Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Spelling bees as a sport, living on Mars, inventions for future humans, Muppets and more

1. United Arab Emirates Aims to Colonize Mars by 2117

Potentially named City of Wisdom, a fully functioning outpost for 600,000 people on Mars is a new goal for the United Arab Emirates. And the target year happens to be 2117. Appropriately named “Mars 2117,” the project aims to be a multinational effort according to program director Saeed Gergawi. For such an effort to work, transportation to the planet and sustainability efforts would need to be developed. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister, is spearheading it all, with hopes to bolster the Emirates science and technology developments, inspire the youth and reduce reliance on oil. Learn more about the strategies and plans at the LA Times.

2. The World’s First VR Calligraphy Installation

Running through 3 June at the Taiwan National Palace Museum, “The Spirit of Autobiography” allows visitors to try their hand at recreating Chinese calligraphy—only, in virtual reality. Billed as the first calligraphy VR experience, the exhibition offers guests a headset and they then proceed to a Chinese pavilion and situate themselves in an empty room where a calligraphy pen awaits. Characters appear in the air and one must then trace them—perfectly (otherwise, users have to repeat the process until the lines are exact). The installation uses technology by Computex and it’s an exciting way to learn the motions behind one of the most exquisite forms of writing.

3. NYC’s New Permanent Jim Henson Exhibition

NYC’s Museum of the Moving Image has just announced their permanent exhibition of Jim Henson‘s incredible work and legacy will be opening 22 July 2017. From character sketches to photos, puppet prototypes, behind-the-scenes footage and (of course) actual Muppets, the show is sure to delight. On display will be 47 original puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Rowlf and Fraggle Cantus the Minstrel. Beyond “Sesame Street,” Henson’s legacy is remarkable—”The Muppets,” “Fraggle Rock,” “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth” continue to inspire. Many of the pieces on display have been kindly donated by the Henson family. Read more at Curbed.

4. Essential Products, the Anti-iPhone, and the Future of Tech

With a few important mantras—one being “simple is always better”—Sidekick- and Android-creator Andy Rubin has launched a new tech company today. Essential Products was born out of the realization that even though tech gadgets are meant to help simplify our lives, they oftentimes do the opposite. Today two products (both set for a summer release) have been announced: an edge-to-edge and top-to-(almost) bottom screen smartphone called Phone which has no branding, and a smart-home hub “that Rubin hopes will bring order to the endless standards, protocols, and systems wrought by the Internet of Things.” With the hope to connect with products already in existence, and to eventually create an open-source and infinitely extendable platform, Rubin’s new venture is certainly interesting if not bold. Read more at Wired.

5. Inventions for Future Humans at Beirut Design Week

As part of the “Speculative Needs XOXO” exhibition at Beirut Design Week, 150+ Lebanese design and architecture students have presented artistic creations that address future human needs springing up thanks to anti-social technological developments. While the concept seems heavy, the approaches taken by many of the young creatives are playful, colorful and clever. From goggles called “Face Brace” which aid users in re-learning how to make eye contact to “The FOMO* Breather” which lets users know about social events occurring nearby, the creations are funny and tinged with pathos. Find out more at FRAME.

6. Open House at Frank Lloyd Wright Buildings

This year, 8 June marks Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday. The innovative and iconic architect designed some 1000+ buildings and structures and, to celebrate his birthday, many of the usually private buildings will be open to the public. From the Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois; to Frederick C. Bogk House in Milwaukee; to a doghouse in San Rafael, California; design enthusiasts will be able to enjoy Wright’s visions for just $1.50. Read more at the Smithsonian.

7. A Siri Speaker, iOS 11 and Other WWDC 2017 Expectations

On Monday 5 June, WWDC 2017 (aka the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference) will commence, shedding light on a year’s worth of developments at Apple. Speculation each year has become a sport in its own right, hinged upon expectations, wants and wishes for the the iPhone, Mac, and more. The Verge, who will be reporting live on-site, have compiled a sturdy list of hopes which includes insight on a potential focus shift from software to hardware (with the potential for a new product announcement). That said, updates to iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS are expected as well as stylus developments, iPad Pro advancements and more. Head over to The Verge for a list of it all.

8. How Spelling Became a Sport

When thinking about celebrity sportspeople, we oftentimes go to athletes like Serena Williams or Lebron James, but every spring a very different kind of sporting champ graces ESPN and various TV shows. The Scripps National Spelling Bee (which started as a promotional event in 1925) somehow made its way into the professional sports industry—thanks to its first airing on ESPN in 1994. Full of suspense, drama, and sometimes fainting, tears and tantrums, it has plenty in common with traditional sports and yet it’s entirely different. Read more about how teenage spelling enthusiasts became athletes at The Outline.

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