Link About It: This Week’s Picks

$2,000 beer, Hypercolor cars, Google's Quantum AI Lab and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Google’s Quantum AI Lab

In May, Google launched its collaborative computing project with NASA and D-Wave, which is aimed at pushing the limits of understanding in everything from medicine to space travel. Now we are getting a first look at the groundbreaking artificial intelligence program that has to operate at sub-zero temperatures. The gravity of the work at the lab really cannot be overstated: they are trying to unlock the inner-workings of the universe as we know it. While the greater discoveries in science seem abstract, the findings impact literally everything we think we “know” about, well, everything. Keep an eye on the Quantum AI Lab as they continue to release their findings.


Korean graphic designer Mirim Seo loves animals, and therefore focuses on keeping her work eco-friendly and sustainable. “CHOMP” is a set of puzzle books that teaches children about basic food chains in different environments: Forest, Ocean, Arctic, Jungle and Desert. Each puzzle piece is a cute animal or organism, and when fitted correctly, the finished puzzle shows the eating process. Help Seo spread the word to bring her clever prototype to fruition.

3. Color-Changing Car

Utilizing heat-sensitive paint, Auto Kandy has developed a
color-changing automobile. Their modified Nissan Skyline switches from orange to black, and various shades in between, depending on the surrounding temperature. Just like those beloved Hypercolor T-shirts from back in the day, even the heat emitted from a palm print can change the car’s color in a wild and imaginative way.

4. “Unreliable Machinery”

As tech powerhouses like Google and Apple fight to make their products increasingly context aware, Studio NAND is fighting back. Software developers are working to estimate a user’s activity by tracking mobile device sensors to gain insight into that person’s behavior and environment. But will users behave differently knowing their actions are being traced? Studio NAND’s “Unreliably Machinery” project focuses on making up the context, and phones are reading it and believing it. As new media artist Golan Levin points out, the mechanical phone cradle’s ability to thwart motion profiling is “important new work” as this latest tech push continues to develop.


5. The Nest Protect

Nest turned an unloved wall appliance into a sought-after tool with their sleek Learning Thermostat, and they’re doing it again with their all-new smoke detector, the Nest Protect. Wireless connection is of course involved, along with an attractive design and smarter sensors—everything you would expect from Nest founder and famed iPod designer Tony Fadell. With the smoke detector’s history of poor design—we’re all too familiar with the relentless chirping—many of those with the device choose not to use it properly out of downright loathing. Though it’s an unexpected niche, Nest Protect will likely be saving lives for its uniquely simple usability.

6. Will Work For Inspiration

Creative Time Reports commissioned musician, cyclist and author David Byrne to write a piece on NYC’s present and future ahead of their upcoming annual summit. His argument in the resulting insightful essay is that “the city is a body and a mind,” and that while the Big Apple has greatly improved the physical part, as neighborhoods become walled communities for the rich, the city is losing its greatest resource to the wealthy 1%—culture. The Talking Heads’ co-founder always writes with remarkable clarity and insight, and as a well-established contemporary artist himself, his outlook on how real estate issues and the financial industry is affecting the city’s creative growth is refreshing and constructive.

7. iKettle

Despite the particularly worn out title, the iKettle is packing all kinds of potential for tea lovers. Now available for preorder, the iKettle sends a notification to your phone when you wake up, when you get home from work—you name it—asking you if you’d like some tea and, in minutes, you’ve got piping hot water without hardly lifting a finger. Instead of a whistle from the stove, you’ll receive a notification when your tea is hot and an invitation to keep it warm until you’re ready to get out of bed.

8. Make your Smartphone Smarter

The latest smartphone cameras are beginning to surpass even the most high-end point-and-shoot digital cameras. Currently funding on Kickstarter, the Beastgrip takes smartphone photography add-ons to a new level. Compatible with just about every smartphone on the market, the Beastgrip lets you use lenses, flashes and filters from your existing SLR kit. The rig keeps a 37mm threaded lens mount tightly lined up with the lens on the phone, so essentially the limit of your phone photography is up to your existing gear (and budget).


9. Ezra Koenig Reviews Drake, Not Really

The Talkhouse is a burgeoning online platform in which musicians review albums by fellow artists. While Lou Reed’s iconic review of Kanye West’s Yeezus was serious and insightful, a review by Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig of Drake’s new album Nothing Was The Same might leave you scratching your head. Koenig gives Drake a 10 out of 10 but admits from the start, “I gotta be honest—I didn’t listen to the whole thing.” After briefly touching upon the song “Worst Behaviour,” Koenig dedicates the remaining 90% of the “review” to share an anecdote about how he was betrayed by a singer of a Danish band, named Hans. This could either be interpreted as a drunk blog rant or a deeper foray into creative nonfiction, but likely the latter. After all, Koenig did write a book of short stories while at Columbia University—and he does not have son, nor a wife, nor is he color blind.

10. $2,000 Beer

Leave it to Portland—land of microbrews, fine coffee and facial hair—to produce one of the world’s most expensive beers. Recently fetching $2,000 per bottle, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company’s Dave barleywine is aged for 19 years in oak barrels and glass bottles. The dark, strong brew clocks in at 29% alcohol by volume, making it more comparable to a spirit than a beer. The goal behind the ultra-luxe suds was to get people thinking about beer differently and view it with perhaps a bit more sophistication. For the curious with some dollars to blow, there are a few bottles of Dave left in the reserves—feel free to invite us over for a drink.

11. The Bold, Occult Tattoos of Daniel Meyer

German tattoo artist Daniel Meyer, working under the name LEITBILD, designs woodblock- and print-like, graphic imagery. Focused on the darker side of mystical themes by invoking the occult and symbolic, each of Meyer’s black and white tattoos is stark and beautiful. There is a balance of bold lines and ornate detail work. With Meyer’s self-taught mastery, each tattoo really is a piece of art. LEITBILD is changing studios in Germany, but open to new customers.

12. Beijing Design Week Highlights

From 28 September to 6 October 2013, the Chinese capital filled with international designers, architects, academics and professionals, paired beside top local talent, for this year’s annual Beijing Design Week. Across the city, venues showcased everything from spatial installations to building experiments, and more traditional exhibitions. Local art met a global audience and an international context. There were so many highlights that this week will no doubt become a staple for design aficionados. Keep an eye our for our own look at the fair soon on CH.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.