Steven M. Johnson's "Patent Depending" series of inventions range from social commentary to plain ol' bizarre, and they always give us a laugh. So we've contracted him to let us publish one every week.
Planetary Power HyGen is a hybrid generator that combines high-efficiency technology with integrated lithium-ion batteries, providing a vital communication link to outlying populations. It is a cost-effective, sustainable, and reliable alternative to conventional generators for use at off-grid telecom towers. HyGen’s engine runs at variable speeds and only operates to charge its batteries, making the batteries the primary power source. Fuel consumption is reduced by 60%, extending the refueling
Fabrication is always a blast, second only to field research in the hierarchy of excellent things about working in social impact design. It's an opportunity to escape our desks, and trade the abstractions of post-it notes and design frameworks for the satisfaction of creating tangible, physical things. At the
All of us wear laundered clothes, yet few of us think about where the dirty water coming out of the washing machine goes. But Rachel Miller is a cofounder of the nonprofit Rozalia Project, which deals with marine waste on America's East Coast, and she knows exactly where it goes:
The Enviropur is a portable air quality management system that keeps homes and businesses clean and safe from harmful dust and fumes during a remodel. This all-in-one portable machine combines the functionality of a negative air machine, commercial vacuum, commercial dust separator and commercial air scrubber. Balance worked closely with the inventor to refine his idea for investors, validate the concept, develop a supply chain, and roadmap the future of Enviropur.
An engineer-staffed startup called Skipping Rocks Lab has developed a soft, biodegradable and edible packaging system for water that encases it in a transparent bubble made from seaweed. Their admirable aim is to do away with plastic packaging, and while it's generating a lot of buzz, there are a couple
What uses up the most water in your house: Your shower, toilet, kitchen faucets or bathroom faucets? The answer is, I don't know. And neither do you. Even if you could guess which used the most, there's no effective way to see accurate figures for each fixture. That's because accurately
Biomimicry and bioengineering have lost some of their buzzword luster in design circles, but the IRL applications are still going strong. To continue fighting the shortage of viable organ donations, researchers around the world are experimenting with lab grown options. But some tissues and muscles are harder to synthesize than
This year's Ventura Lambrate themes are Social Design and Cultural Heritage—two very open-ended themes that invite designers to show work that address global change and/or represents their country of origin. We're happy to see most designers bringing thought-provoking work along these lines to the table. Within the two themes, we're
Morticians are a class of unsung heroes in most societies. Mortuary arts dovetail technical medical knowhow, painstaking practical effects, and the excruciating job of trying to please grieving families. Preserving and presenting bodies is particularly difficult in cases where the deceased passed under physically disruptive circumstances. Whether involved in
At the beginning of 2017, IDEO launched a website meant to serve as a guide and resource for designers hoping to support the "circular economy", or, the idea that designers and industries must begin to imbue in their design consciousness that products should be created with the intent of continually
Gilbert Baker, long time LGBT+ activist and designer of the internationally beloved rainbow flag, has passed away. Baker began his life as an artist, performer and organizer in 1972, after being honorably discharged from the army while stationed in San Francisco. His beneficial environment and timing allowed him to learn
The folks at Giphy, that stalwart provider of looping cats and people falling down, are getting slyly socially active. Last week the company added a library of over 2,000 GIFs intended to teach words and phrases in American Sign Language. The project might seem like an odd match, given the
"…The pursuit of happiness" is written right in our Declaration of Independence, but while we Americans pursue it, we're lousy at attaining it. The U.N.-commissioned 2017 World Happiness Report has been released and we're not even in the top ten. The report, put together by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network,
2016 undoubtedly marks a moment in the modern era when the global population was not only blatantly confronted with a number of troubling problems, but also stimulated by a heightened sense of direct responsibility for what the future holds. "This is the age of rebellion," civil rights activist Van Jones
Accessible technology tends to lag behind mass market options, but sometimes it's not about demand, it's about taking a risk. The South Korean design startup DOT has been working hard on making braille-enabled smartwatches a reality for over three years. This month their labor (and awards) finally paid off.
In the U.S. we have a local workforce of 700,000 people that work for less than a dollar an hour. They make eyeglasses, mattresses, clothing, they man call centers, they do farm work and mine. They are federal prison inmates, and they can be legally hired out for labor by
Three years ago we started prototyping a new kind of incubation as a service. Not a building filled to the brim with young guys and their high tech, high growth app-building ventures, but instead, a kind of service that comes to you—and gets plugged into centers, workspaces, labs, makerspaces and
Can you make furniture for elder care spaces vibrant enough to fit in a hip flat? The new Button Sofa for Swedese proves it might be possible. Given the goal to create ergonomic, user-friendly and lively furniture for public spaces (think hospitals), Front Design took the idea and ran.
W.E.B. Du Bois is famous for both his powerful academic research on race and class in America at the turn of the 20th century and for attending and teaching at some of the most prestigious and racially segregated universities of the day. Born in 1868, his degrees from Fisk and
ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY We are a design/build innovation startup looking for an Industrial Designer inside our Seattle area design office. This is an opportunity to join a rapidly growing company on the ground floor and to influence the development of an innovative modular building product for housing. We work
Even if you don't live in a hip neighborhood, art might be in the air. The designers behind the Kaalink pollution filter want to keep airborne carbon out of the atmosphere and back in your sketchbook. Their project, called Air-Ink, is a result of several years of research at MIT's
In case you weren't looking for adventurous and fast acting resources for soul crushing anxiety back in 2015, let me put you on some weird but promising Japanese game. Think of how babies chill out when they're swaddled up, or, for you fellow non-parents, remember that cat burrito meme? Otonamaki
Would you live in a city afloat in the ocean? Would you be extra interested if it had a new and innovative take on self-government? Though it sounds fanciful, it's a closer at hand take on SpaceX type visions for future development, and this month it got closer to being
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We take on the biggest, most precedent-setting cases across the country. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health; to preserve magnificent places and wildlife; to advance clean energy; and to combat climate
Around the world, cities are bringing the practice of innovation into government to address the most pressing urban challenges and to improve the quality of life for residents. The City of Long Beach is home to an Innovation Team (i-team) that deploys a range of strategies, including quantitative and qualitative
We're currently working up an entry on a very cool toolbox of historical significance. But before we can get to it, we have to give you this brief history lesson to provide some context. We hope you'll find it interesting on its own merits. In 1933 America was doing poorly;
Fuseproject studio's newest debuts tackle a challenging question: how can designers help aging consumers reap the benefits of the newest technologies in a way that feels intuitive, friendly and unobtrusive? With the announcement of two of their newest projects—ElliQ and Superflex—Yve Behar's team continues their recent fascination with robotic technologies
It's a little hard to believe at first sight, but Korea's Hankook Mirae Technology company has released video of their human piloted mech walking. It's called the Method-2, and the 13 foot 1.3 ton machine looks like something CG plucked out of a movie. Though untrue, this isn't terribly wrong,
If you haven't yet recycled all of your Amazon boxes from this year's gift-giving season, that's a good thing. Because the online retailer has teamed up with Goodwill to create the Give Back Program, whereby you can get rid of some things you don't need and donate them, with free
Those of you sitting in office chairs right now: Imagine that your backpack is attached to the back of your chair. Now imagine trying to get something out of that backpack—without removing it, and without you twisting around or getting up out of your chair. That's what wheelchair users go
Are you sad? Tired? Dry and blotchy... emotionally? If you don't live in a sauna-competent culture and do live in a dark place, winter can be grueling and depressing. Vitamin D and exercise only do so much, but the SAD lamps on offer aren't much to cheer about. The
Here in Part Two of our interview with Design that Matters, Tim Prestero and Malory Johnson sound off on the pitfalls of designing for social impact, how to assess user feedback, what it's like working with design newbies, the future of their current project, and what young designers seeking long
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