The Spring Home and Leisure Show was on in Canberra so I went along to see the energy and water efficient technologies they had. Also there were some interesting transport options. I was particularly on the lookout for local products and there were several which deserve more attention world wide. Here are the ones I thought interesting.
Insulated Concrete Forms
Zego displayed their Insulated Concrete Forms. These look like giant toy building blocks. They are made of hollow foam plastic and designed to be stacked, then concrete poured in to make walls for buildings. In this way you end up with an insulated concrete wall quickly. The system is suitable for owner-builders constructing their own homes. There are books available on how to use Insulating Concrete Forms Construction.
AnotherRoom were displaying transportable buildings for domestic use. These are built in a similar way to temporary offices used on building sites, but sized for domestic use and painted to match a home. Instead of having a workshop, home office, or extra bedroom built, you simply have one delivered. These add on rooms are much simpler to install than complete modular homes, as they don't have bathrooms or kitchens, so that no plumbing has to be connected, just electricity.
One catch is that such buildings are limited to a size which can be delivered on a truck, with modules limited to about 2.4 to 4 m wide. This a common limitation of containerized buildings. AnotherRoom can deliver larger buildings in modular sections assembled on site and with bathrooms and kitchens already installed.
There are books on how to choose a transportable home.
MMM Interiors showed off their interior designs for home and apartments. They specialize in the business end of homes: kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. They also do home theatres, although my idea of what to use, may be a little down market. I suggested they look at doing home offices. There are many books on home office design but little applied in the average dwelling.
RiteWood Wood Substitute
RiteWood is a wood plastic composite made of recycled plastic mixed with wood fibre and extruded to make boards. These look like timber and are useful for outdoor decks and building cladding as they don't need to be painted.
Digital Music Server
The base unit ("ZonePlayer") looks a bit like an Apple miniMac computer. One of these units is connected via by a cable to your PC. Other units then communicate via a wireless network. So from the hand held controller you can play music stored on the PC or listen to podcasts downloaded from the Internet.
Motorini displayed an Electric Tricycle. This seems to be the same model offered by The Bicycle Store:
Manufacturer Electric Bike Company ... Wheels Front: 20in Rear: 18in ... Throttle Twist Grip Throttle Recharge Time 4-6hrs Speed Max 20kph Motor 200w Hub Drive Motor Range 50kms ... Battery Lead Acid Max. Number of Charges 300 (from flat) Weight of Battery Assembly 13kg Weight 37 kg
There are kits to add an electric motor and batteries to a conventional bicycle also available.
Four Wheel Pedal Car
The Mars M1 is a small pop up caravan camper on an extended trailer. The extra space can be used to hold a quad bike, motorcycles, or I guess a Berg pedal car. When bikes are off the back, the extra space makes a patio.
NRMA Mobile Member Centre
The NRMA Mobile Member Centre is a semi trailer equipped as a mobile office. It has a pop out side wall much like the Queensland Department of Education's mobile classrooms. Attached to the side of the trailer is an awning protecting several plasma screens. Inside are a row of LCD screens displaying information about the NRMA. The vehicle visits shows around the ACT and NSW promoting the motoring organisation.
The NSW Government has decided to buy a mobile police command vehicle, which will look and be equipped much like the NRMA MMC. Perhaps the NRMA could make their vehicle available for major emergencies. But a big part of this is not the vehicle, but the staff training for a Emergency Management Command Center.