Found: Artifacts From the Future

MetaFilter is reporting that Wired magazine (available on paper) has killed one of our favorite features. Found: Artifacts From the Future was a back page that asked artists and designers to create possible future products. While the magazine generally had a positive view, even in its sloppy use of infoporn, Found always seemed to have a comforting cynicism. Products appeared helpful on the surface, but still exhibited modern pitfalls: Even if you took the big leap to get a Bluetooth implant, it still required a two year contract. The Responsibeer could tell exactly how drunk you were, but did nothing to prevent localized debauchery. A Smart Windshield provided info on unsafe drivers… while obscuring your view.

The short of it is: Found was our kind of futurism. It was excited about new technology while emphasizing all the frustrations we currently have trying to get consumer products to do what we want. It’s sad to see something that got people thinking beyond the now go away. MeFi has conveniently assembled links to all the online Found features.

[via Waxy]

Cheap hack may double solar panel power

MIT researchers have devised something they call the Solar Concentrator which is to be placed on top of existing solar cells. Its purpose is to separate the visible and infrared spectra of light by absorbing the visible spectrum and routing the energy to specialized cells. They claim this could lead to doubling the panel’s efficiency and greatly reducing costs.

We have seen many promising advances to solar panel efficiency in the past few years, but what is special about this one is the amazingly simple and cheap technique. Essentially, all the team has done is coat a piece of glass with simple organic dyes. After the organic molecules absorb the visible light, they remit the energy to the sides of the glass where it can be routed to their specific cells. The process is more efficient because the dye absorbs the light rather than something expensive like silicon. That means less silicon, and thus a better price range. Also, the fact that this material is just a piece of glass also opens up the possibility of solar windows.