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Australia’s “Electric Nose” Sniffs Out Graffiti Vandals On Public Trains

The high-tech “Mousetrap” can sense when graffiti vandalism is taking place, allowing train conductors to watch and make arrests in real-time.

One of Sydney's vandalized trains, via Wikipedia Commons.

Forget drug-sniffing dogs, the new tool to fight broken-windows-style crime is a cyber miracle. Recently Sydney, Australia unveiled a high-tech system called Mousetrap that literally smells out graffiti crime in real-time on public transit. With a series of sensors embedded in trains and carriages, it has quietly been used to combat defacement on public systems for over a year. It works by sensing when a graffiti assault is underway via an “electronic nose” sensor that picks up on paint fumes. An alert is transmitted to railway security, allowing them to view live-stream video of the vandalism. The rail network control room is then able to track where the crime is taking place, and undercover police officers are sent to make the arrest. The sensors are so sophisticated they can even decipher whether marker, pen, or spray paint is the medium of choice.

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The Week In Design: 10 Stories You Can’t Miss

This week we were promised floating parks, flying bikes, and earbuds that will give us superhuman hearing.

In a fun, fashionable move forward, Google’s Advanced Technology And Projects (ATAP) lab has teamed up with Levi's to develop a smart fabric that is able to conduct “electrical variations in the skin,” bend, and morph according to the wearer. This means that your denim, in the near future, could potentially act like a touch screen, and even sync up with your social media devices. Called Project Jacquard, the collaboration recruited creatives in fashion, textile production, coding, and development to produce the conductive yarns that make up the smart fabric. According to Prote.in, “gesture-sensitive areas can be woven at precise locations, anywhere on the textile. Alternatively, sensor grids can be woven throughout the textile, creating large, interactive surfaces that could be used to make larger products, like smart furniture and art installations.”

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Lisbon’s Junk Gets a Second Life as Gorgeous 3D Animal Street Art

Artur “Bordalo II” upcycles old bumpers and steering wheels to make Portugal’s capital city even more magical.

Lisbon, one of Europe’s most underrated cities, has in recent years been the recipient of an influx of artists, many fleeing Berlin and Paris for cheaper rents. While the expat scene thrives, the global community seems to have overlooked the local talent, which also exists in spades. One of these homegrown creatives is artist Arturo “Bordalo II,” who uses materials like old tires, scrap metal, steering wheels, oil paint, and bumpers to form impressive, larger-than-life 3D murals on walls and back alleys throughout the city. The stars of these murals are almost always animals, and the art itself is a mix of Banksy and a more colorful Tim Burton. In Bordalo’s Lisbon, scissor-like beaks protrude from the sides of buildings and a wall becomes a crouching raccoon. Bordalo’s output has been prodigious over the last few months, and Beautiful/Decay was recently able to document them all in one place. Many more can also be seen on Facebook.

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San Francisco’s Musical Traffic Light Pedestrian Orchestra

Montreal design firm Daily Tous les Jours creates a fanciful new installation to lighten up San Francisco’s Market Street.

If you happened to be on the streets of San Francisco last weekend, particular Market, you were certainly in for a (cardboard) treat.

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NYC’s Upcoming Subterranean Park Gets A Little Design Help From The Community

Students of the Lowline Young Designers Program ponder the revolutionary public park to be created beneath the city’s sidewalks.

As buildable land for public works projects in NYC becomes scarce, those with a commitment to the communal have had to get creative with their thinking. Though the Highline is the golden child of recent developments—providing not just a nifty tourist attraction, but also an inventive way to create parks in a cramped city—the proposed Lowline is poised to bring this ingenuity underground. Still in the development stages, the Lowline park will use solar technology to light and power the historic Williamsburg Bridge trolley terminal, closed in 1948, which lies beneath Delancey Street on the Lower East Side. According to the Lowline’s press release, “Our vision is a stunning underground park, providing a beautiful respite and a cultural attraction in one of the world’s most dense, exciting urban environments.” The park would also sit adjacent to the JMZ subway stop at Essex Street, allowing a seamless integration into the city’s transportation lifeblood. So far, plans for the Lowline have been endorsed by the vast majority of elected officials, local community leaders, and senior officials in New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio's administration. Hopefully, with proper capital and the go-ahead from the city, construction on this ambitious project will commence within the next five years. Recently, 3-D renderings of the future underground Lowline park went on display at the Mark Miller Gallery, generated by local students as part of the organization's Young Designers Program. The initiative was launched to give kids an opportunity to “design their neighborhood park” and make science, tech, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) fun and interactive. The Lowline Young Designers Program (YDP) is part of a larger, immersive after-school initiative meant to encourage hands-on youth education in the neighborhood, making it a truly organic project. The Lowline team partnered with some of the area’s largest and oldest community organizations—including Asian Americans for Equality, Educational Alliance, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement, University Settlement, and the 14th Street Y. The students, working in collaboration, translated their findings and design concepts into physical 3-D models, and exhibited them at the gallery alongside photos and written narratives.

Image courtesy of Andrew Einhorn/The Lowline

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A Mosaic Shines in Philly

An intimate conversation with a fixture of the Philadelphia art world.

PHILADELPHIA - The South Street district is a gritty, disheveled, and jaggedly beautiful area in Philadelphia. Filled with artist’s studios, bohemian hangouts, and eclectic boutiques, South Street has long been a bastion of counterculture, a haven for those who do not fit into mainstream society and go against the grain of the status quo. Driving around this eclectic neighborhood, it is apparent that a main fixture of South Street is the glittering mosaics by artist Isaiah Zagar. Zagar’s mosaic murals, often covering entire buildings in shattered glass, ceramic, and mirror, are metaphysical windows into a world of creativity; they synthesize the history of art and the international folk art communities into a uniquely beautiful visual statement that is all at once a reflection of Zagar’s surroundings and his imagination.

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