Link About It: This Week’s Picks

NASA launches Orion, Peter Marino gets real about retail, touchable holograms and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Eco-Friendly Air Conditioning

A new material developed by Stanford University’s Dr Aaswath Raman is potentially going to revolutionize the way we keep cool. Made from ultra-thin layers of silicon dioxide, hafnium dioxide and silver (for reflectivity), the new material is able to radiate as much as 97% of sunlight back into the frigid vastness of outer-space while still remaining cool itself. When tested, a small wafer of the material was found to be 4.9°C cooler than its surroundings. Raman is still developing commercial applications for his new product.

2. The Keyboard Waffle Iron

Soon Alphabet Soup won’t be the only way to eat your letters. A new campaign on Kickstarter is hoping to make the Keyboard Waffle Iron a reality. Featuring a die-cast, aluminum body with heat-resistant Bakelite handles, the $60 QWERTY-inspired waffle cooker seems like a simple way to breathe some life into a boring breakfast. There are currently 15 rewards available in the campaign, including a $3,000 “Waffles at Work” option for those who like to eat “al desko.”

3. Photographer Exposes Her Identity Thief

After photographer Jessamyn Lovell’s wallet was stolen, mysterious bills began to haunt her. Lovell hired a private investigator to track down the identity thief, but instead of confronting the criminal once she had been exposed, Lovell decided to secretly photograph her daily movements for a revenge exhibition dedicated to the thief, titled “Dear Erin Hart.” To top it off, Lovell sent Hart an invitation to the opening of the show, which is taking place at SF Camerawork; the same place her wallet was originally stolen.

4. The Dawn of Mars Exploration

With NASA’s Orion spacecraft successfully completing a punishing four-and-a-half hour test flight, America has entered a new age of space exploration that should one day land astronauts on Mars. After launching 3,600 miles away from Earth at hypersonic speeds, Orion was tasked with orbiting the planet twice and analyzing a radiation-rich cosmic cloud before hurling itself back home in a 20,000 mph, 4,000°F descent flight into the Pacific Ocean. NASA proclaimed the test to be “the most perfect flight you could ever imagine.” See you soon, Mars.


5. Coffee Mug Matters

Coffee shops around the world may soon be rethinking the color of their cups. A recent study conducted by George Van Doorn of Federation University in Australia reveals that we may be using more than just our tastebuds in determining the intensity of our morning joe. Based on the idea that the brownness of coffee incites varying degrees of bitterness, Van Doorn decided to test which mug color would alter the drinker’s perception most: white, transparent or blue (brown’s complementary color). A white mug ultimately provided the most “intense” cup.

6. Touchable 3D Holograms

Straight from the laboratory of Tony Stark, a newly developed technology is able to produce 3D holographic shapes that can be felt and touched while floating in mid-air. Using ultrasound and haptics (touch feedback) as its primary technologies, this new method creates concentrated air disturbances that form visible 3D floating shapes. The possible uses seem to be endless; whether it’s to touch a tumor from a CT scan, to feel off-limits museum artifacts, or to build an arc reactor-powered, crime-fighting iron suit.

7. Yuri Suzuki’s Color Chasers

In his 2013 installation “Looks Like Music,” sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki invited the public to create their own musical compositions by drawing on the ground with colored markers. An ensemble of five small, robotic Color Chasers—each unique in sound output—would then translate the drawings into computer-like sounds as they rolled over the colorful tracks, resulting in a rich, futuristic song accompanied by a wacky visual piece created from the public’s scribbles. NYC’s MoMA recently selected Suzuki’s interactive musical art to join its collection.

8. The Return of Supersonic Travel

While the Concorde jet was an engineering marvel and a massive feat in aviation technology, it was a little too ahead of its time. A new wave of companies is looking to revisit supersonic transportation with jets designed for the future of travel. Designed, built and available in the near future, the N+2 jet by Lockheed Martin will be able to take you from New York City to Los Angeles in just over two hours. Of course, time is money, so the closest most of us will get to these jets is seeing them on the runway.


9. 100 Notable Books of 2014

With the year quickly coming to a close, The New York Times Book Review has released their list of the 100 most notable books of 2014. Ranging from fiction to poetry and non-fiction, the comprehensive catalog may be the perfect resource when Christmas shopping for the bibliophiles in your life.

10. The Yota Phone 2

Sticking to its signature dual-screen, electronic paperless display (EPD) smartphones, Russia’s Yota Devices is introducing the second iteration of its innovative Yota Phone. Similar to its predecessor, the Yota Phone 2 will feature a Kindle-like display opposite from its main screen, except this time it’s fully touch-sensitive. In the past, the usability of the EPD was questionable, but Yota Devices has revamped the phone’s user experience making it an attractive option to those uninterested in the ubiquitous iPhone or Android. The Yota Phone 2 is currently available in select European countries and will hit the US in 2015.

11. Grayson Perry Asks “Who Are You?”

Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry has a new exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery that’s asking the question, “Who Are You?” The English artist is using non-traditional portraiture techniques to explore self-identity and what it means to be a Brit. Included in his works are 14 portraits—including a self-portrait—composed on vases, posters, banners and even a hijab. Make sure to catch the exhibition, which is on display until 15 March 2015, and maybe you’ll finally know what to say when someone asks, “Who are you?”

12. Peter Marino’s Retail Reality Check

With all the advancements in e-commerce over the last few years and the slew of new brands opening as online-only, people have been finding it more and more difficult to find a reason to visit brick-and-mortar stores—especially department stores where levels of seemingly endless racks of product are daunting. The architect and interior designer responsible for many luxury boutiques and department stores, Peter Marino sat down with for a wild conversation about what it takes these days to get customers in the door and keep them coming back.

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