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When the weather seems to turn on a sixpence, it’s good to know what to expect as soon as you wake up. WoodStation is a timber timepiece that doubles up as your own forecaster. It’ll sit on your bedside table (or mount it on the wall if you prefer) and look more or less like a piece of wood art. Wave an arm in front of its motion sensor, though, and glowing numerals and symbols let you know whether to get set for a sunny, partly cloudy, rainy, snowy or stormy day.
If the icons are a bit tame for you, you can check out the barometric pressure, indoor relative temperature and indoor relative hygrometry data and make your own predictions. And, as you’d expect, the alarm clock has all the usual hour, calendar, alarm and snooze functions.
One review says the face itself is more formica than wood, glorious, wood. But still, it’s an interesting mash-up of traditional materials and contemporary wizardry.
In this age of email, chat rooms and social networking, are we forgetting the pleasure of real post dropping through the letterbox? ‘Postcrossing’ helps you send and receive postcards to and from random people around the world.
Postcrossing was started by Paulo Magalhães from Portugal as a side project while he was a student. He has always loved to get post, the more random the better. He knew he wasn’t the only one so created an online platform to support this offline hobby. The goal: to connect people across the world through postcards, wherever they are, whoever they are and whatever they believe.
It’s working. Every day, people are cheered by the arrival of a postcard. As one postcrosser says, ‘it’s pure joy and excitement’. At the present count, there are 116,213 members from 198 countries. If you add up all the journeys the postcards have made, it comes to 14,944,417,720km.
Others are taking it further. One avid postcrosser celebrated her birthday by visiting all the people she’d had postcards from. Two others, Geoffrey from Australia and Kati from Finland, found one postcard led to another and eventually decided to tie the knot. (Thanks to Nathan Penlington, one of the readers at our latest poetry night, SoPo, for putting us on to this.)
Ever had one of those moments where all you wanted was a Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke, but all you could get was regular old Diet? Coca-Cola is addressing the problem by introducing a new beverage dispenser. Heralded as the ‘fountain of the future’, the Freestyle – which was first unveiled under the code name ‘Jet’ back in April – offers more than 100 flavour options. There are traditional sodas, flavoured waters, carbonated or noncarbonated beverages, energy drinks and more.
The Freestyle has a touch-screen interface so you can select a product, such as Fanta, and then the screen gives you several flavour options. Make your selection (‘grape, please!’) and the machine mixes the drink for you right there and then. It can even mix flavours in ways that are not traditionally offered. The ‘PurePour’ technology was originally developed to measure extremely precise amounts of dialysis and cancer drugs. Beyond that, RFID scanners are used to match cartridges to dispensers, and the onboard computer confirms everything is in place.
Existing soda fountains use five-gallon concentrate bags and lots of backroom labour. Now all that’s required is a highly concentrated 46-ounce cartridge inside a self-contained machine. The Freestyle’s dispenser even sends business data back to Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta, including data about beverage consumption, peak-use times and popular locations. Coke can also talk back to the machine and let it know if a particular flavour needs to be discontinued or recalled, which the machine will then immediately stop serving. Freestyle machines are currently being tested in Georgia, California, and Utah, and there are plans to place 60 test dispensers around the country by the end of the summer.
Help Remedies have teamed up with Ricky’s, the iconic NYC chain of beauty supply shops. Together, they’re producing a series of eye-catching window displays to help announce the release of Help Remedies’ latest line of health care products.
One of the displays featured a man in high heels who walks on a treadmill for eight hours at a time, advertising Help’s blister pads (simply called ‘Help, I have a blister’). On 13th street, people sleep in the store window all day to promote Help’s sleeping medication (‘Help, I can’t sleep’).
By stripping away some of the complexity and fear-mongering of the health industry, Help Remedies aims to make medicine friendlier and more accessible. Through their line of straight-forward products, they’re trying to encourage the consumer to take better control of their personal health care. As a pleasant side note, the medications contain no dyes or chemicals, and all products are sold in biodegradable packaging.
Help Remedies will soon be available on all Virgin America planes, Target.com’s Red Hot Shop, Ricky’s and Food Emporium in New York City.
What if energy drinks were about a different kind of energy? An antidote to the likes of Red Bull, Slow Cow was developed to help people de-stress. This new drink from Canada offers ‘an acupuncture session’ in every can – ideal if you’re looking for a quick relaxation fix.
Under the premise that caffeine-packed drinks tend to increase anxiety, Slow Cow contains theanine, chamomile, valerian, passiflora and other ingredients known for their calming effects. The beverage is formulated to relax the drinker while at the same time increasing mental awareness – without the post-hit dip that stimulants such as caffeine cause.
Slow Cow’s tongue-in-cheek logo apparently didn’t amuse Red Bull, but it may have found a gap in a market saturated with energy drinks of all kinds. Seems like a natural fit for spas, hotels, airlines – or anywhere else consumers could use a serving of relaxation.