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Aalto in an App

Finnish Design Fans can now find and learn about Alvar Aalto buildings within their reach, via a new app, AALTOSites. The app includes photos, drawings, history, and special design information on all of the Aalto-designed buildings in Helsinki. A map feature shows where sites are located, so users can easily build their own personal Aalto tour.

Shadow Type

An installation at the Freemote Electronic Arts and Installation Festival in Utrecht cast visitor’s shadows on a wall in text. The work, by Istanbul design studio Nota Bene, displayed text on the floor with moral and ethical quandaries. When visitors stepped into the display, their own shadow appeared on the wall with projected text. This video shows the experience.

NYC ♡ Tech

Is NYC the next Silicon Valley? If Mayor Bloomberg has anything to do with it, yes. Thanks to some new initiatives, the city will soon become more internet-friendly. Some of the initiatives provide ways for older buildings to be updated for faster internet connecting, and small and medium-sized businesses to compete for – and win- better broadband service. No wonder NYC is considered the fastest-growing tech hub, and Cornell is building Cornell NYC Tech on Roosevelt Island (image above).

If You Build It…

The iconic physical building block has gone digital. Lego Australia is collaborating with Google Chrome to allow kids (and adults) to build, share, and tear down their own lego creations. The program uses WebGL, which provides new abilities in web-browser graphics. Structures can be viewed and shared by others, allowing users to show off their building capabilities. Finished work is shown in a map-like format, which Chrome users can navigate in 3D, similar to Google Street View.

Beautiful Wthr

A new app makes the weather beautiful, (whether) it actually is sunny and 85, or rainy and chilly. Based on Dieter Rams classic 10 Principles of Good Design – it simplifies all the necessary weather elements – with a rotating dial showing cloud coverage, and an easily-navigable look at the coming week.

(Via SwissMiss)

Apps in Africa

An interesting start-up is making it easier for cell phone users in Africa to use beneficial apps. While many there don’t use smartphones, and don’t necessarily have computers and internet connections – they do have cell phones. Start-up Africa’s Talking is making it easy to develop SMS apps for connecting users to each other and their needs. The company already has two successful services, SMSVoices and SMSLeopard, which have helped a doctor send messages to his distant diabetes patients, and companies survey voters about elections in Kenya.

(Via FastCoExist; Image of infographic)

PopTech in Iceland

We were excited back when the PopTech conference announced their speakers for Iceland: Toward Resilience. Now the conference is underway, making us long for Reykjavik. All will be held in the gorgeous Harpa hall – the colored glass facade of which was designed by artist Olafur Eliasson in collaboration with architects Henning Larsen. With salons like “Science, Living Systems and the Edge of Change,” and “Social Mapping and Social Change,” we look forward to seeing what percolates at the conference this week.

Plant Tech

Architecture + technology + agriculture. A new Kickstarter project aims to combine these disciplines with a responsive, modular boxed-planter concept. It includes elegant cedar frames for soil, plants, water and light, and sensors within all – connecting to the needs of plants and allowing for more ‘communication’ between plants and owners. Water can be monitored via your phone, and when watered, the plants (or sensors within the soil) ‘make sounds’ in response. Check it out if interested – the project is close to funding and ends in a few days!

MoMA for Kids

As it often does, the Museum of Modern Art is simultaneously looking forward and back in design – this time, with children. The MoMA recently announced the first large-scale survey of 20th-century design for children, “Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000.” The show opens on July 29, examining the “modernist preoccupation with children and childhood as a paradigm for progressive design thinking.”

MoMA also just announced the release of their art-making app, “Art Lab.” The application is designed to help kids make and understand art, to “think about artistic processes and experiment with shapes, lines, and colors-inspiring digital play.” Kids and adults can both learn about iconic designs for children at the show, or make new art of their own with the app.

Missing Sounds

Do you recall the feeling of anticipation as you listened to the fizzing noises of your 56K modem connecting to the Internet? The tapping of the chunky keys on your first cellphone? Soon, sleek silent interfaces will make these old familiar sounds obsolete. However, the Museum of Endangered Sounds founded by Brendan Chilcutt aims to preserve these low quality bitmap sounds for future generations. The online archive features sounds from old technologies, such as the ringing of rotary phone, loading of VCRs and connecting modems – simply click on the image and listen.

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