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Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week (Dec. 20)
By Tracy Staedter,
Discovery News, 6 December 2015.

This week we have transparent metal, high-flying balloons to generate solar power, and a gargoyle skyscraper for Manhattan.

1. Drone Light Paintings


German company Ascending Technologies is known for their drones and precision flying algorithms. To demonstrate just how precise these programs are, engineers strapped a color-changing light to an AscTec Falcon 8 drone and then flew the vehicle along several pre-determined paths, while a camera took a long-exposure shot. The results were a series of large, holiday-themed drone light paintings. Watch a video here.

2. Transparent Sky Deck


Aerospace engineering company Windspeed Technologies has come up with a new and exciting way to experience air travel. They've designed a transparent viewing platform concept that passengers would get to via a staircase, or as this video shows, an elevator tube. Swiveling chairs would offer a panoramic view.

3. Self-Driving Ford Fusion


Ford announced this week that it will begin trials next year in California for a self-driving Fusion Hybrid. It's not alone. Eleven other car companies including Tesla, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Nissan, the Volkswagen group, and Google are testing autonomous vehicles in the Golden State.

4. Solar Balloons


High-flying balloons that harness sunlight up above the clouds are not affected by cloud cover or rainy days. That's the idea from researchers at NextPV - a multinational lab jointly operated by France’s CNRS and the University of Tokyo. The company wants to create a prototype of a solar panel that floats 12.4 miles above the Earth on a balloon.

5. Halo Motorcycle


The sleek lines of this electric motorcycle concept from industrial designer Xintao Chen give this vehicle the look of speed. The Husqvarna Halo, made from metal and carbon fiber, is designed with a heroine in mind. See the video.

6. Gargoyle Skyscraper


New York architect Mark Foster Gage thinks the skyscrapers of Manhattan are boring and lack any interesting architectural design. For a Midtown location near West 57th Street, he proposes a 102-story tower right out of Gotham City - covered in Gothic sculptural elements. A video reveals details up close. Holy gargoyles, Batman.

7. Wurfboard


Sitting at a desk too long is bad for your health and standing too long is not that great for your back. Introducing the inflatable Wurfboard, which lets you "surf" in front of your computer. The platform cushions your feet while at the same time providing an unstable surface that keeps your legs and core active. Watch a video here.

8. Transparent Metal

Credit: Adafruit Industries/Flickr

For the last 60 years, a material called indium tin oxide has been used to make the transparent conductors found in more than 90 percent of displays. But the price has skyrocketed and so people have been looking for a cheaper replacement. Researchers at Penn State and Rutgers may have found it. It comes from an unusual class of materials called correlated metals, which is highly transparent and electrically conductive. Even better, the material is 5 percent the cost of indium.

9. Museum of Tomorrow


Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava presented his design for a science museum in Rio de Janeiro. The Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã) embodies Calatrava's signature style with its skeletal roof that projects over an 81,805-square-feet public plaza. The building will allow for 53,819 square feet of exhibition space. You can see more images on Dezeen.

10. Modular Solar


Everywhere solar power is getting cheaper and easier to install. Take the Solar Pods, for example. The modular panels, which just received their UL certification, mount to any roof type including shingle, wood shake, metal, tile and corrugated metal without the need to drill holes. They can be tilted to any angle to maximize solar potential and are designed to withstand winds up to 130 miles per hour.

Top image: The Wurfboard, via Kickstarter.

[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Some links added.]