Bolon launches game-changing VR collection

She describes the new base collection Emerge as anything but basic or traditional.

— We’ve worked hard to find the perfect shades to match the modern needs and the highest quality for the long run. In the VR tool we are launching together with the collection, everyone can see how perfectly this collection appears on a large scale with a strong personality.

The Swedish international design brand produces premium flooring to the contract market worldwide and 95% of the family company’s sales goes on export.

— I think Emerge will become a bestseller very soon, Eklund adds.

Tell us about that new VR platform. How does it work?

— We always strive to try out new things and as VR has been in the loop for some years now, we now found the perfect timing to create a world of design where we could express our identity, not only by showing our flooring. Our products come to life with this tool, as it’s impossible for us to create such a space in reality to show them. VR is already used by architects and we’re happy they can be swept away in a cool fantasy world that also works as a reality tool for them.

How will VR change how you and your customers work?

— VR will hopefully become more user friendly for Mac users, and when that happens, I guess it will explode. In the meantime, we will continue to launch our news in this platform to constantly keep it alive. The tool today consists of an office, hotel, and a museum, where we’ll invite guest artists to exhibit. I believe that we have taken the possibilities to create unexpected but trustworthy happenings within our design community. This is something that feeds us with new energy every day.


Fully-electric cars are now in majority of Norway’s car sales

For the whole year of 2020, the fully battery-powered passenger cars’ share was 54.3 percent of newly registered cars on the Norwegian market. And, the trend also accelerated throughout the year, with two out of three cars — 66.7 percent — sold in December were electric. That’s compared with 42.4 percent in 2019, according to figures from trade association OFV, and means that cars using petrol, diesel, or a hybrid now share a minority of the market.

Buyers of exhaust-free cars in Norway benefit from a lot of things, including lower taxes, in the hope of achieving the goal that sales of fossil cars will have ceased by 2025.

2020’s best-selling car was Audi’s electric model E-tron, which achieved a market share of 6.5 percent, followed by Tesla’s Model 3 and Volkswagen’s ID3, both 5.5 percent. 


Acute Art evades lockdown restrictions by taking its art to your home

The augmented reality art project Acute Art is directed and curated by Swedish art curator Daniel Birnbaum, and uses new media and technology to produce cutting-edge visual artworks in VR (virtual reality), AR (augmented reality) and MR (mixed reality). Although based in London, their playful and avant-garde app can’t be tied down to one place. It can be downloaded for free and works with most smartphones.

Acute Art’s latest collaboration project is called Unreal City, which is curated together with Dazed. It’s described as London’s biggest AR exhibition and comes in form of a walking tour along the River Thames, that originally launched in December. But as UK lockdown restrictions entered Tier 4 this month, Acute Art has released the app to anyone, anywhere.

— The beauty of augmented reality means that rather than extending the site-specific show by popular demand, we can respond to interest and the new lockdown measures by bringing the exhibition to you, said Daniel Birnbaumartistic director of Acute Art and curator of Unreal City, to Dazed.

High-tech art pieces from Kaws, Nina Chanel Abney, Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Tomás Saraceno and more are now available to view anywhere, meaning that you can curate your own art show in your living room. But make it count, because the exhibition is only available for one month.


How Helly Hansen’s technology innovation disrupts the market

Founded in 1877, Helly Hansen has developed a long list of first-to-market innovations, including the first supple waterproof fabrics more than 140 years ago. Other past breakthroughs include the first fleece fabrics in the 1960s, the first technical base layers Lifa Stay Dry Technology in the 1970s, and the award-winning and patented H2Flow temperature regulating system. Most recently is the launch of their most innovative and sustainable waterproof and breathable technology to date, Lifa Infinity Pro. Category Managing Director Philip Tavell, who joined Helly Hansen from Red Bull and then Craft Sportswear after an 11-year long professional athletic career, explains how it’s challenging the industry norm.

— I’d say that it [the technology] pushes the envelope in apparel design, he says. Through advanced textile engineering and development, we wanted to disrupt the industry to find a way to completely remove all added chemicals without losing the performance of the products, as the whole textile industry has a challenge with added DWR treatments to create water repellency. We are currently using the technology in 2 garments and will expand it into more products this year.

How did it come to life?

— We realized that our proprietary LIFA technology — a lightweight and hydrophobic fiber where the fully waterproof and breathable membrane, as well as durable water repellent performance, are achieved without the use of chemicals — that is currently used in baselayers and insulation had some great properties that we explored to use in other types of products. Combining the solvent free Lifa Infinity membrane with 100% Lifa hydrophobic solution dyed face fabric — which saves roughly 85% in water consumption — Lifa Infinity Pro is a ground-breaking technology, with extreme waterproofness and breathability. With everlasting water repellent protection that never needs to be reproofed with chemical treatment after use, it delivers long-lasting, responsible, and superior professional-grade performance. We are the only brand globally using this technology and being able to create a performance garments without any added chemical treatments, says Tavell.

What was the hardest challenge?

— Our textile engineers have pulled the heaviest weight in this development. Being the first brand to use it, all advanced developments have been a first for everyone. There has been a couple of years of trial and error to get the right structure of the face fabric and working very close to the production engineers to fine tune production methods.

Do you have any other special technology coming in 2021?

— We are continuing our work to do more responsible choices and create garments ready to be recycled at end of life. Currently, we are promoting a concept called Mono Material where all garments are made out of 1 fiber to be easily recycled into new yarns and garments. For 2021, we are including ski apparel into this concept to expand our effort in this area.


Wavepiston uses patented concept to harvest the energy in waves

Along with already commercialized renewable resources such as solar, wind, and hydro energy, the potential of wave energy is huge, tells Michael Henriksen, CEO of Wavepiston.

— By 2050 it can cover 10% of Europe’s current electricity needs and create as many as 400,000 green jobs, according to Ocean Energy Europe. On a global scale, wave energy could cover as much as 50% of the world’s electricity needs.

The idea to challenge the commercial viability of wave energy came up by three engineers in 2009.

— That’s when we started to develop a proof of concept, and since 2010, various prototypes at different scales have been developed and tested, tells Henriksen. A model at scale 1:30 was tested in the wave tank at Aalborg University in the north of Denmark. Next was a prototype at scale 1:9 tested offshore at Nissum Bredning in Denmark, and the most recent test was finalized with a prototype at scale 1:2 offshore in the North Sea near Hanstholm in Denmark.

The company just became a part of VALID, a project run by Horizon 2020 (the biggest EU Research and Innovation program ever), where they, together with their partners, will accelerate the testing of marine energy devices in Europe’s race towards carbon-neutrality. 

And, in December last year, their first full scale test system has been installed at a test site off Gran Canaria in Spain. 

— This is the first step to install the full system in 2021, where we will demonstrate our ability to deliver the desired results at full scale, says Henriksen, adding, 

— We believe that we can deliver electricity and desalinated water at half the cost that islands, hotel resorts and remote coastal areas are paying today, where the prime energy source is diesel driven generators.

We see a bunch of wave power startups coming. What makes you so special?

— Our technology consists of a series of plates — energy collectors — attached to a string. A commercial system will consist of many strings with up to 32 energy collectors attached. Passing waves will continuously move the energy collectors back and forth. The energy collectors drive pumps that suck in seawater and push the pressurized water into a pipe on the string, and this pressurized water is transported to shore via a main pipe.

— On shore, the pressurized water can be used to deliver desalinated water in a so-called ”reverse osmosis system” and produce electricity via a turbine generator. 

— The forces of waves are tremendous, and it is a common challenge for all wave energy systems to tackle these forces. What makes us special is our patented concept of Force Cancellation. Simply speaking, it means that the plates of the energy collectors move in opposite directions and therefore ”cancels out” the force of the waves. And, cancelling out the forces of the waves, the loads on the mooring and the structure are reduced to less than 1/10, hence the costs for these also decrease. The many EC’s (Energy Collectors) can then be moored using only two small mooring points. 

Henriksen describes it as due to the length of the string, and the oscillating nature of waves, energy collectors along the string will be subjected to forces in opposing directions. 

— This is illustrated [in the figure above] by men, all pulling a rope in different directions. Although the situation for a single man is not affected by this situation, the net result of pulling in different directions is that comparatively small forces can hold the rope. 

— Although the situation for a single man is not affected by this situation, the net result of pulling in different directions is that comparatively small forces can hold the rope. Likewise, the energy collectors are subjected to shifting wave forces at any given time, hence resulting in a sharp decrease in the required anchor force. This enables a slim, light, and extremely cost-effective structure. 

Advanced simulations and tests by University of Aalborg (AAU) have proven that with more than 20 ECs connected in this way, the mooring needs are reduced to 1/10 in comparison with ECs moored individually, thus cutting the costs dramatically.

— So, because of the patented force cancellation principle, we can produce a slim, lightweight but still robust system. This drives down costs for production and it drives down costs for transportation from the factory. The system is designed from the ”flatpack principle”, so it can be shipped in standard containers. It drives down the cost of installation because you do not need special equipment and ships to put it in place, and the assembly is so simple, that you can use a local workforce to assemble the system, which in turn boosts local employment, says Henriksen. 

You mention that the technology doesn’t spoil the view, nor the environment. How can you secure not to affect animal life in the water?

— The impact on the environment is always an important issue. There have been several studies on the impact on the environment from wave energy devices. So far, no significant negative impact has been recorded. The system is characterized as a non-intrusive system with no toxic material. Our experience is that the system creates its own biotope attracting sea growth, fish, and mammals. In our test at Gran Canaria, there will also be an environmental study performed by PLOCAN (the test site). Birds, fishes, or mammals will not get hurt from the device. Of that, we are very sure. What is being and has been investigated is the impact of sound, impact on local conditions, and more. As said, no significant negative impact has been detected. In the North Sea, we experienced the contrary, attracting fish and mammals — including a dolphin which are rare in these waters.

While there are many interesting technologies and initiatives within wave energy, Henriksen believes that Wavepiston will have one of the lowest LCOE/W (Levelised Cost of Energy/Water) in the market.

— This is easy to claim, but hard to prove until we have done our full-scale test and installed the first commercial systems. But it is based on our tests so far, the very low weight per effect of the system due to the mentioned Force Cancellation — which no other technology has — and the modularity of the system, he says, continuing,

— There are several interesting concepts among our colleagues and competitors. Some are a bit ahead of us having tested in full-scale in an ocean environment, some are behind, still working with scaled testing in smaller waves. There are currently no commercial installations disregarding a few, small buoys for instrumentation from OPT (Ocean Power Technologies). While our main differentiator remains Force Cancellation, as we use pressurized water as our media for conversion we have a dual product both being able to produce electricity and desalinate water. This will make us competitive within a short time focusing on the first step on small-scale solutions for islands, coastal communities, and hotel resorts.

The test site at Gran Canaria currently has two energy collectors attached. 

— This is the starting point for demonstrating that we can deliver on our promises also at full scale. Later this year, we’ll install the full system and connect to the grid. We have another project together with partners, where we will demonstrate the combination of electricity and desalination. This will also be conducted at Gran Canaria, but will also have the tourist island Isola Piana in Sardinia, Italy, as a case study. Finally, we are just about to embark on a project specifically designed to develop a Hybrid Testing Platform for accelerated testing with methodologies by combining the virtual and physical environment, reducing cost in the product developing process, tackling scaling challenges and lowering uncertainties once fully demonstrated in the ocean.

How much clean, desalinated water will you be able to produce from the technology?

— We have made a calculation based on our test results this far. If we set up 1 string with 24 energy collectors at our test site at Gran Canaria, we estimate it will have a rated power of 200 kW being able to deliver enough electricity to serve approximately 140 households. The same string will be able to deliver 150,000 m3 water per year, if used 100% on desalination, serving approximately 900 households. We are planning to sell the first systems as we enter the commercial phase in 2023. As a reference, a system with 70 strings with 32 energy collectors on each, will have a rated capacity of 15 MW.

Yes, you mentioned it, what’s the next step?

— We are now firmly in the demonstration phase, where we will show that our technology can deliver on the promises at full scale. We expect to be entering the commercial phase by 2023. We are currently crowdfunding to finance the demonstration phase, and have so far raised well over 2 million Euro.


CAKE and Dometic join forces in fully electric food delivery solution

Swedish electric mobility company CAKE has turned to compatriot mobility company Dometic for a new, purpose-built food delivery box. The delivery box is powered by the CAKE Ösa model’s battery engine to keep your takeout tikka massala warm and your milkshake chilled at the same time.

The two companies state that it’s during ”the last mile” that your delivery turns unpleasantly soggy, greasy, or cold, and that the high-end delivery box can help ambitious restaurants and chefs to deliver the food without ruining the fine-dine experience. This is done by the separate heated compartments and electrostatic air purification system that keeps the food box free from doors of previous deliveries.

A luxury food delivery box meant for fine dining comes a good time. The current COVID19-related restrictions and laws have taken their toll on the restaurant industry. It is now a must for restaurants to offer takeout. AutoMobilSport writes that the mean annual growth rate (CAGR) of food delivery is expected to be 10% in the next coming five years (during 2020, food delivery rose with 22%).

— Restaurants and consumers all over the world demand quality and innovative solutions in the snowballing food delivery market. Imagine if meals could be delivered home in a way that they get to your table in restaurant quality? Instead of cold meals, it would be like you were sitting in the restaurant yourself enjoying the meal the way the chef wanted you to. That will satisfy restaurants, delivery companies, and consumers. Dometic has a head start with its expertise in temperature-sensitive solutions. And, together with CAKE, we have the expertise to deliver complete solutions that answer the needs of these users, says Peter Kjellberg, CMO & Head of Other Global Verticals at Dometic.


All Matters / Studio’s new rugs offer endless flexibility

The Stockholm-based design studio is founded by a Danish architect and a Swedish entrepreneur who previously, among many other things, came up with the idea for Swedish bike brand Vélosophy about launching a bike out of recycled Nespresso capsules. The next step is to create high-quality, really flexible interior products.

First launched at 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen last fall, the debuting product WOODEN LINK 01 is a modular system of carpets in various sizes. They can be linked together forming a unique rug constellation, that can be changed by adding, subtracting, or changing the modules. This gives the customer the opportunity to change the rug’s look, shape, size, and color in a scalable system, aiming for high-end private homes and public spaces, such as lounges or hotels.

When designing, ALL MATTERS / STUDIO had a few issues in mind. A regular rug comes with a fixed size and patterns or colours are impossible to change, so when moving, it’s clearly one of the items which might be hard to fit in a new home. And, accidents might happen and the entire rug needs cleaning. Some accidents might even be irreversible. However, most of them are made of combined material, making it hard to recycle.

But, using a flexible system is more manageable and easy to handle than a big regular size carpet. And the way the different units can be combined in various constellations and color combinations make it adaptable to ever-changing home environments, prolonging the product’s life span. The customer can choose units made from yarns such as merino wool, bamboo, lyocell, and a combination of bamboo and linen. The links are made of leather from Sørensen — the only leather product marked with the Nordics’ official ecolabel, the Swan.


Gucci and The North Face collaboration debuts on Pokemon GO

American outdoor brand The North Face and Italian luxury brand Gucci is yet to release their anticipated collection to the public, at least in physical form. Earlier this week, the two brands turned to The Pokemon Company and its AR developer Niantic to debut the t-shirts, hats, and backpacks. Pokemon GO gamers can dress their Avatars in the collaboration for ”a limited time”, so be quick.

Players can look for specific Gucci Pins on the app’s immersive map, where they can access the digital collaboration for free. There are 100 total pick-up-points, spread out in cities all over the world.

For the people who like to keep it old-fashioned and purchase the collection in physical form, the online purchasing raffle opens on January 9 and general sale opens on January 22.

The digitisation of the fashion industry is developing at a rapid pace. The global pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, next month, Copenhagen Fashion Week is set to be fully digitised and won’t have a physical fair, Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, told Dansk Mode & Textil.


10 extraordinary tech innovations from CES

Just like many other traditional physical events, the Customer Electronic Show ditched the hands-on practice this year. The Las Vegas fair spaces stood empty, but journalists still had a hectic couple of days of keeping up with the many digital presentations, showrooms and conference talks. Out of the many impressive and fascinating news and gadgets that we stumbled upon, we have cherry-picked the must-haves and can’t-misses for the coming year.

LG’s rollable screen

We’ve seen the rollable TV from LG before, but the South Korean tech giant briefly teased a rollable smartphone/tablet in their official press conference. Perhaps our smartphones will be rolled up and folded up in 2021?

General Motors’ airtaxi concept

The abbreviation of this coming decade is eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing). The air-taxi industry is picking up speed, and with the entrance of mobility powerhouse GM, the process might reach new heights sooner than we think.

YSL’s MUA-bot

Yves Saint Laurent has partnered up with Perso in a new smart lipstick. The sleek container connects to an included app that can analyze your outfit’s colour scheme, and then create the perfect red shade for that specific outfit.

Skagen’s sleek smartwatch

Owning a smartwatch usually comes with one big downside — it doesn’t look very good (or like a classic watch). Danish watchmakers Skagen’s new Jorn Hybrid HR keeps the sleek Danish designs, but still packs some impressive technology assets. Track your sleep, your jog routes, daily steps and heart rate without having to master a small touch screen.

The Gardyn home garden

Vertical farming with a built-in AI gardener? Yes, please. This 150 cm tall indoor garden can host up to 30 different plants, and the AI tells you exactly when, and how, to take care of the plants. You fill the water tank once a month, the home garden does the rest.

Razer’s smart mask

As a sign of the times, one of the most hyped products at CES was Razer’s smart mask. Its built-in mic and speaker get your words out more clearly, and the RBG LED lights up your mouth when it gets darker. We do want it, but let’s hope we won’t find a reason to within the next couple of years.

Chamberlain’s smart dog door

Autonymous and smart garage door developer Chamberlain is a breed apart from its competitors, at least with its latest product in mind. The myQ Pet Portal lets your dog get free access in and out of your house with its smart collar, which notifies the connected app when the dog wants out.

Ampere Shower Power Bluetooth speaker

This smart speaker’s name gives you a hint of what to expect. It’s powered by the running water in your shower, meaning that you can listen to your favourite podcast via Bluetooth without fiddling on your phone with wet fingers, or worrying about battery shortage.

Vaonis’ miniature observatory

The Vespera Observation Station is something of a hybrid between a smart telescope and a camera. The station is 68 cm tall and stands firmly on the removable tripod, which allows it to take magnificent pictures of space. Be ready to up the ante on your wallpaper game.

Samsung’s butler robot

It wouldn’t be CES without a proper smart robot. The Bot Handy uses its arm and hand to pour you a glass of water, open doors and stacking the dishwasher. The video material is too good not to miss out.


OM-SE launches plant-based luxury skincare

They describe how skincare commonly has high markups and hold preservatives for products to last up to 3 years. It allows them to travel between middlemen and eventually, whenever you decide to open that jar of cream, it endures 12 months on your shelf.

— Surely I don’t want to layer expensive products with preservatives good for three years on my skin, just to support an old-fashioned way of doing business, Jenny Huurinainen states.

Their own journey started at home five years ago when Jenny, post-pregnancy with their son, had enough of dealing with her unbalanced skin, not keen on going on hormone treatments. 

— Instead, I began to create my own potent natural skincare formulas, she tells. Inspired by the FODMAP methodology, I started by simplifying, testing one ingredient at a time, only adding ingredients that made a difference for my skin. And completely eliminate all ingredients that normally are in skincare products to fill out, secure long shelf life, add texture, or a seducing scent. All I aimed for was to create a formula that made my skin radiant. And, boy it did! For the first time in my adult life, I didn’t feel the need to wear makeup. Jacob also started to use the products and got a glow that drew attention at work. The business idea for a unisex skincare brand sparked, so we converted the hobby project into a company.

With Jenny’s background in marketing strategy and online branding and Jacob as an Art Director and Graphic Designer within design and fashion, they entered the beauty industry with a different approach to how to make a skincare formulation, price strategy, and business model. 

— We’ve been told many times that ”this is not how things are done”, the duo tells. From fresh skincare and shelf life to putting more cheap filler ingredients in the formula, and crazy high minimum order quantities of packaging and batch sizes. 

Their brand, OM-SE, now launches with extensive attention to detail.

— It’s plant-based luxury skincare with a range of four simplified, multipurpose products created for all faces, regardless of gender, colour, or skin-type. We produce in Sweden, in small batches to ensure maximum freshness, and are directly available to consumers online. Skipping retailers and other middlemen, we priced the products at a level that we and our friends could afford to use every day.

To make skincare — and life — even more simplified, OM-SE offers a Never-Run-Out service that guarantees always having skincare products at home. 

— We give a great discount when subscribing to one or more products, simply because it makes our batch-planning more accurate, and that helps minimize overproduction and more fresh products for your shelf. A routine of three of our products will cost slightly more than one Euro (13 Swedish Kronor) a day when subscribing, with delivery every third month.

”Skincare ingredients do not know the gender of the skin — marketers do.”

The duo tells how they use plenty of not only exclusive but also potent ingredients for their products. They have also printed all of them on the bottle — compared to lifting one or two active ingredients and hiding the rest as commonly done — and give you a deep-dive to each botanical on their web site. To further prove the importance of transparency, they’ve partnered with the Skinfo service, using their third-party INCI [International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, to identify cosmetic ingredients, Ed’s note] tool on the site.

— We also share the percentage of essential oils being used to manifest that ingredients are also about dosage. What you see, feel, and smell is the essence of each natural ingredient, nothing more, nothing less. 

— A cream or lotion is a fixed blend of water and oil. When applying more cream it gives you more of everything, not only the part your skin craves. By separating water and oil into two types of products, we make it possible to create a personalized skincare routine. Just modify the proportions of hydration and nutrition — with our Face Mist and Face Oil respectively — as you mix them in the palm of your hand and then apply on your skin. This flexible nature means that our products work for all faces and seasons. Men’s skin is about 20% thicker than women’s, but dry skin is dry skin, and oily is oily. Skincare ingredients do not know the gender of the skin — marketers do. We’ve only included ingredients for their performance and that actually makes a difference, not for any marketing or price strategy reason and, as mentioned, never to fill out.

The products come in a sleek, minimalistic packaging, designed to be as pretty as a nice bottle of perfume, to stand as the crown of the bathroom shelf, and not to scream for attention on store shelves. The biophotonic ultraviolet glass bottles are chosen for their ability to preserve and enhance the quality of the content. 

— White-, brown-, green, and even painted glass let rays pass through and don’t offer enough protection against decomposition. The boxes are made of Swedish FSC-classified paper. We treat our skincare like fresh food and display a best-before-date on both box and bottle.

To finish up, Jenny Huurinainen questions how many products we really need.

— Take a look in any bathroom. How many products do you see? Too many! Cosmetic trends, from the 10-step K-beauty routine to newness-thrilling Glossyboxes, have created a demand for consuming and using many different products. The conventional cosmetic industry is convincing us that we need one product to solve one issue at a time. While one product is addressing a specific condition, it many times also creates another — unbalance.