Have you thought of...

9 February 2011

Driving an invisible car?

Well, thanks to technology borrowed from the built environment sector, it’s actually technically possible (if you don’t mind fellow motorists staring rather rudely). The system was developed by LC SmartGlass for the Top Gear Live Show, currently on tour.

The car was assembled from 29 polycarbonate panels with a thin sheet of “polymer dispersed liquid crystal” running down its centre. This changes its state when a small electrical current is passed through it, allowing the glass car to turn from opaque to translucent and back again at the touch of a button. Smaller panel sizes were used for this application than usual, which required more intricate wiring so that each individual panel would switch at the exact same time on the car.

The effect forms the climax of a show featuring the legendary Stig. But you could try it just before you turn off for Bromsgrove. 

Taking your tool kit on an adventure holiday?

You never know when a lightweight cordless rotary hammer drill might come in handy. For instance, you could be exploring the prime caving area in the the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak, Borneo, and using it to help explore new passages.

A British team setting out on just such an expedition next month will be taking equipment from Makita to drill into the cave walls to attach anchors to the rocks, which will allow them to survey the vast expanse of underground terrain.

The drills weigh a compact 3.5kg, and feature battery packs that are 40% lighter than Ni-MH or Ni-Cad batteries and have an impressive 22-minute charge time. Which is probably just what you need when you’re wedged into an underground crevice halfway up a mountain in the middle of the rain forest.

Checking out how your chief executive has fitted out their office?

Because you might find there’s a sauna up there, or that it’s been kitted out for a bit of stress relief with a drum kit or juke box. These are just some of the fit-out accessories uncovered in a recent survey of employees by office design company Maris Interiors.

The survey revealed that 31% of employees thought their boss had an extravagant office. The most common excess was artwork, mentioned by 17% of employees: one management consultancy apparently boasted a Picasso, and one hotel boss sat beneath an original Andy Warhol.

According to 5% of those surveyed, their boss had gym equipment in the office, while one CEO at a design firm had an en suite sauna, and a bank chief was said to have a rooftop garden.

We think you should uncover the truth at your firm – and tell us what you find.

Hiring a personal meteorologist?

Following the worst December snow for 50 years, and the disruption caused to sites across the UK, independent consultant British Weather Services is offering a direct channel to the skies. Founder Jim Dale says: “Take one look at the prices for commodities such as sugar, wheat, cotton, orange juice, soyabeans and heating oil for example, and know that it was the weather that did it!”

Dale has a point: the floods in Australia are currently being held responsible for a shortage of coking coal, the resulting hike in steel prices, and the potential effect on UK construction projects.

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