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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Like these envelope-pushing urban downhill cyclists, we American motorists are also stretching boundaries—unfortunately, of our waistlines. And while we Yanks have been getting fatter for years, it took until now for someone to notice that crash-test dummies still look like they're in shape.

That's a problem, because having crash-test data from an average-sized dummy isn't much good when we are no longer "average-sized." And since we can't seem to get our fitness and diets together, leading dummy manufacturer Humanetics is going to start making, well, fat crash test dummies.

"Obese people are 78% more likely to die in a crash," Humanetics CEO Chris O' Connor told CNN. "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat." This skews the data between in-shape, in-proper-position dummy and out-of-shape, out-of-position accident victim, so Humanetics' obese prototype weighs north of 270 pounds and has a Body Mass Index of 35. (A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered healthy/fit.)

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"[Our] obese crash test dummy... is capable of measuring belt and airbag loads generated from heavier occupants during crash events," O'Connor reported in Crash Test Technology International. "The initial prototype dummy was made available in August 2014 for sled evaluations. Collaborating unversitites and companies will continue evaluations in the later part of 2014."

What we expect to see next: A celebrity or politican fat-shaming one of these dummies, then being forced to apologize on Twitter.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Cities like New York and Washington D.C. were designed with nice, rational grids. Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto were reportedly designed to confuse invaders with twisting, irrational angles. And cities like Valparaiso, Chile and Taxco, Mexico were designed in reaction to Mother Nature, being built as they are atop a number of rugged hillsides.

The crazily-narrow, winding alleyways of Valparaiso and Taxco follow gravity and topography more than logic, and as it turns out, this makes for an extremely compelling downhill bike course. Organized downhill racing through urban environments has existed since the '90s, but this year a bunch of sponsors got together to organize the City Downhill World Tour 2014, spanning Valparaiso and Taxco as well as Santos, Brasil and Bratislava, Slovakia.

Last week's race was held in Taxco, and the on-bike footage from rider Filip Polc is unsurprisingly insane—this seems like the entire reason GoPro cameras were invented:

How is this not a video game yet?

Posted by Ray  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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I can't for the life of me recall where or when, but I once heard that you turn a bicycle ("cornering," as we call it) not by steering with the handlebars but by 'pointing your belly button in the direction you want to go.' It comes naturally to anyone who has surmounted the learning curve, but it's easy to forget that we aren't born with the ability to ride a bike. Jersey City, NJ-based brothers Steve and Rich Thrush sum up the problem:

As you probably know, the experience of riding a traditional tricycle or a bicycle with training wheels is quite different than riding a bicycle. In fact, because you cannot lean into turns on a traditional tricycle nor a bicycle with training wheels, kids riding these toys often develop bad habits which they then have to unlearn when learning to ride a bicycle.

The recently Kickstarted Dreisch leaning tricycle addresses the counterintuitive physics of muscle memory by shifting the steering to the rear axle via a hinge and a pivoting swing-arm that runs the length of the frame. The result is a 'natural' turning mechanism.

As big-time bike nerds, we're glad to see a genuine innovation in bicycle design, albeit for a specific subset of riders. By sheer coincidence, a commenter suggested a use case for a certain much-discussed concept bike just this morning: "Age 2–5 kids glider bike I think. Gonna make one." We'd be curious to see the results if he or she does, as this would be a bicyclic evolution of a baby walker—for which trade names include Exersaucer and Jumperoo—though I'm not exactly sure if a harness has any advantages over a traditional balance bike or, say, Andreas Bhend's convertible take on a child's first bicycle.

Via Bike Rumor

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We're finally ready to cut something on the ShopBot! And now that we're getting ready to cut, some of you may be wondering what the daily maintenance is like for this machine. Every morning before I run the ShopBot, I run this warmup routine to get the machine's juices going:

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Posted by core jr  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The folks at Cambridge, MA-based Formlabs recently announced the introduction of two new materials that mark their first major release since they launched on Kickstarter with the FORM1 3D printer, which made nearly 30 times its funding goal in October 2012. The first-generation SLA machine shipped starting in May 2013 and this June saw the release of the FORM1+, an all-around upgraded iteration of their flagship product, but their growing team has also been developing complementary products on both the software and materials sides. Check it out:

"Castable" is available now for $149 per 500mL; "Flexible" will be available in December.

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Speaking of 3D printing, but I've been meaning to watch Print the Legend, the full-length documentary about the rise of 3D printing, which is streaming on Netflix...

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Messenger bags make you sore on one side. I can just about guarantee those of you that wear them have one shoulder that is constantly stiffer than the other. Backpacks provide more even pressure, but then you lose the key utility of a messenger bag: The ability to quickly slide it around from back-to-front. Years ago when I switched from messenger bag to backpack, I was surprised at how much I took that utility for granted.

On a crowded subway car you want your backpack in front, to prevent pickpocketing and because it's simply good manners; when walking down the street it's a hassle to shrug out of your backpack just to grab one thing, which is why you always see pairs of backpack-wearing tourists where one is fetching something out of the other's bag for them; likewise when you're waiting for a bus which may arrive in 30 seconds or fifteen minutes, you must decide whether to shrug out of the bag and sit, or keep it on and stand.

I always assumed this was just the design trade-off inherent in the choice of form factor, but the development team behind Wolffepack have proved me wrong. These clever gents have designed a backpack that quickly docks and undocks with the shoulder straps, giving you the best of both worlds:


Who else did a double take, thinking it was Scott Wilson?

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Oct 2014  |  Comments (5)

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You probably remember Richard Branson's April Fool's joke about Virgin producing glass-bottomed planes. I figured this next bit of news might be a gag too, but apparently this proposal for a virtually invisible passenger airplane is sincere.

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Put forth by the UK's Centre for Process Innovation, a science/engineering/technology incubator, this "Windowless Fuselage" concept is intended to save fuel and reduce emissions. The CPI's thinking is that commercial airplanes have windows for the passengers' comfort, but that if the windows could be jettisoned from the design, airplanes could be made lighter and thus save on fuel. To offset the feeling of sitting inside a tin can, airplanes would then be lined with ultrathin, flexible plastic screens covering the interior surfaces and even the seatbacks.

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These screens, the concept goes, could serve as mere lighting, or the entertainment systems, or be linked to external cameras to provide the impression of flying al fresco. The screens could even "allow the colour changes associated with sunrise and sunset to be controlled on long haul journeys, helping passengers to adjust to time zone differences."

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Posted by Coroflot  |  29 Oct 2014

Work for Pensa!

Pensa is a design firm with a strong track record of developing successful products and brands. At Pensa, that success comes from gaining a deep understanding of people, the products they use and the contexts in which they use them. Their DUMBO team is seeking a Senior Industrial Designer with exceptional story telling skills to join them on their mission of delivering the creative solutions their clients need.

Not only will you need 5-8 years experience working as an Industrial Designer, they're looking for someone with solid experience in consumer product design and the demonstrated ability to resolve 3D form language as the foundation developing brands. This is a fun team comprised of designers with multifaceted backgrounds, but every single person LOVES design. Get your resume, portfolio and cover letter together and Apply Now.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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In the non-square, non-level, non-plumb world we live in, the Stanley FatMax laser level is one of the handiest tools I own. Can't remember what I paid for it—mine is way outdated—but it was less than a hundred bucks, and X/Y only.

On the other end of the cost scale, a California-based company called Origin Laser Tools produces extremely expensive high-end laser levels. Optomechanical engineer Tim Litvin started the company in 2010 with the aim of making laser levels that would be the best of the best—with locally-sourced parts and construction:

Our laser's mechanical parts are CNC-milled by a local machine shop, a local circuit board manufacturer fabricates and assembles our custom electronics... even the hand-checkered wooden grips are the product of a local craftsman. Almost every other component is also made in the United States. The components are finally assembled, by hand, here in Santa Cruz...

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Our laser tools are an investment, made by craftsmen, for craftsmen. We hope they'll become a tool that you'll look forward to using, every day.

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Posted by core jr  |  28 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This is the latest installment of our Core77 Questionnaire. Previously, we talked to Peter Marigold.

Name: Zoë Mowat

Occupation: Designer and maker

Location: Montreal, Canada

Current projects: Recently I've been in my workshop a lot. I've been prototyping a new product and I'm finishing up an edition of my Arbor Jewelry Stand—I've been doing a limited version all in brass. And then I'm balancing that with custom orders and client work.

Mission: To challenge myself, and ultimately to make things that people want to keep around.

ZoeMowat-QA-3.jpgMowat's 33 1/3 Record Crate. Top right image: the Arbor Jewelry Stand. Portrait by Andre Rider

When did you decide that you wanted to be a designer? Actually, my plan was always to be a sculptor, like my mother. When I was growing up, we would spend afternoons in her studio building things and assembling materials together. So that's where it started. And then it was in high school that I discovered design. In art class for a while I was really into drawing modernist buildings, sort of breaking down the geometry—I don't know why I was doing that, but one day I was drawing Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion, and from there I discovered the Barcelona Chair, and I think that was it. Seeing a real vision, and how it can apply to many things—that everyday items can be designed by a governing philosophy. Also, I wanted to make objects that can be touched and used, unlike sculpture in most cases; I guess I'm really drawn to that intimacy. So at the end of the school year I ended up applying for industrial design instead of sculpture.

Education: I studied industrial design and graphic design at the University of Alberta.

First design job: While I was in university, I designed window displays for a design store. It was equal parts concept, working with your hands and planning. And when it came to working with my hands, it usually involved a lot of glitter, electrical tape, spray paint and the need to attach a hundred of one thing to another thing. I loved it.

Who is your design hero? I'm not sure about the word "hero," but there are many designers whose work I really admire. I especially admire many of the women from the early 20th century, like Eileen Gray, Charlotte Perriand, Eva Zeisel, Ray Eames . . . the list goes on.

ZoeMowat-QA-7.jpgMowat's recent Tablescape series (Tablescape I pictured) was inspired by Charles and Ray Eames's philosophy of "select and arrange."

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