EcoModo - The Best of Treehugger

treehugger-gizmodo-week114.jpgThis week at TreeHugger: Say hello to the "Cuter Scooter," the latest electric, foldable, affordable scooter from the brain maniacs at MIT. The Danish city of Gren is putting RFID to work for the green good with a pretty slick idea involving bikes, traffic and keeping the two from running in to each other. Get the real story on how much vampire power your Wii is sucking down from "the count" himself (bwa ha ha). Lastly, an electric eel powering a Christmas tree? Only in Japan...The big brains at MIT's Smart Cities Group have designed an electric scooter that takes affordability, light weight and convenience to a whole new level. The prototype, dubbed the "Cuter Scooter" by the students, was "designed to be placed throughout cities for rental, much like the bicycle rental system in some European cities." When parked, the scooters fold to half their size, saving space while the batteries are recharged.

The Danish city of Gren will pay to install battery-driven RFIDs in the steering columns of 300 residents' bikes, and put receivers at seven intersections considered to be the most dangerous. When a cyclist approaches, the RFID sends a signal to the traffic light which turns on a flashing 'cyclist' sign at eye height to warn drivers, especially drivers of big rigs, that they should check for bikes before making a right-hand turn (and waffling the unexpecting, do-gooding biker). Smart.

You know that vampire power is using each of your electronics to sip away your cash money, but how much, really? Congratulations, plasma TV: you're the big winner, at almost $180 per year—ouch! Your computer is next in line (about $40), followed closely by gaming consoles (about $29) and your laptop computer ($18). It all adds up to $3.4 billion per year out of our collective pockets...that's a lot of Wiis.

Japan is home to many a wacky gadget and weird invention, but this one may take the cake. Gifu, an electric eel, has been installed in a tank with a copper wire connected to a Christmas tree; each time it slithers too close, the wire sends the eel's natural electricity up to the globes in the tree, which shine some holiday cheer down on the happy couples below. Brilliant.

TreeHugger's EcoModo column appears every Wednesday on Gizmodo.

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