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Green to go

8 Dec

Even though I don’t ride my bike as often as I should, there are many people who still do every day, even when it’s raining. Of course, Holland is known for its bike riding and everything, but the seduction of taking the car when it’s raining becomes much bigger when you finally get your driver’s license.

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But, for those diehards wo still take the bike, moving from one destination to another ASAP is one of the most important thing when it’s raining. However, this can be difficult. Especially in the city when there are lots of traffic lights. For us cyclers, this is one of the biggest irritations; the endlessly waiting for a traffic light while all these dry motorists drive along. To make cycling in the rain a little more pleasant, in the city Rotterdam they’ve developed traffic lights who turn to green faster when it’s raining.

The city is getting better at responding to cyclists through things as wider cycle paths. Now they’re trying to enhance the bicycle experience even more. On a crossroad within the city they set up an experiment. They placed a sensor which notices when it’s raining.

Where bicycle lights are up to a maximum of three minutes on red, it gets adjusted to a maximum of about 40 seconds when it’s raining. This means that motorists, who are in their dry cars anyways, have to wait a little longer. A smart innovation for cyclists, but maybe an adverse change for motorists.

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For now, the sensors are only placed in Rotterdam. The municipality already suggests to expand these plans within Rotterdam. When it becomes a success, the idea will be transferred to other cities as well. It sounds like a great plan, so let’s hope it becomes a success so we all benefit!



Like a pearl in my hand

4 Nov

Who opens the book Like a Pearl in My Hand, wouldn’t see anything but black pages. But if you lay a hand on any of the pages, your body temperature will drive out the darkness. Suddenly there are portraits visible of blind or very bad seeing Chinese children. In this way, you can ‘see’ the images by using your hands, just like the children have to do by themselves every day.

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The children are portrayed by the Dutch photographer and artist Carina Hesper. They live in a shelter for orphaned children with visual impairments, which was set up by a French couple. Thanks to the one child policy in China, most blind and disabled children end up in an orphanage.

Disabled children are seen as a problem. They aren’t able to make money and thus cannot provide for their parents. And these often can’t even pay the medical costs. Disabled children in China are also seen as a punishment for the shortcomings of their parents; a restriction there is something to be ashamed of.

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The portraits in the book are covered with heat sensitive ink, and only become visible at a temperature of 25 degrees. On a cold day, only the part of the picture underneath the hand will be visible. On a hot day the picture will be fully visible, like a normal book. People sometimes even work together to see the whole picture by putting multiple hands on the picture.

The inspiration for this technique goes back to Hesper’s own youth. As a teenager, she had a mug with a picture of a mountain on it, which changed into an erupting volcano when a hot drink was donated in it. Years later it came back to her mind and she would to work with it as an artist. The ink provides a very direct, physical experience, and the story of ‘Like a Pearl in My Hand’ is a good project therefore.

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It is not a cheap book to produce. That is mainly due to the cost of the heat sensitive ink. 30.000 euros (half of her budget) needs to be spend to bring the book on the market. To collect this amount of money, Hester started a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. She probably wouldn’t get any profit out of it (she hopes to get her own investment back) but that doesn’t stop her from making a portion of the proceeds to donate to the shelter.

Like a Pearl in My Hand has already been shown on several exhibitions in the Netherlands, including in the eye hospital during the museum night in Rotterdam, UNSEEN and the Unfair art fair.


Who would have known.. – dreams

12 Oct

When you were a kid, you probably never wanted to go to sleep. You tried everything to stay awake: very slowly drinking, being as quiet as possible so you’d hope your mom would forget you were even in the room or choosing the longest story in the book, just to stay up a little longer. But now you’re older, sleeping is often the only thing you want to do after a long, exhausting day.

Even though we just love to sleep, which we do about 1/3 of our lives, we don’t know much about it. Because the things we do while sleeping, like dreaming and talking in our sleep, are very complex things.

Let’s start at the beginning. You just went to bed and you are about to fall asleep. But, suddenly it feels like you’re falling down hundreds of meters and you just kick your foot out of nowhere. OK, what just happened..? For a moment you try to figure out what just happened, but within a few seconds you fall asleep.

This weird convulsion after falling down is called a hypnic shock. This is an involuntary convulsion from the muscles, which only happens between the moment of being awake and falling asleep. It all sounds very complicated, but actually it’s just a dream 1neurological struggle between the brains, who are awake, and the muscles, who want to relax so they can go to sleep. This happening is pretty normal, but if it happens more nights in a row, you might have to check for some factors. If you’re overtired or don’t have a comfortable sleeping position, this convulsions can get worse. Also drinking lots of coffee, smoking or medicines like Ritalin can cause this hypnic shock.

Now, after you’ve finally fell asleep, you can start dreaming. Not everyone dreams every night (people who never have dreams have a higher risk on a personality disorder) but when it happens, we try to remember what our dream was about. Unfortunately, five minutes after we woke up, we already forgot half of our dream and within ten minutes, 90% of our dream is gone. But sometimes, when we’re lucky (or better not..) we can still remember some parts of our dreams. Now it happens to be, that some dreams do have actual meanings. Psychologist Dr. William Braun explains the seven most common dreams and their meaning.

  1. Let’s continue falling. Number one is falling into an abyss. One moment you’re standing before an abyss, the next moment you fall over the edge and you start falling.

Dreaming that you’re falling may indicate a feeling of losing control or being overwhelmed or it can mean that you’re feeling unsafe. But also the kind of falling matters. When you’re falling into an abyss means something else than falling because the floor under your feet is been pulled away. It’s important to look at the context when you’re falling.

  1. Screaming without voice. How scary is it to lose your voice so you can’t scream for help..

This might not only be just a dream. It can also be a symptom of sleep paralysis. We’re dreaming while we’re in the REM-sleep. At the same time, our body gets paralyzed to avoid us from moving while we’re dreaming. Between this paralysis phase and the phase of waking up, some people can be ‘half dreaming’. This means that we’re conscious of the fact that we can’t move and talk in our sleep. By the way, did you know that even deaf people do sign language in their sleep.

  1. Being naked in public.

This dream is quiet embarrassing.. And that’s exactly what it means. It means that you’re ashamed and vulnerable. If you don’t feel any shame at all in your dream, it means exactly the opposite. You want to be seen, appreciated and admired by others.

  1. Suddenly, your teeth are falling out..

This can be related to accumulated anxiety, which can be expressed by this dream. It’s possible that you don’t have enough trust in your own ability to express yourself to the world. This dreams can also mean that there’s a lot of change going on in your life.

  1. You’re being chased by something or someone.

This all depends on what exactly is chasing you. Often, people get chased by a monster. This monster can be a metaphor for clumsiness, an addiction or a debt. If you’re being chased by someone familiar, it has more than one meaning. The association you have with the person who’s chasing you and the feeling that gives you, says more about your dream than about the person. Don’t forget that people in your dreams can be a symbol for other people, or even for parts of ourselves.

  1. Dreams about the day. When you have dreamed about a particular moment of the day or a place where you’ve fallen asleep.

This is a good example of ‘day residue’. Often we process the things that’ve happened during the day in our sleep. These memories come even more alive when we’re asleep. By dreaming, we’re structuring our experiences in our head.

  1. You’re the best! You’re in a mighty position: you’re the boss, president or king.

When you think this dream is all about power, you might be wrong. It often means the opposite: people with these kind of dreams don’t feel in control. The dream is a desire for control and power and it compensates the powerless feeling in real life.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely can relate to some of these dreams. To be honest, I’ve asked myself many times what they could’ve meant, but I really had no idea. After founding out myself, I’m a little more reassured, knowing that I’m not the only one having those dreams.

That’s why I think this post also improves others quality of life. It gives you information about the meaning of some of the most common dream, which I think many of you would’ve had at least once. For me, it certainly did. I hope this post cleared up some things for you so you can go to sleep with a rested feeling.

Sweet dreams!

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Your best Bud-E

8 Oct

Your friends are coming over within an hour to watch the game, so you quickly take a look in the fridge to be sure you still have enough cold beers. Oh no, just 4 beers left. If you’d known this before, you would’ve had enough time to go to the store and to make sure the beers would be cold before your friends come over.

beer 1To prevent this (especially for men) ‘huge’ problem, Bud Light is introducing a connected mini fridge that monitors and displays the number of bottles inside the fridge. This Bud-E Fridge also sends out an alert when low on beer via an accompanying app and even lets you know when the beers inside are the optimal temperature for consuming. How ideal!

But, hold on, that’s not all. The Bud-E Fridge and its accompanying smartphone app, developed together with Bud Light, Linq IQ and Buzz Connect the opportunity for sports fans to program their favorite teams. Now they can be kept up-to-date via the app with upcoming games. Of course you need to have enough beers before the game, so the Bud-E Fridge checks the number of beers. If there aren’t enough inside, Bud Light updates the stock level in real-time. The app is integrated with beer delivery service Saucey, which allows consumers to order Bud Light for home delivery.

When you finally have enough beers in your fridge, a countdown timer will indicate when the beers will reach optimal serving temperature. When they’re cooled down below 32 degrees, they’re good to go!

beer 2This smart fridge shows information from its inside to its consumers via their mobile devices. This kind of technology can be used in the future for more general fridges inside homes, so people will know what kind of products they need to purchase.

The constant quest for innovation will lead to enhanced experiences for the consumer. With the Bud-E Fridge, they’ve created something that shows how we constantly push the boundaries in technology and innovation. Especially for the connected home of the future, but in this case to provide beer drinkers new ways to enjoy Bud Light with their friends.

Obviously, this product will improve people’s quality of life. Especially people who love beer. Of course it’s not a life changing concept, but I’m sure it will prevent a lot of frustration and ensures nights and nights of relaxing, watching games and drinking beer!


“Like” and “Share”

24 Sep

Everyone knows the profits of having Facebook, like finding old friends or making new friends and expanding your network. But Facebook itself also wants to gain profit out of it. On average, people spend 40 minutes on the site, but Facebook wants to increase the time people spend on their site. By using algorithms (a finite set of instructions that will lead to a certain goal starting from a certain position) they show you the exact videos and stories you want to see. They gain this information by looking through your Facebook click history, but also by tracking the websites you’ve visited. fb 2

In 2009, the “Like” and “Share” buttons appeared for the first time. In 2010, developers were allowed to add these buttons to their own websites, apps and blogs. After only 2 years, 25% of the internet had the buttons installed on their site. So, whenever you visit a site that has a “Like” or “Share” button, you can be sure that they’re sending your browsing behavior to Facebook. So, you might think that it’s just a ‘nice thing’ from Facebook to show you what you want to see, actually it’s a strategic method to increase Facebook’s popularity and the time people visit the site. But, the scary part is that, according to an MIT Technology Review report, Facebook is only weeks away from actually using the data it collects.

If you’re using a Mac, iPhone or iPad, you can thank the always-competitive Apple with its response to Facebook. Apple rolled out ‘Content Blockers’, which allows users to install 3rd-party ad-blocking apps that let you block unwanted social widgets by social media sites. This includes blocking social widgets such as Facebook’s “Like” and “Share” buttons. BlockBear and 1Blocker are the blockers who’ve gained popularity since the release of iOs9 last Tuesday. This probably is a strategic move by Apple to step up with Facebook. However, we can thank them for keeping our web browsing experience a secret from Facebook.

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On one hand, I think it’s a good thing form Facebook to follow our social behavior, so when we’re looking for something specific, we can easily find it. This improves the Quality of Life, because it does make life easier. But on the other hand, I can imagine that people think it’s annoying to get advertisements they don’t even want to see. And it’s also kind of creepy that Facebook can track everything you do online. I even think this con is bigger than the pro, so Apple’s ‘Content Blockers’ are a great solution to exclude Facebook from your online activities. The big question that’s left is; when will Facebook block the ‘Content blockers’ and will our information be abused?


Your midnight Companion

24 Sep

Imagine, you went to a great party on a Saturday night, but it is already 3 am and you have to go to work the next morning. It’s really time to go home, but none of your friends live near you. That means you have to go home all by yourself..

Usually when you split up with your friends after a night out, you make sure everyone sends a message to the rest of the group when they got home safely. But, when you don’t get a message from one of your friends, you might worry a bit, even though you know she might just fell right asleep.

Now, five students of the University of Michigan noticed that their fellow students didn’t like to go home by themselves in the middle of the night. That’s why they created the Companion app.

How does it work?

You enter your route in the app, but also a few names of your friends who can follow your walk home on their phone. When something weird happens, like, for example, you start running, your friends get a signal and they can ask if you’re ‘OK’. When you don’t send them an answer within 15 seconds, an alarm on your phone goes off to scare any assailants (if there are any). In America you can also call the police with the app, but in The Netherlands it doesn’t work yet.

I think this app improves the Quality of Life, because people will feel much safer knowing there is something/someone who protects them on their way home at night. I think it’s even more the feeling that IF something might happen, they can be sure that someone will know. For myself, I would feel much more reassured knowing at least someone would know where am and waits till I get home safely.


Color your stress away

8 Sep

I don’t know why, but some people seem to be stressed out all the time. I think it is a part of growing up and have an adult job. I mean, I have stress too, but I can let go after a certain time. But, luckily for the stressed out adults, there is a color book to color your stress away! The Creative therapy anti-stress color book is created by Hanna Davies, Jo Taylor and Richard Merritt. The book exists of 61 detailed line drawings in black and white. It are like mathematical patterns or complicated drawings of animals, where, sometimes, a part of the background is already colored. This gives you a visual proposal for a color combination, which is a tactic to stimulate the brain.

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The book also has room to doodle. These simple illustrations are an inspiration for people to start to draw free drawings. The creators assure you it is a great way to relax.

It is a little similar to the color book your parents gave you when you were young, when you went on a holiday. This book for adults is for sale for 15 dollar. It is a real investment for yourself, your partner or neighbor to be assured of a nice, relaxed, stress-free moment.

I really think this color book for adults improves their quality of life, because, nowadays you see more and more people getting ill on a physical disease like stress or a burnout. To prevent the expanding of stress, a color book like this is a great remedy to go back to your inner child and to let go of your stress. You don’t have to think about work and you can just focus on the drawings. Just color the stress away!