Back in the day, choosing the environmentally-friendly option often meant compromising on style or price. But with rapid innovations in materials and eco-consumers on the rise, some of the coolest, smartest stuff out there is also some of the greenest. Here’s a look at six of them.
The Gogoro Smartscooter
is about as cool as electric gets on two wheels. Stylistically it takes its cues from the sleek look of a smartphone, what with its smooth, elegant curves and digital dashboard. This is emulated in functionality too, what with digital connectivity that enables the rider to use things like Touch ID and apps that support your ride, advising you on routes, charging locations or long-term performance.
The Taiwanese company behind this super-scooter has also introduced another innovation: battery swaps. Because the batteries are easily removable, when you’re running low you simply pull up at a ‘Go Station’ and swap them for fully charged ones. Expect European manufacturers to follow hot on the heels, with Italian manufacturer Vespa set to release its electric scooter later this year.
You have arrived at your destination. And that destination is a greener planet, thanks to the Eco-Navigator
. This environmentally-focussed sat-nav communicates with the car’s computer to show in real time fuel consumption and carbon emissions – if either looks too high on the easy to follow display, the driver will know to slow down and switch up a gear.
Given that eco-friendly driving is also cheaper driving (the Eco-Navigator saves the driver in the region of 5 to 15 percent on fuel costs) it will also subtly begin to change driving habits. Another useful function on this sat-nav is an Eco-Route mode, which (presuming you’re not in a rush to get from A to B) will select a route based on fuel efficiency rather than speed.
When it comes to being eco-friendly, you can walk the walk by slipping on a pair of ‘smart shoes’. R&D departments have been toying with this idea for a few years now, including engineers at a research lab in Villingen-Schwenningen, Germany. Their device, which uses magnets and coils to generate an electric current, harvests two types of energy from a foot in motion – the first from the heel striking the ground, the second from the swing of the foot. The energy produced is small – four milliWatts – but enough to power wearable sensors. Other developers (including a 15-year-old boy from the Philippines!) make use of piezoelectric elements to create small generators, whose energy can be stored in a battery pack exterior to the shoe, and can potentially provide enough energy to charge a phone for an hour or two. For the planet, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
You wouldn’t think there was much you could do with the showerhead, but Hydrao by French company Smart & Blue proves this otherwise bland and functional object can be eco-funky and eco-friendly, all in one sleekly designed package.
Using an in-built multi-coloured LED, it lights up the spray of water in different hues to let you know how much you’re using – ten litres for green, twenty litres for blue and so on. You can moderate the flow by adjusting the settings via a device like a phone or tablet, and monitor your levels of consumption over time. It fits like any ordinary showerhead and doesn’t need a battery, using the flow of water to generate energy.
Forget the struggle to get those charcoal briquettes lit, it’s the sun itself that does all the work with the solar barbeque. The brainchild of Patrick Sherwin, the GoSun stove
was inspired by the tubes used in solar hot water heating systems. The tube concept remains and acts as the oven chamber, able to cook food for four people in one batch, while the reflective metal panels that curve around the chamber help harness the heat.
The GoSun stove can reach temperatures of 290 centigrade, more than hot enough to cook hotdogs, burgers, fish and chopped vegetables, while in ten minutes everything can be fried, roasted, baked or boiled. But what happens when that summer day suddenly goes from flawless blue to overcast? Not a problem – the oven chamber stores heat so you can keep on cooking.
An interesting variation on your usual activity trackers, fitness and lifestyle brand Misfit has joined forces with jewellery manufacturer Swarovski to create the Shine Collection. Glitzy, but practical too, it includes an energy crystal which can be fitted to a necklace or wristband in a variety of colours and styles. It tracks the wearer’s steps, distance walked, calories, sleep duration and quality. What’s more, you’ll never have to replace the battery because solar-powered technology is used to recharge it – that’s what the ‘energy’ in the crystal is all about.