The Bloque brick’s unique shape helps cool houses without A/C

When it comes to cooling down homes, researchers and architects are finding new and inventive materials to make the building passively do the work to lower energy costs. Australian scientists created a polymer material for roofs that helps them, and whatever structure they’re on top of, stay cooler. In a similar effort to reduce temperatures in dwellings, Colombian architects Miguel Niño and Johanna Navarro created a company, Sumart Diseño y Arquitectura SAS, to make a new kind of brick.

The Bloque Termodisipador BT is a ceramic brick that regulates temperature all on its own, thanks to its unique shape and hollow center. “Its unusual shape, made up of a rectangle and an irregular scalene triangle, partially protects the brick from solar radiation and the transfer of heat. The separation between the blocks, combined with the channels that make up the irregular scalene triangles, allows ventilation to pass through the bricks, quickly dissipating the stored heat and reducing the amount of thermal energy emitted into the interior of the building,” according to the architects. The channels make the heat’s path longer, so it takes longer for a smaller amount to enter the building.

The brick’s shape also reduces the amount of noise that passes into the building, Niño and Navarro say. The process for creating the bricks isn’t all that different from traditional clay brick firing, so there wouldn’t be a large supply chain upheaval. Installing the Bloque is also similar, if a little more efficient because the same amount of mortar is used for each, removing any guesswork. Unlike rectangular bricks, the new design can have different arrangements for aesthetic reasons, without having to add finishes, reducing time and cost, according to ArchDaily. The bricks may look a bit unusual all by themselves, but together they can create some pretty patterns.

Photos from Camilo Suz.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

3D printers are finally affordable. Here are the best models under $500

3D printer prices have dropped dramatically over the past few years, but just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. Here, we’ve rounded up all the cheap 3D printers that are actually worth spending your money on.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Abode Systems upgrades its smart home gateway with new chip and Z-Wave Plus

Palo Alto-based Abode Systems is adding an upgrade to its popular smart home starter kit by replacing its central gateway with a second-generation version that supports cellular backup and enhanced Z-Wave support.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Product Review

Making a smart home can be a DIY job, but security should be left to the pros

Sure, you can DIY a smart home system, but when it comes to security, you should seriously consider professional monitoring and service. That’s where Vivint comes in. Is it worth the lofty price?
Smart Home

You can play NPR’s ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ on your smart speaker

You can play "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" on Amazon Echo speakers or Google Home devices with the new Wait Wait Quiz. It's hosted by Peter Sagal and Bill Kurtis and will be updated every week with new questions.
Smart Home

Walabot Home, a device aimed at keeping seniors safe, expands its capabilities

When you have to be away from your elderly family members, Walabot Home can serve as your surrogate. This device can detect when your loved one falls and will call for help — no wearables or user input required.
Smart Home

Allergies acting up? Thes best air purifiers on the market can offer relief

Indoor air is often more contaminated than the air outside, which can cause an array of health issues over time. Luckily, these air purifiers can easily rid your home or office of unwanted allergens and contaminants.
Smart Home

Hackers hijack Nest camera, issue fake warning of North Korea missile attack

A Nest security camera hijacked by hackers who used the device to issue a fake warning about an incoming North Korean nuclear missile attack heading toward Los Angeles, Chicago, and Ohio.
Smart Home

Starbucks coffee delivery lands in 6 more cities via Uber Eats

Starbucks is in the process of expanding its coffee delivery service far beyond Miami. Available via the Uber Eats app, the service has just launched in San Francisco, with five additional cities joining in the coming weeks.
Computing

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.
Smart Home

Sing with Freddie Mercury with the ‘Ay-Oh with Bohemian Rhapsody’ Alexa skill

20th Century Fox announced a new Alexa Skill for Freddie Mercury fans. To celebrate the digital release of Bohemian Rhapsody and a National Day of "Ay-Oh," fans can download the Ay-Oh with Bohemian Rhapsody Skill.