Posted by Ray
| 17 Oct 2014
Last we wrote about Black Eyed Peas' irrepressible frontman Will.i.am, he was dispensing nuggets of wisdom about logo design; earlier this year, he debuted a smartwatch on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which he unveiled in earnest this week at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Here's the debut of the as-yet-unnamed Puls from April:
Billed as a cuff, as in cufflink or handcuff, the wearable.i.am. was reportedly two and a half years in the making and is noteworthy in that it need not be paired with a smartphone. Like the Samsung Gear S and Timex Ironman ONE GPS (both released in August), the Puls connects directly to a data network so it can function as a standalone device. Although the user can send and receive calls and texts, "it's on the wrist, therefore it should not mimic a phone." So says Will.i.am in a product walkthrough with the Wall Street Journal, in a video that is a appreciably less surreal than his talk-show appearance:
Jimmy Iovine reference duly noted; not entirely sure why he's pictured with Dr. Dre though...
If you live in a rural area with four seasons, you know that maintaining your property is a lot of work requiring a lot of tools. And when it comes to powered items, at a minimum you need a lawnmower for the summer, a leaf blower for the fall, a snowblower for the winter and maybe a pressure washer when it comes time to clean the house in spring. That's four contraptions taking up space in your garage, each with their own motor.
Which is why Troy-Bilt's forthcoming FLEX line of products is brilliant, at least in theory. The idea behind the FLEX line is that you buy a single motor (a decent size, too, at 208cc's), then buy lawn mower, leaf blower, snowblower and pressure washer "attachments" as needed, and you can swap each of them in and out, so you've only got one motor to maintain.
As of yet there's no details on the FLEX's "Lock & Latch" connection system, but since the devil is in the design details, we imagine the ease or difficulty of swapping attachments is something that will boost or kill sales after customer reviews hit the web. Which will be next year; the FLEX line is slated to roll out in Spring of 2015, exclusively through Lowes.
Via Consumer Reports
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 17 Oct 2014
If you have ever shipped mass quantities of products worldwide, it's likely that you've worked with a packing solutions company. Experts in cardboard, foam and other packing products, these companies work with clients to make sure your beautifully designed product reaches the hands of consumers in one piece. "It's like the walls of a house in a tornado," explains Mike Martinez, Director of Consulting Services at Ernest Packaging Solutions, based near Los Angeles. "We protect your contents from the outside elements."
But that's not all Ernest Packaging Solutions does. Last month, to kick off its Cardboard Chaos series—in which the company hopes to push its skills by inventing alternative uses for its paper products—Ernest collaborated with Signal Surfboards to create a cardboard surfboard, a far cry from its daily services.
Martinez led the endeavor, putting together a small team at Ernest with each member specializing in various packing techniques, from food handling to shipping fragile china. The crew at nearby Signal Snowboards introduced Martinez and his team to Jeff "Doc" Lausch, a legend in the world of surfboard shaping. With Lausch's help, the team decided to model its board after a standard foam surfboard, using Hexacomb, a paper-based honeycomb, as the underlying structure.
Taller and thicker than cardboard, Hexacomb's structure makes it ideal for safeguarding objects, with crushable air cells that protect on impact. In a surfboard, these pockets of air provide buoyancy. "To recreate a foam-core surfboard out of paper, we needed to maintain buoyancy through compartmentalization that will keep that air inside," Martinez says. "Foam is just a bunch of small, trapped air bubbles. We wanted to create these air pockets and knew that Hexacomb was a great medium to do it."
This young student's name, country of origin, and the specific design school she attended are not important. But in this video she explains why she was motivated to study industrial design. At nearly ten minutes long the video is a bit rambling (cut the kid some slack), but one of the relevant stories is from 1:45 to 3:30 in the video; around 6:28 she discusses how she sees ID as the perfect blend of art and science, although it was actually her second choice as a major; and starting at 8:20 she reveals her perception of ID programs as being more cooperative than competitive. (Was not the case for me, but I guess your mileage may vary.)
So why are we showing you that video? Because later on she decided to quit ID, and explained why in this next video. At just over four minutes this one's a bit tighter, and while some of her points obviously have to do with her specific personal traits, other points she makes might hit home for some of you, depending on your program:
Posted by Ray
| 17 Oct 2014
L: ABC Dataset Samples; R: Photo credit: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium.
We've long been enamored with the Eames' Powers of Ten short film, which is as much an introduction to aerial photography as it is to the math behind astronomy and biology. Just as everyone now takes beautiful images (and the retina displays to view them on) for granted, there is also a sense in which we are collectively GPS-enabled: After all, digital cartography is perhaps the most practical application of constant connectivity, and we can thank one company for the ability to zoom out to god's-(or satellites'-)eye view with a pinch of the fingers.
Benedikt Groß & Joey Lee take it even further with Aerial Bold, the "first map and typeface of the earth."
The project is literally about "reading" the earth for letterforms, or alphabet shapes, "written" into the topology of buildings, roads, rivers, trees, and lakes. To do this, we will traverse the entire planet's worth of satellite imagery and develop the tools and methods necessary to map these features hiding in plain sight.
The entire letterform database will be made available as a "usable" dataset for any of your art/design/science/textual projects and selected letterforms will be made into a truetype/opentype font format that can be imported to your favorite word processor.
The invention of a man named William Louden is a great example of industrial design in the era before the term "industrial design" was invented.
One of the first issues dealt with by the earliest farmers was where to keep their livestock. So they designed and built barns. They also needed a place to store the hay to feed those livestock, so the hay went into the barn too. The amount of livestock a farmer could keep, and feed, was thus limited to the size of the barn's footprint.
One early design solution to this limitation was to add a hayloft, or "mow," so you could keep the hay up above and maximize your floorspace below to house more livestock. But getting all that hay up to the mow was a lot of work, even after you rolled the hay wagon into the barn and stood on it to get a little extra elevation.
Enter William Louden, one of nine children born on a farm in Iowa in the 1800s. Louden was sickly and suffered from rheumatism, meaning he couldn't engage in the farm labor that his siblings did. But by observing their work, specifically the way that they had to pitch hay up onto the mow from the wagon, he designed a clever way to cut the workload down drastically.
This being 1867, ropes, pulleys, wheels and beams had all long existed. But Louden put all these things together in a novel way, starting with the beam, which he suspended from the ceiling and used as an overhead track—an early monorail. His resultant monorail-based design for a hay carrier allowed men to get bales of hay up into the mow with a fraction of the effort required when done manually. Here's a modern-day demonstration of the Louden Barn Hay Carrier:
Recreational furniture is one of the more unusual subsets of furniture design, but it's apparently one that people will pay good money for, judging by the plethora of flip-top gaming tables on the market. Up above you see Hammacher Schlemmer's Rotating Air Hockey to Billiards Table, a 350-pound behemoth with a built-in blower for the air hockey side. Flip the surface over and you're set up for pocket billiards (though at seven feet in length, you're not exactly in Minnesota Fats' playground).
This competing table at Hayneedle has HS beat by one game, as they've got table tennis (again, truncated at seven feet) on top of the first two games. Literally on top of them; what a difference a piece of MDF makes, huh?
That lousy giraffe that runs Toys R Us also sells a 3-in-1 gaming table, albeit a tiny one at just four feet in length.
Posted by Jeri Dansky
| 16 Oct 2014
Maybe you're designing a garage for end users who wants to actually put their cars in their garages, along with all the other stuff they're storing there. Or maybe you'd like to create a shop, but you also need storage space for non-shop items. One way to solve that problem is to create some overhead ceiling storage.
One obvious way to do that is to install some racks. The racks from Monkey Bars, hold either 500 or 750 pounds, depending on the model. The height is adjustable, so there's a lot of flexibility regarding what gets stored, and where. There's a 2-inch lip around the edge to help ensure things stay in place, without making it too difficult to lift a bin into place.
And as you can see with these racks from NewAge Products, users can add hooks (if vertical space allows) to create even more storage.
Not everyone is going to want to climb up on a ladder to get things down from a ceiling rack. Some people will have issues with balance; others may have heavy items which can be tricky to handle on a ladder. In such situations, a lift system might be a better approach. This is a general-purpose lift from Racor. The pulley systems lowers the rack eight feet from the ceiling; it can hold 250 pounds.
Designers have also create lifts to deal with specific items often stored in garages. For example, here's a bicycle lift. This one can be installed on ceilings as high as 14 feet. While end-users generally agree it's a good design, many of them have complained about the quality of the rope. It's a good reminder to properly consider the cost-vs-quality tradeoff for a product's components.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 16 Oct 2014
Do you like feeling you're on the right side of history? Do you value the true craft of storytelling (not just designers and advertisers telling you their products tell stories)? Do you love unexpected views into the lives and histories and work of others? Shh. Just click here.
The Radiotopia network kicked off last November with a super successful KS campaign spearheaded by Roman Mars and Radio PRX, who proposed banding creative indie podcasts together in a "new kind of radio." Their early efforts have paid off, with more amazing work coming out all the time. The networked shows include (my unabashed favorite) 99% Invisible, Fugitive Waves, Love + Radio, Radio Diaries, Strangers, Theory of Everything, and The Truth. They're very different, but each features a well-developed voice, interesting subject matter, and interesting production. There's fiction, history, design, sound art... Tuning in feels like stumbling on that special driveway moment more times than not. They've all expanded a ton in the first year, now they're moving into a second year of programming with the aim of bolstering the original member shows and bringing more into the fold.
Unsurprisingly (the founding podcast is entirely about design) the campaign has some good looking perks to offer. There are the standard attractive shirts and mugs, but there are also interesting prints, beautiful headphones, a chance at guest producing episodes, storytelling workshops, and the chance to get a stranger as a pen pal, among several others. That's awesome.
If you ever find yourself enjoying (or craving more) podcasts as you stoop over your work for hours, do yourself a favor and give Radiotopia a little love.
We assume that gesture control will be the wave of the future, if you'll pardon the pun. And we also assumed it would be perfected by developers tweaking camera-based information. But now Elliptic Labs, a spinoff company from a research outfit at Norway's University of Oslo, has developed the technology to read gestures via sound. Specifically, ultrasound.
In a weird way this is somewhat tied to Norway's oil boom. In addition to the medical applications of ultrasound, Norwegian companies have been using ultrasound for seismic applications, like scouring the coastline for oil deposits. Elliptic Labs emerged from the Norwegian "ultrasonics cluster" that popped up to support industrial needs, and the eggheads at Elliptical subsequently figured out how to use echolocation on a micro scale to read your hand's position in space.
With Elliptic Labs' gesture recognition technology the entire zone above and around a mobile device becomes interactive and responsive to the smallest gesture. The active area is 180 degrees around the device, and up to 50 cm with precise distance measurements made possible by ultrasound... The interaction space can also be customized by device manufacturers or software developers according to user requirements.
Using a small ultrasound speaker, a trio of microphones and clever software, a smartphone (or anything larger) can be programmed to detect your hand's location in 3D space with a higher "resolution" (read: accuracy) than cameras, while using only a miniscule amount of power. And "Most manufacturers only need to install the ultrasound speaker and the software in their smartphones," reckons the company, "since most devices already have at least 3 microphones."
The demo of the technology, which they're calling Multi Layer Interaction, looks pretty darn cool: