Big, big structures rule this week's tech gallery, from the new tallest building the United States to a curvy bridge in China, to a vertical ship designed to drift on ocean currents. Feast your eyes.
Above: NEXT Architects, based in the Netherlands, won first place in a design competition for a pedestrian bridge in China. Inspired by the Mobius strip and Chinese knots, the bridge will provide several paths across the Dragon King Harbor River in Changsha's Meixi Lake District.
The decade-long dream of French architect Jacques Rougerie is now becoming a reality. Rougerie has launched a crowd-funding campaign through KissKissBankBank to help build his vertical ship called the SeaOrbiter. The 190-foot-tall ship is designed to drift with ocean currents and will house 18 marine biologists, oceanographers, climatologists and other scientists, who will live and work onboard for months or perhaps years.
In a publicity stunt to promote her newest album, Artpop, the Grammy Award-winning singer made a dramatic entrance by flying 70 inches above the stage at Brooklyn's Navy Yard wearing a hybrid helicopter dress she called Volantis.
This aircraft is part helicopter, part plane, part airship. It’s ESTOLAS, for Extremely Short Take Off and Landing On any Surface, and is a joint effort of researchers at Riga Technical University in Latvia and Cranfield University in the U.K. As the name says, the aircraft can take off and land in places where runways are nonexistant, making it ideal for delivering food and medicine to people affected by disasters, such as those in the Philippines.
This week, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat named One World Trade Center the tallest building in the United States, beating out Chicago's Willis Tower. One World Trade Center's height to its architectural top is 1,776 feet (541.3 meters), which -- in a controversial ruling -- includes the spire at the top. The Willis Tower's architectural height is 1,451 feet (442.1 meters).
Sandia Labs is developing an unmanned transformer drone capable of changing into a craft that can fly, swim, drive and even hop across various obstacles. A vehicle capable of moving over a range of terrain could ease the logistical nightmares that occur when trying to coordinate multiple teams of ground, aerial and underwater vehicles.
A new project called Designing For the Sixth Extinction, by Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, a designer and artist, and design fellow on Synthetic Aesthetics project, questions whether synthetic animals could help perpetuate natural species as well as clean up the environment that threatens them. Her project is part of the Grow Your Own, Life After Nature, at the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin.
Researchers in Massachusetts are working on new technology to generate electricity from under the ocean. David Olinger, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and his colleagues are working toward underwater kites that will be tethered to the ocean floor and harvest the natural motion of underwater currents. The energy potential of the Gulf Stream alone is equal to about 20 gigawatts, or about 10 nuclear power plants.
Panono is throwable ball camera that has 36 tiny lenses capable of capturing a 360-degree scene. Throw the ball in the air and an integrated accelerometer fires all 36 fixed focus cameras at the apex of the throw. The water-resistant, plastic shell is durable enough to withstand the ups and downs. The camera can also be used in a handheld mode; just mount it to a tripod and press the shutter.
Talk about fashion forward. This waterproof trench coat from Motiif, dubbed "M," has the future in mind. It offers a built-in 4G data connection and smartphone charger. A related app provides the wearer with weather information and advises if the M is necessary for outdoor conditions.