Home Automation, Fungus Buildings and Strange Facts

Happy post-Super Bowl Friday everyone. For all of you Seattle fans out there, congratulations. And for all of my fellow Broncos fans, what can I say? It looks like our team was sadly just as confused about the game as Sir Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were.

Hopefully this week’s Week in Geek can help you forget (or celebrate) the game with all sorts of non-sports related geeky goodness.

One Gizmo to Rule Them All

In the last year or so, things have really been heating up on the home automation front with everything from connected thermostats, door locks, light bulbs and more hitting the market. The problem with many of these, as this review from Wired points out, is that most of this hardware is controlled by its own mobile app. Who has the time or patience to fumble through a dozen different apps to control the various components in their home? Enter Piper, which touts itself as an all-in-one home automation and security solution running on Z-Wave technology. For the higher priced $360 starter package, you can get the plug in Piper system, which among other things includes a 180 degree fish eye camera, motion and sound detector, and weather station; it also features three Z-Wave accessories, such as a door sensor or a power outlet module.

Why do I like this so much over some of the other options? Because it seems perfect for an apartment dweller such as myself. From what I’ve read, everything seems plug-and-play and doesn’t require a lot of wiring and drilling holes, and it even has a “pet mode” so you don’t get a notification every time your cat decides to go for an inexplicable run up and down the hallway. Check out the full review over at Wired, and if you’re already using a home automation solution, let us know which one and your thoughts about it in the comments section below.

A Building Grown From Fungus

This is pretty mind blowing. According to Gizmodo, a group of Brooklyn architects plan to build a tower out of bricks grown from mycelium in the courtyard of MoMA P.S.1 this summer. To overly simplify, the group’s plan is to jam a bunch of farm refuse into brick-shaped molds and then add the fungus, which will quickly grow, and in a couple of days bind the whole thing together. The end result should be a very strong building material that’s totally compostable and carbon-free. Check out the whole fascinating article on Gizmodo.

Famous Movies as Animations

For this next one, let’s head over to SPLOID for this awesome post about a group of animation students in Denmark who have put together “The Trailer Project,” an exercise where the students are tasked with creating animated movie trailers inspired from famous movies. The results are pretty incredible. I’ve included the trailers inspired from The Shining and Alien below (since I’m a sci-fi and horror junky), but be sure to check out the whole project.

Strange but True

Sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction and that brings us to our next Week in Geek entry. It’s another post from blogger Casey Chan at SPLOID. Nine true facts that sound totally made up, but are actually completely true.  Among the entries - apparently most toilets flush in E Flat. Who knew?

Chromecast SDK  

Fellow Chromecast users (and developers) rejoice! This week Google finally released the official SDK for Chromecast, meaning app developers can now natively build casting capability into their apps. No longer will we be relegated to only Netflix, Pandora, HBOGo and a handful of other castable (is that a word?) apps. This article at Techland lists a handful of thoughts on possible developments, as well as a list of apps that have already pledged to build in Chromecast support.

Well, this wraps up another Week in Geek. I say it every week, but I’ll say it again: If you think of something amazing that should be featured in a future post, let me know if the comments below.