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Sam Dunne

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  27 Jan 2015  |  Comments (1)

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'The Wrist Report' is the semi-serious, bi-somethingly bulletin from the frontier of forearm fashion and functionality.

Even earlier this month at CES it was clear that the wearables frenzy had lost some of its vigor since last year (presumedly as manufacturers try to make good on some of their overblown concept promises). Of the news that there was, it seemed that technology on the wrist was being met with much more modesty by manufacturers—Withings going simpler and cheaper with their brand activity tracker in traditional timepiece form and Swiss watchmaker Montblanc making tentative steps into the world of wearable tech by strapping a tiny OLED screen to the underside of the wrist (yeh, it looked as good as it sounds).

Fast-forward only a couple of weeks and it seems that some new entrants into the forearm function/fashion fanfare are doing away with the tech altogether. In remarkable concurrence with Debbie Chachra's article in The Atlantic critiquing the hero worship of 'makers', Portland multi-tool manufacturer and Core77 fav Leatherman is gearing up to launch a multi-tool that straps (rather proudly) around the wrist. Introducing Tread.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  23 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

If you haven't seen it already, BeMyEyes is a wonderfully promising and impeccably presented app allowing fully sighted individuals to 'lend their eyes' to someone with a visual impairment to help them through their day. As the slick promo video above introduces beautifully, the app connects those in need of some eyes (a blind person needing to read a sign or label for example) with a community of people willing to help—who can use the blind person's smartphone camera to help with the needed task. I can hear the 'CEO's pitch already—'Like Uber for eyes!'.

As if that wasn't enough triumph for the overcoming of sensory impairment, researchers at Colorado State University have been in the headlines this week with news of a new device that could help the auditory impaired by allowing them to listen with their tongues—thus avoiding expensive and invasive cochlear implants.

To be clear, the device won't magically transform the tongue into a hearing organ, instead it transforms sounds waves into electrical stimulation applied to the tongue (apparently with a sensation similar to sampling sparkling wine). In time, the sensation can be interpreted by the brain—a bit like braille in your mouth.

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These developments are of course very exciting (we're wondering what implications these ideas could have for the impaired and unimpaired alike) but if you've been listening to This American Life's podcast recently you might already be questioning if these developments are as beneficial as they seem.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  22 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Maker Speed Dater is the brain child of the folks at Scottish maker-movement movers and shakers Make Works. As part of their mission to reignite local manufacturing, the design-grad run start-up has been trying to make it easier for designers to engage with industry—not least by building their breathtakingly gorgeous directory of Scottish factories and maker workshops captured in image, text and film. Aware of the limits of their online endeavours, Maker Speed Dater was born out of desire to break down barriers by getting face-to-face—20 designers, 20 makers/manufacturers in a room taking turns to figure out where the hell the others are coming from and whether there might be a chance to 'make work' together. The inaugural Maker Speed Dater took place in Glasgow—fittingly held in a local brewery converted from an old carpet factory—and the guys at Make Works invited us along to take a peek at the action.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  21 Jan 2015  |  Comments (2)

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Having witnessed a few of my nearest and dearest succumb to the mediative delights of knitting, I'm beginning to cultivate an appreciation—for the materiality and intricate skills of the art—that I might have normally reserved for wood or metal work. As with any craft, there are whole supporting industries attached that often remain hidden to the unindoctrinated—and any number of innovators tinkering on the peripheries—that can often be fascinating upon first exposure.

One such novelty that an education in needle work has revealed is the remarkable (if incredibly simple) textile innovation that is Woolfiller—the invention of Netherlands product designer Heleen Klopper, who was inspired after developing a fascination for wool and felt. In a similar vein to Sugru in the world of hard materials, Woolfiller is a product dedicated to fixing and repairing in the world of knitting and woolwear.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  19 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Crossrail is the massively ambitious £15 Billion railway project in the south of England cutting new tunnels under London to connect towns in the east and west with the ever growing metropolis. For anyone with even the slightest interest in architecture and engineering, the progress of the project—begun in 2009 after years of negotiations—has been a jaw-dropping (and at times nail biting) spectacle to behold. With what must be the biggest PR success in UK infrastructure building ever, the British public have been kept well up to speed with events going on under Londoners' feet—all happening with remarkable punctuality—with plenty of pictures of cavernous completed tunnels and smiling workers in orange overalls. With the service set to start in 2017, we're also eagerly awaiting the upcoming design for the trains, both interior and exterior, by Barber Osgerby.

It wasn't really until I watched the BBC's four-part documentary showing the work going on behind (or perhaps, before) the glossy press pics, that I began to fully appreciate what a masterpiece of engineering and detailed planning this development represents. The first episode follows engineers undertaking one of the toughest challenges of the project codenamed 'threading the needle.' Unfathomably, the Crossrail tunnels intersect with the busy Tottenham Court Road station by worming through a mess of cables, pipes and sewers to pass only 85cm above the crowded and fully functioning Northern Line platforms and 35cm below the station's escalators. Needless to say, the engineers were successful in their mission—threading the needle without crushing unwitting commuters or pulling down the Centrepoint building.

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