Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Smart Car Door Could Help Protect Cyclists & Pedestrians


by Michael Graham Richard, Gatineau, Canada

Look Out!

Car doors can be pretty dangerous to cyclists (and sometimes pedestrians) in urban areas. In theory, the simplest solution would be to just have motorists pay attention when they open their doors, but human nature being what it is, it's doubtful that we'll ever get to that point (education can make things better, but 100% safe for cyclists? Probably not). Technology comes to the rescue: BMW is working on 'intelligent' car doors that will simply become harder to push open when they detect danger.

The current prototype looks like a normal car door, but an extra metal bar runs through its centre and connects to the car's frame between the hinges. In normal mode, the bar moves freely and doesn't affect the door's movement.

However, if sensors detect a nearby obstacle at the same time as an accelerometer detects an attempt to open the door, the door's swing is restricted by a linear motor attached to the bar.

To pass on more information to the user, the amount of door resistance is in proportion to the proximity of an object – for example, you might swing a door halfway open without problems before it gets stiffer as it nears a lamp post.

Now there's a technology that could save lives! People should still pay attention and look around when they open their doors - especially between now and the time when the 'smart' door is on all cars - but humans are forgetful and easily distracted, so having a backup plan is always a good idea.

BMW says the technology is mature and could be implemented in commercially available cars, but it hasn't made a decision on whether to move forward or not yet. I encourage them to do so.


Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Concept: CO2 Scrubber Wrist Watch

With discussion of using big-ass artificial trees to scrub-a-dub-dub CO2 from the atmosphere, here comes a little item for each of us to use: eCO2 is an athletic wrist watch, powered by kinetic energy, aiming to reduce individual carbon footprints by using CO2 scrubber technology. We know we need to bring down the level of atmospheric CO2 down to the acceptable level of 350 ppm to sustain life as we know it, but does this concept promise to be a key to individuals becoming responsible citizens of this planet or is it a hair-brained, resource-extraction and life-cycle intensive gizmo ultimately with a net-positive carbon wristprint?

Functioning as a regular watch, it also constantly pulls in air through the intake vents collecting CO2, and expels new clean air via the exhaust vents.

Say its designers James Kershaw & Chad Garn:

eCO2 would allow individuals keep track of their personal impact on cleaning up the environment. While one watch will reduce CO2, in mass use, the eCO2 watch would process large amounts of CO2.

With golf being a great user of kinetic energy and all that fresh air out on the course, this seems to be a natural fit. What do you think, is there any chance this thing could make any sense?

Let us know in the comment and thanks in advance!

Dead Malls: Tragedy or Opportunity?


by Kimberley D. Mok, Montreal, Canada

Is the era of the enclosed shopping mall over? With changing consumer habits (such as increased online shopping) and the advent of “big-box” specialty stores and discounters like Home Depot, Target and Wal-mart, the deepening recession is merely delivering the coup de grâce for hundreds of shopping malls across the U.S.

For some, the end is coming none too soon. As icons of excessive consumption and shortsighted urban planning, malls represent everything that has gone wrong with our car-based consumer culture. For others (especially in smaller towns), malls represent one of the last few sanctioned public spaces in our society where communities can gather. So what happens (or could happen) when a shopping mall dies? ... more story here


Thursday, 2 April 2009

More Greenwashing from Ontario's Liquor Store: "Cheerpacks"

from TreeHugger
by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario was established in 1927 after Prohibition to do what its name says- control liquor consumption. 82 years later its mandate has evolved, and now its purpose is to make as much money as possible for the Government, turning it into one of the world's largest buyers of wine and liquor. It has been a big promoter of alternative packaging to reduce landfill waste and get more product on the shelves, and TreeHugger has whined about its Tetra-paks and bag-in-box wines before. Now they have a new item on the shelf, Australian wine in "Cheer packs", and it is possibly the most questionable yet.

read more here

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Mike Weir and Fred Couples headline 2009 TELUS World Skins Game

International event to raise funds for Operation Enfant Soleil and sick children throughout Quebec

QUEBEC CITY, March 30 /CNW/ - Mike Weir, one of the most successful, and beloved, golfers ever to hail from Canada, and Fred Couples, the American player aptly nicknamed 'Mr. Skins', will be headlining the famous international 'fivesome' competing in the 2009 TELUS World Skins at Levis' La Tempête Golf Club in June.

Weir, who authored one of Canada's proudest golfing moments when he won
the 2003 Masters, will be making his seventh appearance at the TELUS World Skins. Over the years, he has won 20 skins for a total of $400,000. He is also tied with George Knudson for the most career victories on the PGA TOUR by a Canadian.

"I couldn't be more excited about the chance to play in the TELUS World
Skins Game and visiting the Québec City region this summer," said Weir. "I'll always remember the support that the fans in Québec showed me during the 2007 President's Cup, and I'm looking forward to showing the other players one of our most beautiful and historic cities."

Couples, a fifteen-time winner on the PGA Tour including the 1992
Masters, is one of the most popular players in the history of professional golf and is certainly no stranger to the Canadian Skins Game. He has won 62 Skins for $1,110,000 in eight appearances, the most of any player in the event's history. To date, he has won more than $4 million in the U.S. Skins Game.

"We are thrilled Mike Weir and Fred Couples are returning to headline
this year's TELUS World Skins Game in June," said Joe Natale, president of TELUS Business Solutions. "TELUS is proud to be bringing the best in golf to its Canadian customers from coast-to-coast. Whether fans are on-site or watching from home, they will enjoy a truly unique experience by witnessing some of the world's finest golfers play for a worthy cause."

Funds raised at the 2009 event will improve the quality of life for
thousands of sick kids for years to come by supporting Operation Enfant
Soleil, an organization that invests in the development of quality pediatric care in Quebec. The charity will use the money to equip the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Quebec's Centre mere-enfant's surgical unit with the latest in multimedia technology to facilitate complex pediatric heart surgeries. The new system's extensive connectivity will enable real-time participation in surgeries from any location, thereby improving educational opportunities and providing quick access to specialists, all of which will increase the success
rate of the procedures.

The two-day TELUS World Skins Game will be held on June 22 and 23, 2009
at La Tempete Golf Club in Levis, the very first 18-hole golf course of
international caliber in the region.

The TELUS World Skins Game is also sponsored by Audi, Desjardins,
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, GREY GOOSE(R) Vodka, Québec City Tourism, Quebec Tourism and Samsung.