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I don’t usually like re-posting an entire article, but this one is both interesting and moving.

My grandparents were very different: on the one hand a « perfect couple », 50 years of marriage and my grandad would still every morning pick flowers in the garden for my grandmother while she was preparing confitures; and on the other hand one of the most innovative and strong women I have ever had the chance to meet (I am currently witting her Wikipedia Page so there will soon be a link here).

I have to admit that when on holiday, I rarely take the time to read the FT, but this headline caught my attention and I thought it was worth the share (and as there was no ‘share’ button on the paper- I cut out the page and kept it in my purse to make sure I wouldn’t forget).

All credentials goes to Alice Fishburn and you can find the original article here.


Alice Fishburn: What my grandfather taught me

« The things your grandparents have seen and done are in your blood and a million miles from your own experience

Last week my grandfather died. He left many things behind: a wife, six children, 14 grandchildren and a huge hole. But in the spirit of not knowing what you’ve got till it’s gone, he also left me with a new awareness: grandparents are everywhere. The elderly get some of the worst press around – castigated as a drain on resources, with a generation of creaky-hipped baby boomers emerging from the wings to make things even more disastrous. But where it counts, grandparents are actually running the show.

Indeed, they are not only running things but taking them over. A MetLife analysis of census data estimates that there are now 25 million more grandparents in the United States than there were in 1980 – some 65 million strong, their number is growing at more than twice the US overall population growth rate. The UK now has around 14 million of them. That’s a powerful presence, not to mention political lobby. And as longevity increases, multigenerational families are becoming more common. It used to be rare to have a great-grandmother still doing the rounds. Now they’re popping up everywhere. »

Exhibit A: the Queen. Quite aside from the imminent acquisition of a new scion in Baby Cambridge Jr, she has soared up the popularity charts since recasting herself in the role of national grandmother: pastel-clad, never missing a family occasion no matter how many Elton John performances she has to sit through. Hillary Clinton has also recognised the sway of the grandparent demographic. She may not be prepared to speak out about 2016 but she is firmly on the record about her grandmotherly aspirations. In one interview she stated there was “no pressure” on Chelsea, before describing her hypothetical grandmothering style with what any daughter would recognise as quite a high-pressure statement: “Oh, my gosh, I’ll take the child, I’ll do whatever you need to get done.”

She won’t be the only one. Grandparents are the not-so-secret weapon of childcare. A recent report for Grandparents Plus by the Institute of Gerontology at King’s showed that over 40 per cent of grandparents in 11 European countries provide childcare. In Britain, that soars to 63 per cent for those with a grandchild under 16. Nor are they just a reliable backstop for juggling parents. They are also the ones who step in when things get tough. In the US, the Pew Research Center suggests that since the recession started, there has been a sharp increase in the number of children raised by a grandparent.

I benefited from 31 glorious years of hands-on grandfathering and if that’s not enough to absorb a few lessons, then, frankly, I’m the one to blame. My grandfather is the one who taught me that the answer to pretty much any question can be found in a book (mon grand père nous disait toujours que la réponse à tout était dans le QUID!). It was from him that I learnt how to write the name of whoever gave you the wine on the bottle (dorénavant je ferais pareil, idée brillante!) so you can thank them later (neatly distilling two of his great philosophies – manners matter above all and let the good wines flow). More and more of us will thrive from such prolonged exposure as our grandparents live longer. Today they are more likely to be working, active and educated than before.

They also have more cash at their disposal: a market that canny companies have not been shy to cash in on. But it is their presence that beats toys, clothes and other bits of plastic. An Oxford university study of teenagers (never the most effusive group) funded by the Economic and Social Research Council shows that children with higher grandparental involvement in their lives have fewer emotional and behavioural problems. They are our cheerleaders, another line of defence in times of difficulty. They weigh in on the really important things. My grandfather again: “Be fair. Be fair. Be fair. Even when life isn’t.”

A new study comes to the unsurprising conclusion that grandparents affect your social standing. More importantly, they give you a sense of your own history. The things they have seen and done are both in your blood and a million miles from your own experience, whether setting off for the front lines or experiencing a new nirvana at Woodstock. At an age when I was still messing around in graduate school, my grandfather, a young colonial officer, was dealing with a small pirate problem in Malaysia. When he used Morse code to appeal to his superiors some 200 miles away, the following came back: “Sort it out yourself.”

Our society is lucky that a swelling generation of grandparents stand ready to sort it out for those who come after them. More children will learn that your ears never stop growing. That however much of a city slicker you fancy yourself to be, you will be embarrassed if you can’t tell the difference between an oak and a beech, a hyacinth and a crocus. (If you can do it in Latin, so much the better.) That tolerance counts above all else. Tolerance and family. Tolerance of family most of all. And, ultimately, that you can never have long enough with your grandparents. »

All credentials goes to Alice Fishburn and you can find the original article here.


« A truly fine meal is enjoyed not once but three times, in anticipation, in consumption, and in remembrance »

Dear followers,

As you might know, I love food, and I love Excel (yes, Excel!), and as such I have a very strong tendency to record, rate and recommend all my favorite restaurants and bars using spreadsheets. (Happy to share them with you, current ‘shareable’ spreadsheets are Paris and London, still working on NY, Dubai and Marrakesh!)

I recently decided that the only missing feature to my little notes was a map, so I could look up what in my favorites or to do list was close by if I was in an area.

Of course, Google having a response to (pretty much) everything, you can create your maps using « My Places » in Google Maps. So here is my Paris Shortlist, in blue are my shortlisted places and in red my to-do list!

Any suggestions please comment on this article and I will gladly add it to my map (even better if you want to go and try it out with me!).


View Ambrouille’s Paris Shortlist in a larger map

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For folks who are either too far from Great Britain or not crazy enough to book tickets two-months in advance and spend an entire day at the Warner Bross Harry Potter Studio (For the reference, I did, the Knight Bus picked us up at Victoria and we left with Thaïs and T.S-H for a magical journey!), Google just added to its Maps a very nice treat!

Whether it is buying a wand in Ollivanders or picking up some extendable ears from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, I am sure plenty of muggles would love to step into Diagon Alley… So if you can’t find The Leaky Cauldron, there is another way to soak up the atmosphere among those famous cobbles:

View Larger Map

You can now visit Diagon Alley in the window above or click on this link to open in Google Maps.

I am a huge Harry Potter fan, I grew up with these books (when Harry started at Hogwarts, he was 11, and when I read the first book, I was 10,  only one year difference but due to inevitable gaps of time between the books, Harry and I both found ourselves completing last year of high school pretty much at the same time) and waited in line in front of Smith’s bookshop in Paris at 1am on release dates to be the first to lay hands on the newest volume.

The kind of crazy fan who would re-read the books a dozen times and then dream about it. I find it absolutely incredible that Warner has turned this imaginary world into something you can actually walk into. Just for this, today, I love Google. And I will celebrate this by reading a HP chapter tonight!


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David Fisher Architect (Florence – Italy) is an Italian-Israeli architect based in Florence; he is known for designing the Dynamic Tower, a rotating skyscraper proposed for construction in Dubai (although the basic concept has precedents, especially the 2001 Suite Vollard in Brazil with independently rotating floors).

« Since the dawn of humanity man has seeked to exceed the limits of previous generations. The achievement of new limits in Architecture has been written in history as a reminder to new generations: humanity has to pursue virtue and knowledge. New limits and prospects are now opened: buildings are now able to change their shape and be part of environment. This is the era of Dynamic Architecture »

Here is the video presenting his Dynamic Tower, and some explanation by David Fisher himself about the birth of the idea and the science behind it. I have been delving a little further to know more about Fisher and the tower itself, and stumbled upon a surprisingly witty Wikipedia article questioning Fisher’s credentials and honesty… Not sure what/who to believe but nobody can contest that the video and project are impressive.

Dynamic space – The birth of the idea.

The idea was somehow part of my architectural beliefs following years of research on technology of construction, human and social aspects. « Architecture part of nature » is a concept that I always carried with me: Buildings that adjust to life, to our needs, to our moods. The inspiration, however, arrived at a precise moment in December 2004, when I was watching the view from the Olympic Tower in NYC, on 51st and 5th. I noticed that from a certain spot you could see the East River and the Hudson River, both sides of Manhattan… That is when I thought to myself: « Why don’t we rotate the entire floor? That way, everybody can see both the East River and the Hudson River, as well as Saint Patrick’s Cathedral! ».

That is how I got inspired to create the building that changes its shape continuously.

But it really all started during my childhood, when I used to watch every evening the sun set over the Mediterranean. (I like the guy, who could not like a Mediterranean aficionado?!) The huge red sun would slowly fall into the water, signalling that one day was over and another was about to begin. This aspect of motion and its relation to the dimension of time always intrigued me.

When I grew up and became an architect I understood that an architect should design buildings that adjust to life. They should adapt to our space, our functionalities and our needs that change continuously – and even to our sense of beauty, itself in continuous motion.

These are the first buildings to have a fourth dimension: Time. This is the new philosophy of dynamic buildings, adjusting to sunrise and sunset, to the wind and to the view – thus becoming part of nature. I call these buildings « Designed by Time, Shaped by Life ».


More on Dynamic Architecture, thanks Philou for sharing!

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If you thought your week was off to a wrong start, this might cheer you up a little (worked for me!). There, enjoy this picture of a random guy… chilling with a glass of rosé, while walking his crab.

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When TED asked Bill Gates to curate a list of his favorite talks, his first response was “there are too many to pick, really.”

However, he’s whittled it down to 13 essentials and here is the first of them, by Hans Rosling.

You’ve never seen data presented like this.

With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, the statistics guru debunks myths about the so-called « developing world. »

 Stats that reshape your worldview

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This time of year is all about tradition, isn’t it? (Allright, I am not the one to talk, celebrating Christmas early this week end and not planning to attend a mass)

Still, the season for giving and all that. A time of year where you can reflect on the year that’s drawing to a close and think about all the things you might want to change as the new year dawns. (That’s right, I’m referring to the New Year Resolution we all know we are going to hold seriously….)

Many of us will spend time with our families, and maybe eat a bit too much. Drink too much. Perhaps a few too many refreshing beverages will be consumed at times of the day when, at any other time of year, people might raise an eyebrow…

It’s also the time when you might think about extending a little seasonal goodwill to others less fortunate, and this week is a time when you can combine that tradition with another.

Yes guys, I’m talking about THE Christmas Jumper Day!

Long derided, it’s become the epitome of seasonal cool (True story, we were in a club in London last Saturday, the number of old-fashioned-hand-knitted-Christmas-Jumpers was unbelievable, and unbelievably successful, like a girl magnet).

This year, the 14th December is Christmas Jumper Day and at Save The Children you can show the world you care, in all your Fair Isle finery.

So this morning, I woke up (waking up on a Friday morning keeps getting harder as the holidays are drawing closer… and the wine flowing quicker!) and properly dressed for the occasion.

Arrived wearing my nice little Christmas jumper in the midst of our Equity Trading Floor, expecting everyone to be in a cheerful Christmas spirit, with carols playing aloud and sents of musc and cinnamon falling upon us.

What a disappointment! Can’t believe I’m probably the only one out of about 800 other bankers on the floor to think that was a great idea (but then, i was deprived of the opportunity to participate in Movember so the guys probably feel like they’ve already done their good deed!)

So, if you want to help the Save the Children Foundation, you can do a donation here (alternatively, if you just want to do something nice, buy me a drink or even better, like Column Capital D’s Facebook page!).

Cherry Mistmas!


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A color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries

Click on image to enlarge!

Since 2009, the Gallup polling firm has surveyed people in 150 countries and territories on, among other things, their daily emotional experience. Their survey asks five questions, meant to gauge whether the respondent felt significant positive or negative emotions the day prior to the survey. The more times that people answer “yes” to questions such as “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”, the more emotional they’re deemed to be.

Gallup has tallied up the average “yes” responses from respondents in almost every country on Earth. The results, which I’ve mapped out above, are as fascinating as they are indecipherable. The color-coded key in the map indicates the average percentage of people who answered “yes.” Dark purple countries are the most emotional, yellow the least. Here are a few takeaways.

Singapore is the least emotional country in the world. ”Singaporeans recognize they have a problem,” Bloomberg Businessweek writes of the country’s “emotional deficit,” citing a culture in which schools “discourage students from thinking of themselves as individuals.” They also point to low work satisfaction, competitiveness, and the urban experience: “Staying emotionally neutral could be a way of coping with the stress of urban life in a place where 82 percent of the population lives in government-built housing.”

The Philippines is the world’s most emotional country. It’s not even close; the heavily Catholic, Southeast Asian nation, a former colony of Spain and the U.S., scores well above second-ranked El Salvador.

Post-Soviet countries are consistently among the most stoic. Other than Singapore (and, for some reason, Madagascar and Nepal), the least emotional countries in the world are all former members of the Soviet Union. They are also the greatest consumers of cigarettes and alcohol. This could be what you call and chicken-or-egg problem: if the two trends are related, which one came first? Europe appears almost like a gradient here, with emotions increasing as you move West.

People in the Americas are just exuberant. Every nation on the North and South American continents ranked highly on the survey. Americans and Canadians are both among the 15 most emotional countries in the world, as well as ten Latin countries. The only non-American countries in the top 15, other than the Philippines, are the Arab nations of Oman and Bahrain, both of which rank very highly.

English- and Spanish-speaking societies tend to be highly emotional and happy. Though the Anglophone nations of the world retain deep cultural links, it’s not clear if Spain’s emotional depth has anything to do with Latin America’s. According to Gallup, “Latin America leads the world when it comes to positive emotions, with Panama, Paraguay, and Venezuela at the top of that list.” Yes, even Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela is apparently filled with happy people.

Africans are generally stoic, with some significant exceptions. The continent is among the world’s least emotional, though there is wide variation, which serves as a non-definitive but interesting reminder of Africa’s cultural diversity. Each could be its own captivating case study. It’s possible that South Africa’s high rating has to do with its cultural ties to Western Europe, for example, and Nigeria’s may have to do with the recent protest movement in the south and sectarian violence in the north.

The Middle East is not happy. Gallup notes, “Negative emotions are highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with Iraq, Bahrain, and the Palestinian Territories leading the world in negative daily experiences.” Still, that doesn’t quite fully explain the high emotions in the Levant and on the Arabian peninsula, compared to the lower emotions in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. Perhaps this hints at how people in these countries are being affected by the still-ongoing political turmoil of the Arab Spring.

Read on the Washington Post

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So this new company, Remee say they can help you dream lucidly. Why? What? How? Well first, watch the video below. It’ll get you in the right mindset. All set?

Ok, to proceed: Have you ever had a dream where you knew you were dreaming? What did you do? Did you wake up and think nothing more of it? What would you say if we told you you were on the verge of something entertaining or even sublime? Lucid Dreaming is the ability to understand and control your dreams as they happen, and it’s something people have been doing for thousands of years!

What is Remee?

Remee is a specialized sleep mask designed to help increase the frequency of your Lucid Dreams. The key to Lucid Dreaming is recognizing when you’re dreaming. That’s where Remee comes in.

Inside what looks like a normal sleep mask is a microcontroller.

During your sleep, Remee flashes a series of customizable, recognizable light patterns via six rear facing LEDs.

The lights aren’t bright enough to wake you up, but, if you are dreaming, they can appear as visual anomalies in your dreams, helping the dreamer recognize the fact that they are dreaming, and become lucid.

Once lucid, you can begin controlling the world around you.

And for $95 (£60) you can order these here!

Thanks Polux for sharing :-)

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La NASA dévoile des images exceptionnelles de la Terre illuminée la nuit.

Grâce à un nouveau satellite, Suomi NPP, les scientifiques de la NASA ont pu réaliser des images impressionnantes de la Terre vue de l’espace, la nuit. Tout se révèle alors à l’objectif, depuis la lueur vacillante des bateaux jusqu’aux aux étendues lumineuses des mégapoles.

Sublime. Prenez 5 min pour la regarder:

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If only…

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The New York Times published an article presenting 32 innovation that will change our future daily lives.

I loved Maggie Koerth-Baker’s introduction (below), and her regard on innovation « It’s messy, and it’s awesome » and have selected one post in each section (Morning Routine, Commute, Work, Play, Health, Home); however I strongly recommend you read the full article here!

« The electric light was a failure.

Invented by the British chemist Humphry Davy in the early 1800s, it spent nearly 80 years being passed from one initially hopeful researcher to another, like some not-quite-housebroken puppy. In 1879, Thomas Edison finally figured out how to make an incandescent light bulb that people would buy. But that didn’t mean the technology immediately became successful. It took another 40 years, into the 1920s, for electric utilities to become stable, profitable businesses. And even then, success happened only because the utilities created other reasons to consume electricity. They invented the electric toaster and the electric curling iron and found lots of uses for electric motors. They built Coney Island. They installed electric streetcar lines in any place large enough to call itself a town. All of this, these frivolous gadgets and pleasurable diversions, gave us the light bulb.

We tend to rewrite the histories of technological innovation, making myths about a guy who had a great idea that changed the world. In reality, though, innovation isn’t the goal; it’s everything that gets you there. It’s bad financial decisions and blueprints for machines that weren’t built until decades later. It’s the important leaps forward that synthesize lots of ideas, and it’s the belly-up failures that teach us what not to do.

When we ignore how innovation actually works, we make it hard to see what’s happening right in front of us today. If you don’t know that the incandescent light was a failure before it was a success, it’s easy to write off some modern energy innovations — like solar panels — because they haven’t hit the big time fast enough.

Worse, the fairy-tale view of history implies that innovation has an end. It doesn’t. What we want and what we need keeps changing. The incandescent light was a 19th-century failure and a 20th- century success. Now it’s a failure again, edged out by new technologies, like LEDs, that were, themselves, failures for many years.

That’s what this issue is about: all the little failures, trivialities and not-quite-solved mysteries that make the successes possible. This is what innovation looks like. It’s messy, and it’s awesome. »

Morning Routine – Electric Clothes

Physicists at Wake Forest University have developed a fabric that doubles as a spare outlet. When used to line your shirt — or even your pillowcase or office chair — it converts subtle differences in temperature across the span of the clothing (say, from your cuff to your armpit) into electricity.

And because the different parts of your shirt can vary by about 10 degrees, you could power up your MP3 player just by sitting still. According to the fabric’s creator, David Carroll, a cellphone case lined with the material could boost the phone’s battery charge by 10 to 15 percent over eight hours, using the heat absorbed from your pants pocket.
Richard Morgan


Commute – Bikes

1. Anti-theft handlebars
Here’s an old idea whose time has come again. The bearing system that allows the bike to turn can be locked so that a thief can’t steer his stolen bike. The lock is internal, meaning that he’d have to destroy the bike to ride it away.

2. No more greasy chains
An updated shaft drive — which replaces the chain with a rod and internal gear system — would be perfect for urban riders. They’re popular in China right now, but new versions will be lighter and have more sophisticated gearing.
One-piece plastic and carbon-fiber frames


Work: the SpeechJammer

When you aim the SpeechJammer at someone, it records that person’s voice and plays it back to him with a delay of a few hundred milliseconds. This seems to gum up the brain’s cognitive processes — a phenomenon known as delayed auditory feedback — and can painlessly render the person unable to speak.

Kazutaka Kurihara, one of the SpeechJammer’s creators, sees it as a tool to prevent loudmouths from overtaking meetings and public forums, and he’d like to miniaturize his invention so that it can be built into cellphones. “It’s different from conventional weapons such as samurai swords,” Kurihara says. “We hope it will build a more peaceful world.” Catherine Rampell


Play: Terrifiying Playgrounds

Two Norwegian psychologists think that modern playgrounds are for wimps. Instead of short climbing walls, there should be towering monkey bars. Instead of plastic crawl tubes, there should be tall, steep slides. And balance beams. And rope swings.


The rationale is that the more we shield children from potential scrapes and sprained ankles, the more unprepared they’ll be for real risk as adults, and the less aware they’ll be of their surroundings.

Leif Kennair and Ellen Sandseter’s ideas have won the support of playground experts on both sides of the Atlantic; one company, Landscape Structures, offers a 10-foot-high climbing wall that twists like a Möbius strip. Clay Risen



Scientists at Princeton and Tufts are working on a super-thin tooth sensor (a kind of temporary tattoo) that sends an alert when it detects bacteria associated with plaque buildup, cavities or infection. It could also notify your dentist, adding an extra layer of social pressure to make an appointment.

The sensor may have wide-ranging use: the researchers have already used it to identify bacteria in saliva associated with stomach ulcers and cancers. While the sensor won’t last long on the surface of a well-brushed and flossed tooth, Michael McAlpine, the project’s leader, says that the sensors will be inexpensive enough that you can replace them daily. Clay Risen


Home – Food packaging

It’s depressing to think how much food packaging there is in your kitchen right now — all those juice cartons, water bottles and ice-cream containers. But what if you could eat them? “We’ve got to package in the same way nature does,” says a Harvard bio-engineer named David Edwards.

And so he has devised a way to convert foods into shell-like containers and films that he calls Wikicells. Yogurt will be encased in a strawberry pouch, for instance. You could wash and eat the packaging, like the skin of an apple, or you could toss it, like the peel of an orange, since it’s biodegradable. The newly wrapped ice cream and yogurt will be available later this month at the lab store in Paris, with juice and tea coming within the next year or two.

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Rory Sutherland stands at the center of an advertising revolution in brand identities, designing cutting-edge, interactive campaigns that blur the line between ad and entertainment.


From unlikely beginnings as a classics teacher to his current job as Vice Chairman of Ogilvy Group, Rory Sutherland has created his own brand of the Cinderella story.

He joined Ogilvy & Mather’s planning department in 1988, and became a junior copywriter, working on Microsoft’s account in its pre-Windows days. An early fan of the Internet, he was among the first in the traditional ad world to see the potential in these relatively unknown technologies.

Inspiring and insightful TED talk:


Some of my favorite quotes:

“When you place a value on things like health, love, sex and other things, and learn to place a material value on what you’ve previously discounted for being merely intangible… you realize you’re much, much wealthier than you ever imagined.”

“The circumstances of our lives actually matter less to our happiness than the sense of control we feel over our lives.”

“Google understood that if you’re just a search engine, people assume you’re a very, very good search engine.”

“When you can’t smoke, if you stand and stare out of the window on your own, you’re an antisocial, friendless idiot. If you stand and stare out of the window on your own with a cigarette, you’re a philosopher.”

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A Chinese company has seemingly accomplished the impossible, putting up a 30-story building in half as many days. Broad Sustainable Building finished construction on the 30-story hotel prototype in the city of Changsha after only 15 days of construction.

The construction was able to proceed so fast because the foundation was laid ahead of time and the building was largely factory manufactured. Once the pieces were shipped to the site all that was left was for the construction workers to put it all together, which they did at record speed.

According to Broad Sustainable Building’s website, the building was 93 percent factory made, a process which they say eliminates the risks associated with design and construction quality, budget and construction delays.

Critics, however, question the safety the building, pointing to the lack of oversight and pace at which it went up.

Broad Sustainable Building has attempted projects like this before, building a 15-story hotel in just a week as well as a six-story pavilion in less than a day. However, this is the first time they have attempted a project of this magnitude.

The company claims that their building method is environmentally efficient, reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Shared by YC, watched on YouTube and read on ABC News

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Soon, you’ll be able to charge your iPhone at strategic locations around New York City – but you’ll have to put in a little leg work!

The Charge Cycle is a stationary bike equipped with an iPhone dock, so users can charge their phones with the power of their own muscles, without plugging into the grid.

The Kickstarter-based project by David Krawczyk and Navjot Kaur aims to get at least 30 of these bikes out into the city where anyone can use them by early May 2013.

Prototypes have already been placed around New York in locations like Washington Square Park, Zuccotti Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Want to support this project? Check out the Charge Cycle Kickstarter page.

Read on The Web Urbanist!

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Haha, fun Kayak commercial !



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