Link About It: This Week’s Picks

A braille smartwatch, Google Doodle celebrating our new planet friends, color-changing hair dye and more

1. New Planets Are a Google Doodle

The news that NASA discovered an exoplanet system some 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) away from Earth—three of which are in the habitable (or Goldilocks) zone—was a big deal yesterday. Never a company to be too late to the party, Google created a very cute Doodle celebrating the seven planets. With Earth, our moon and each of the “new” planets having their own, sweet personality, it’s a playful animation that reminds even the most jaded among us that a discovery like this is ultimately exciting, sparking endless curiosity.

2. The Dot Braille Smartwatch Ships Next Month

South Korean start-up Dot will begin shipping their Dot smartwatch in March of this year to 100,000 customers (40,000 more are on the waitlist and can expect delivery in 2018). The timepiece has been under development since 2014 and the most recent snag came from durability tests. Foregoing audio prompts, the Dot watch displays four braille characters on its screen. A wearer can reply through two side buttons. The watch can receive smartphone information by way of Bluetooth—texts, notifications, directions—and translate to braille. This piece is only a portion of what Dot has in mind to aid blind or visually impaired people, with a tablet also in the works, made in partnership with Google.

3. 3D-Printed Coral Could Save Our Endangered Reefs

Jacques Cousteau’s grandson Fabien Cousteau believes that synthetic, 3D-printed coral might be the thing to save our endangered reefs. According to CNET, “In nature, coral reefs are made up of calcium carbonate skeletons where tiny organisms called polyps take root” and these polyps grow their own reefs too—but only at one centimeter per year. That isn’t fast enough to keep up. Cousteau’s belief (or hope) is that 3D-printed calcium carbonate skeletons will encourage growth just like the real deal. The Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center has already started experimenting with the clever coral.

4. Color-Changing Hair Dye, Made by a Witch

A data visualization scientist and witch, Lauren Bowker has invented a hair dye that changes color. Just one of the many magical creations she’s developed at her material exploration house, UNSEEN, the dye was officially unveiled at London Fashion Week. Hair that’s been treated with her dye changes when the pigment is heated or cooled. Bowker’s dedication to the occult and to science has resulted in a fascinating field, and she says, “To me, chemistry and science is witchcraft—and so it should be.” Read more at Dazed Digital.

5. Japanese App Locates the Closest Vacant Toilet

Japanese telecommunications company KDDI has created one of the most useful apps ever—especially for people with small bladders or small children. Not only does the app locate the nearest bathrooms, it also lets users know if the toilet is vacant, thanks to sensors on cubicle doors that alert when they are open or closed. While testing is happening in office buildings first, if it’s successful it will be used in public spaces like shopping malls, stadiums and train stations. Read more at Mashable.

6. Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms Given More Accessible Option

For the “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, a major addition has been made to the works, allowing even more people to experience their wonder. The ramps that enter into the LED- or pumpkin-filled mirror wonderlands are considered to be part of the piece itself. Thus, they cannot be modified in any way as the pieces tour museums—and unfortunately, they are not wheelchair accessible. To make the art available to those with disabilities, the Hishhorn staff have translated all three of the rooms into virtual reality experiences—just as immersive and dazzling as the rooms themselves. Headsets and Samsung S7 Edge phones will be provided to visitors of the exhibition for those unable to enter.

7. Campaigning for a Permanent Bowie Memorial in London

Crowd-funders are hoping to raise a whopping £990,000 for a permanent David Bowie memorial statue in London. The campaign, known as “This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll,” is planning for a three-story red and blue lightning bolt statue—honoring Bowie’s iconic Aladdin Sane character—to be erected across from the Brixton tube station. It would be the first Bowie sculpture since his death, and fall upon the same road as artist Jimmy C’s Aladdin Sane mural. The campaign has until 21 March to raise the money necessary, for what is certainly a worthy cause in tribute to an artist who changed the lives of many.

8. Joynout’s X-Shaped Daydreaming Seat

Inspired by the infinity symbol, Daydream is an x-shaped seat designed by Tel Aviv- and Milan-based Joynout and produced in Italy. Employing minimalism, bright colors and sculptural sensibilities, the seat has been imagined to allow for one or two people (facing each other) to relax in an inclined position, legs extending upward. Two cushioned panels, featuring Kvadrat textiles, interlock for assembly. Daydream will premiere at this year’s Salone del Mobile in 10 colorways.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.