Case Studies

Forward Thinking

By Marta Bright, Bobbie Hartman, Monica Mehta, Christopher Null, and Kate Pavao

November 2011

Gear Head

Telekinesis is the stuff of science fiction films and fantasy novels, but what if your mind really could manipulate the world around you? The idea is becoming a reality with the Prius X Parlee (PXP) concept bike, a superaerodynamic bicycle that riders can control with their minds.

Electrodes in the rider’s helmet transmit neurological activity to an electronic gearshift mounted on the seat—the same kind of brain-computer interface that helps amputees control high-tech limbs.

The mind-controlled bike was developed by Toyota, Saatchi & Saatchi LA, and the technology design firm Deeplocal as part of the ongoing Toyota Prius Projects campaign—a design exploration venture that generates innovations by applying the characteristics of the popular Toyota Prius car.

Like the Prius, the PXP concept bicycle is a hybrid, combining the features of a time-trial bike with the comfort and efficiency of a road bike. “The challenge was to reimagine what a bike would be like if we applied the Prius philosophy to it,” explains Chris Adams, executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi LA. “It’s a new evolution in bicycle design.”

The bike has only been ridden by a few people over short distances and is not yet for sale. To learn more, check out

Hand in Glove

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 260,000 carpal tunnel release operations are performed in the U.S. each year, with 47 percent of the cases considered to be work related.

Architect and designer Neri Oxman, assistant professor of media arts and sciences at the MIT Media Lab, has devised a promising therapeutic glove called Carpal Skin. According to Oxman, Carpal Skin “is a process by which to map the ‘pain profile’ of a particular patient—its intensity and duration—and to distribute hard and soft materials to fit the patient’s anatomical and physiological requirements, limiting movement in a customized fashion.”

Still in the prototype phase, Carpal Skin may just be the next big thing for carpal tunnel relief. Learn more at

Freeway Social

Have you ever wished you could tell a fellow driver on the road that his taillight is out?

Now is taking social networking on the road, creating a safe system that the company’s founder says will revolutionize the roadways.

“People spend five years of their life in a car without being able to say or hear anything from those around them,” says Mitch Thrower, who launched and is now CEO. “We all have a unique identifier attached to us, which is a license plate, yet we haven’t been able to utilize it to communicate with each other.” links that unique ID to an e-mail and voice message system, allowing anyone on the road with a account to communicate with other members. “It’s like driving around with your e-mail address on the back of your vehicle,” Thrower says. management is currently rolling out a number of new features including support for user automobile clubs and events and roadside safety and location-aware emergency assistance benefits called BUMPadvantage. will also feature a “location echo” that tells users where their car has been. “The communication possibilities are endless,” says Thrower.

Holiday on Ice

For 22 years, guests at the ICEHOTEL have cooled their heels in rooms made of ice and snow. Located in the Swedish Lapland region 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, the 5,500-square-meter hotel is re-created every year, starting in mid-November when a team of builders, architects, designers, and artists construct elaborate snow rooms and suites. This year the first phase will be completed on December 10, with new sections opening throughout December.

“Our guests come to experience something out of the ordinary,” says Camilla Bondareva, press officer at the hotel. “They are surprised at how cozy it is in -5 degrees.”

For the first time this year, the ICEHOTEL won’t shut down when the snow melts—it will just offer fewer rooms.

Check out

The 5 Best Airports for a Long Layover

Any traveler who has encountered that perfect storm of weather, mechanical delays, and overbooked flights has had to kill time in airport terminals. But after browsing magazines and trying to get some work done on the rickety Wi-Fi, what’s left? If you’ve got a choice in where you spend your layover on your next flight, consider one of these five destinations.

Vancouver International Airport Canada

Canada’s YVR is clean, calm, and full of the usual newsstand and fast food amenities. So what sets this airport apart from the competition? The option for weary passengers to sleep in the terminals. Thanks to row after row of armrest-free chairs, Vancouver’s seating setup lets travelers stretch out to their heart’s content. Need to refresh with a postnap shower? The Absolute Spa in the adjacent Fairmont Hotel offers CA$16 day passes, which include access to the swimming pool.

Hong Kong International Airport Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport is so vast that it occupies its own island. A perennial champion of “Best Airport in the World” polls, HKG is studded with fine-dining outlets and enough upscale shopping to rival Rodeo Drive. It’s all located in a vast terminal building that also includes a “4-D” movie theater (with the largest screen of its type in Asia), a relaxation-themed miniature garden, and an onsite acupuncturist.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Holland

If you’re looking for reading material more esoteric than the latest Grisham or Clancy, airport bookstores are likely to leave you decidedly unfulfilled. But Holland’s Schiphol Airport passes over the usual paperbacks to offer a full-on (nonlending) library, featuring 1,200 books in 20-plus languages. Additional airport facilities include the usual collection of more than 100 shops; a 24-hour day spa; and, oddly, an onsite wedding planner.

Las Vegas McCarran Airport United States

After feasting on Cinnabons and pumping pocket change into the in-terminal slot machines, travelers can pump some iron downstairs at McCarran’s little-known onsite gym. A day pass at FitnessBeast costs just US$9.95, giving couch potatoes access to 13,000 square feet of first-class fitness equipment, sauna, showers, and even massage services. Check out the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum upstairs—which, like all things Vegas, is open 24 hours a day.

Munich Airport Germany

With enough shopping and entertainment options to earn the title of a “mini city,” the Munich Airport is the layover option of choice for European travelers in the know. MUC features more than 150 shops and services, while restaurant options include dining at an onsite brewery. Travelers with kids will appreciate the playground with a trampoline and an 18-hole miniature golf course. Still looking to kill some time? Take the controls of a commercial jet at the iPilot flight simulator in Terminal 2.

Photography by Shutterstock