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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)


It is a shame that the Power Mac G5, and the first-generation Mac Pro, are these beautiful hunks of aluminum that have no present-day use. While the conscientious may deliver them to recycling facilities, wouldn't it be cool if the shells could be usefully repurposed? Germany-based designer Klaus Geiger thought so, and machined a solid piece of walnut to perfectly match the radii in the G5 tower's handles.


Though Geiger's one-off bench was created for a freecycling event in Freiburg, he subsequently became intrigued by the idea of upcycling G5 shells, stating "they are simply too good to be disposed of." He produced at least a couple of other pieces, like the one seen up top and this rolling set of drawers...


...then cranked out some renderings to show what a full line might look like:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)


Sure, it's an advertisement, but if we're going to have goods hawked at us, this is how we'd prefer it be done. To promote their color-shifting Hue LED bulbs, Philips put together this entertaining, too-short video showing how living rooms have evolved, starting in the Boardwalk Empire days and running up until today. While we're presumably meant to focus on the lighting fixtures, the thorough set-dressing will capture your attention:

To be nitpicky, I'd like to have seen a little more Mid-Century Modern, and was it just me or did they seem to skip both the '70s and the '90s altogether?

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)


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:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)


If you had to pick: What's the ugliest product design you unwillingly own, the most unsightly object cluttering your home? One object, above all others, that has simply not kept pace with the times? I'm willing to bet it's the power strip under your desk. Maxed out and spewing a half-dozen differently-colored cables and ill-fitting adapters, the modern-day power strip looks like a product design that's been turned inside out.


"It's time to add design to those boring old power strips," proclaims the development team behind Boxtap, which aims to turn the power strip outside-in.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (9)


If we look past the media hype behind Lenovo's Yoga Tablet 2 supposedly being "engineered" by Ashton Kutcher, what we have appears to be a very interesting device. As with Samsung's experimental interface designs, I'm happy to see Lenovo challenge the incumbent device—Apple's iPad, obviously—by differentiating themselves through some unique design efforts. By building in a kickstand, adding something like real speakers, dropping in a pico projector and using a cylinder to break the "glass rectangle" form factor while providing some much-needed ergonomics, Lenovo has demonstrated they're willing to take risks and break with convention.


It is of course ironic that Kutcher played the famously focus-group-averse Steve Jobs in Jobs and is now conducting focus groups for an Apple competitor, but if this video is uncooked, it seems they actually got some useful feedback that directly informed the Yoga Tablet 2's design:

So, anti-celebrity snickering aside, what do you all actually think of the design? Pluses and minuses of the bulge? If the projector eventually becomes up-to-snuff (I'm cynically imagining the first-gen will be too dim), do you think that'll become a feature on all tablets? And why don't other tablet manufacturers—or for that matter, phablet and smartphone designers—seem to consider that we humans actually have to hold the things?

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Oct 2014  |  Comments (7)


The Red Dot Awards winner's page is usually a fun look at some out-there ideas. But among this year's batch of winners, it's the oh-man-that-is-so-doable concepts that caught our eye. To rethink something simple that already exists can often be far harder, we think, than envisioning a blue-sky solution.

In the Personal Hygiene category, Chen Wanting's clever Tiya Convenient Floor Drain makes perfect sense for anyone who's ever had to remove long hair from a conventional shower drain.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


With the cheeky tagline "Our competitors are giants," the confident development team behind Chargerito introduces their new object. Billed as the world's smallest phone charger, the diminutive device is just 53mm × 33mm × 18mm (2.1" × 1.3" × 0.7"), featuring flip-out power prongs and your choice of a micro-USB or Apple Lightning plug. And it's an exercise in minimalism, with just barely enough meat to get your mitts onto.

Developers Alex Andon, Nick Velander and Drew Hauck set the Chargerito up through crowdfunding—Tilt, not Kickstarter, for a change—offering it at a pre-order price of $19 a pop (it's expected to retail for $39). The sharp-discount strategy worked, as they've exceeded their $50,000 target with $76,716 in backing. At press time there was just one day left to get in on the pre-order price, so if you want one, hurry!

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Sep 2014  |  Comments (6)


The currently fashionable way to "debate" is to start with your conclusion, then seek only facts that support your conclusion, and ignore everything else. (See the commenters on our first phone-bending post who single out Apple while ignoring the bent phones from other manufacturers.) It is essentially the opposite of the Scientific Method. Thankfully, the first item in our update on the overblown "Bendgate" brings a little much-needed science into the discussion.

1. Consumer Reports' Stress-Testing Comparison of Six Models of Smartphone

Consumer Reports subjected the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, LG G3, Samsung Galaxy Note 3, HTC One, and iPhone 5 to a three-point flexural test:


And there you have it. One could argue that the point of contact of the Instron testing machine ought be shaped more like a human butt cheek rather than a focused line, but at the very least this will hopefully inspire others to conduct similarly scientific tests.

2. Veracity of Original Bendgate Video Called Into Question

Redditors took a close look at Lewis Hilsenteger's original Bendgate video, which is now up to some 45 million hits, and found a disturbing discrepancy: The clock times displayed on the phone during the "test" do not jive with the sequence of events as portrayed in the video.


Detractors have suggested that the video is cooked. One claims that Hilsenteger is profiting from the millions of hits and another goes so far as to hint that he is actively manipulating Apple's stock price. Defenders suggest that the time discrepancy is merely to do with video editing, and one suggests that he began shooting the video at 2:26am and again at 1:58pm the next day.


Posted by Sam Dunne  |  26 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


What with all the pomp and ceremony, prolonged exposure to design shows and festivals these days can, on occasion, cause a slight feeling of disease— a symptom perhaps of a perceived detachment from reality amongst the shiny objects and chair redesigns. What an oasis of perspective then, on our week-long tour of London Design Festival 2014, to stumble on the humbling sight of a scissor-making workshop in the heart of Shoreditch.

Craftsmen from century-old Sheffield-based Ernest Wright & Sons (fifth-generation family-owned no less) set up shop at The Saturday Market Project, giving demonstrations of blade hand-sharpening and scissor assembly in their mini-workshop. (Some of you may recall that Cliff Denton, a lifelong 'putter' at Ernest Wright & Sons, was recently the subject of a short documentary.) Whilst spending the day working up some intricate bird-like embroidery scissors, the guys also had an impressive selection of their hand-made tools on show—the owners are still passionate about the role of hand crafting in an age of mass-manufacturing when much production has moved out of British towns, like the once industrial powerhouse Sheffield.

We were particularly enamored with the cutting potential of the enormous large bolt 13" tailoring shears—a hell of weight to them! A pair of these hand-crafted monsters will set you back a cool GBP 130/USD 212





Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Sep 2014  |  Comments (10)


As our debate over whether iPhone bendage is a design issue or a user issue continues, yesterday an Apple spokesperson released an interesting fact: "Through our first six days of sale, a total of nine customers have contacted Apple with a bent iPhone 6 Plus."

Nine. Considering they sold ten million units in the first six days, that means a little less than 0.000001% of iPhone users have reported a problem.

Even if there are more cases that went unreported--let's say the problem is 100 times worse, but 99 people chose to remain silent for every one person who complained--that still means that less than 0.0001% of iPhones got bent.

The video posted by Lewis Hilsenteger in the last entry on this topic clearly shows that you can bend an iPhone while trying to. (That entry also shows photos of a variety of phones from different, non-Apple manufacturers that can also be bent.) I could probably bend my aluminum laptop if I tried, too, but because that object is so important to my livelihood I don't put cups of coffee or any kind of stress on it.

Similarly, if I owned an iPhone 6, after seeing Hilsenteger's video I'd simply place the phone in the "sunglasses/delicates" category of things I own, and care for it accordingly.

Anyone think a YouTube video of me using an undamaged iPhone would get 25 million hits?

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


I love seeing the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to design you normally see in a product category's infancy. That state before the form factor is set, when designers throw all kinds of crazy stuff at the wall to see what sticks. It's not that every object to emerge from this experimental stage is worthy and enduring; instead I like it because it smacks of creativity and evolution, which is how I think we improve as a species.


With Blackberry's new Passport smartphone, we're seeing this approach in a product category's maturity rather than its infancy. I'm happy to see the company willing to take risks and trying to turn their fortunes around by releasing their weird-looking, trend-bucking device, whose shape was inspired by the little booklet that gives us access to the rest of the world. All smartphones are getting taller but the Passport is going wider, and insisting on preserving physical keys when most of the competition is going for touchscreen.




Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Sep 2014  |  Comments (19)


Once wielded by everyone from impatient partygoers to crime scene detectives to insurance inspectors, Polaroid used to be synonymous with instant image capture. With that advantage long since evaporated, the company is seeking to move into a new market—one that's already dominated by GoPro.


The newly-released Polaroid Cube is the company's answer to action-seeking shooters, specifically those looking for bargain-basement prices. At just $100 the Cube is an entry-level product, though it's capable of shooting 1080p HD video; it will either help Polaroid get their foot into the action-cam door, or serve as a stopgap measure for kids saving up for a GoPro.


The Cube was designed by Ammunition and was reportedly not an exercise in "form follows function;" instead Brunner and co. dreamt up the cubic shape, and it was up to the engineers to make the guts fit. According to Businessweek,

Cramming all the camera's guts into a package that's less than 1.5 inches around presented some challenges. When the designers handed the plans over to the development team, they were told the battery wouldn't fit. The problem temporarily threatened the designers' vision of a cube until they came up with a solution of using two rechargeable batteries, one on each side. The configuration had the added benefit of creating a balanced block. After a few nips and tucks, each side of the gadget ended up measuring 35 millimeters—a serendipitous homage to old-school film stock.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


So it's the 1980s and you're running a company that makes typewriters. Sure, some of your customers are switching over to these new things called computers, but overall business is pretty good, and sales are growing each year.

Then the '90s hits, more people start using these stupid computers, and business starts to decline. What do you do? Where's the growth market, or at least the steady market? For New-Jersey-based typewriter manufacturer Swintec, their answer was locked up in U.S. prisons.

At some point in the late '90s, Swintec realized that a subset of the incarcerated need or want typewriters, to type up their own legal briefs, write correspondance or pass the time doing something productive. Swintec was also presumably aware of the Sony SRF-39FP portable radio, a.k.a. "The iPod of Prison"—the "FP" in the product name stands for Federal Prison, which is why the housing is transparent. Guards can easily inspect it to see if there's contraband hidden inside.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Sep 2014  |  Comments (21)



When it comes to smartphones, thin is in. But it should be of interest to product designers that as ubiquitous as these skinny devices are becoming—Apple sold 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Pluses over the weekend, for chrissakes—there really are some basic design problems with smartphones that haven't been totally covered.

Here's what's been in the news: Responding to reports that the iPhone 6 Plus can be bent out of shape when carried in a pants pocket—even a front pocket—while sitting, Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy posted a video of his iPhone 6 Plus Bend Test. The results weren't pretty, as the image atop this entry attests, and his video quickly racked up millions of hits.

Cult of Mac, however, was quick to point out that this structural flaw is not new to the iPhone 6 Plus, nor Apple in particular. In CoM's "The Shocking History of Bent Smartphones," they round up examples across manufacturers and models:


So here's the issue: We either want thin phones with large screens, or designers are pushing them on us, yet the slimness combined with broadness (i.e. increased leverage) has a major drawback for a subset of users. In your opinion, where does the fix lie—on the design side, or the user side?


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  23 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)


In 2011, British tabloid The Daily Mail reported that "The last company left in the world that was still manufacturing typewriters...has shut down its production plant in Mumbai, India with just a few hundred machines left in stock." The tone of the article suggested that typewriters were no longer being made anywhere in the world, but this was an error; in fact Brother was manufacturing typewriters in the UK as late as 2012 before shutting it down.

Today a German company called Triumph-Adler is still making typewriters, but what's initially surprising—then not surprising after thinking about it—is who's buying them. An article last year from this Russian news website reported that after taking note of Wikileaks, Edward Snowden and allegations of even friendly governments spying on each other, the FSB (Russia's successor to the KGB) was placing an order for 486,000 Rubles (USD $12,500) for Triumph-Adler typewriters and ribbons. And the FSB isn't alone—the article claims multiple Russian agencies use typewriters.

The thinking here is twofold: Obviously you can't hack what's not on the internet, but the second benefit to using typewriters is that using forensics, documents can be traced back to specific machines, similar to how bullets can be matched to the guns that fired them.

What's fascinating is that, according to Germany's Der Spiegel, the wait time between placing an order and having the Chinese factory crank out the product is some five months. Kinda puts that iPhone 6 shipping delay in perspective.

This logic is not limited to Russia, of course. Germany's The Local reports that Diehl, a German defense manufacturer, has also switched over to keys and ribbons, and that the German market for typewriters is actually growing. Bandermann, the German company that distributes Triumph-Adler's machines, says they move 10,000 units a year, with business up one-third from the previous year; meanwhile competitor Olympia "expects to sell more typewriters this year than at any time in the last 20 years, with sales set to double in 2014."

The next trend that we're hoping for: People start limiting their naked selfies to Polaroids.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)


Tom Hanks is a noted vintage typewriter fanatic who often bangs out thank-you notes on one of the machines in his collection. When he released the Hanx Writer—an iPad app that simulates old-school typing with sound and visuals, includes one free "model" and allows the user to purchase additional virtual models and ribbon colors—last month, many probably scoffed... but in four days it had shot to the top of the App Store with effusive reviews.


"Hanx Writer is beautiful, aesthetically pleasing app that fulfills its mission of bringing a certain level of pleasure back to the writing experience," wrote one reviewer. "I've been sitting here typing in the new Hanx app wondering why I find this so delightful," wrote another. "I can't help it, I just do."

It may sound silly, until you see it in action and understand the allure:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


As Louis C.K. sits in a coffee shop, a millennial staring into a smartphone bumps into him. Instead of looking up or apologizing, the kid keeps his eyes glued to the phone and bumps into him repeatedly, like a fly at a window. In the background we see the place is filled with young phone-gazers bouncing off of each other like billiard balls.

While the scene was just a gag for C.K.'s show Louie, a stroll down any New York sidewalk shows you it isn't much of an exaggeration. And it's not just New Yorkers and Americans, of course; as the UK designer Kenneth Grange told Dezeen, "I see people in the street walking around like zombies unaware that there's a person two feet from them, all glued to this bloody screen." And in China, if this Xinhua News Agency report is to be believed, the city of Chongqing has rolled out a bike-lane-like "phone sidewalk."


The topmost photo of this entry seems Photoshopped—something about the intensity of the arrows and the lack of shadows around the people—but it's possible that it's real, or at the very least not difficult to imagine.

So, file this one under Unintended Consequences of Technology. Who could have foreseen that creating tools that improved long-range communication would cause pedestrians to completely ignore their immediate environments?

Also, etiquette question: Do you guys walk around staring into your phones? As a New Yorker who well remembers the high-crime days of yore, if there are other people near me on the sidewalk I get out of the way and put my back to a wall, facing outwards, before checking something on my phone. It is inconceivable to me that a person would walk the length of a crowded block with their head down, completely oblivious to their surroundings. NYC's rash of phone-snatchings—some quite violent—is, I think, something like nature's cycle of predators and easy prey. Staring into your phone and forcing others to walk around you isn't just rude—it can get expensive, and dangerous.

Editor's note: Sadly this has been debunked as of this afternoon, but the implications are still valid.

Via Engadget

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


Ants like to move things, presumably to carry them back to their nests. Which doesn't make much sense when ant hill entrances are tiny and you see them hauling back things like this relatively huge Dorito chip:

But who knows, maybe it's just about the accomplishment of dragging it back to the nest. And maybe they build dioramas and put the objects on display. Because there's also footage of these herpetology-minded ants transporting a lizard skull (and a second crew bringing back the spine):

So far nothing special, these guys move items the same way you, me and a few buddies would move a couch, by getting individual bodies around it. But someone in Southeast Asia recently posted this video, where a species of Leptogenys ants have apparently learned to form a daisy chain in order to haul this big-ass millipede:


Posted by Sam Dunne  |  11 Sep 2014  |  Comments (2)


This past weekend, Reddit users have been delighting in pictures of prepackaged grape juice (alas, not wine) and bread (or is that gum?) communion reportedly handed out to one church-going user's 7,000-strong congregation. The Reddit faithful were quick to dub the curiosities 'Christables' after a certain packaged lunchtray product and offered up a number of other amusing puns and slogan suggestions—from mildly disrespectful to brazen copyright infringement—including gems such as "I Can't Believe It's Not Salvation" to "# Bad dap bap bap baaa...I'm loving Him #."

As comments on the thread point towards, the incongruity that we (even non-believers) feel at the sight of this object has to do with the design language: disposable plastic + aluminum-foiled symbols of the fast and packaged food industries that is unavoidably synonymous with cheapness, convenience and transience—a culmination that no amount of script typography, biblical quotes and cross symbols can outweigh.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (13)


I want an Apple Watch for four main reasons: Because of the nature of my work, the fact that I own two dogs, the fact that I live in a noisy city and because I hate Bluetooth earpieces. Now I realize that there's no way Jony Ive and Apple's design group has a profile fitting that description in their design briefs, there is no picture of me on their corkboard with a red circle around my face...


...but what they excel at is figuring out universal needs and designing solutions to those. Which is why it feels like the Apple Watch was designed precisely for me and for what I need to do on a daily basis.

I'll start with the two dogs. They require a lot of exercise, which I'm happy to give them to counterbalance the effect of IPAs on my waistline, and I am outside with them a lot—up to two hours per day, every day, rain or shine. This is possible because my work enables me to set my own schedule and work from home.


Which brings me to the nature of that work. In addition to my Core77 duties, I run a rental photography studio in a highly competitive market, and if I miss a single phone call or text message, which may come in at any hour, there are hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars at stake for each message I miss. Clients want answers right away, and if you don't pick up, they go down their list and contact the next studio.


Which raises the problem of me living in a noisy city. When outside with the dogs, my phone lives in a pants pocket. Thus if I'm walking or running I cannot always feel the vibration of an incoming message, nor hear the ring over jackhammers and bypassing ambulances. I've lost a three-day booking before because I couldn't hear the phone and called back five minutes too late.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Sep 2014  |  Comments (6)


Watching yesterday's Apple Live event, I oohed and aahed over the shots of the iPhone 6 with the rest of you, and when my screen turned black at the end of the Apple Watch teaser, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the monitor and saw my mouth was hanging open. But to this design lover, it wasn't any of the beauty shots, but the pull-quote below that I thought was the most significant takeaway from the entire presentation.

CEO Tim Cook was pacing the stage, rattling off facts: The credit card is fifty years old, it's no longer convenient nor secure, people have been attempting to replace them with digital wallets...

...But they've all failed. Why is this?
It's because most people that've worked on this have started by focusing on creating a business model that was centered around their self interest, instead of focusing on the user experience.
We love this kind of problem. This is exactly what Apple does best.

Cook proceeded to unveil Apple Pay, the NFC-based one-touch payment process that the new iPhones and the Apple Watch will all be able to perform.

I say that quote is significant because Cook essentially laid out Apple's key competitive advantage, the business secret that does not need to be secret because none of their competitors seem to be able to get those five words right.


Posted by Sam Dunne  |   8 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)


Only in Japan could the worlds of novelty plastic consumer goods, fast-food fanaticism and brand worship collide in such awe-inspiring, object-cultural absurdity.

The Japanese arm of fast food giant KFC recently released a suite of computing accessories in the likeness of their deep fried product. Whilst the Colonel hasn't yet taken to directly battering computing equipment (though that may not surprise some given recent accusations of some of their stores unsavoury contents), winners of a promotional giveaway could find themselves the lucky owners of a curious red and white keyboard, the keys of which replacing standard symbols with cryptic castings of miniature fried chicken pieces, giving users only the K, F and C to anchor to (presumedly touch-typing is second nature to Japanese technophile whiz kids). To make this branded computing experience complete, KFC also offers consumers the chance to wrap their hands around a disconcertingly realistic USB mouse and equally disturbing, as well as impractically large, USB flash drive—both novelties employing a rather questionable amount of plastic.


Collectors and fried chicken fanatics from Harajuku to Akihabara are surely to delight in these wild creations. Looking beyond the shimmering golden brown surface however, critics of the fast-food chain may well come to point out that such questionable objects only operate to abstract KFC's fried products further from the suspect reality of their production (current estimates for chickens put through the KFC machine at around 1 billion per year!).



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Sep 2014  |  Comments (6)


As designers, we find it amusing that there are Apple lovers that hate Samsung and vice versa. What the layperson doesn't seem to grasp is that the rivalry is good for the advancement of UI design. While Apple typically marches to their own drum, and reportedly had no interest in producing a smartphone with a larger screen, Samsung's dominance in that area has driven Cupertino to increase the size of the new iPhones they'll be announcing tomorrow; and in desperate anticipation of that event, Samsung has attempted to steal the march by announcing their new Galaxy Note Edge last week.


At first glance the unusual, asymmetrical, curved-glass design of the Galaxy Note Edge just seems plain weird. But look at this video by Marques Brownlee demonstrating the intended functionality:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   6 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)


Late yesterday Vanity Fair broke the news: Marc Newson is joining Apple's design team!

Apple's design veep Jonathan Ive is not only close friends with Newson, but the two have collaborated before, on the 43-object (Red) Auction project, and according to VF have been working together on an unspecified Apple project during the past year. Given Apple's typical development timelines, it's unlikely (if possible) that we'll see what the Newson collaboration has yielded at Apple's September 9 press event—mApple's mum on whether he was involved with their forthcoming smartwatch—but in any case, Newson is in fact getting an Apple ID card.

"Marc is without question one of the most influential designers of this generation," Ive said in a statement provided to VF Daily. "He is extraordinarily talented. We are particularly excited to formalize our collaboration as we enjoy working together so much and have found our partnership so effective."
"I'm full of admiration and respect for the extraordinary design work that has been produced by Jony and the team at Apple," Newson said. "My close friendship with Jony has not only given me a unique insight into that process, but the opportunity to work together with him and the people that have been responsible. I am enormously proud to join them."

One thing Newson won't be doing is picking up stakes; the London-based designer will remain in the UK to collaborate from afar.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Sep 2014  |  Comments (7)


With a press release this morning, Dyson tidily answered some questions that have been in the back of our minds. Questions like:

1. What are they going to use those tiny, powerful digital motors they developed for?
2. What weren't they showing us in that Dyson Proving Grounds video from last year?
3. What does a company that spends £3 million on research every week put that money towards?
4. Why on earth does a company with just three product categories employ 2,000 engineers?
5. Why hasn't Dyson, with its expertise in vacuums, yet moved into the robot vacuum space?

With this morning's announcement of the Dyson 360 Eye, all of the answers have fallen into place. Their forthcoming robot vacuum has been in development for a staggering 16 years, and a close look at the thing explains what all of those R&D eggheads have been working on.

First off, the "most powerful suction of any robot vacuum" claim is what you'd expect with Dyson, particularly if you've used any of their products. (Look for our upcoming "Living With..." product review on the Dyson DC59.) As you'll see in the demo video below, the 360 Eye with that digital motor was designed to suck up way more dust than the competing robot vacs, including from the crevices between floorboards, in a single pass. This comes as no surprise.


What is surprising is the wayfinding technology they've come up with. Existing robot vacuums have sensors and algorithms that they use to bounce around rooms seemingly randomly, relying on multiple passes and path redundancy to get a room clean. Dismissing this method as primitive and inadequate, Dyson opted to go with vision.


They developed a 360-degree camera that shoots 30 frames per second and actually sees the room, and selects high-contrast points—the edge of a picture frame, the corner of a bookshelf, for instance—to triangulate its location in space.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Sep 2014  |  Comments (11)


Yesterday I had to retire one of my well-used, much-appreciated, everyday objects and figured I'd give it a postmortem, covering what I liked and didn't like about this product design. It's the Jambox, the portable wireless Bluetooth speaker famously designed by Yves Béhar.



I used my Jambox virtually every single day from Dec. 22nd, 2012 to August 31st, 2014. That's over 20 months of daily use. It finally gave up the ghost on August 31st after sustaining damage in a fall (more details further down).



Because I used this object so frequently, I consider it as having improved the quality of my life. I've used it in every single room in my house and workplace to play music or podcasts while I go about the tedium of life and work: Doing dishes, folding laundry, sewing, working in the shop, sorting parts, fixing sewing machines, cleaning the house, cleaning the studio. I also place it in the bathroom every night when I shower so I can catch up on podcasts. To me the Jambox has been invaluable for breaking up tedium and allowing me to listen to podcasts anywhere, without the bother of headphones.

I travel with it too. On regular trips to a rental house in the country, I connect it to a projector and my laptop to play movies for the group of friends I go up there with.

I've only used it twice for its speakerphone capabilities and don't have any useful input there, beyond that it worked fine.