This hoverboard startup wants to create floating cities to combat climate change

As rising sea levels continue to threaten coastal communities around the world, a potential (and far-fetched) idea has emerged to protect houses and apartment buildings by floating them on pools of water like a boat. Arx Pax, the Silicon Valley startup behind the Hendo hoverboard, recently was granted a patent for something it calls a self-adjusting floating environment, or SAFE Building System, that it plans to license to real estate developers, aid groups, and governments interested in creating climate change-proof communities.

Here’s how it works: a shallow pool connected to a nearby body of water, like a river or bay, is excavated under a development. The pool is then filled with a few feet of water, while the excavated dirt is used to shape the surrounding land to protect against storm surges. Shipping container-sized modules are assembled into groups, positioned above the pool, and locked together to form a stable platform. The floating community is built on top, complete with roads and utilities.

In theory, the development floats up during a flood, allowing flood waters to flow under and around the community. The subterranean pool would also help minimize damage during an earthquake.

It’s unclear how much more or less expensive this method would be than current flood-control projects like levies or sea walls. Arx Pax insists its system is more cost-effective, but it seems like it would take a great deal of capital to construct. And this would only be effective for future coastal developments, with current communities left vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“No matter how ‘green’ your building is, it’s not sustainable if it isn’t able to withstand an event,” said Greg Henderson, co-founder and CEO of Arx Pax, in a statement. “As an architect and builder, I knew there had to be a way to build more responsibly in areas subject to earthquakes, floods and rising sea level.”

This may seem like an odd turn for a company that makes magnetically powered hoverboardsand engines for hyperloops, but Arx Pax has been talking about using its technology to mitigate flood and earthquake damage for years now. Of course, the SAFE Building System wouldn’t be using the company’s magnetic levitation technology to make buildings float, but floating pontoons like those used to support the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge over Lake Washington or Japan’s Mega-Float runway in Tokyo Bay.

Arx Pax, eager to prove that this crazy-sounding idea isn’t crazy at all, provided a number of third-party quotes as validation. Gregory Stone, executive vice president at Conservation International, said that Arx Pax’s proposal “is sure to have a positive impact on our built environment,” while Doug Robertson, president of Bay Area structural engineering firm Daedalus, called it “a viable foundation system for private homes, commercial, civic and institutional buildings and even for large-scale developments.”

But the true test of the SAFE system’s viability is whether any developer or government licenses the technology. Henderson tells The Verge that Arx Pax is in discussion with stakeholders “around the world,” but couldn’t disclose details due to non-disclosure agreements.

“We need to teach others how to build the system,” Henderson said. “Remember the old adage, ‘You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’”

To say nothing about teaching the residents of the floating cities of the future to fish out their bedroom windows.


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Instagram chief confirms live video is coming to the platform

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has confirmed to The Financial Times that the Facebook-owned company is bringing live videos to the photo-sharing app. Systrom said in the interview: “Live is really exciting for us. I think it can enhance what we’re doing. If I’m trying to strengthen relationships with someone I love, them streaming video to me live would be an amazing way to be closer to them.” The feature first surfaced last month as an experimental offering in Russia, where some users spotted an icon clearly marked “Live” next to a row of Instagram Stories.

Based on the screenshots posted by Russian publication T Journal, it’ll work similarly to Facebook Live. If you want to broadcast anything, you’ll have to fire up the camera and click “Go Insta!” Unfortunately, the users who got access to the experimental feature weren’t able to find out more than that, since clicking the icon marked “Live” brought them to an empty “popular live broadcasts” page. You might also have to a while before being able to find out yourself: Systrom didn’t exactly say when the feature will become available.


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Microsoft Surface Studio’s Gains Will Be Apple’s Loss

IT’S A TRUISM that while Windows PCs dominate computer sales, the hearts and tabs of the creative class belongs to Apple. On Wednesday, Microsoft moved aggressively to break up that monopoly with the Surface Studio, a gorgeous, 28-inch all-in-one desktop that flattens out into a digital drafting table. If Microsoft succeeds, it’ll be because Surface Studio truly is an innovative device—but even more so because Apple gave the competition a golden opportunity.

It still won’t be easy for Surface Studio to compete for the attention of artists and designers. That it’s even a possibility, though, shows just how vulnerable Apple has become in that space. And the implications of taking away even some of that market go far beyond Surface Studio itself.

An Open Door

In June of 2013, Apple executive Phil Schiller triumphantly introduced the company’s new, cylindrical Mac Pro. Aimed at professional users, it was a workhorse. More importantly, it was a bombshell, a statement that the company was investing in its high-end and creating indelible experiences. “Can’t innovate anymore, my ass,” Schiller said at the time.

Since then, the Mac Pro has not received a single update. The iMac has gotten a spec bump or two, including an upgrade to 4K monitors last year. Laptops haven’t had it much better; the Retina MacBook Pro has gone over 500 days without improvements.

That’s expected to change on Thursday, when Apple will hold a hardware event to introduce a long-anticipated MacBook refresh that includes a fun OLED “touch bar” replacing the current row of function keys.

The iMacs may get another spec bump Thursday as well. Even if so, it’s unlikely that they’ll come anywhere close to the feature set that Microsoft introduced today. The longer Apple waits to shove its desktops into the future, the easier it becomes for creative professionals to consider their alternatives.

“They’re long overdue to blow us away,” says Nick Cronan, founding partner of Branch Creative, the design firm behind the Nextbit Robin smartphone. “Either they’re brewing something up, or maybe it’s time for someone like Microsoft to start coming in and take some of their market.”

As recently as two years ago, Microsoft would have been an unlikely suspect. Last year’s Surface book showed that the software and services company has serious hardware chops, and a willingness to experiment where its OEM partners had not. Surface Studio is an extension of that commitment to making things that aren’t just good, but that feel fresh. After all, before Surface Book, when’s the last time a PC made your jaw drop?

“One goal,” says Microsoft Corporate VP of devices Brian Hall, is to “have a set of products that we know categorically people can pull out of their bag and feel proud to have, in a way that still runs Windows. Frankly, that has been a bit of a gap.”


To put it simply, the Surface Studio doesn’t just look like a better all-in-one PC. It looks like an entirely new category of device.

“It’s been distilled down to one tangible window, which is pretty appealing,” says Brett Lovelady, founder of design firm Astro Studios. “Then you add in all this utility at a desktop level, which definitely keeps it in the realm of a really progressive work tool. It’s a great combination.”

The creative-friendly touches go beyond its flexibility. Designers we talked to cited everything from the Surface Studio’s ability to adjust color settings based on particular use cases to the device’s unique 3:2 aspect ratio as direct appeals to their workflows. And that’s before you even get to the foldability that turns the Studio into a desktop drafting table.

Consider, in that context, that the current iMac has no touch display, much less stylus input. That’s not so important for Joe Computeruser, but it’s something designers actively crave. It’s also, not to be flip, the future.

“I’m seeing my own five-year-old go to touch every screen, and being surprised when the screens aren’t touch. We know that generation growing up is going to only expect it,” says Cronan. “I touch my work display all day, but then I’ve got to wipe the fingerprints off. It’s only to point to things.”

Surface Studio still has plenty to prove. The chipsets are solid, but not hair-raising. Sketching directly on a display seems more efficient, but it would also be a learned skill for many creatives, most of whom are accustomed to using Wacom peripherals to accomplish tasks built into the Studio itself. And forget even the stark hardware differences; there’s also the matter of luring Apple-ensconced professionals over to another operating system altogether.


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Is Your Hoverboard A Fashion Accessory?

Many people have labeled and categorized these “hoverboards” differently, whatever it is people call them, we would like to emphasize that your hoverboard is actually a self balancing scooter. At Vecaro we believe that not only are they a transportation device but they are also a fashion accessory/ wearable technology.

As a member of the Vecaro Team I am provided with a variety of hoverboards. I use my hoverboard to commute to places that are too long to walk to but too short for a car ride. As I ride my hoverboard around the city I get A LOT of attention on it, not to mention the fact that I always match my self balancing scooter to my outfit, people always seem to ask me about the hoverboard and don’t mention anything else I’m wearing. Whether I’m wearing the latest YEEZYS, Apple Watch, Beats by Dre headphones, people seem to always compliment my Hoverboard the most. We would like to put forward the notion that these boards can be considered a fashion accessory.

As we expand our Brand we will bringing in different products that will compliment your lifestyle, we would like to always keep fashion and elegance as one of our Brand’s themes. Please let us know how you feel about a self balancing scooter being categorized as fashion accessories/ wearable technology.

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