One Step Closer to Mars, and Other Amazing Innovations in 2017 So Far

With SpaceX, Elon Musk has reignited the dream of going to space in many of us. His goal of making space travel affordable and sustainable – by re-using his rockets, that is – brought space travel within reach maybe not for us but for the generation that comes after us. And recently, the company has taken another major step toward turning humanity into a multi-planetary species. SpaceX has successfully tested its Falcon Heavy rocket, set to be launched “live” this November. Aside from it being one of 2017’s best tech so far, it is also important as the first privately funded vessel that will be able to carry humans to the Moon and Mars. But the Falcon Heavy is just one of the many innovative products we’ve seen emerge this year – there are many others worthy of a further look.

Printed solar sheets

Professor Paul Dastoor of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales has been working on his “printed” solar panels for years – and the product has reached its final trial stage this year. The solar panels created by the professor are made by printing electronic ink onto clear plastic sheets, can be deployed quickly, and are cheap, and lightweight compared to traditional silicon solar panels.

The main advantage of these new solar panels is that they are not as sensitive to light intensity as traditional ones, meaning that not only the roof but also the walls of houses covered in them can produce electricity – and, why not, tents, vehicle surfaces, windows, and their likes. Expect the product to hit the market in the coming years.

Air filtering scarf

Air pollution is becoming a problem faster than we can ever think of tackling it. True solutions are lengthy and expensive – so, for now, protecting ourselves from exposure to toxic urban air remains among the few solutions on a personal level. And WAIR comes with a surprisingly stylish solution: air filtering scarves.

WAIR is a connected air filtering mask hidden inside a stylish scarf that filters out dust, pollen, bacteria, and fumes with a 99% efficiency. It also comes with a smartphone app called SupairMan that notifies the users of pollution levels in various areas, reminding them to put it on. While it won’t stop people from driving cars, it will at least allow the rest to breathe clean air in the streets.

Cloud meets green

One of the most interesting green tech projects this year is the one put in place by Nerdalize, a Dutch cloud computing service provider. Cloud servers are known to generate a lot of heat, so Nerdalize though of a way to make it work for us. To this end, they install their servers not in massive data centers but the homes of participants, using the heat generated by them to heat up the water they use.

Nerdalize’s CloudBox contains a powerful server used by companies and researchers for computations, and an appliance used to capture the heat it produces and heat water that the host can use. This way, Nerdalize saves on the cost of cooling the servers (and that of maintaining a big and expensive data center), the host saves on heating, and Nerdalize’s customers also save thanks to the cost-effective business model the company has. Not to mention the massive reduction of both the company’s and the homeowners’ carbon footprint. A win-win-win situation.

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