Affordable solar homes – a solution for homeowner poverty & net-zero housing!

Net-zero architecture is what will reduce emissions from the construction industry on a large scale. But make it inclusive as well as scalable and you also get a solution that can lift homeowners out of poverty while building a community! Created for that very purpose, these solar homes are aiming to help solve both the global housing and climate crises with one design. The houses produce their energy, harvest 100% of the rainwater, clean their sewage, and also have the potential to grow their own food!

It is called the PowerHYDE housing model and was created by Prasoon Kumar and Robert Verrijt of Billion Bricks from India and Singapore. The model explores sustainable solutions to empower and facilitate growth opportunities for people without homes around Southeast Asia which has a lot of rural and low-income populations. These homes not only provide shelter but are also a power module to scale sustainable communities that lift homeowners out of poverty!

“A BillionBricks Community is the world’s first carbon-negative solar home community to bring families out of poverty within one generation. PowerHYDE homes are plug-and-play modular structures that do not need any connection to services and could be made functional from the day of completion of construction,” says the design team. The cost-effective solution even won a Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction!


The PowerHYDE homes are built via an indigenous prefabricated technique that makes them easy to assemble in remote locations. The home has a solar array installed on the roof and the homeowner can sell excess power generated back to power companies, generating a profit that helps to pay off the cost of the home. Sample homes have been built in Mathjalgaon Village in India and in the Philippines. BillionBricks now plans to build a community of 500 homes near Manila, Philippines that will generate 10 megawatts of power.

Not only does it reduce the emissions from the construction industry (which is the leading contributor in the world for CO2 emissions) but it also helps more people become homeowners while equipping them with means to create renewable energy thus reducing individual carbon footprint as well. It is a radical concept in housing designed for energy sufficiency, extreme affordability, and education for future generations to adapt to a sustainable lifestyle even in rural areas.

Designers: BillionBricks and Architecture BRIO

The post Affordable solar homes – a solution for homeowner poverty & net-zero housing! first appeared on Yanko Design.

Skullcandy’s $25 ‘affordable’ TWS earphones are going to be an absolute disaster for our environment

What can you buy for $25? A great bottle of wine? Two large pizzas? A pair of TWS earphones? No, not those cheap ones off of AliBaba, I’m talking a real pair of TWS earphones from a bonafide audio company. Earlier today, Skullcandy launched Dime, a pair of budget wireless earbuds. They come with a 12-hour battery life (with the case), are IPX4 water-resistant, and cost 1/10th the price of the AirPods. At a price of $24.99, the Dime might be the cheapest pair of TWS earphones from a reputed audio brand.

“Dime breaks down all barriers formerly associated with true wireless,” says Jeff Hutchings, Skullcandy’s chief product officer, in a press release, “Offering stellar sound and unmatched simplicity at a price that makes it possible to throw a pair in every bag.” The TWS earphones come with a plastic construction and in 4 colours – Black, Gray, Green, and Blue. At their ‘throwaway’ price, the earphones really cut corners in a few places. They come with a 3.5 hour battery life, extended to half a day when charged in the case. The Dime doesn’t sport ANC (or any noise cancellation for that matter) or wireless charging. In fact, the earbuds don’t even come with touch-sensitive controls. They do, however, come with actual buttons (one on each earbud) that let you control volume, answer/reject calls, or cycle through music. Other than that, they’re just a pair of solid earphones with a secure fit and an IPX4 water-resistance rating, making them perfect for wearing while going on a jog or while at the beach. As far as sound-quality is concerned, $25 bucks will only get you so far… but given this is coming from a company as big as Skullcandy, they should sound pretty good for their price.

While this is a story about consumer-friendly innovation and how one company managed to make good TWS tech accessible to a large group of people by bringing the price down, it’s also a story of the environmental aftermath of such decisions. The earphones come made from plastic, although there’s really no indication of whether the plastic’s recycled or not (my money is on ‘No’). However, that’s just a small part of the Dime’s critique. The most important part about these earphones really is their price tag and the ‘throwaway’ culture that tag really feeds into, intentionally or unintentionally. At $25, there’s no way these earphones are designed to be repaired (repairing them may actually be more expensive), which means if and when they ever get spoilt, Skullcandy just expects you to throw out the old pair out and buy a new one instead. Given their size, and how ridiculously tiny the components within them are, chances are they’ll never be recycled for parts either… and once thrown, the Dime will just end up in a landfill or the ocean, resulting in plastic pollution, e-waste, and millions of tiny lithium-ion batteries entering our soil or waterways. Skullcandy? More like Skull-and-cross-bones…

Designer: Skullcandy

The Apple AirPods Max ‘Light’ are an affordable, alternative pair of headphones with a plastic design

These budget-friendly pair of headphones were designed to give the AirPods Max their very own iPhone SE moment.

As the iPhone breached the $1000 price-mark for the first time, Apple parallelly unveiled the SE, an affordable smartphone that provided the Apple experience, but without that hefty price tag. Designer Muhammet Uzuntaş has envisioned something similar for the $550 AirPods Max. Titled the Apple AirPods Max Light (a bit of a word-salad there), these conceptual headphones take Apple’s high-end audio experience and make them more accessible. The headphones come with a plastic body, while constantly maintaining the original silhouette. The headband is retained from the AirPods Max, although the cans themselves are made from plastic as opposed to anodized aluminum… that would help eliminate that condensation problem some of the AirPods Max headphones have been having. The band extends all the way to the sides, intersecting with the individual ear-cups. The right side of the band features a rolling cylinder which lets you control the volume by sliding forwards or backwards (as opposed to the crown in the original design), and the earpieces even slide up and down the cylindrical channel to help you adjust the fitting of the overall product.

The AirPods Max Light bridge a very visible gap in Apple’s product range. A gap left by the visible lack of Beats By Dre products on Apple’s shelves. Although conceptual, the AirPods Max Lite aim to fill that void with their affordable-yet-premium design and performance!

Designer: Muhammet Uzuntaş

This sustainable biodegradable PC didn’t make it to CES 2021, but it could save our planet

A biodegradable PC is surely something that should be setting the internet abuzz, but with the tsunami of information that is the Consumer Electronics Show, it’s really difficult to focus on the truly innovative instead of on the big-brand announcements.

Meet the Pentaform Abacus. It looks like a keyboard because it is one, but lying underneath it is an all-in-one PC furnished with ports wrapped up in a neat, portable avatar… but that isn’t all. The Abacus Basic is also designed out of an entirely biodegradable polymer, so once it gets discarded, the tech can be recycled, leaving the outer body to safely degrade into the soil with zero negative impact.

The Abacus by Pentaform is touted as an eco-friendly and easy-to-use affordable computer built into a portable keyboard. It comes fully ready out of the box, and just needs a display to get started. On the tech front, the Abacus includes the full set up of USB Ports, an ethernet port, HDMI as well as VGA output, a built-in speaker, integrated track-pad, and pre-installed Windows 10 (with an option of Linux too). Everything is built right into the Abacus’ keyboard-esque shape, allowing it to be carried anywhere and simply hooked to a monitor, TV, or projector to power it. In doing so, the Abacus brings an unusual experience to computing that isn’t quite like the laptop. For starters, with its $121 price tag, it’s literally a fraction of the price of even the most budget laptops. It’s as portable as a laptop too, but provides the ability to work with any sort of display (even 4K ones)… and it even comes with more ports than most slim laptops can accommodate, and has a quad-core processor with as much as 4Gb of RAM and 512Gb of storage.

The Abacus’ most impressive feat, however, is its commitment towards showing that tech can be sustainable too. In a world that’s literally drowning in e-waste because people want slim products, and slim products are notoriously difficult to recycle efficiently, the Abacus was made with a very clear cradle-to-grave strategy. As an all-in-one PC, the Abacus has 63% lesser of a footprint than a desktop, and with a 31kWh/year power consumption rating, it’s about as energy-efficient as a lightbulb. The Abacus’ internal components are entirely reusable, and its outer body is made to be fully biodegradable. Moreover, even the product packaging is crafted from mushroom, allowing it to easily degrade into soil when inevitably thrown away. Who knew great tech could be cheap, energy-efficient, AND eco-friendly?! The tech giants could surely learn a lesson or two, don’t you think?

Designer: Pentaform

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