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Smart Plastic
Researchers at MIT and the GKSS Research Center in Teltow, Germany, have created a plastic that changes shape when exposed to light of a specific wavelength. The photosensitive polymer was developed for medicine and industry, but that need not stop artists and designers from appropriating it. The material contains photosensitive molecules that cross-link to each other or decouple in reaction to light. It could be used in minimally invasive surgery, according to an MIT report. For instance, a doctor could insert a string of plastic into the body through a small incision, then transform it into a corkscrew-shaped stent for keeping blood vessels open by illuminating it with a fiber-optic probe. The corkscrew would relax back into a string when exposed to light of a different wavelength. (Here, the plastic before and after exposure to ultraviolet light.) Unexpected materials such as biogel have recently inspired the design world. Panasonic Design Center, for example, last year created an unusual remote control that appears to breathe when in use.

Swim-Up E-mail
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, the sumptuous Baja resort famous for its service, now offers Sony wireless TVs poolside so guests can watch a show or movie, send e-mails and photos, and surf the ‘Net while they lie in the sun. The portable entertainment and communication systems, dubbed LocationFree TVs, feature 12.1-inch LCD touchscreens and headsets for privacy. Other amenities available from the resort’s “pool butlers”: preloaded iPods, personal CD players and CDs, cooling mists of chilled Evian, magazines and best-selling books, sorbets and cold towels.

50% of European and North American retailers plan to move to a new point-of-sale system by 2008.
— Forrester Research Inc.

Pretty In Pink
Pretty as a compact and not much bigger than one, the Kodak Easyshare V530 slips easily into an evening bag. The camera comes in four metallic finishes and is Kodak’s first jewel-like design, or what the industrial world likes to call “high fit and finish.” The V530’s snapshots come close to professional quality, with 5 megapixels of resolution and output as large as 20 inches by 30 inches. The camera also records up to 80 minutes of TV-quality video with sound. It will retail for $349 in July.

This story first appeared in the May 18, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Mcqueen Sweep
Alexander McQueen has won best fashion Web site from the Webby Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars of the online world. But the Webby Awards, now in their ninth year and easily the most glamorous event in San Francisco, are leaving home and moving to New York. Which begs the question: Will Gotham embrace such beloved Silicon Valley icons as presenters Craig Newmark of Craig’s List and Vint Cerf, who helped create the Internet? Or do New Yorkers have eyes only for Sarah Jessica Parker? McQueen has not yet RSVP’d, but on hand to help raise the profile of the June 6 event will be former vice president Al Gore, who will receive the Webby Lifetime Achievement Award, and comedian Rob Corddry of “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart, who will host.

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