Caught our eye

Of perfect steaks and transparent trucks


Personal transporter

The Segway’s long-awaited children

Sometimes revolutions take a bit longer. In 2001, the Segway Personal Transporter promised a completely new form of mobility. However, since then only around 50,000 of the self-balancing, two-wheeled city rollers that you occasionally bump into transporting tourist groups have been sold. However, with the unchecked growth of metropolises, the concept seems to be becoming more attractive again and the Segway is having children late in life, so to speak. After Toyota brought out a direct Segway competitor with the Wiglet in 2013, Volkswagen is now also launching a convenient electric scooter for the “last mile”.

The next Christmas bestseller?

The VW model may have three wheels, but it is much more compact than its parents. Various fun versions without handles are even being released, such as PhunkeeDuck, Hovertrax or Solowheel, which are poised to be great Christmas bestsellers. However, they also require a certain sense of balance. The same is also likely to apply to the futuristic Lexushover board. It hovers over metallic surfaces using the force of magnets. However, the nitrogen-cooled, superconductivity miracle is currently just a technology study that is not available to buy.

The Volkswagen scooter for the car bootThe new fun riders in a Wired test

Lexus gets the board hovering

“Thanks to flat screens on the back of trucks, drivers can avoid taking dangerous overtaking manoeuvres to gain an overview. However, whether the glass truck will ever become an on-road reality remains unclear.”


Project 365d

New flatmates come to the ICT flat

For 365 days Thomas (l.), Daniel (m.) and Johannes lived together in the Swisscom flat share and, during this time, they had to get on both as flatmates and work colleagues. During their time in the “Flat share of the future” they tested numerous Smart Home products and networked their household. Some things were successful but other things went wrong.

Among other things, the three young professionals in their first job were able to make contacts and think of their life after the flat share. Both Thomas and Daniel have found a permanent position at Swisscom. Johannes has opted for a job at a start-up in Zurich, where he will be involved in creating an online market place. “As this is a joint project between Swisscom and Coop, I am not finding ‘goodbye’ quite so hard,” adds the IT specialist.

Explore the many options

The young men see the previous year in a positive light and feel they have the necessary experience for their new tasks. On 1 October new flatmates will move into the ICT flat share for the project, and the three have already met them. They hope that their successors will be able to create a better connection between the themes behind the flat share projects and innovation projects within the company: “By doing this, the project could offer even greater potential,” is the opinion of the designer Thomas.

The advice the three give to the new flatmates – Abi, Oli and George – is to approach the project with an open and active mind. “Have the courage to try out new things, make lots of mistakes, learn from them and explore the many options creatively” is how Daniel encourages his successors.

All contributions can be read again on the blogThe flat share’s Instagram channel


Barbecuing for nerds

The ultimate high-tech smoker

No more burnt or dried-out steaks. This is what Harvard engineering students resolved to achieve, and built the ultimate smoker. Thanks to its optimised shape, which allows air to circulate in a similar way to a nuclear power plant’s cooling tower, and clever algorithms controlled by a Raspberry Pi, the temperature of the meat remains optimal for hours. Whether millions of hobby barbecue experts will take pleasure in it is another matter. After all, the BBQ that they celebrate so much is reduced to child’s play with the Hightech Smoker.

Cooling tower dynamics for the perfect steak


Safety truck

The glass truck

Trucks are large and they slow down private transport. This tests the patience of some car drivers, tempting them into risky overtaking manoeuvres. The South Korean electronics giant wants to bring an end to the view-blocking trucks with its display technology. This is done with four large combined screens on the back of the Samsung Safety Truck. They show the drivers behind the truck what is happening and moving on the road in front. This way, there is no need for the dangerous overtaking manoeuvres that were once required to see what’s out ahead. However, whether the glass truck will ever become an on-road reality remains unclear. For now, it only exists in an Argentinean advertising film from the Leo Burnett agency.

The Safety Truck advertising spot



Robot origami for use in the body

A robot does things independently. Now a new minibot from MIT in the US and the Technical University of Munich is making this principle its “motto for life”, so to speak. Not only can it swim, move objects and walk across skin – the barely one centimetre sized machine also folds itself into its active shape and then dissolves once its work is complete. This is made possible by a three-layer construction, in which a PVC layer is sandwiched between two polystyrene or paper layers. Heating causes the PVC to contract, and in the process the shape is folded automatically based on the cutting pattern. A magnet produces the movement. To dissolve itself, the cute crawling machine goes off to an acetone bath. Only the magnet is left over. The researchers are now planning a water-soluble version. In addition, they want to reduce the size of the construction even further. The aim is medical minirobots that can be specifically activated within the body and then dismantled.

The sweet origami bot in action