XC90 presents… the art of human tech
The effects of microgravity make moving around in space notoriously difficult. So Xin, inspired by the way spiders build their webs, invented a device that shoots out a set of magnetic-tipped ‘threads’ that act as a tether with a solid object, enabling you to move around microgravity environments more easily.
“I began by thinking about these physically capable astronauts or athletes and how that ‘out there’ [in space] your body doesn’t work in the way it should do any more,” says Xin. “I continued by thinking about navigation and the desire to anchor yourself when you’re detached from gravity. Because in space, you have this beautiful dilemma between freedom and loss of control.”
Originally from Xinjiang in western China, Xin studied engineering in her homeland. She then switched to fine art, graduating from MIT, one of the world’s leading educational establishments. She’s now Arts Curator at the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative. Staffed by a team of 50-odd students and faculty researchers – including biologists, computer scientists, mechanical engineers and even musicians – the Space Exploration Initiative was set up two years ago to, in Xin’s words, “democratise access to and revolutionise the future of space exploration”.
Xin sees her primary role as encouraging students, especially those with an engineering focus, to work in a more creative, imaginative and artistic way. You can see that in Xin’s own creations, which blur the lines between tech and art – part invention, part exhibition piece. Technology that has beauty and a humancentric focus intertwined.
“My work is about enhancing humanity with the power of technology”
Xin is interested in technology that has longevity – not for profitable reasons, but more because it evolves with the person using it. And it’s this notion that became the jump-off point for another of her creations. The use of personal monitoring devices is widespread nowadays, whether through wearables, like your watch, or monitors you wear on your body, particularly when you are undertaking a physical activity. But Xin is concerned that we’re heading towards an over-reliance on such devices. The big danger, she suggests, is that they detach you from your personal responsibility to look after yourself.
Enter DermalAbyss, a wearable ‘tattoo’ which gives you information about your health by changing colour based on the state of your body’s interstitial fluid – the solution that surrounds the space between your skin and your organs.
“In the morning, when you wake up, you will look at your skin and say, ‘Oh, I look great today, I had a great sleep’ or sometimes you’ll wake up and there will be a black circle, which indicates you need to take care of yourself a little bit more,” says Xin. “I want to develop that kind of sensitivity. That's sustainable because through time you’re going to understand yourself much better. You’re going to be more and more interested in what’s going on with yourself, rather than relying on the technology.”
“I think about sustainability in broad terms,” adds Xin. “For example, in my work I try to think ‘Is this going to cause any addiction? Is this taking away part of their thinking or their creative process? Or is it actually empowering individuals?’
“For me, that’s sustainability.”
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The race to the horizon
The fascinating background and history of the Volvo Ocean Race have turned it into one of the best-known and toughest endurance races in the sporting calendar. For four and a half decades, participants have challenging themselves and each other as they sail its course. In this article, we will trace the race back to its beginning - and beyond, looking at the developments that shaped modern sea travel and made it possible in the first place. We trace the history of the race all the way back to the opening of the Panama and Suez canals, and then how - decades later - Robin Knox-Johnson became the first man to sail single-handedly round the planet. We then describe the foundation of the race in the 70s, and the developments that turned it into the event we know today - with its cutting-edge boats, teams of world champion sailors and non-stop coverage.
Paikallisuus on parasta
Vantaan Myyrmäessä päivän parhaan lounaan saa Wanda’sissa. Alueen parhaat autot puolestaan myy muutaman kilometrin päässä sijaitseva Bilia Kaivoksela. Tästä ravintoloitsijat Aalto ja Puikkonen ovat aivan varmoja.
Ohjauspyörän keskellä piilee lähes hyödyntämätön voimavara, äänimerkki. Sitä käyttämällä saa tehokkaasti toisen tienkäyttäjän huomion ja voi estää kolarin syntymisen. Silti sen käyttöä vaaran välttämiseksi kuulee liikenteessä vain harvoin.