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Posted by erika rae  |  18 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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With Easter right around the corner, it's the perfect time to introduce a quirky gadget made just for eggs. With a name like Golden Goose, you would expect to find it among the pages of a children's fable or scenes of "Game of Thrones" (and really, it is pretty magical), but this appliance is destined for the kitchen.

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The Golden Goose, created by Chicago firm Y Line Product Design, is a surprisingly low tech method to making your own Golden Eggs—which are 1.) actual things, and 2.) scrambled eggs that are made in-shell. Golden Eggs are considered delicacies due to a gap in the "in-shell scrambled egg" appliance market, according to the gadget's Kickstarter campaign.

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By using centrifugal force and a carefully designed egg chamber, the Golden Goose shakes everything up without breaking the egg's shell. After your egg has been sufficiently rattled, you're free to eat them any way you'd like—soft boiled, fried, hard boiled, deviled, pickled; wherever your taste buds take you.

Check out the campaign video to see how it works:

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Posted by erika rae  |   9 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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There's a clear difference in taking some precious morning moments to brew a fresh cup of coffee for yourself and paying a visit to your local caffeine watering hole. I, for one, would choose waking up earlier to make a personalized brew to skip the cellphone clad crowd at the local Starbucks (and I think many of you might agree). In Chicago-based designer Craighton Berman's words, making your morning cup from a pour over system is an opportunity to take in "the slowness, the meditative qualities of pouring water by hand, the open-air aromas, and the flavor profiles." Berman is the guy behind Manual—a series of products aimed at bridging the intersection of slow food and design. You may remember the first two products in the line: Pinch and The Sharpener Jar. His newest addition to the brand comes in the form of Manual Coffeemaker No. 1, which is seeking funding via Kickstarter.

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Berman's design isn't looking to fool anyone with extravagant features or processes: "There's a really strong coffee subculture made up of enthusiasts and baristas, and I knew I didn't want to be so audacious as to assume I could 're-invent' coffee and force it on the community," he says. "The manual brewing devices that exist today are very 'pitcher-like' or 'funnel-like' and I wanted something that felt like a proper appliance, in that it lives on the countertop in between uses and gives you the convenience of placing a mug directly under it." The bamboo base is meant to be oiled and treated as a cutting board. The reward for your extra care: a rich, patina from errant coffee drops.

Check out the campaign video to see how it works:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   3 Apr 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Get ready for the Internet of Rings. Today's the last day to jump on the earlybird bandwagon for Ring, which has completely cleaned house over on Kickstarter. In case you missed the digital memo, Ring is a wearable device that allows you to "control anything" and "shortcut everything" (or so its creators at Logbar claim). Enticingly vague promises, backed up by tight tech design and a pretty intense bank of R&D. The innovation at the heart of the device is fine gesture recognition—put it on your finger, tap the side to activate and your finger's moves are registered and transmitted to the device of choice. From there, you get a lot of functionality: control appliances, send texts, make payments through Ring's gateway, and get vibration or LED notifications. If you can sync it, you can rule it with Ring.

To futz with your Bluetoothed lamp, draw a lamp in the air. To draft a letter, draw a letter and then start spelling. The instant payment feature is a little surprising, but an interesting take on the common interaction. In addition to the "built in" symbols and controls, you can add your own personalized finger-commands. They're opening the API for app developers who want to get in on the Ring game, and have a store to make Ring-related apps easy to find. The charging dock is pretty boss, and they estimate it can perform about 1,000 gestures per charge. They're also offering it in a range of sizes, so you apes and dainty types aren't out of luck.

Ring_Usecase_image01.jpgOnward, to the future!

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  21 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This is by far my favorite Kickstarter find of the week. Faire Play invites you to ennoble your pampered plastic plaything and unleash her on some righteous quests. This campaign (pun intended) aims to bring you and your plastic friend a suit of creatively styled and well-fitting plate mail. Not the idiotic midriff baring, anatomically embossed armor of fantasy games, but the full-coverage cladding needed to decimate an enemy legion and come away the blood-soaked victor.

battlebarbie.jpgLet's go shopping... for broadswords!

Creator Jim Rodda (or Zheng3) settled on this project when a My Little Pony glitter cannon for his niece got too involved. Previously known for creating a printable tabletop war game, I think he's got the right chops for the task. And the demand for his carefully tailored line is high: less than 20% left to go at 20 days left. No wonder—who wouldn't rather play Brienne of Tarth? Useless simpletons, that's who.

As the inspiring pitch video shows, a fierce playroom defender is just a quick print away, and even dinosaurs don't stand a chance. Check out the Kickstarter video:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  20 Mar 2014  |  Comments (11)

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Hey biker, are you plagued by fear and clumsiness caused by your own clipless pedals? Is it just too much work to snap your cleated foot into the perfectly matched pedal? Sam Hunter has an answer: the Infinity Pedal. Given that it's already more than 50% funded and there's still a month and a half left to go, people find it an attractive option. Check out this sensationally over-acted Kickstarter pitch for his "revolutionary" (cough) new system:

The key feature in this design is its "infinitely" accessible pedal surface—no fumbling between right side/wrong side at stoplights or while trucking uphill. By using lateral rather than vertical spring tension, the overall size of the pedal is reduced—ooh weight savings! Wisely, only the inboard side of the pedal is mobile so that an outboard side impact (like a brush with a rock or teammate or taxi) wouldn't immediately release your foot. The entry is similar to most pedals: a forward swiping click. The cleat fits a normal 2-bolt mountain or commuting style shoe. 5 degrees of float, 18 degree release—all pretty much standard. They claim to be the lightest "combination of function and form on the market", they come in colors, and they're working on a spring tension adjustment for us finicky riders.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  13 Mar 2014  |  Comments (8)

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Here's an unexpected one: Just two days ago the Pono went live on Kickstarter, and within 24 hours quickly smashed through its $800,000 target at a pledging rate of nearly $100,000 per hour. As of this morning the rate has slowed somewhat, but it had still hit $2.4 million at press time.

More amazing is what the Pono is. It's a freaking MP3 player. So why, when we all have smartphones that play music, has this been able to succeed 13 years after the iPod was introduced? Well, here's why:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Mar 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Ember Equipment is the name of a group of industrial designers with "deep experience and expertise in the design of technical soft-goods and equipment," as they write. "We most especially love bad-ass backpacks." That adjective perfectly suits their awesome Modular Urban Pack, which appears to be designed with indestructible, weatherproof hardware and provides the flexibility to add tailored modules that suit whatever you're hauling. Take a look at the demo video of their two models, which are currently up on Kickstarter:

While consumers will ultimately be able to pick and choose options to build their own packs, for the MUP's Kickstarter campaign there will be four pre-configured pack-builds on offer. Buy-in starts at US $209 for a "Minimalist" model and top out at $289 for their "Outfitter" pack loaded up with every gear option.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   7 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Do you have what it takes to make your own wine? Most likely not. But with this fancy gadget and a lower-than-average amount of skepticism, you might. Drink like Jesus did with the Miracle Machine: just add water, grape concentrate, yeast and a vaguely described "finishing powder" to impart that truly barrel-aged flavor without true barrel-aging.

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The modestly named Miracle Machine is a household appliance with the capability of fermenting and age-flavoring fine wine within three days, for as little as $2 per bottle in materials. It's got a fairly elegant exterior, plastic but something you wouldn't resent for taking up counter space. The accompanying app lets you choose the type of wine you want to make and provides status information so that those of us too impatient for bread-baking can hold out long enough to reap the alcoholic bounty. Check out the project video:

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Posted by core jr  |  26 Feb 2014  |  Comments (0)

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What purpose does a library serve in a contemporary middle school? Beyond its broad definition as a place to read, relax, explore and discover, we also feel that educational spaces should be designed with the input and ideas from the users—the students themselves. Now, with the help of Studio H and Ms. Nini (Hallie Chen), a cohort of 108 eighth graders at Berkeley's REALM Charter School have done exactly that, and they need your help to make the library of their dreams into a reality.

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Besides the bookmarks, stamps and bags, the students have also designed an X-shaped unit of modular shelving, STAX, which is made of low-cost plywood and fabricated with CNC technology, courtesy of Autodesk's Carl Bass. "You can do anything with STAX: you can make your new favorite shelf," reads the project page on Kickstarter. "You can make supports for a table or legs for a bench. You can make a mile long wall if you want. Whatever you do with them, they'll definitely be the coolest piece of furniture you own."

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Posted by core jr  |  31 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

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User experience design has quickly become a critical skill in fields ranging from software development to industrial design, but how can a designer already enmeshed in their career make a pivot toward UX? While traditional design schools are beginning to incorporate this area of interest into their curricula, sometimes one class isn't enough.

The Unicorn Institute is a new initiative by Jared Spool, founder of pioneering user experience consulting firm User Interface Engineering, and Dr. Leslie Jensen-Inman, a Ph.D in Learning and Leadership, that aims to provide professional training for experience designers through classes tailored for the market's needs. And while there's value in studying design theory and methods, sometimes designers just want the practical experience that can get them to the next level in their career.

If their success on Kickstarter is any indication, Spool and Jensen-Inman have clearly struck a nerve: The Unicorn Institute has brought in over $70,000 so far, three and a half times its $20,000 goal. Most backers are content to put up a few bucks for "digital pixie dust"—a.k.a. wallpapers for a mobile, tablet and desktop—or "digital awesomeness," the $50 tier, which includes a series of books on experience design; higher reward levels include access to the classes as they become available.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Jan 2014  |  Comments (2)

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[Editor's Note: This post has been edited to reflect a comment regarding the physical nature of nixie tubes.]

In this age of digital displays, it's hard not to appreciate the old-school aesthetic of a nixie tube. To individually bend ten different digits out of cold cathode neon tubes the cathode, then stuff all of them together in a little glass dome—i.e. the tube itself—is perhaps needlessly labor-intensive but provides a clearly legible readout with an Edison-bulb vibe.

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Sydney-based Duncan Hellmers is of the same mind. "[Nixie tubes] fit in well with today's aesthetic trends but still retain that sense of nostalgia and sentimentality," he writes. "I'd seen quite a few tube clock designs online, but couldn't find one whose character matched what I was after, so I decided to design my own."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Inspired by the hoverboard Michael J. Fox cruises around on in Back to the Future Part II, ex-IDEO'er Kyle Doerksen created the Onewheel. A self-balancing electric monowheel skateboard, the Onewheel seemingly replicates the feeling of riding around on a hoverboard (if not the form factor), and even a novice can purportedly pick up how to ride one in less than a minute; in addition to the self-balancing feature, riders can accelerate by leaning forward and slow down by leaning back, as with a Segway.

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The 25-pound device will do 12 m.p.h., with a range of four to six miles. Charging the lithium battery takes from 20 minutes to two hours, depending on what type of charger you use. And the monowheel design means that maintenance is a lot simpler than it would be for a bicycle: "There's literally only one moving part—the wheel," writes Doerksen. "No gears, belts or chains to maintain."

And yes, the Onewheel is real, not just a concept; Doerksen and his team have it up on Kickstarter, where it's already tripled its $100,000 goal. Check out the video:

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Posted by Ray  |   9 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We were there for the launch of the instantly iconic torqued helix of the Plumen 001, the radical compact fluorescent lamp that elevated the lowly light bulb to eco-conscious design object status. Since its debut in 2010, the helical CFL has become an award-winning, museum-worthy icon, even as the Edison bulb has asserted itself into nouveau-rustic interiors over the past few years. I personally find the bright 2700K luminaire to be well-suited to most settings, but, as they note on their Kickstarter page, "it works for areas that need to be bright, but isn't always perfect for dimly lit ambient spaces, like bars, coffee shops or your living room. Places where warmer tones define a texture and softness in the atmosphere—that's where the 002 comes in."

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As Roope noted regarding Plumen's recent collaboration with Middlesex University, they've been working with the 001 for some four years now, and the second product offers a noticeably different aesthetic, both in form factor and usage: If the Edison bulb is shorthand for steampunk-y vintage, the Plumen 002 vaguely evokes Art Deco, offering the brightness equivalence of a 30W incandescent "for the coziest of contexts." Viewed on-end, the hemispherical shape suggests a filament bulb, which belies both the axe-like profile and slim, bisected teardrop shape of the frontal view. It's both more and less like a traditional light bulb than the coils of the Plumen 001, referencing its silhouette but literally paring it down to a more modern form.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Dec 2013  |  Comments (4)

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When USB flash drives first came out, they were useful, expensive and valued things. Nowadays they're still useful, but I've got a drawer full of them, as every press conference I attend passes them out like candy. Most are made of plastic, some of metal. As they continue to proliferate, oughtn't we make them out of recycled/recycleable materials?

BOLTgroup thinks so. The North-Carolina-based design firm is trying to Kickstart Gigs 2 Go, their project to release flash drives with bodies made from recycled paper pulp. The idea is that users buy them in credit-card-sized four-packs, and tear them off as needed for file sharing. Have a look:

The reason why I've got this in the "Yea or Nay" section is, do you think these will see uptake, given their cost? When it comes to bang for buck, careful shoppers can scoop up flash drives for roughly 50-cents-to-a-dollar per gigabyte; The Gigs 2 Go drives still available ring in at roughly two bucks per gig, with an early batch of $1/gig long gone. Do you think their uptake will be dependent on cost, or would you be willing to pay slightly more for a thumb drive you could recycle?

Posted by erika rae  |  20 Nov 2013  |  Comments (1)

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You never realize how hard it is to hang something until you actually have to do it. Getting your photo/art/mirror/whatever straight is tough enough, but finding a hanging system that doesn't take away from what you're trying to display is often a challenge in itself. Enter Dartstrip, a new product that epitomizes how the best design should be invisible.

And like most unseen designs, the system is deceptively simple: Dartstrip is nothing more than an eight-foot strip of steel with a restickable adhesive backing. The product is laser-scored with snap points at one-inch increments for easy customization depending on how large or wide your display space is. The strips are a clean white and can be painted over to match walls and other surfaces; magnetic 'pins' hold posters or photos in place. Check out the video below to see what Dartstrip is all about before we go into the details with co-founder Kermit Westergaard:

But the major innovation of Dartstrip comes in the form of none other than the packaging.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  19 Nov 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Strong relationships are based on multiple areas of shared interest, broadening the platform for connection and common understanding. Some interests pair naturally: humor and creativity, travel and gourmet cooking, knowledge of 18th century French naval battles and a love of cheap American lager. In that vein, Know Your City (previously the "Dill Pickle Club") has brought Portland history, policy and brined comestibles to an amateur audience for over four years, and they're ready to take this relationship to the next level.

The non-profit group helps people creatively engage with the city's spaces and changing social landscape through history tours, public speakings and policy information. They highlight often-unheard stories and issues, and make dry info exciting and accessible. They also know a lot about pickling. Still office-less, their current Kickstarter campaign will fund the building of a kiosk to function as the on-the-ground hub for information and tour guiding. As required by common law in Portland, the kiosk will be bike-powered and locally made.

know-your-city-app.gifA look at the new Know Your City app

Recent Know Your City successes include the launch of a sweet social history app, and getting a double thumbs-up from the mayor—who you can win a chance to go sailing with if you contribute to the kiosk project. Big ups to folks making the past relevant and the future understandable.

Check out and contribute to Know Your City's Kickstarter campaign here.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Nov 2013  |  Comments (17)

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As an industrial designer, which would you rather do: Design brand new objects and interfaces that have never existed before, or design improvements into existing objects? Both have their challenges, but I for one love seeing folks tweak longstanding, everyday designs to improve their functionality.

The latest Kickstarter smash success falls into this latter category. Portland-based Mike Whitehead is a product designer who loves to cook, but after years of using a common cast-iron skillet, he realized it was "long overdue" for a re-design.

First off, the handle of a cast-iron skillet is essentially a design fail that people are willing to live with. The standard handle is tiny and loop-like, the faster to dissipate heat, yet you still need an oven mitt to handle the thing, so you get the worst of both worlds: An uncomfortable, unergonomic handle that can burn you.

Secondly, the finish of a cast-iron skillet's cooking surface wears its production method on its sleeve: The rough texture screams sand casting. This makes it tough to clean.

Thirdly, a skillet's circular shape distributes heat evenly, but does not lend itself well to pouring out the sauces you've been simmering.

Let's take a look at how Whitehead, with the help of industrial designer David Lewin and 3D modeler Kip Buck, solved these problems with their Finex design:

At press time the Finex had blown way past its $25,000 target with over $150,000 in funding. There are still three days left to get in on it and the first units will ship on December 15th, just in time for the holidays.

By the bye, the Finex logo was designed by Aaron Draplin of Field Notes fame.

Hit the jump for some bonus manufacturing footage: How they prototyped the handle, and a look at the sweet 5-axis CNC mill cutting the mold.

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Posted by Ray  |  12 Nov 2013  |  Comments (5)

Pensa-DIWireBender.jpgL: Original DIWire Bender process photos; R: Production version of the device

Update: Our own Don Lehman chatted with Marco Perry and Mark Prommel in today's episode of the Afterschool podcast.

If 2012 was a big year for Pensa, 2013 has been even bigger: Both Street Charge and the Core77 Design Awards Runner Up DIWire Bender, both of which they introduced about 18 months ago, have come to fruition this year. We would have been impressed if they'd brought just one of them to market, especially since the two projects could not be more different—besides, of course, the fact that they're both novel, useful products.

Which is a long way of saying that today sees the official Kickstarter launch of the consumer-ready DIWire Bender. Seeing as it's already at $40,000, we imagine they'd tipped off the interested parties who were duly impressed by the production version, which Pensa! has exhibited at Maker Faires in San Mateo and New York City and most recently at Engadget Expand over the weekend.

Pensa-DIWireBender-FaireCOMP.jpgClockwise from top left: One of their booths at World Maker Faire; rocking the glasses in San Mateo; and in NYC; a model of the Brooklyn Bridge

Besides the plug-and-play device itself—which has the matte black box aesthetic of MakerBot's Replicator 2—Pensa! has developed an ecosystem for hobbyist and practitioner alike: The custom software is intended to be straightforward enough for users of any skill level and they've even devised a system of plastic clips to facilitate assembly of multi-part projects. If one were inclined to make bad puns, one might say that the lowest radius of the DIWire Bender is its learning curve.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Oct 2013  |  Comments (1)

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Test print by artist Davidope

I've never gone back and looked at a GIF I'd already seen; I see them as cute, fun and ultimately disposable. But a legion of artists, a pair of data visualiss and several hundred Kickstarter backers disagree with me. Thus Gifpop, a campaign to create physical GIFs that you can hold in your hand, reached and doubled its funding target in less than 24 hours. (Admittedly, keeping the target at a low $5,000 probably helped.)

By using lenticular film—that striated, prism-filled plastic that can show you different images as you tilt it—architect and data visualist Sha Hwang, and data visualist Rachel Binx, are seeking to print physical cards that display "animated" GIFs. "We think that gifs and lenticular printing are two simple, lo-fi technologies that were made for each other," the duo writes. And with a max capacity of ten frames per card, lenticular film is in fact a good GIF fit (even if it's not for Vine, although the pair have set that as a future goal).

There's still over three weeks left to pledge, and for a low $12 buy-in, you can have a GIF of your choice printed onto a 3x3 card and mailed to you. (Larger sizes available for more bread.) Here's Hwang and Binx's pitch video:

Posted by erika rae  |  17 Oct 2013  |  Comments (7)

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Homebrewing is a test. The reward: Beer whenever you want and your own unique recipe (plus beaucoup indie cred points). And this is no half-hearted attempt. Unlike pickling or infusions (other gastronomical pursuits du jour), homebrewing requires an investment of weeks, sometimes months, with a learning curve for each batch and style. But let's be real—no one wants to wait 4–6 weeks dreaming about how their beer is going to taste while it goes through some scientific fermentation process. Well, maybe you do. And that's ok, too.

But for those of you who would rather have your brew quicker, Kickstarter has an option for you. Microsoft developer Bill Mitchell teamed up with his brother Jim and friend Avi Geiger to launch an PicoBrew Zymatic.

At a glance, it seems like the contraption has basically cut out any risk of user error... but don't hold us to that.

At press time, PicoBrew's is nearing three times their funding goal of $150,000. Co-founder Avi Geiger gave us some insight into the creativity and process behind the project:

PicoBrew-Avi-Geiger.jpgCo-founder Avi Geiger

Core77: How did you come up with the technology behind this and why do you think it hasn't been done before?

Avi Geiger: It comes down to having the right mix of people and the right mix of frustrations with the world. Usually when people try to automate brewing, they build complicated systems with multiple tanks, valves, little cranes and robotic arms to add hops. There are literally hundreds of homebuilt "automated" brewing systems—each one is different, most of them are very expensive. If one of these was the right answer for more people, then you would be able to buy it somewhere by now. Bill and Jim came at it from the product development and process side and developed a new system that allows for preloaded ingredients and automated fluid distribution without any valves. I came at it from the engineering side and collectively we worked together to get this into a compact and reliable package that takes this method and lets us brew beers to the quality standards of a professional brewer with the ease of use of a kitchen appliance.

Another reason it hasn't been done before is that it's just a ton of work to get all the details right and bring it to market. We've been working on this full time for over two years now. And there was a year of concept work before that. We've done hundreds of test batches to optimize the process. There are an incredible number of variables in beer production and picking the right set to work across was a pretty big step in itself.

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Posted by Ray  |  15 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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We're always happy to hear from Lisa Smith and Caroline Linder, founders of Chicago-based design concern Object Design League, a platform championing 'small batch' design products. Their latest project is a collaboration with Brooklyn-based illustrator Jingyao Guo: "Marketplace Posters" depict colorful scenes from open air marketplaces from around the world.

We love open air marketplaces because they mix economic and social transactions between people with a variety of purposes: business, leisure, tourism, and daily shopping. At the heart of every market is the energy of entrepreneurship. Vendors use makeshift tools and ingenious techniques to move their goods efficiently, while customers haggle with expert price negotiators to determine true market price. Many of these markets have been in operation for decades and directly reflect the cultural spirit of their locale.
As designers, we are interested in the way that all the minute details of an environment add up to create a rich and lively atmosphere. We wanted to produce a series of drawings that would represent this, and invite others in as observers.

ODLCO-JingyaoGuo-MarketplacePosters-MuaraKuin.jpgODLCO-JingyaoGuo-MarketplacePosters-details.jpg

The series is launching on Kickstarter with three markets in Asia-Pacific region: Raohe Night Market in Taipei, Muara Kuin Floating Market in Indonesia, and Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market (if the campaign is a success, they'll expand to other continents). Given their axonometric perspective and infinitesimal level of detail, I couldn't help but think of Li Han and Hu Yan's equally beautiful A Little Bit of Beijing, though the latter work is more expressly concerned with inhabited architecture. The "Marketplace Posters" take a more anthropological perspective, portraying various individuals interacting with each other and their surroundings.

We had the chance to chat with Smith about the captivating artwork and how the project came about.

Core77: What was the inspiration for these posters?

Lisa Smith: Caroline and I traveled to Taiwan together in 2010, where we spent a lot of time at the night markets. The kernel for this idea developed then—we often reminisce about the special atmosphere of the night markets, and have always wanted to formulate a project based on our experiences.

The project started off with kids in mind. We like the "Where's Waldo" feel of each scene, and wanted to encourage kids to appreciate observation as a way of "reading" an environment. As the drawings evolved, however, it was clear that they appealed to all age groups, so we aren't being specific about who or where its for, and let the viewers decide.

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Posted by erika rae  |  15 Oct 2013  |  Comments (2)

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Last year, we wrote about an ambitious design student with a dream to create flexible wooden watches to replace the clunky link versions we see in too many designs. Since then, Lorenzo Buffa—the man behind the great idea—has found a manufacturer and has launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Carpenter Collection from Analog Watch Co.

At press time, the campaign goal of $10,000 had been surpassed. We took some time to catch up with the young designer and learn about what's been going on with the project the past year and what he plans to do with the funds:

Analog-Watch-Lorenzo.jpgLorenzo Buffa, founder of Analog Watch Co. and designer

Core77: What's happened with the concept since we last spoke to you a year ago?

Lorenzo Buffa: A year ago, the project was a design thesis project. I wanted to combine my interests in materials and woodworking to prototype a product and a brand. Within the year, I've been working with manufacturers to understand how the industry works—things like supply chains, lead times, tooling, SKU numbers, etc. I took part in an entrepreneurship bootcamp, was awarded a fellowship and a $6,000 grant from The Corzo Center for the Creative Economy and most recently have been a part of GoodCompany Ventures 2013 accelerator.

How did you manage to find a manufacturer?

We were really fortunate to have manufacturers contact us, but they only know of the collection because of the publicity from the first Core77 article. The press from that posting brought multiple manufacturers to the table—after a few months of relationship building, we dropped some and went ahead with others.

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Posted by core jr  |  14 Oct 2013  |  Comments (0)

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Reporting by Kat Baumann

It's no secret or mystery that designers love to reengineer bicycle stuff. Bikes are fun and ubiquitous, simple yet challenging. What may be less clear to the untrained eye is that most creative bike designs are impractical and embarrassing in action.

What does it take to make waves in an industry whose key technology is a motorless wheel? I'd argue for three things: novelty, practicality and sweet, sweet engineering. Touch on only one of those and any bike snob worth their salt will roll their eyes, sigh into their latte (for actual mechanics, substitute cold coffee or warm beer), and try to forget. Don't fret, I offer here a quick case study in how to make people love your wonky bike idea: Kinn Bikes, makers of the Cascade Flyer commuter-cargo bike.

KinnBikes-AttractiveYetBurly.jpgAttractive Yet Burly

1.) The Cascade Flyer is a midtail city bike, a designation that Kinn helped to pioneer, and one that no one else is making. The Kinn creation myth starts with founder Alistair Williamson's desire to comfortably pack grandkids onto a tough sporty bike, a desire he was unable to meet without making his own. Williamson has a keen eye for design details, having previously worked as an engineer and designer at Tektronix and his own high-tech startup, but he's not alone his needs. Since the debut of extra-freaking-long "longtail" cargo bicycles, many a rider and mechanic has grumbled about the lack of this just-right, in-betweeny style. It's got built-in bells and whistles all over, and for the knockout, it's made in the U.S. Novelty: achieved.

2. This thing can haul hundreds of pounds on the back, but it still feels like a snazzily built city bike. Looks like one too. Unloaded, it's got quick handling without being twitchy, great balance, solid frame construction without feeling bloated, and carefully chosen parts that won't irritate the life out of you once you've used them for a season. The spec'd parts illustrate parental knowledge and general thoughtfulness: that double kickstand isn't a luxury if your cargo squirms, disc brakes are the most sane option for encumbered commuting, and the front wheel "lock" gets the long frame onto a bus rack and saved me at least one black eye. Plus, it's got accessory eyelets as far as the eye can see.

KinnBikes-AreWeThereYet.jpg"Are we there yet?"

Sloshily loaded to the child seat's maximum weight, I got through the standard two second take-off wobble and then actually forgot my awkward waterbaby was with me. While top-heavy loads are inherently unwieldy, I could still accelerate nicely and without the skeevy wheelie feelings that often come with a heavy back-end. Even for this remarkably short and remarkably cranky ex-mechanic, the whole bike was liftable, fittable and comfortable. With some tweaks to bar height, it would feel uncannily like my own city bikes. I put a grown ass co-worker on the back to check for rack stiffness and front end flex. I got nothing but bell ringing and motorcycle noises from behind. Pragmatism: activated!

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3. The designers and engineers tinkering with this bad jamma have logged years working on bikes, riding bikes, crashing bikes, welding bikes, and trying to stick kids to bikes. They have (or have at least talked to people who have) firsthand experience with the system requirements for making this brain baby work. The prototype frames were made by a local bike-building guru and a fabrication company whose welders and engineers work specifically on bikes. No blissful ignorance here. The construction strikes a balance between functionality, geometry and industry standards, which makes this weird thing totally kick ass when it could so easily have been a Charlie Brown football kick on wheels. Engineering: nailed it.

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On a visit to the Kinn workshop, I talked with Operations Manager Max Miller, a lifelong bike mechanic, fabricator, ex-sushi chef and Yamaguchi-certified builder, about the oddities and prospects of their new line of bikes.

What is a Kinn bike, and how does a midtail differ from a standard bike?

Max Miller: The only bike we make right now is the Cascade Flyer. It's our "midtail" city bike, a transport bike for families. Midtail is a classification that Joseph Ahearne coined. It's not a longtail like an Xtracycle, but it's longer than normal bikes... which aren't called shorttails. Bobtail maybe?

Our bikes are 6” longer than an equivalently-sized commuter bike, with a built-in rack that is part of the frame and designed to carry both heavy cargo and passengers safely. It's specifically designed around the idea of being able to carry a kid on the back of the bike, plus groceries or kid-related stuff. But it's not exclusively for people with children, it's really for anyone who wants to conveniently carry more than moderately sized loads. It can carry more than you can manage on a normal bike or even a touring bike, but for people who don't need a full on cargo-specific bike.

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Posted by Ray  |   8 Oct 2013  |  Comments (3)

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I've been curious about sousveillance ever since I Wiki-walked into the neologistic concept, which is broadly defined as "the recording of an activity by a participant in the activity." A simple example might be the Russian dashboard cameras that have yielded a fair share of viral footage, but the term is broad enough to include the now-ubiquitous cameraphone, an ever-ready recording device in situations of crisis, civil unrest and a laundry list of otherwise unusual situations (see also: Google Glass).

Of course, the former example is the inspiration for a new project on Kickstarter by Los Angeles-based mechanical engineer Cedric Bosch. Like a helmet, the Rideye is a safety device that a savvy cyclist might use in hope of never needing to do so. But in the event of a crash, the handlebar-mounted HD camera is expressly designed to capture footage of the incident in order to present an objective account of what happened.

Guest appearance by Iggy Pop aside, the ABC Los Angeles news segment covers several valid points regarding the black box camera concept (Slowtwitch has a more in-depth look at the product itself). If the Rideye catches on, it's a perfect example of how monitoring could make the streets safer for everyone: As with red light cameras, the possibility that one might be caught in the act serves as negative reinforcement in order to discourage reckless driving. The mere suggestion of sous/surveillance exploits the Hawthorne effect to prevent—or at least document and punish—illicit behavior.1

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Posted by Christie Nicholson  |   3 Oct 2013  |  Comments (1)

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I don't know what excites me more: A pen with unlimited practical uses beyond being a pen (like grabbing change from your jeans' pocket) or a pen has raised more than half a million dollars in funding on Kickstarter. The Polar Pen created by industrial designer Andrew Gardner has now made more than $530,000 and counting. That's about 38 times the original goal of $14,000.

What makes it so special?

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It comes in silver or 24K gold and it provides endless fun because it combines two things people love to play with: Pens and magnets. The pen contains no springs, threads or pins. It comes apart and snaps back together with that satisfying pull only a magnet can provide. It can be stored on any metal surface (of course), it can be rearranged into a spinning top (aka The Revolver), a drafting compass, a card holder, and probably a whole lot of other stuff yet to be discovered. It's modular so you can change the size, add new tips and new cartridges. You can also swap in a thin rubber tip that acts as a stylus for tablets.

Even though Gardner doesn't think of his pen as a toy, there's no doubt that the first thing most of us will do is take the thing apart and start doing tricks with the magnets. Just try watching this video below and not wanting one:


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Posted by core jr  |  23 Sep 2013  |  Comments (0)
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