Photo by Nicky Angunwa, courtesy Little Sun

More than 1 billion people worldwide live without access to electricity. As part of its latest collaboration, IKEA is hoping to challenge this statistic. Last week, the Swedish furniture designer and manufacturer announced a new partnership with Berlin-based sustainable lighting solutions company Little Sun. Founded by artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen in 2012, Little Sun sells solar-powered lamps and charging stations, and for every one purchased, another is sent to be sold locally in rural African communities. According to a press release, "Together, IKEA and Little Sun want to create a series of sustainable off-the-grid tools for everyday life." [IKEA]

The latest in our Innovative Detail series highlights the elegant glulam truss system designed by the Minneapolis office of MSR for the University of Minnesota's Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center. [ARCHITECT]

The Mamba is a hexcopter emphasizing safety, certifiability, and performance. Shrouded rotors and a tilting empennage are incorporated.
Courtesy GoFly Prize The Mamba is a hexcopter emphasizing safety, certifiability, and performance. Shrouded rotors and a tilting empennage are incorporated.

In 2017, Boeing launched the $2 million, two-year GoFly Prize competition for personal flying device designs. Yesterday, the program announced the 10 winners of the first phase, which garnered submissions from nearly 3,000 innovators in 95 countries. The winning submissions are: Blue Sparrow, ERA AAviabike, Flykart2, Harmony, HummingBuzz, Leap, Mamba, Pegasus I, Silverwing, and Te tra 3. For Phase Two—which will conclude in March 2019—the judges will award four of these teams $50,000 for best prototype. The final Grand Prize Winner will be chosen from those four finalists in fall 2019. [GoFly Prize]

A team of researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne [EPFL] in Switzerland have developed a combination silicon-perovskite solar cell that can achieve—and possibly surpass—the efficiency of solar cells made solely of silicon. By placing the perovskite cells directly on top of conventional silicon cells, the dual cells "maximize the use of the solar spectrum and increase the amount of power generated," according to a press release. Because solar cells have largely met their maximum theoretical efficiency, this discovery is promising for the future of solar technology. [EPFL]

Courtesy Innovant HotDesk

At NeoCon 2018, New York–based office furnishings manufacturer Innovant debuted its latest Internet of Things application, HotDesk. Designed with Dutch wireless charging manufacturer Zens, HotDesk allows users to wirelessly charge mobile devices, such as cellphones, by placing them on a charging zone on the table surface. Concurrently, the connected HotDesk smartphone app marks the workspace as occupied or booked by the user, allowing transient employees to find available workstations or specific colleagues. [ARCHITECT]

Co-working office provider WeWork has developed a suite of algorithms to automate space planning and, more specifically, the design of office layouts. A team of researchers, including occasional ARCHITECT contributor Daniel Davis, tested a series of algorithms to maximize the number of workspaces that could fit in a random sample of 13,211 actual WeWork offices while meeting the company's space standards both strictly and then with a little leeway, as its own (human) architects may allow. Aiming to achieve layouts with an equal or better efficiency than those created by people in 99 percent of cases, the algorithms got really darn close. [International Journal of Architectural Computing]

According to a recent study by the City University of New York (CUNY), plastic waste may one day be converted into energy and fuel. Study author and chemical engineering professor Marco Castaldi claims that utilizing gasification—or chemical recycling—techniques on non-recycled plastics can result in usable fuel, chemicals, and other products. [CUNY]

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