With eco-friendly innovations so in demand, it’s no surprise that the green tech industry is booming. Intrepid inventors all over the world are putting their best efforts into creating the greenest gadgets, furniture, fuel, fashion and architecture, and some of the stuff they’ve dreamed up is downright weird technology. Here are 15 examples of bizarre green technology innovations, from solar powered ‘personal massagers’ to walking houses.
Speakers with Built-in Planters
(image via: AV Watch)
Electronics manufacturer JVC debuted a rather interesting new concept in home audio equipment at the 2008 Tokyo Designer’s Week. The speakers, made of eco-plastic (whatever that means – they didn’t explain) have little planters built into them for people who are really going for that organic look in their home décor. The modular speakers can be assembled into various shapes and are said to have a surprisingly high quality sound for the size and design. The conceptual series is called “Kirikabu”.
Grow Your Own Grass Furniture
(image via: Treehugger)
London-based contemporary design firm Purves & Purves offered a flat-pack DIY cardboard armchair frame along with a package of grass seeds in the summer of 2006, promising outdoor furniture that blends in perfectly with your lawn. You assemble the 14 pieces, fill it with soil, sprinkle the grass seeds over it and watch your new Chia Chair grow right before your eyes. Interesting idea, but mowing it could be a challenge.
Solar-Powered ‘Personal Massager’
(image via: Shop Libida)
Here’s a solar-powered gadget you might not want to leave in your front window: the world’s first solar-powered vibrator. It takes about 5 hours of natural sunlight to fully charge, and a single charge powers it for 2.5 hours. Those without a private sunny space can use a 100 watt light bulb to power the device, but that will add an extra 19 hours to the charge time. The good news is, you don’t have to use it outside for it to work.
Biodegradable Coffin Coffee Table
(image via: Halfway House Design)
You need a coffee table, and someday, you will also need a coffin. So, why not kill two birds with one stone with the biodegradable coffin coffee table from Halfway House Design? You can even use it to store wine, books and other items until the day comes when it’s needed to store your body. A little morbid, sure, but at least it’s made from sustainable materials.
Fuel from Slaughterhouse Waste
(image via: Discover Magazine)
At Changing World Technologies, a rotting pile of disgusting turkey offal – heads, feet, intestines, and lungs swollen with putrid gases – is transformed into over $12,000 worth of fuel through a thermal conversion process in about 20 minutes. The process is still being optimized for commercial viability and has great potential, but NIMBY protests against the smells emitted by the plant have proven to be a tough hurdle to overcome.
Wind-Powered Gadget Charger
(image via: Hymini)
The Hymini gadget charger is renewable energy on a (very) small scale – it powers small electronics like cell phones and mp3 players with a tiny wind turbine and solar panel array. The Good Human tested it out, and reports that both the solar panel and the wind turbine were separately able to power his wife’s cell phone in the same amount of time a plug-in charger takes, noting that attaching the turbine to the handlebars of your bicycle would be an especially efficient way to harness energy while out and about.
(image via: Deborah Sherman)
A 1975 GMC pickup modified to run on spent coffee grounds proves that any biomass can be used for gasification. This truck hack, called the Café Racer, is powered by pyrolysis gas created by heating steel pipes full of coffee grounds in a wood gas generator. The Café Racer is said by its creators to be carbon-negative, but that hasn’t been substantiated. Still, this kind of technology could play a major role in finding alternatives to fossil fuels in the future.
Edible Shoe Polish
(image via: Po-Zu)
Mmm, shoe polish. If you’ve ever polished your shoes and thought to yourself, ‘This shoe cream looks so tasty, I wish it were edible’ then you’re in luck. Po-Zu, a company that makes eco-friendly footwear, also offers an all-natural edible shoe cream that doesn’t just make your shoes shiny – it also can be used for a variety of non-shoe-related purposes like massage oil, lip balm and even a nutritious snack. They recommend spreading it on toast.
(image via: CNET)
Don’t be caught outside unaware of pollution levels in the air. The pollution-sensitive ‘EPA Dress’ by Stephanie Sandstrom detects pollution in the air and wrinkles accordingly. That’s right, this dress – which is actually quite pretty – looks like you pulled it from the bottom of the dirty laundry heap when the air is dirty. It might protect your health by advising you to stay indoors for the day, but it won’t do you any favors if you’re meeting with clients.
People-Powered mp3 Player
(image via: Core 77)
The RollOn mp3 player sort of looks like someone ripped a tire off a child’s toy truck and attached a wire to it. But, it’s far more sophisticated than that. Give your idle hands something to do by rolling this gadget on any surface, which charges it up. Other than its unusual power source, the RollOn – which is inspired by bicycles – functions like any other mp3 player.
Cow Poop Power
(image via: Wikimedia Commons)
Slaughterhouse waste and used coffee grounds aren’t the only unusual power sources popping up in the news lately. Cow manure is being used by dairy farms to produce electricity, and the process has another benefit as well: turning all that ozone-destroying methane gas into something useful. One “poop-filled lagoon” can power an entire dairy operation and feed power into the community grid as well. Such methane power systems are currently under construction all over the country.
Flowering Energy Monitor
(image via: Core 77)
Keep track of your household energy use with a visual indicator. The FlowerPod is a device that monitors your energy use and provides a graphic representation of how you’re doing. If you keep it low, a small green sprout appears and its well-being is determined by the overall energy usage of your home. Use too much power, and the flower begins to wilt. It comes with an ‘information portal’, accessible through your computer, that shows your use of electricity, heating, cooling and water with detailed graphs and statistics, and also suggests ways you can improve.
Man-Powered Ferris Wheel
(image via: Flickr user sourabhj)
A ferris wheel operator in India at some point realized that he could save some money by paying a handful of locals to manually operate a ferris wheel instead of using electricity. A group of about five men use their body weight to spin the wheel. Sure, it’s zero-emissions, but also more than a little dangerous for the workers. Getting caught in the bars as the wheel spins wouldn’t feel too good.
Solar- and Wind-Powered ‘Walking House’
(image via: Mail Online)
This strange little pod on hydraulic legs isn’t just an example of compact modern architecture – it’s actually a solar- and wind-powered home that can stroll at walking pace across all terrain. Designed by Copenhagen art collective N55, the computer-controlled walking house is meant to help people escape rising water levels during floods. The makers hope to see it become a viable option for low-income people living in flood-prone areas.
(image via: RepRap)
An open-source robot created by scientists at the University of Bath can create real, robust mechanical parts – including replications of itself – acting as a three-dimensional printer. The RepRap – short for replicating rapid prototyper – builds parts in layers of plastic as durable as Lego bricks. It heats up plastic and then squeezes it out into a line, which is built into a form as it solidifies. Some have noted that it could reduce dependence on China for cheap manufacturing, since it can create everyday objects like door handles, coat hooks, and even sandals. Considering the pollution China factories emit, that could be a very good thing, although with a RepRap in their homes people might go a little crazy creating plastic junk they don’t need.