Inflato Dumpster Draws Visitors in New York

Inflato Dumpster image: John LockeArchitect John Locke, who teaches at Columbia University and is the founder of the Department of Urban Betterment, and his design partner, Joaquin Reyes, created the Inflato Dumpster, an inflatable community event space that balloons out of a dumpster.

The Department of Urban Betterment is a group of individuals from a variety of disciplines who use design to improve the urban experience. Its goal is to challenge the boundaries of public space in New York and create things with a tangible, worthwhile benefit to the areas where they are located. Locke wanted to create an enclosure that people could walk around in, not a backdrop.

The shiny shell is made from polyethylene and Mylar strips that have space for windows and connect the interior of the dumpster to the street. Locke and Reyes chose a dumpster as the location for the inflatable space because it gave the sense of being inside a space that is normally off-limits. It also allowed them to anchor the inflatable so it would not be blown away by strong winds, and it provided them with about 160 square feet of usable space.

The Inflato Dumpster was set up in the Manhattan neighborhood historically known as Bloomingdale on a block directly adjacent to the imposing Con Edison substation for three days in September. It was the site of a concert by Amani Fela, a documentary screening by Simone Varano, and a 3D printing and modeling workshop. Locke and Reyes stood on the street to explain the piece and invite people inside. The Inflato Dumpster was especially popular with children.

Locke, Reyes, and the Department of Urban Betterment are planning to put the piece on display again in the same neighborhood in January. That display will have a musical theme.

Inflatable 2000 Debuts World’s Tallest Wet/Dry Slide

Free Fall SlideInflatable 2000, a leader in the field of inflatable slides, bounce houses, and promotional products, unveiled the world’s tallest inflatable wet/dry slide at the 2014 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions held in Orlando, Florida from November 17 to 21.

The inflatable slide stood over five stories tall and combined two heart-pounding rides. On one side was a 30-foot vertical drop, while on the other side riders could shoot down the VertiGo Super Slide. At the bottom of both sides was a “kicker” that let riders soar into the air before landing.

Safety was a top priority. Zero Shock inflatable air bags at the bottom cushioned riders’ landings. The air bags offer low impacts, even at high speeds and great heights. The patented system was originally developed to be used for Hollywood stunts and trapeze routines but has been utilized for backyard bouncy castles as well. Removable SureTread stairs made of impervious ABS plastic can withstand traffic from thousands of riders without showing wear and tear, unlike traditional slippery foam stairs that can degrade quickly.

Despite its huge size, the inflatable wet/dry slide is easy to set up and tear down. With the use of constant air blowers, the Cyndrilovator™ base design can be inflated and deflated in under half an hour. The EZ Drain System® redirects pooled water, which makes it easy to drain the slide. The inflatable slide is ideal for carnivals, concerts, festivals, parties, and other types of outdoor events.

Inflatable 2000 was founded in 1993 by Steve and Meril Gray. It has grown into a leader in custom inflatable design for amusement parks, businesses, and special events around the world.

The IAAPA was created in 1918 and is the largest trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities in the world. It represents over 4,500 facilities, suppliers, and individual members from more than 97 countries.

Inventor Wins Award for Inflatable Incubator

inflatable incubatorJames Roberts, a 23-year-old British inventor, has been awarded the prestigious James Dyson Award for his inflatable incubator that is designed to save the lives of babies born prematurely in developing countries. Roberts calls his invention “Mom.”

The incubator is inflated manually, is kept warm by ceramic heating elements, and is collapsible and portable. It has a screen that shows the temperature and humidity levels, which are adjustable, and a collapsible phototherapy unit for babies suffering from jaundice. It costs just $400 to produce, test, and transport and works just as well as a traditional incubator that costs $48,000.

Roberts became inspired to invent his inflatable incubator after he watched a documentary about premature babies in refugee camps. Over 10 percent of babies worldwide are born prematurely. According to the World Health Organization, 75 percent of deaths caused by premature birth could be prevented if less expensive treatments were more readily available.

Roberts studied product design and technology at Loughborough University. During his last year, he worked all day and into the early hours of the morning to develop his invention.

The Dyson Award carries a $48,000 prize that Roberts plans to use for further prototyping, testing, and cost reduction. He eventually hopes to mass-produce the inflatable incubator.

Roberts said winning the Dyson Award was one of the best moments of his life. He said the award is an opportunity for unglamorous products to have a chance at succeeding and being mass-produced.

The award is named after industrial designer and inventor James Dyson, whose company is famous for its vacuum cleaners. The James Dyson Award is open to university level students or recent graduates in 18 countries studying design or engineering who design an invention that solves a problem. Roberts’ invention beat out entries from over 600 other inventors.

Researchers Develop Inflatable Robots

soft roboticsBaymax, an inflatable robot who becomes a hero in the upcoming movie “Big Hero 6,” was inspired by research in inflatable robotics being conducted at Carnegie Mellon University.

Researchers in the field of soft robotics make robots from soft materials, such as fabrics, balloons, and light plastics. Soft robots are lighter and safer than traditional metal robots and cost less to produce. Some of the soft robots being developed are wearable or disposable. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon are developing other technology, such as artificial muscles, touch sensors, and pressure-sensitive skins, to make the soft robots practical.

Yong-Lae Park, a researcher at CMU, is working on a lightweight robotic arm that uses balloons as exterior cushions. The arm uses pneumatic artificial muscles that enable it to move. Park is also working on soft artificial skin sensors and muscle actuators to control robotic devices and strap-on devices to help people with limb disorders or to enhance human capabilities.

Carmel Majidi, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is working in the Soft Machines Lab on soft, stretchable elastic films and soft electronic actuators and sensors that can be used with soft robots or clothing as artificial skin. The lab is also developing methods to create the materials quickly and inexpensively using 3D printing and other techniques.

Siddharth Sanan developed an inflatable robotic arm as part of his Ph.D. thesis research that could bathe or feed a patient. He studied inflatable pool toys and stand-up dolls to learn how to build a functional inflatable robot. Sanan’s robot uses cables to move the arms and has pneumatically controlled hands.

Inflatable robots could be useful in the healthcare field. They could also be extremely portable and able to be produced inexpensively with fabrics and plastics that are melted, glued, and sewn together.