Pure futures

Pure futures

Steinlager Pure is asking New Zealanders for their greatest ideas, inventions and visions for the future. Here are a few of our favourites—and Steinlager is looking for more, with $100,000 up for grabs. You could win professional mentoring to turn your idea into reality. Need more inspiration? The top 100 ideas each month receive a dozen Steinlager Pures. To share your idea or vote for your favourites, visit

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Stroke of Genius

Wayne Alexander wants to change the way the world looks at two-stroke engines

Hearing Christchurch engineer Wayne 'Cowboy' Alexander describe his engine prototype recalls the attitude of another hands-on Kiwi, Burt Munro—and that's before Alexander mentions that he helped build the motorbike for The World's Fastest Indian.

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Alexander has constructed an engine that marries the power of a two-stroke with the lower emissions of a four-stroke, a process he describes as "less of an invention and more of an excavation".

What does that mean? "It was all there beforehand, we've just assembled it differently. Fundamentally, it's better if you're firing every cycle, but the number of cycles you have to do per minute equates to a lot of emissions. So you're trying to look at a way where you can give a two-stroke engine four-stroke timing. The end result is lower emissions."

Everything from chainsaws to scooters uses two-strokes, and the market for them has been swelled by emerging economies such as China and India.

Alexander has traipsed around the world to promote his engine, funded by "bits and pieces of dough" for jobs such as overseeing production on The World's Fastest Indian and making the prosthetic limbs used by friend Mark Inglis to scale Mt Everest.

An engine like Alexander's could cut emissions significantly, but that fact alone hasn't generated interest from the big manufacturers.

"They are making money out of the engines they are currently manufacturing, so there's no real pressure on them to change," he says.

So Pure Futures is a chance to spread the word about needless two-stroke emissions, and let people know an alternative exists.

Until he convinces the right people, Alexander will continue to do what he does best—tinker.

"In this game, you're always looking for what's wrong. Because once you've found what's wrong and eliminated that, then you're actually there. The item in your hand represents the truth."

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Solar bach

'We are sending a solar-powered Kiwi bach to Washington DC to compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon' - Tobias Danielmeie, 25, Wellington

For the first time New Zealand has been selected as one of four countries to compete in the US Department of Energy's 2011 Solar Decathlon.

The competition challenges 20 university teams to demonstrate inventive clean-energy solutions by building solar-powered houses featuring cost-effective, energy-efficient construction, energy-saving appliances and renewable energy systems.

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The New Zealand team from Victoria University was selected based on its design of a unique, solar-powered Kiwi bach. The design brings the ideals of New Zealand bach life into a contemporary setting, providing a permanent residence where recreation and social activities are united with environmentally sound technologies.

It's an amazing opportunity to demonstrate that New Zealand is at the cutting edge of solar architecture and green design, and the team needs your help and support to send the first Australasian entry to Washington to compete with the world.

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Photo: Nelson Mail

High-Def Webcam

'I am showing New Zealand to the world with the SnapitHD live webcam' - Chris Rodley, 30, Nelson

Designed and made in Nelson, the SnapitHD webcam provides image quality up to ten megapixels and includes high-zoom capability, with built-in smart image processing.

With live locations all around New Zealand showcasing some of the country's best scenery—including the summit of Mt Cook—SnapitHD images are used by 3 News and many websites. The SnapitHD can also be used as a promotional tool for businesses—it's perfect for charting progress on construction sites—and the new online webcam player lets you interact with a whole day of footage.

Says Rodley: "I've put a lot of work in getting this camera to where it is today, and I'm keen to take the next step in promoting it and take it international."

Idealog has been covering the most interesting people, businesses and issues from the fields of innovation, design, technology and urban development for over 12 years. And we're asking for your support so we can keep telling those stories, inspire more entrepreneurs to start their own businesses and keep pushing New Zealand forward. Give over $5 a month and you will not only be supporting New Zealand innovation, but you’ll also receive a print subscription and a copy of the new book by David Downs and Dr. Michelle Dickinson, No. 8 Recharged (while stocks last).