Driving cars with mind power

No joysticks, no wires. Beyond Wi-Fi and your imagination, it’s now possible to drive Scalextric cars with the power of your mind.

This is the Audi Mind Race, an innovative electronic eight-track model circuit of 9 x 5 m which lets you drive scale replicas (1:24) of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, the winner of Le Mans 24 Hours, with the energy generated by the brain, which is captured by a sensor fitted on the contestant’s head.

A technological device known as Mindwave gathers the information generated by the electrical activity of your grey matter and the software transforms it into the energy necessary to move the cars. The more you concentrate, the faster they go.

Up until now, the only people to test this new activity have been the players of FC Barcelona and some younger members of the football club, under the slogan “Drive with your head” which aims to highlight the importance of paying attention while you’re driving.

From 27 December until 4 January (except for 31 December and 1 January) any youngsters who want to see what it’s like can do so at the XD Young Fest, Fira de Barcelona’s new show which is being held in Hall 8 at the Montjuïc Exhibition Centre.

Farewell Pérgola

LaPergola Farewell Pérgola

With only a handful of days before the end of 2014, at firablog we wanted to remember the story and last hours of an icon of Montjuïc and its fairgrounds: “La Pergola” restaurant.

Built for the Universal Exhibition of 1929, “La Pergola was certainly the largest catering establishment of the event. Located opposite the Magic Fountain of Carles Buïgas it was named after the outdoor terrace where there was a magnificent 18-column pergola with 6×3 layout where guests ate their meals.

After the exhibition it became municipal property and was active well into the Civil War. In 1957 it was back in business after a reform that meant the end of the structure that gave the restaurant its name. In this second stage, the Pérgola became a typical establishment for weddings, christenings and communions as well as a popular orchestra ballroom. Names like Jose Guardiola. Dodó Escolà, Renato Carosone, Mario Visconti and Ramón Calduch were some of the artists who sang there.

With the approach of a new century, the place began a gradual decline, which led inexorably to ts closure while the neighbouring old textile factory Casaramona built by the modernist architect Puig i Cadafalch, revived as a cultural center under the name of Caixafòrum.

Throughout December, the iconic restaurant has been demolished to make room for a new square and allow locals and tourists visiting Montjuïc to discover a neighbor that until now had been hidden in the shade of the pergola.

Kids at the wheel!

Dibuixos Kids at the wheel!

Futuristic vehicles that look like spaceships, Mom’s car being towed , a view of the family’s SUV from the inside, colorful landscapes during a road trip both in the city or the countryside. These are some of the drawings made by children that have been showcased during Ocasión 2014 for the first Children Drawing Contest organized by the Gremi del Motor which this year had the collaboration of  illustrator Roser Capdevila, author of The Triplets, who designed the competition’s poster.

Kids fondness of cars -which lasts in many cases through their adulthood- allows them to transform their parents’ cars into submarines, rockets or Formula One vehicle through sheer imagination. Cars are part of their daily life from an early age, taking them to school every morning, on vacation, to the beach or to visit their grandparents…  Their car also becomes a teleportation device where they can play where they play, sleep or even stare through its windows until they arrive to their destination.

The Awards and Diplomas ceremony will be held on Monday 8th of December at Hall 1 of Fira de Barcelona’s Montjuïc venue.

A Love Story ‘made in Fira’

Post AoN1 A Love Story ‘made in Fira’

Fira de Barcelona is a place for doing business, but there’s room for a love story too. In fiction, of course. But rather than being twee, it’s politically incorrect. These last few days a film crew has been here shooting scenes for the film Ahora o nunca [Now or never], a romantic comedy, full of loutish humour, where clichés about love are taken to the extreme and gags in the purest style of The Hangover or Wedding Crashers.

Directed by María Ripoll (Tu vida en 65’, Tortilla Soup) and produced by Zeta Producciones and Atresmedia Cine, it stars two of Spain’s actor’s of the hour: Dani Rovira, of Spanish Affair fame, and María Valverde, of Three Steps Above Heaven and I Want You.

In the film they are Alex and Eva, a couple who, after dating for years, decide to get married in the place where they fell in love – a little English village. But an air traffic controllers strike puts paid to their plans. Thus our groom finds himself in a hellishly absurd predicament, with the guests trying to get to the bride and her party.

Many of the scenes take place in an airport. They were actually shot on the Gran Via site, which was turned into three different airports for filming. Places, amongst others, where there was action, adventure (a quest for a suitcase worthy of the Lost Ark), touches of road movie, western and, naturally, drama. But we’ll have to wait until its release on 19 June 2015 to find out whether the lovebirds will live, like in the fairy tales, happily ever after or not.

Doctor Drone

A UAV is an ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’, which is known in Spanish as a VANT, a vehículo aéreo no tripulado. The term ‘unmanned aircraft system’, or UAS, is also frequently used. However, nowadays the use of the term ‘drone’ is widespread.

Whatever its name, this technological innovation is here to stay, and it is increasingly moving away from strictly military use and carving a niche for itself in civil society, making itself useful in our daily lives. Proof of this has been seen these last few days at the Smart City Expo World Congress.

22-year-old ESADE student Alfonso Zamarro has created DEA Drones, a drone service equipped with camera, microphone and defibrillators, able to fly to the site of an emergency in just three minutes. The DEA Drones team consists of a fleet of drones installed with cameras that can go to the scene of a medical emergency to help EMTs to assess more precisely the situation.

The idea, which initially started as part of a master’s thesis as a business project proposal, was originally intended to offer a service based on a network of drones equipped with defibrillators to attend to people who had suffered heart attacks in public places.

‘It serves as the doctor’s eyes so he can make the right decision,’ states Zamarro, who points out that the speed of these unmanned aircraft allows them to act even before the ambulance arrives, as the medical professional on the phone can give instructions to the person on the scene making the call, thus minimising damage while they wait for the medical team to arrive.

Kryptonite suitable for Superman

Post Expominer6 Kryptonite suitable for SupermanIf Superman existed, he wouldn’t want to go to Fira de Barcelona this weekend. Just to be on the safe side.

Because this year, amongst the many gems, fossils and minerals on display, Expominer will be showing some very special items: opals that fluoresce in daylight reminiscent of the famous Kryptonite, the fictitious green mineral that drained the superhero of his strength and destroyed his powers.

These new hyalite opals were found at the beginning of this year in Zacatecas (Mexico) and what makes them so interesting, aside from looking like Kryptonite, is the intensity with which they shine without being exposed to ultraviolet light.

Several stones of this types will be on show at Expominer, which will take place from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November. One specimen of this singular mineraloid, measuring around 10 cm, could be worth as much as 1,600 euros.

It is hoped that these opals have the opposite effect from Kryptonite’s on Superman, that is that they increase even more Expominer’s ability to draw the crowds.

The Pokémon Invasion

Post Pokemon The Pokémon Invasion

The creatures from the most popular franchise among children from all over the world will be invading the Montjuïc venue over the next few days. Yes, we’re talking about the famous Pokémon characters (the name arose from the combination of pocket and monster) which, led by Pikachu, are part and parcel of the iconography of the manga and anime universe. In fact, it’s quite strange to find someone who doesn’t know who this cheeky  long-eared yellow critter with a thunderbolt shaped tail is.

The brand, owned by the Japanese corporation Nintendo, was created in 1996 by designer Satoshi Tajiri who, as a child, used to love to collect insects; hence many of the Pokémon characters – and there are up to 700 different ones – were inspired by animals. Thus began a saga to which Junichi Masuda, writer, programmer and score composer, has greatlyu contributed.

Since the launch of the first videogame more than 245 million units have been sold worldwide. It has also been hugely successful as a TV series (there are over 800 episodes of the animated series, which is broadcast in 160 countries and dubbed into 30 languages), and as card games, toys and even merchandising products.

Pokémon fever is such that even the Japanese state airline All Nippon Airways has a themed aircraft, whose crew wear Pokémon costumes, there are two theme parks (in Nagoya and Taipei), its main characters guest starred in an episode of The Simpsons and Pokémon was even featured on the front cover of Time magazine in 1999.

And now this universal star is the big protagonist of the Manga Show in Barcelona, the second biggest trade fair in the world in its specialist area outside Japan. This year it’s celebrating its twentieth anniversary among thousands of otakus (manga and anime fans) and cosplayers (people who dress up as their favourite anime and comic characters) who are bound to pay tribute to these entertaining little pocket monsters.

A tailor-made hotel room

SmartRoom A tailor made hotel room

Can you image yourself falling asleep to the sound of the waves and the blue of the sea, or being able to touch the moon with your fingertips? Or perhaps you’re the kind of person who fancies experiencing a live earthquake? Hostelco 2014 invited visitors to enjoy these and other experiences in the totally interactive Smart Room, an example of an intelligent hotel bedroom developed by the Hotel Technology Institute (ITH) and Broomx which uses state-of-the-art technology from the IoT (Internet of Things) to offer the ultimate experience of comfort tailored to guests’ individual preferences.

By means of an exciting journey in an area of 80 sq. m we first experienced the assistance of a robot receptionist capable of identifying us thru facial recognition technology. Once in the room, using a mobile app and our own smartphone as a remote control, we were able to customize the room with changes to both the ambience (thanks to an immersive screen system more than 18 metres long) and the furnishings.

These are just some of the options that the new IoT technology can offer hotels, and we discovered them in the Smart Room at Hostelco 2014. The variety of services that mobile apps can bring to the hotel and restaurant industry were the stars of a live competition/demo session in the IoTS space of Hostelco. A panel of experts evaluated the functionalities and capacity for innovation of the 10 apps submitted before choosing the winners.

Hostelco is hosting the debut of IoT Solutions, Fira de Barcelona’s new project based on knowledge and innovation and dedicated to the emerging Internet of Things sector, which will be incorporated into a large number of its trade shows. IoTS@Hostelco showcased the latest innovations in the interconnectivity of objects via the internet which, along with M2M technology and Big Data, will be revolutionizing the hotel and restaurant industry in the near future.

Manufactured waves

Post Waves Manufactured wavesThey have been seen in swimming pools, water parks and lakes… but never in the sea. At least, not until now. At the Barcelona Boat Show you can test out a wave maker, installed for the first time ever in the waters of a port, according to Clément Courtaigne, president of My Wave, the company which has come up with this invention to enable you to go surfing regardless of geographical restrictions or bad weather conditions.

And there you have it: although it appears contradictory and downright impossible, surfing in Port Vell over the next few days will be a reality. The device that makes it possible features an advanced pumping system in front of an inflatable structure on a slope, collecting water from underneath and propelling it onto the platform at high pressure. As a result, a sheet of water is produced that simulates the angle of a breaking wave which allows you to glide over the top of it riding a surfboard. More experienced surfers can create spectacular turns and patterns with this new activity which has been christened surf flow.

Maybe it will never produce the perfect wave that thousands of keen surfers travel the world in search of – especially off the beaches of Australia, California and South-East Asia – but it does recreate the emotions experienced when surfing almost anywhere else, and it can do so on every day of the year.

Celebrity campers

Post Caravaning Celebrity campers

What do the three-times world motorcycling champion Marc Márquez; the fashion designers Custo Dalmau or Miriam Ponsa; the model Malena Costa, or the Malaga Football Club Manager Javi Gracia share in common? Although the answer might seem to be nothing, in actual fact these well-known people from the world of motor sports, fashion and football share a passion for the motorhome and camping lifestyle.

The three-times world motorcycling champion Marc Márquez prefers to relax in a motorhome rather than stay at a hotel during the Grand Prix weekends. “If I have the motorhome in the paddock, I don’t have to leave the circuit, and I’m more relaxed and concentrated,” explains the Cervera-born racer.

Another world champion, the Catalan Kilian Jornet, who recently won his third ultra-running world championship, views his camper as a true home. “I like moving around and I spend most of the summer in the camper, because it gives me the opportunity to wake up each morning in a different place, in the midst of nature,” he says. Kilian encourages anyone who has not travelled in a motorhome to try it: “You’ll be surprised. It’s a different, more relaxed way to travel, away from the crowds. I’m sure that the people who have not yet lived in a motorhome will be delighted with the benefits it offers.”

The famous designer Custo Dalmau says that travelling in a motorhome is “a way to become one with nature. It’s like going back to your childhood and revisiting forgotten sensations.” The Barcelona designer highlights that travelling in a motorhome is a way to “discover incredible places. I’ve visited many places around the world in this way and it’s a fantastic way to discover them. If you take children, it gives them a whole memory bank of unforgettable experiences.”

Javi Gracia, from Navarre and current manager of the First Division Malaga Football Club, says that caravanning “gets you closer to nature and you can travel without any ties”. The former player for teams such as Real Sociedad, Real Valladolid and Villarreal adds that “for those of us who have children, travelling in a motorhome or spending a holiday at a campsite is very comfortable and fun.”

Miriam Ponsa, a young designer who was one of the big names at the last Pasarela 080, thinks the same: “I love the freedom of travelling in a motorhome and being able to stop where and whenever I want. Also, family connections become much closer when we’re in a smaller space than we’re used to.”

All of them are fans of this lifestyle and have joined the ‘I am Caravaning’ movement, aimed at increasing interest in this way of enjoying holidays and leisure time and sponsored by Fira de Barcelona’s International Caravanning Show, to be held from 4 to 12 October at the Gran Via site.

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