative vase. But like the best James Bond gadget, looks can be deceiving. In a sealed outer chamber is a layer of potassium carbonate, the chemical compound used as a fire extinguisher for deep-fat fryers and various other B class-related fires. In the event that a fire breaks out, all a person would have to do is to smash the vase to release the potassium carbonate contained within. This would then have the event of extinguishing the fire before it becomes a more serious hazard.

The product, called the “Firevase” (you can’t get say they don’t advertise its best feature up front!), was manufactured under the Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance brand. It was designed to raise awareness of the importance of fire extinguishers and has so far been distributed 100,000 times to homes in Samsung’s stomping ground of South Korea. An accompanying print ad was meanwhile run in 46 different publications, while a video ad played in theaters. As a result of the successful campaign, Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance has now reportedly decided to produce an additional 200,000 Firevases.

This isn’t the only fire extinguisher we’ve covered at Digital Trends. Other tech-related approaches to putting out fires include a sci-fi-sounding machine which uses sound waves to eliminate flames and the unusual Elide Fire Ball, a sort of reverse grenade which creates an explosion that can also extinguish fires. We can’t help but love the kind of relative simplicity of Samsung’s approach, though.

Samsung’s flower vase doubles as a throwable fire extinguisher [Digital Trends]

Though there are a few notable exceptions – including the excellent Nuraphones – most headphones on the hi-fi store shelf will deliver a “one size fits all” sonic experience to listeners. But that’s not how we hear sounds around us. Finland’s Genelec is looking to inject more realism and accuracy into headphone sound reproduction with some software and a smartphone camera.

Exactly how we hear the sounds around us depend on something called the Head Related Transfer Function (HTRF), where the acoustic properties of a person’s anatomy affect what sounds reach the eardrums. And since everyone is different, it stands to reason that we all hear sounds differently.

Genelec has come up with a way to determine an individual’s HTRF using a smartphone camera and some software smarts. Recording a video as a modern phone’s camera moves 360 degrees around the head, shoulders and upper torso creates a detailed 3D model in the Aural ID app.

The video is then uploaded to a web-based calculation service, which converts this information – which includes data on exactly how audio approaches the head from hundreds of different angles – into a personal data file containing all of the modifications necessary for the delivery of accurate and realistic sound to the user’s ears. This SOFA file can then be used by audio engines “to precisely render stereo or immersive content via headphone.”

Initially, Genelec is pitching the technology at academics and VR games developers, but it could evolve for use in home hi-fi systems too.

“In the same way that our monitor loudspeakers established the sonic reference for professional audio monitoring, and GLM calibration software revolutionized the way studio monitors could be optimized for any acoustic space, we are determined to help bring standards of sonic truthfulness to headphone reproduction,” said the company’s Siamak Naghian.

“With an increasing number of audio professionals relying on both in-room monitors and headphones, Genelec Aural ID is a significant first step towards the use of headphones for actual reference audio monitoring and listening.”

The Aural ID system will be available for purchase during Q2 2019, no pricing details have been given at this time.

Genelec promises monitor-like audio realism from headphones [New Atlas]

 

It can be challenging, growing delicate plants from seeds. A group of Korean entrepreneurs is out to make the process easier – and techier – with the Wi-Fi-connected, water-pump-equipped and smartphone-controlled Bloomengine.

Users start by placing an included disc-shaped peat pellet in water, and allowing it to expand. That expanded pellet is then put in the bottom section of the Bloomengine, and a seed of the user’s choice is added to the peat. Next, water and an included liquid fertilizer are poured into the device’s built-in 40-oz (1.2-l) reservoir.

The top section is then put in place. Following a user-programmed schedule, a pump in the reservoir subsequently draws water up to and out of an overhead sprinkling system. Any water that doesn’t get absorbed by the peat simply drains back into the reservoir for reuse.

Additionally, a full-spectrum LED light comes on for a predetermined amount of time each day, while an integrated fan circulates the air within the Bloomengine. And, if buyers opt for it, a downwards-facing HD camera can be used to record time-lapse footage of the plant as it grows.

The watering and lighting schedules are initially set using an accompanying iOS/Android app. That app also notifies users when the system is low on water – more can be added through the top of the device.

Once the plant has grown to the point that it’s relatively robust, it’s taken out of the Bloomengine and transplanted into a regular pot. For growing future plants, users can buy more peat pellets and fertilizer from the company, or just get third-party products from local stores.

Should you be interested, the Bloomengine is currently the subject of an Indiegogo campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of US$135 will get you the basic model, with $155 required for the camera-equipped version. Their planned retail prices are $169 and $199, respectively.

Potential backers might also want to check out Click and Grow‘s existing system.

Bloomengine automates the growing of delicate plants [New Atlas]

The survey is revealing, even by its predictions. By 2022, the CTA expects the market for connected solutions for seniors to reach nearly $30 billion, while the largest section of that submarket, safety, and smart living technologies is expected to triple in size between 2018 and 2022, reaching over $17 billion. Sixty-five million baby boomers are about to outstrip the traditional age for retirement, and how society reacts is going to be interesting.

The CTA says that health and remote care is possibly the most promising segment of the active aging market. However, the survey refers to specialized cases like monitoring blood pressure remotely and other platforms for remote health care from technology companies like Honeywell and Intel-GE.

The survey was interesting as well in that it didn’t just interview seniors. In addition to surveying more than 700 seniors who are 65 or older, the CTA also interviewed 750 caregivers aged 18 to 64 who either have a living parent or relative that they care for.

The technologies the survey touches on are diverse, which comes as no surprise given the number of solutions that are either readily available or in progress to help seniors live independently. Safety and smart living areas included safety monitoring, emergency response, communication, home control, automation, and home robots, not to mention autonomous vehicles.

Meanwhile, health and remote care questions looked into personal health devices that supply reports, remote diagnosis and monitoring, and/or virtual consultation to communicate with a doctor or other health professional.

Finally, the survey’s queries into wellness and fitness included questions about fitness-tracking devices, diet and weight-loss tools, wellness monitors that track things like sleep, meditation, pain management, and brain health, and personal sound amplification devices that augment traditional devices like hearing aids.

The survey found that 64 percent of seniors were ready to embrace safety and smart monitoring technology, while 61 percent would adopt active aging technology in order to live more independently. Augmenting those results was the fact that younger caregivers can be effective technology advocates, which is important given that nearly a quarter of caregivers surveyed indicated that they are the sole decision makers for their seniors on medical and other living matters.

Emergencies are naturally a concern — if you’re old enough, you suffered through those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials — but the survey revealed that seniors are also worried about everyday tasks, like taking medication. While it’s logical that seniors are worried about these issues, it’s interesting that caregivers are far more worried about accidents: 70 percent of caregivers were concerned about seniors taking their meds, while over 60 percent were worried about accidents like forgetting to turn off the stove.

Naturally, there are a bunch of barriers to widespread adoption. Three-quarters of seniors said they would need help adopting new products in their home and nearly the same percentage said new technology is too expensive. Privacy also continues to be a big deal, with equal amounts of seniors and caregivers exhibiting some distrust of smart aging products and solutions.

Smart home technology may help senior citizens remain independent [Digital Trends]

Soap is kind of scary. At least, traditional soap. First of all, soap that comes in a plastic container (with a plastic pump) is not sustainable. Often, that plastic ends up in landfills; if it is recycled, plastic can only be recycled a finite amount of times whereas more sustainable materials (like glass for instance) can be infinitely recycled.

But a lack of compostability and biodegradability aren’t the only components of soap that have many zero wasters avoiding them in grocery stores. Many hand soaps — even if they’re marketed as “organic” or “safe” or “allergen-free” — contain some nasty stuff. Things like additives, parabens, and synthetic fragrances, colors, and more. You might be wondering: And, that’s a bad thing, why? Well, all that synthetic stuff is linked to some dangerous health concerns.

Why Traditional Soap Is “Toxic”

Take parabens for example. They’re one of the most common toxic beauty ingredients because they prevent the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria in products. Great, right? But parabens also have properties that mimic estrogen and therefore have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer.

Another common toxic beauty ingredient found in soaps is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). It’s found in more than 90 percent of personal care and cleaning products. Why? Because it’s responsible for that foaming agent that happens in soap (and many other products like body wash, cleansers, mascara, and acne treatments) when you press the pump. Foaming bubbles are great—they make it easier to wash your hands and for shampoo and conditioner to lather up; but SLS’s are connected with irritation of the skin, lungs, and eyes. When it combines with other chemicals, the mixture can form nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. Aside from causing cancer, this combo can also lead to kidney and respiratory damage.

Many soaps also contain triclosan — an antimicrobial chemical that is known to disrupt the endocrine system, including thyroid and reproductive hormones. It’s also a known skin irritant. Studies have shown that triclosan can make bacteria antibiotic-resistant, which poses a great risk to our future health. Triclosan is also commonly found in deodorant and toothpaste.

What You Need to Know About Soap Bases

Now that you’ve read about all the icky things hiding in antibacterial soap, you might want to take matters into your own hands (literally) and make your own at home.

Many soap recipes call for the use of a caustic agent called lye. It creates the effect of saponification once it interacts with oils, making it the soap base. While lye is a natural ingredient, it doesn’t exactly qualify as “non-toxic.” In high doses, lye is corrosive and can cause damage to the skin, such as irritation and burns. For this reason, the recipe below instead provides alternative soap bases.

There are several kinds of alternative soap bases: glycerin, shea butter, Aloe Vera, cocoa butter, and olive oil melt and pour soap base. Because these recipes exclude lye, the type of soap-making method we are using is “melt and pour.”

Directions for Making Melt and Pour Hand Soap

To make your own bar soap at home, you’ll need to use one of the soap bases mentioned above, as well as a Pyrex bowl (for melting the soap), silicone mold or loaf pan lined with parchment paper, and herbs or essential oils of your choice.

Measure one pound of the soap base of your choice. After chopping the block of soap base into chunks, throw it in your Pyrex bowl and microwave until melted. Add 30 drops of the essential oil of your choice and/or a half teaspoon of herbs per soap base. Mix and then pour into silicone mold or loaf pan. Let the soap cool for several hours; once it’s congealed, it’s ready to use!

This might seem like a lot for a bed, but multiple scientific studies have shown that too little sleep (or poor quality sleep) has clear ties to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and a shortened lifespan over time — and those same studies show that Americans average just 6.8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is an important part of maintaining your health, and The Pod can help optimize your sleep patterns.

The Pod is designed with an adaptive foam bed that makes it a comfortable sleeping experience, even with all of the built-in sensors. The foam consists of four distinct layers that allow it to adapt to any sleeping position. It is also divided into two sections so each side of the bed has its own temperature controls and biometric tracking.

The temperature control works through water cooling. The Pod contains a reservoir (called The Hub) that lets the bed warm and cool according to your specifications. The temperature range is anywhere from 55 to 115 degrees, although it’s tough to imagine sleeping on a 115-degree mattress.

One of the interesting features in The Pod is the Thermo Alarm. This setting begins to cool the bed in the minutes leading up to your set wake-up time. With no sound and no vibration, it is the perfect way to wake up without disturbing your partner. And with easy integration to other smart home tech, you can set your coffee pot to begin brewing the moment you get out of bed.

The Pod can be reserved for $95, with the remaining balance due when the bed ships in April. The Pod starts at $1,995 for a Full, $2,295 for a Queen, and $2,495 for a King and California King. Eight Sleep is offering its customers a 100-night trial with free returns.

Eight Sleep hopes that users will monitor their biometrics during the night and learn how to make their night-time environment more conducive to a full night’s sleep. The Pod might seem like just a fancy bed, but all of the built-in technology poses a solution to fighting back against sleep deprivation, one night at a time.

Eight Sleep’s Pod bed keeps you cool (or warm) and tells you how you’re sleeping [Digital Trends]

Ok, if I were scrubbing a filthy, smelly, overly disgusting toilet in, say, a prison or a football stadium, I might sing a different tune. As it is, I’ve only scrubbed the pee-splattered ones in my home. But I’ve always felt that toilets get a bit of a bad rap as the grossest place in the home — when they’re actually not.

From a germ perspective, we should be more fearful of neglected areas like door handles, computer keyboards, and phones. And if you have a good toilet brush, you don’t even have to touch the places where poop touches. So, what’s the big deal?

This was exactly what I was thinking when I first heard about Giddel, the $500 toilet-cleaning robot from Altan Robotics. Come on, I thought. Do we really hate cleaning toilets so much that we’ll buy a $500 robot to do it for us? Is this something that society really needs?

But the more I learned about it and talked about it on Digital Trends Live, the more my thoughts about the robot morphed from skepticism to curiosity to fascination. Finally, unable to stop myself, I requested one for review. I had to try this sucker — er, scrubber — out.

I figured I’d let it twirl around in my dirty toilet just to see if the cute little thing would have me ditching toilet brushes forever or cursing our tech-solution-without-a-problem society.

We all know that houseplants help purify the air inside a home. If you don’t have a green thumb, though, you may still be in luck – Ikea has developed curtains that are claimed to clean indoor air, utilizing a process similar to that which occurs in plants.

Known by the product name Gunrid, the curtains are made of conventional fabric that is subjected to a surface treatment which coats them with a photocatalyst mineral layer. We asked Ikea just what that mineral is, but the company isn’t ready to reveal it just yet. That said, we’re guessing that it’s titanium dioxide, which has previously been used in air-purifying textiles.

In any case, when the material is exposed to indoor or outdoor light, it reportedly reacts by breaking down pollutants such as formaldehyde, that are present in the surrounding air. There’s currently no word on how effective the coating is, although the process is said to be “similar to photosynthesis found in nature.”

If you’re interested in getting a set of the curtains, they should be in Ikea stores sometime next year. The price has yet to be announced.

“Besides enabling people to breathe better air at home, we hope that Gunrid will increase people’s awareness of indoor air pollution, inspiring behavioural changes that contribute to a world of clean air,” says Lena Pripp-Kovac, Ikea’s Head of Sustainability. “Gunrid is the first product to use the technology, but the development will give us opportunities for future applications on other textiles.”

Ikea is set to release air-purifying curtains [New Atlas]

Brett Mahon, Joonas Parviainen, Saagar Tulshan, Shreyansh Sett have built a multi-level pavilion where people can gather and relax in Rijeka, Croatia.

Level Up is designed to be a new place for locals in the post industrial port city to socialise, and turns a previously disused rooftop area into a terrace.

The international quartet of architects created the site-specific pavilion as part of European Architecture Students’ Assembly, (EASA) 2018.

The pavilion was built as an extension to Export Drvo, a 1950s industrial storage building by the Dead Canal. Rijeka is due to become Europe’s culture capital in 2020, and the Export Drvo is set to be one of the key venues in the celebrations.

The pavilion, which doubles as street furniture, is formed of a series of levels linking up to a elevated terrace built on the roof.

Different places and surfaces for visitors to sit, swing or relax in a hammock are placed all along the extended staircase to the top of the structure.

On the terrace a platform provides a raised vantage point to look over the city and doubles as a place for speakers to address a crowd.

Mahon, who is from Northern Ireland, Parviainen from Finland, and India-based Tulshan and Sett, drew up the design prior to EASA 2018, where they ran a workshop for participants who helped bring Level Up to life.

“Instead of creating new public urban area, Level Up puts focus on reclaiming existing space,” said the design team.

“It creates a balcony to the Delta with an industrial aesthetic, acting as a public frontage. In an era where permanence of the built form has been defining architecture, Level Up celebrates ephemeral urbanism, inviting everyone to ponder material and spatial impermanence.”

Steel scaffolding was used for the structural frame, with wooden boards and decking used to create the levels, steps and furniture. Plants sourced from a local garden centre were used to decorate the pavilion.

Others repurposing unused places for public space include Jordanian architects Sarah Abdul Majid and Sandra Hiari, who have designed a series of stackable wooden unitsthat can turn abandoned areas into children’s playgrounds.

Level Up street pavilion provides multi-level hang-out space for Rijeka [Dezeen]

 

Living in a crowded inner city means that many residents don’t have a garden of their own, so are unable to grow their own fruit and veggies. We’ve seen a number of indoor growing innovations – including Windowfarms and the Grobo – but last year’s OGarden was a little different, growing plants in a rotating wheel with a light at its center. The design has now been updated, resulting in the OGarden Smart.

Like the original OGarden, the Smart version is raising production finds on Kickstarter. And its makers are hoping for repeated success – the first campaign raised over €80,000 and attracted nearly 270 backers.

Up to 90 plants can be grown at the same time in the second generation indoor garden, including leafy greens, herbs, cherry tomatoes, baby peppers, strawberries and edible flowers. The eye-catching wheel can accommodate 60 plants, while an LED lit nursery shelf in the housing below can take 30.

New to the Smart design is automatic watering from tanks housed in the base, with those tanks holding roughly 10 days of water and a warning system notifying users when reserves are running low. Low energy LED lighting at the heart of the device should make for relatively inexpensive indoor gardening throughout the year. This latest model is also reported to be slimmer – at 53 x 29 x 15 inches (134.6 x 73.65 x 38.1 cm) – and easier to use than the original. And the whole shebang draws only 120 W of power.

Indoor gardening with the OGarden Smart starts with seed cups supplied by the company which are placed in the nursery cupboard and the start button pushed. If the list of available plants is not to your liking you can get a bag of virgin earth and seed your favorites.

About three weeks later, the plants should be ready to be moved into the wheel. Then indoor gardeners just need to harvest when ready, usually about 30-40 days after planting. When a plant stops producing, its root ball and earth can be composted for future plant growing.

OGarden’s makers reckon that owners should shave a considerable amount from their shopping bills, while enjoying the benefits of fresh, organic fruits and veggies all year round – and without adding plastic packaging to the environment.

Kickstarter pledges for the OGarden Smart System – which includes the device itself, seed cups and some greens to get you started – start at CAD 729 (about US$550). If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in May. The video below has more.

Circular garden makes growing veggies indoors even easier than before [New Atlas]

Vo Trong Nghia Architects has covered the roof and facade of Breathing House in Ho Chi Minh City with a canopy of climbing plants to create private outdoor spaces.

Breathing House occupies a narrow and deep lot within a densely populated neighbourhood that is accessible only via a narrow alleyway.

Due to the restricted site, the only surfaces that could be opened up were the front, back and top of the building. Each of these surfaces then required what Vo Trong Nghia Architects described as “a green veil” consisting of creeper plants growing on a steel mesh to protect the interior.

The plant curtain ensures the external space and openings to the outdoors are private areas for the occupants to enjoy.

“This soft layer, as an environmental diffuser, filters direct sunlight and prevents the interior space from overexposure to the outside, without the feeling of isolation,” Vo Trong Nghia Architects explained.

In addition to preventing overlooking, the curtain of plants provides a view of greenery that is visible from every part of the house.

Planters at the edge of each floor slab combine with galvanised-steel modules to create an outer facade beyond the sliding doors or windows lining the living spaces.

The house has a staggered plan that creates small external spaces described by the architects as “micro voids”. These openings allow natural light and ventilation to reach the open spaces on each level.

“In the narrow and deep plot shuttered by neighbours on both sides, it is more environmentally effective to promote ventilation for each corner of the house through multiple ‘micro voids’ rather than a singular large courtyard,” the studio said.

These carefully positioned openings create views through the various internal spaces towards the outdoor areas. The staircase also functions as one of the voids, with a roof light and openings onto the living areas allowing daylight to filter through.

The building is entered through a garage and hall on the ground floor, which also accommodates a guest bedroom with a small courtyard to the rear.

Stairs ascend to a kitchen and dining area on the first floor, which flows seamlessly into the main lounge. The master bedroom is situated on the second floor, with the children’s bedroom on the level above.

The fourth floor contains a hallways and altar, with access to a rounded terrace. This exterior space is overlooked by a larger roof terrace slotted in beneath the sloping canopy of greenery.

The Breathing House is the latest residential project designed by Nghia’s studio to demonstrate how planting can be integrated into architecture to help mitigate the negative effects of urbanisation.

Previous examples have included a property featuring stacked concrete slabspunctured by voids with trees growing through them, and a home with bamboo-filled concrete planters covering its facade.

Plant curtain drapes over Breathing House by Vo Trong Nghia Architects [Dezeen]

 

Thanks to a new invention in the sleep arena, you may never have to fight over the temperature in the bedroom ever again.

This Smart Duvet can control the temperature of each side of the bed so that if you prefer it cooler than you’re partner, you can adjust the temperature accordingly without affecting the other side. This is genius.

And that’s not all. If you think the only thing worse than getting out of bed is having to make it, then you’re in luck.

The smart duvet can also help us be lazier than ever by taking away the need to lift a finger when it comes to making your bed in the morning. Yes, really.

This Smart Duvet is the brainchild of Tina Cayouette and is currently being developed in Montreal, Canada.

The duvet is made up of a system of inflatable tubes that when programmed using the Smart Duvet app on your phone will expand with air, automatically straightening out the duvet into its ‘made’ state. It slips in between your duvet and duvet cover and is made from lightweight and breathable materials for a comfortable night’s sleep.

When asked if the duvet is a necessary invention considering how making a bed is probably a chore that takes less than a minute, Tina compared the device to automatic blinds. “There are a lot more lazy people than we think”, she said.

This genius invention does come with a pretty hefty price tag – £150 for a single size duvet, plus shipping – but can you really put a price on the ability to be lazy?

This duvet cover for couples is completely genius [Goodhousekeeping]

As television screen sizes continue to increase, the viewing experience may improve, but the TVs also take up more space within a room. LG has set out to address that problem, with what it claims is the world’s first production roll-up OLED TV.

First shown as a prototype one year ago, the 4K TV is now known as the LG Signature OLED TV R (model 65R9). It can be used in three modes – Full View, Line View or Zero View.

In Full View, the entire 65-inch screen is unrolled and visible, for regular TV-viewing. Line View only partially unrolls the screen, presenting a viewing “slot” for features such as a clock/weather display, a music control interface, or photos streamed from a paired smartphone.

In Zero View, as you might have guessed, the screen is completely retracted. That said, music and other audio content can still be played back through the brushed-aluminum base unit’s 4.2-channel, 100W front-firing Dolby Atmos audio system. LG additionally states that “The remarkable AI picture and sound quality powered by LG’s second generation ? (Alpha) 9 intelligent processor and deep learning algorithm puts this breathtaking TV in a class of its own.”

Support for Amazon Alexa means that users can control the 65R9 via voice commands. The TV is also compatible with Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit. Utilizing the former, users can play videos from iTunes and other video apps, or stream music and photos directly from their Apple devices. Utilizing the latter, they can control the TV either via the Home app, or by asking Siri.

The LG Signature OLED TV R is being debuted this week at CES in Las Vegas. There is currently no word on pricing or availability. Sony previously developed a rollable OLED screen, although we have yet to hear anything about it becoming a consumer product.

LG announces “world’s first” roll-up OLED TV [New Atlas]

The basic idea is the coolers collect data for marketers to help them sell more goods to you. Not you, specifically, according to Cooler Screens, but people of your age and gender.

One noticeable difference between the smart fridge screens and conventional coolers is you don’t look through the glass to see actual products with Cooler Screens. You look at a digitized representation of available products, called a planogram.

When you look at a Cooler Screen, you see products organized and neatly lined up with real-time pricing and promotions. No messy shelves, no out of stock signs, and no worn, torn, or dirty products. All of those factors benefit the retailer, who will also be informed of low stock and other real-time issues.

Brand managers and merchandisers will be able to test pricing, packaging, accompanying ads, and promotions. The opportunities to learn about consumer behavior, preferences, and decision-making are almost endless, especially when analyzed with other data including season and time of day, weather, local and regional events, and much more.

Cooler Screens uses a menu of technology including proximity sensors and cameras, iris tracking and heat maps, cooler door open and close sensors, and real-time traffic and sales figures.

Walgreens is not the only company involved with the Cooler Screen pilot program. According to The Wall Street Journal, Nestle, MillerCoors, and Contra plus another dozen or so advertisers are involved, as is Microsoft, which is an equity partner in the software and technology for Cooler Screens. Foxconn manufactures the displays and IoT technologies used by Cooler Screens.

One of the largest pharmacy chains in the world, Walgreens is no stranger to innovation. In 2013, for example, the company announced its plan to build a “net zero energy” store in Evanston, Illinois. If the Cooler Screens pilot is successful by any of several potential measures, we’d all better be aware that the fridges are watching us.

Walgreens’ smart fridges scan your face and remember your behavior [Digital Trends]

The containers vary in width and depth to accommodate a range of contents, including a double mattress, clothing and toiletries. The lid of each unit conceals its contents and doubles as a floor panel.

Bruijn developed MoreFloor during her final year at Design Academy Eindhoven in response to her own cramped urban living conditions.

“I had a small apartment in Eindhoven,” she told Dezeen. “I really needed an extra room to work and got frustrated that I only used the bedroom for the minority of the time,” she added.

By tidying away pieces of furniture that were only used for brief periods of the day, Bruijn found she was able to reuse the floor in her bedroom for different purposes.

MoreFloor is an attempt to challenge the notion of single-use spaces as well as traditional methods of storage, which the designer claims only serve to “make your walls thicker”.

“You can work and play on the floor during the day, and when you’re tired simply open up the floor and snuggle up in your sunken bed,” said Bruijn.

The micro-living solution was designed to be installed in an existing space without diminishing the footprint of the room. “By taking just 30 centimetres off the height of the room, you can gain more than six square metres in floorspace,” said the designer.

“I have used the bed unit myself now for over half a year,” said Bruijn. “I like the routine of tidying away the apartment, then immediately having a blank canvas that’s ready to use in a different way,” she added.

The modular system enables users to combine the units in different configurations to suit their own spatial requirements.

Bruijn hopes that her product will not only encourage people to think more creatively about their homes but also help those who live in cities where space is scarce.

This movie is part of Dezeen x MINI Living Initiative, a collaboration with MINI Living exploring how architecture and design can contribute to a brighter urban future through a series of videos and talks.

MoreFloor micro-living storage solution hides furniture beneath floorboards [Dezeen]

Samsung has been sticking touchscreens on fridges since 2016, adding a few new features every year. Right on cue, the company unveiled the latest Family Hub fridges at CES 2019, with the main new addition being a Family Board screen dedicated to posting photos and messages, and support for the latest version of the Bixby voice assistant.

The annual updates to the Family Hub are fairly incremental, but the basics of the smart fridge stay the same. There’s a 21.5-in touchscreen built into one door that lets users peer into the fridge without opening it, share photos and messages with the family, get news and weather updates, set reminders, play music and video, add items to a shopping list, find and follow recipes, and keep track of expiration dates.

Installing the Family Hub app onto everyone’s phones makes it even more useful. If you’re at the supermarket and wondering if you have eggs at home, you can take a live look inside the fridge to check. Not going to be home for dinner? You can write a note and virtually pin it to the fridge for everyone to see.

For the 2019 models Samsung has added Family Board, a new screen devoted entirely to pinning photos, notes and doodles drawn on the touchscreen itself. These functions were on the older fridges but were spaced between other icons. Photos can be customized with different styles, and the background color can be changed to better fit the kitchen’s decor.

There’s also a new screen saver that can flip through photos or default to info like the weather. And, like Samsung’s recent TVs, an Ambient Mode can be set to make the screen more subtle, blending into its surroundings rather than look like a big black rectangle when it’s not in use.

Minor tweaks have been made to the Food Management side of things too, including the ability to fine-tune recipe searches for criteria like healthiness. If you have a smart oven, you can now also preheat it straight from the fridge screen, to a given temperature in the Recipes app.

The Family Hub has been updated to make use of Samsung’s “new Bixby,” the updated version of its voice assistant. New Bixby is apparently smarter and more conversational than old Bixby, allowing it to essentially rSmart Fridge un a whole smart home from the fridge via voice commands. Keeping things in the family, users with Galaxy phones can mirror the screen to the fridge without booting up the Smart View app on the fridge.

And finally, Samsung says it’s bringing the Family Hub tech to more models and styles of fridges in 2019.

It’s always hard to decipher exactly what’s new about each iteration of Samsung’s Family Hub fridges, but overall the long feature list makes them seem like a decent Internet of Things option. The fridge is a logical place for a smart home hub (as opposed to something like a rangehood), but you could do most of the same stuff by just sticking a tablet on the bench.

There’s no pricing or availability details just yet, but the 2019 Family Hub fridges will likely be released in the next few months and, if prices from the last few years are anything to do by, they’ll probably run you upwards of US$5,000.

Samsung’s 2019 smart fridges go back to the drawing board [New Atlas]

Is it time to give your laundry room a zero-waste makeover? With the average American running anywhere from four to five loads of wash per week, the environmental impact of laundry in the US is a genuine concern. Not to mention the environmental effects of laundry wastewater.

Wastewater is the result of the washing process; it refers to the additional energy, lint, soil, dyes, finishing agents, and chemicals from detergents that leak directly into the environment and contaminate our water systems. In addition to being toxic to wildlife, wastewater can also contribute to eutrophication, when a body of water becomes overly enriched in minerals and nutrients, causing an overgrowth of plants and algae and oxygen depletion in the water.

Using traditional detergents contributes to these environmental issues, as well as creates unnecessary waste. (Think: lots of plastic, unnecessary packaging, and unrecyclable, un-compostable components.) In order to cut the footprint down and reduce the harmful chemicals your wash and the environment are exposed to, there are a few zero-waste amendments you can make to your current laundry routine.

Consider Washing With Vinegar 

When it comes to laundry, vinegar is a double agent, acting as both a powerful deodorizer and gentle, non-toxic fabric softener. Pour a half cup of distilled white vinegar into your washing machine in place of traditional detergent. To use vinegar as a fabric softener, pour 1 cup of vinegar into the washing machine during the final rinse cycle.

Vinegar can also be used to pretreat stains — just dilute one-half cup vinegar in a gallon of water. Apply directly to the stain with a clean cloth. Then, wash. Vinegar is known to brighten, whiten, and soften clothes. It’s also more gentle on septic tanks, so your plumbing will thank you for making the zero waste switch.

Add Horse Chestnuts to Your Routine

Horse chestnuts — also known as conkers or buckeyes — can be used as a gentle, nontoxic and low-impact alternative to traditional detergents. Chestnuts contain saponins, a naturally occurring, and soap-like chemical compound. (Note: Horse chestnuts are not to be confused with edible chestnuts. This variation is not edible.) To use, wrap about 6 horse chestnuts in a cloth, then use a hammer to turn the nuts into a finer, grainy powder. Combine the shredded chestnuts and one cup of hot water in a mason jar; let it sit overnight. The next day, it will have turned milky. Use a strainer to sort out the larger clumps of chestnut from the “milk.” You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for scent. This natural detergent can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.

Introduce Castile Soap

Castile soap is a zero-waste game changer, as it can be used for so many different purposes. For laundry, add one-third cup of castile soap to a regular washing machine. Add one-half cup vinegar during the laundry’s rinse cycle. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, cut this recipe in half. Castile soap is a vegetable-based soap with a track record of being gentle on the skin and fabrics. It’s natural, nontoxic, and biodegradable. If traditional detergents have caused rashes or irritations to the skin, castile soap might be the ideal option for you.

Use Wool Dryer Balls

It’s time to ditch the dryer sheets — not only are they single-use, non-biodegradable products that end up in landfills, but dryer sheets can also be toxic. The chemicals used in dryer sheets are known to mimic estrogen, cause asthma, affect the reproductive and nervous systems, halt metabolism, and cause cancer. Have we convinced you? Good. Wool dryer balls are an ethical, nontoxic option that also provides benefits like reducing drying time, wrinkles, and static. To use, cover three dryer balls in the essential oil of your choice, then add to the dryer.

Zero-Waste Laundry Options [Green Matters]

Whether you want them or not, smart devices have finally moved into the bathroom. The Consumer Electronics Show is almost always a good showcase for out-there ideas, and CES 2019 was no exception, with a strange but also somehow totally predictable trend emerging: Smart toilets. That’s right, toilets with internet-connected features, voice assistants built in, and more. Here are the best smart toilets on display at this year’s show.

Toto Neorest NX2

The Neorest NX2 intelligent toilet from plumbing giant Toto is a CES 2019 Innovation Awards Honoree. The company says the rounded toilet is inspired by the “beauty of pebbles shaped by water over time,” which seems like an odd place to draw inspiration for something you sit on and dispense of waste in, but sure. The toilet features high-tech sensors that can automatically open and close the lid and flush the water. There’s a personal cleansing system integrated into the device that uses warm water, an air dryer, heated seat, and in-bowl deodorizer to make the venture to the bathroom as comfortable as possible. The Neorest NX2 also uses Actilight bowl-cleaning technology that mists the toilet with electrolyzed water to remove waste.

Kohler Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet

Kohler’s Numi 2.0 Intelligent Toilet has a feature you never thought you needed (and maybe never will need): Alexa built right into the toilet. The Numi 2.0 is more of an experience than a toilet. It features high-quality speakers that you can use to play music or talk to Amazon’s voice assistant. The toilet also has lights built right into it that can set the mood or sync up to music that you’re listening to. You can get all of that for a cool $7,000

Inubox

Smart toilets aren’t just for people—your four-legged friends can get in on the act, too. Inubox is presenting itself as an all-in-one indoor toilet for dogs. It can sense when a dog has done its business, then automatically contain and bag up the waste while cleaning off the platform so the dog use it again. While Inubox isn’t on the market yet, the creators are getting ready to try to fund the first round of manufacturing the devices on Kickstarter.

CES 2019 is flush with smart toilets. Here are the best bowls of the bunch [Digital Trends]