One way to use the walls is with a pegboard; Julia Child's kitchen pegboard, where she hung her copper pots, is a famous example. The pegboard above, from Human | Crafted, takes this old standard and makes it decorative as well as functional. The board is CNC machined from a solid block of walnut; the loops and hooks are 3D-printed nylon. It also comes with five feet of bungee cord, providing one more way to hold items in place.
Droog's Strap, designed by NL Architects, is another example of taking a familiar product—in this case, the straps used to hold luggage on the back of a bike—and doing something new with it. The straps are made from silicone rubber and can hold phones, keys, remotes, books, hand tools, etc. These would work great for end users who work best when everything is clearly visible. But for others, it will add visual clutter.
The naoLoop Loft, with its polyester latex bands, follows the same general approach as the Strap, but with the bands attached to a laser-cut stainless steel (or powder-coated steel) board. Besides transforming the look, the board protects the walls from anything that might get them dirty or cause other damage.
Photo: Michael Wilson
The Hanging Line from Kontextür, designed by Josh Owen, is a single silicone band. Items are stored by tossing them over the line, or hanging them from a hook. Although this was designed for bathroom use, end-users could certainly use it other places, too. It's somewhat limited in what it can hold, much more so than the Strap or the Loft—but it certainly provides more storage options than the standard towel rack.
My favorite carry-all for tools and materials is Festool's Open Top SYS-Toolbox. It's just a classic example of nuts-and-bolts ID: Simple, strong, reliable, and a perfect use of materials. The thick-walled ABS has a channel molded into the bottom, which forms the divider inside the box, and this channel allows the handle of a second box to perfectly nest within the first. Two latches at the side enable you to connect them quickly and securely. And they're compatible with Festool's full line of Systainers (manufactured by Tanos, as we looked at here), making them easy to roll around the shop or carry on-the-go in one piece.
"I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real."
–LCD Soundsystem, 'Losing My Edge'
Well this is weird and fun: The data wizards at IBM have partnered with the U.S. Open and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem / DFA Records fame to create real-time musical interpretations of tennis matches throughout the tournament. The premise of the U.S. Open Sessions is simple: IBM processes millions of data points via cloud-based algorithms to generate synth tones that represent the gameplay, complemented by Platonic shapes in the browser window. Developer Patrick Gunderson of digital production companyTool does the heavy lifting while Murphy transposes the progress of the match from groundstrokes to keystrokes; from playing the baseline to, um, playing the bassline.
Outdoor goods company Snow Peak was started in Japan's Sanjo City, a place "known locally as a hardware town." So it's no surprise that their Stacking Shelf Container 50 has got that "tooled" look. What is surprising is how it can be locked in two different configurations and stacked in either one.
At first this had me scratching my head, but I realized that when you need access to stuff on different levels, the "butterfly" configuration makes sense. And it's kind of neat that the rubber feet at the corners remain the lowest point of contact no matter which configuration it's in.
I don't know what you thought of your local weather reporter when you were growing up, but for me, he played a bigger role walking in the city parade than as an accurate forecaster. I know it's not necessarily their fault—each meteorologist is at the mercy of a green screen and pre-determined satellite information. I guess we should all be happy that the digital push has literally put weather reporting in the hands of the people. Still, there are some days my pseudo-trusty weather app promises sunshine and cloudless skies and I'll get home drenched by an unexpected downpour, throwing me back to this 2-second Family Guy clip that I find myself going back to time and again:
We've got your back, German-speaking readers
It sends me into giggles every time. But thanks to BloomSky—a crowdsourced weather information system that's looking to restore our trust in forecasting—I may not have to resort to silly YouTube clips to relieve my unexpected weather rage. The package comes with a outdoor module and an app, with the option to buy add-ons like a solar panel, extended battery life, an indoor module and mounting supplies. The personal weather station has all kinds of cool capabilities built in: a rain sensor that can tell when rain starts and stops, down to the minute; weather pattern push notifications; a wide-angle HD camera that turns on a dawn and off at dusk for capturing weather scenes; an automatically created timelapse video come each sunset; and the ability to subscribe to other BloomSky stations for weather updates around the world.
The crowdsourcing weather station recently saw crowdfunded success (see what I did there?) on Kickstarter, surpassing its $75,000 initial goal and reaching its stretch goal of $100,000. Here's a video highlighting all of its bells and whistles:
When it comes to recycling, pee and poo oughtn't mix. We think of them as the same thing—human waste—but in fact they are not mixed within the body and shouldn't be mixed afterwards, though we often do so out of convenience and the design of modern toilets.
The reason they shouldn't mix is because urine is rich in nitrogen and phosphorous while feces are carbonaceous. Separated, these can be valuable resources, but combined they become a useless sludge that needs to undergo laborious and energy-intensive processing before anything can be reclaimed. And we are literally flushing resources down the toilet. As an article in the farmer's information website A Growing Culture points out, it would be better if we could easily extract nitrogen and phosphorous from separated urine rather than taking it out of the Earth:
Modern agriculture gets the nitrogen it needs from ammonia-producing plants that utilize fossil fuels such as natural gas, LPG or petroleum naphtha as a source of hydrogen. This energy-intensive process dumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, it consumes a finite hydrocarbon resource, and it is not sustainable.
Modern agriculture gets the phosphorous it needs from phosphorous-bearing rocks. But these reserves are rapidly dwindling and increasingly contaminated with pollutants such as cadmium. In as little as 25 years apatite reserves may no longer be economically exploitable and massive world-wide starvation is predicted to follow.
If we are serious about achieving sustainability in this regard, our first, and perhaps most important duty, lies in not mixing urine with feces.
Enter the NoMix toilet, developed in Sweden in the 1990s.
The NoMix's bowl is designed in such a way that the urine is collected in the front, the feces in the back, and both are whisked away through separate plumbing, with the latter being disposed of in the conventional manner and the former recycled. While that raises new infrastructural challenges, the concept was interesting enough for EAWAG, a Swiss aquatic research institute, to intensively explore the NoMix's feasibility in research trials. Running from 2000 to 2006, that project was called Novaquatis, and during their seven years of testing, Eawag shrewdly realized that "An innovation for private bathrooms can only be widely implemented if it is accepted by the public":
For this reason, all Swiss NoMix pilot projects were accompanied by sociological studies. 1750 people were surveyed - and their attitudes towards urine source separation are highly favourable. Despite a number of deficiencies, the NoMix toilet is well accepted, especially in public buildings.
Things looked even better by 2010, when CNET reported that "Of the 2,700 people surveyed in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark, 80 percent say they support the idea behind the technology, and between 75 and 85 percent report that the design, hygiene, smell, and seat comfort of the NoMix toilets equal that of conventional ones."
LG Electronics is looking for talented Senior Industrial Designers to join their award winning North American Design Studio team located in Edgewater, NJ. You'll be part of a multi-disciplinary group of designers developing products for Mobile, Home Appliance, Display, and Energy Solutions-- products like mobile phones, kitchen appliances, laundry, television, home entertainment, and OEM.
If you land this job, you'll be leading the aesthetic and ergonomic development of consumer products collaborating with Engineering, Marketing, and Management teams to explore, innovate, and execute world-class designs, as well as inspiring with preliminary prototypes and innovative functional concepts. At LG, you'll be encouraged to take a creative and individual approach to challenges with strong emphasis placed on performance and skill--and equal, merit-based opportunities across the board. Don't wait - Apply Now.
Last year we posted about 4Moms, a Pittsburgh-based company that makes unique baby products. The cake-taker is probably their power-folding Origami stroller. Look at the following video they produced for it, which is slick and professional:
So here's the thing: That video was first posted in January of 2012, and at press time it had just under 1.4 million views. Not bad. But last weekend, a New-Zealand-based magazine called OHbaby! posted a low-res ten-second clip of the product in action, shot at a baby products show:
As anyone who has worked a job that requires long bouts of standing in one place knows, remaining upright for an extended amount of time takes a heavy toll on your legs and back, yet the best solution that we've come up with is the uninspired standing mat... until now. Some are calling it an invisible chair, while others are going with bionic pants—a matter of semantics, perhaps, but considering that the chair is a canonical example of industrial design, it's worth examining where exactly Noonee's "Chairless Chair" fits in the grand scheme of things.
"Based on robotic principles of Bio-Inspired Legged Locomotion and Actuation," the exoskeletal assistive device consists of a pair of mechatronic struts that run the length of the user's leg, with attachment points across the thighs and at the heels of the user's shoes. Hinged at the knee to allow for normal movement—viz. walking and running—its core innovation is the battery-powered variable damper system that can be engaged to direct body weight from the legs to the heels of one's feet.
Of course, the Chairless Chair is intended not for us deskbound office peons but for environments in which workers must stand in one place for long periods, if not entire 8-hour shifts. As the story goes, 29-year-old Keith Gunura was inspired by his experience working in a packaging factory in the U.K.; now, a decade later, he is the CEO and founder of Zurich-based Noonee. CNN, which duly notes the precedent of the one-legged Swiss milking stool, sums up these workplace health concerns (as does the Noonee website):
Physical strain, repetitive movements and poor posture can lead to conditions called Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which are now one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness. In 2011, MSDs accounted for 33 percent of all worker injuries and illnesses in the U.S. with over 378,000 cases, according to data from the United States Department of Labor. In Europe, over 40 million workers are affected by MSDs attributable to their job, according to a study entitled Fit For Work Europe and conducted across 23 European countries.
Wind energy is gaining support in the U.S., both on ground and in the ocean. And the design specs for wind turbines are getting pretty sophisticated as they require exact performance requirements, including super lightweight material and a potential to operate for decades without maintenance. Meanwhile, the turbines are becoming longer, measuring as much as 75 meters, close to the wingspan of an Airbus jet. Most of the turbines in North America and Europe are made of balsa wood: It's durable, dense and yet lightweight... but it's expensive. So there is a new solution coming from materials scientists at Harvard.
Balsa's cellular structure has high strength per volume of space, as its cell walls carry the weight, but it has a lot of empty space which makes it extraordinarily lightweight. This new material is engineered with the same design (see photo above), so it can mimic the best qualities of balsa. But it is made from epoxy-based thermosetting resins and it's fabricated with 3D printers, which provide unprecedented precision.
Check out how they did it in the video here:
Typically 3D printing uses thermoplastics and resins, but these are not usually used in any sort of engineering solutions. This new material—based in epoxies—opens up another channel for 3D printing that has structural applications.