The Olympics’ ‘anti-sex’ cardboard beds were designed for sustainability… now they’re preventing virus superspreaders





Back in January 2020, when the interiors of the Olympic village were first unveiled, the sustainable low-carbon beds immediately grabbed attention. They weren’t your normal-looking beds, in fact, they looked a little more ‘recycled’ than usual; because they were. The Japanese had made it abundantly clear that they were going to focus on keeping the Olympics as environmentally friendly as possible. The medals would be made from recycled metal, the Olympic torch was fabricated from pipes previously used in temporary refugee housing during Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The beds in the Olympic village too, were crafted from high-resistance cardboard that could easily take on weights of up to 200 kilos… fine for one occupant, maybe not for two. Back then, the design was hailed as a champion of sustainability with a low carbon footprint. Now, it’s a critical design feature that’s helping keep athletes safe by being a social deterrent.

It’s not entirely clear where the rumor began, but like everything viral on the internet, the ‘anti-sex bed’ theory started somewhere on social media. It’s no secret that the Olympics are also an incredibly social event for the athletes, to put it mildly (type ‘Olympic village’ into a Google search bar, and the suggestion invariably recommends ‘condom’). While the beds aren’t “anti-sex” per-se, Tokyo officials seem to be pretty glad that athletes are a little thrown off by the fact that their beds are made of ‘cardboard’. As Japan is dealing with a coronavirus health crisis (much like the rest of the world), it just seems like common sense to not want the athletes to intermingle (2 athletes already tested positive with 21 more kept in isolation). That said, it seems like Airweave – the designers behind the cardboard bed and the recyclable mattress that goes on top of it – isn’t amused at people trolling their high-quality furniture. “Cardboard beds are actually stronger than the one made of wood or steel,” Airweave said in a statement!

Designer: Airweave for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Face Masks are not going anywhere, so this mask is built with an opening for drinking liquids safely during travel

Wearing face masks in airports and airplanes can get uncomfortable, especially if your trip is a long one. It can become difficult to breathe, there’s no eating or drinking, and it gets pretty sweaty under there. After traveling forty hours from the United States back to China, designer Ruitao Li developed the Umai Facemask, a silicone face covering with a breathing valve, air filter, and small mouthpiece slot that can be used to eat and drink while wearing the mask.

While we haven’t entered a post-COVID era yet, we are seeing a small light at the end of the tunnel. Rounding the corner, many restaurants and bars are opening back up to the public around the world. However, with new variants causing hot spots and surges all over the world, masks are still as necessary as ever. The Umai Facemask comes as a set, including the silicone face mask as well as a water bottle with a soft, bendable straw that fits into the mask’s mouthpiece slot.

Users can fill their bottles with their preferred beverages and say goodbye to airplane dry mouths. The removable straw can even be swapped from Umai’s water bottle and used to drink from another one. Umai Facemask’s breathing valve and air filter also make wearing a face mask feel a little more comfortable. Powered up with a type-c charge, the air filter ensures that the air you’re breathing in is clean and fresh, while the breathing valve circulates the air inside the mask to avoid the damp humidity that comes with conventional face masks.

Not eating and drinking while wearing a facemask has to be the hardest thing about traveling nowadays‒who doesn’t love airplane food? Designed to make the experience of modern travel feel a little more relaxed, the Umai Facemask doesn’t compromise the face mask’s primary purpose of keeping viruses and bacteria at bay, it enhances it. With adjustable aluminum nose pieces, hypoallergenic silicone covering, and several air filters, the Umai Facemask ensures comfort and safety.

Designer: Ruitao Li

Complete with a mouthpiece for eating and drinking, the Umai Facemask was designed to make modern travel more comfortable.

Constructed from hypoallergenic silicone, the Umai Facemask doesn’t cause acne or oily skin.

Traveling during the COVID-19 era requires a lot of caution, which can get uncomfortable.

Ruitao Li aimed to make a comfortable and safe face mask for the modern age.

Umai comes as a set, including the face mask, water bottle and bendable straw, and a type-c charger for the air filters.

Ruitao Li found that the most comfortable material for their face mask was silicone.

Medical professionals can also enjoy the benefits of eating and drinking while wearing a face mask.

The soft, bendable straw can be used for any water bottle as it is detachable.

Stocked with plenty of air filters and breathing valves, the Umai Facemask provides plenty of clean air to breathe.

Self-sanitized autonomous pods combine public transit with safe socializing

COVID-19 has changed the perception of life in the last year or so, and it’s still showing no signs of retreating as new variants push their claws towards human life. Scientific researches have proved that such pandemics will be a common affair in the coming time, and to get around them, we’ll have to alter our living methodology. Pretty obviously, the way we commute is also going to take a ‘detour’ – especially in public transport systems. Pivot of Safety by Yongho Jeon is a look into the future where maintaining social distancing in public transit will be of prime importance.

The autonomous share ride system is imagined as a 1, 2, or 4 person unit with an airy home-like space being the focus. Keeping things very minimal on the inside, the idea here is to create a relaxing environment while making sure of safety when we talk of social distancing. The pod-like vehicle segregates the sitting area for each passenger with glass separators and individual infotainment systems to keep in touch with friends & family. Air purifiers and UV sanitization (on exposed surfaces such as tables) ensure the minimal spread of contagious viruses or other pathogens for the safety of the rider. There are plants potted in between the four-person pod unit’s diving section to bring the calming effect indoors.

Once a passenger or group of passengers have completed their journey, the pod self-disinfects using UV light. Over the wheels, there is space for storage of luggage or any big items passengers want to haul. The concept makes even more sense in an uncertain future where being safe is the only option to stay clear of harm’s way and helping curb the spread of deadly pathogens. Yongho’s concept is practical and has a very clean design blueprint that is feasible in real-world settings.

Designer: Yongho Jeon

Honeywell and rapper Will.i.am just debuted a futuristic face-mask with built-in wireless earphones





I’ll be honest, nothing about that title is even remotely predictable. In fact, it gets progressively weirder with every subsequent word. You wouldn’t expect Will.i.am to release a medical product, more so, partner with Honeywell over it… but together the rapper and the OEM conglomerate collaborated over a mask that combines the best of both parties. Titled the XUPERMASK, the $299 face-mask comes with dual three-speed fans and HEPA filters, but also packs Bluetooth earphones with noise canceling audio and 7-hour battery life. I’ll be honest, the association with Will.i.am aside, the mask really looks pretty futuristic (it comes co-designed by Hollywood costume-designer Jose Fernandez, who also designed the SpaceX astronaut suits). The fact that it’s built by Honeywell lends it a good amount of credibility, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I could actually see myself wearing one of these.

The XUPERMASK attempts at turning face-masks into a bit of a pop-culture item. It surely isn’t fluff… the mask is awaiting FDA approval, and it comes fitted with replaceable HEPA filters made by Honeywell – a company that’s built itself on designing the world’s greatest HVAC systems. The pop-culture element comes from rapper and Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.am, who aims to turn the XUPERMASK into a renegade pair of wireless earphones too.

As far as the face-mask part of the design is concerned, the XUPERMASK sports a universal fit, thanks to a silicone face-seal and a high-performance elastic strap that wraps around your head. The mask is outfitted with dual-fans that work at 3-speed settings to deliver purified air directly to your face as you breathe. Air is pushed through a set of pleated HEPA filters manufactured by Honeywell, and the filters are designed to be replaced every 30 days for optimal performance. The fans themselves run for an impressive 7 hours on a full charge, providing enough usage to get you through most of your day… and to seal the deal, the mask even sports glowing LED rings around each fan for that futuristic appeal.

Aside from being just a face-mask, the XUPERMASK (pronounced Supermask, if you’re still wondering) also packs a pair of wireless earphones too. The earphones emerge from the sides of the mask, and can be docked on the mask itself on designated magnetic panels. When you want to wear them, just pop the earphones off and place them in your ear. The earphones come with Bluetooth 5.0, pairing seamlessly with any smart-device. They come with active noise-canceling (pretty impressive for a face-mask), and even house an integrated noise-reduction microphone for things like answering calls or sending voice-messages. There’s no indication of where this microphone is located, but I’d be thoroughly impressed if it was within the mask’s enclosure itself. It would essentially mean you could talk while wearing the mask and not have your voice get muffled.

The XUPERMASK comes in two colors for now – one in pure black, and another in a white + orange combination. Just visually, it does look pretty impressive. The LED rings, metallic fan covers, and those magnetic earbuds, all set the XUPERMASK apart. The mask even comes with a set of controls built on either side, allowing you to toggle fan speed, the LED light, switch on/off the ANC feature, and do basic things like answer calls or play-pause music. Off the top of my head, a fan-powered face-mask with earphones does sound like a crazy idea that might just work, and with the XUPERMASK, Honeywell and Will.i.am are betting on a future where masks will still be a common outdoor face-accessory… in which case, having wireless earphones built into your face-mask just sounds a tad bit more sensible. The XUPERMASK is currently available in two sizes, and for a retail price of $299. The mask comes as a part of a XUPERKIT (I’m guessing the nomenclature was Will.i.am’s idea), which includes a carry-case, 3 months worth of replaceable HEPA filters, a USB charging cable, and replaceable earphone tips for different ear-sizes. The XUPERMASK hasn’t received FDA approval yet, but it has been granted authorization for emergency use.

Designers: will.i.am & Jose I. Fernandez in partnership with Honeywell

This portable ‘smart’ spray bottle can turn regular water into sanitizer!





Relying on a process that turns regular tap water into Electrolysed (EO) water, the IOON spray gives you an instant, effective, non-toxic sanitizer that you can spray on everything from your hands to door-handles, and from elevator buttons to cutlery (and even food!)

When electrolyzed or ionized, water breaks down into a solution of hypochlorous acid and sodium hydroxide, which acts as a remarkable detergent and disinfectant, instantly killing bacteria, cleansing off harmful chemicals from food, purifying the air, as well as busting odors. The technology, which has existed for over 4 decades, creates an all-purpose cleaning solution that replaces the need for carpet-cleaners, floor-cleaners, room-fresheners, car-fresheners, fruit and vegetable purifiers, and general disinfectants. Needless to say, the electrolyzed water is food-safe, child-safe, and eliminates the need to clean your house with chemicals that aren’t healthy… and the IOON, a small, portable spraying device, can electrolyze and spray the water directly from within its hand-held, wireless form factor.

The IOON comes with a small, replaceable silver-ion cartridge that aids in the electrolysis/ionization process. The cartridge lasts anywhere from 9-12 months depending on how often you use it, and it forms the only replaceable part of the entire design. The rest of the IOON sanitizer is for keeps, lasting you years while a small sanitizer bottle could just do the job for months before being thrown away. Using the IOON is simple… just fill it up with any kind of water and ensure that the IOON device is charged (using the MicroUSB charging port below). Once charged, the IOON takes about 20 minutes to ionize the water, making it potent enough to last up to 3 full days. Once ionized, the water is just as good as, if not more effective than your isopropyl-alcohol sanitizer… except it’s also safe on the skin, non-toxic, food-grade, can replace a bunch of other household disinfectants, and can even eliminate odor by dismantling odor molecules. When it’s done, the tiny bottle slips right into your pocket or bag, letting you carry it anywhere and sanitize anything!

Designer: IOON

Multipurpose EDC lets you pull door handles, push buttons, and carry bags without touching anything





Ever wondered why pirates with severed arms had hooks in their place? I’ve often wondered too and the one conclusion I keep coming to is that the hook allows you to the most number of basic activities – from pushing to pulling, carrying, and occasionally swiping. Moreover, you could zipline with it, and that sort of sounds like something pirates do a lot. Looking at the award-winning Handy EDC, I’m often reminded of that hook. It isn’t really a replacement for the hand but is a clever extension of it, allowing you to conduct most of your outdoor activities without touching a single foreign surface. Developed as a result of the pandemic, the Handy is a clever little EDC that lets you do practically most activities that require pushing, pulling, carrying, or pressing.

Crafted from metal, Handy is an open-source tool designed to keep you safe and germ-free. Its simple design allows it to easily slip onto your fingers like brass knuckles, giving you a great degree of control. Hooks on the opposite end come with protruded dots for easily pressing buttons on a keypad or elevator, while the hooks themselves act as useful devices for pulling open doors, twisting handles, or even carrying bags. When all’s said and done, just slide Handy into your pocket, or better still, attach it to your keychain using its dedicated keychain-hole. Handy comes in two sizes, a larger one that’s open-source and 3D printable, and a smaller one that you can pre-order on designer Matteo Zallio’s website.

The Handy EDC is a winner of the International Design Award for the year 2020.

Designers: Matteo Zallio & Giulia Scagliotti

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Russian, Chinese hackers may have stolen European vaccine data

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