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Object Culture

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Nov 2014  |  Comments (2)

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I'm cheap, so I save all hardware and fasteners that aren't bent out of shape or stripped. As I disassemble one DIY project and prepare to move on to the next, all of the old screws and such go into the sad "system" you see below, a collection of plastic containers. When they're full I dump them out onto a tray and sort more precisely.

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It's a lame system, I know. And I became aware of just how lame when I saw this killer idea from "Wulf" over on the Craftster community:

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At the shop where I work we just toss loose screws, bolts, nails and other bits and pieces of hardware from the workbenches and the floor into a bucket and, every couple of years when the bucket gets too full, somebody has to dump the whole mess out and sort everything back to where it belongs. When that job fell to me this Spring, I decided there had to be a better solution. So I designed a bin that would help to at least divide things by type to make the final sorting easier. Though built for an industrial situation, it would work equally well in the home craft room for jewellery findings, sewing notions, etc.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Nov 2014  |  Comments (4)

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There was no time to stop before the tall man slammed into me. I was slowly carrying two fifteen-pound, nine-foot-long tubes of photographic backdrops from the supply house to my studio (it looked like I had a huge double bazooka on my shoulder). The man came barreling around the corner, nose buried in the smartphone he was typing in, and slammed directly into the end of the rolls with his chest. To my surprise, he yelled at me.

After five blocks of hauling these rolls I was in no mood, and I yelled back that he should watch where the heck he's going instead of staring into his hecking phone (maybe I didn't use "heck"). He screamed "Well I'm WORKING!" and stormed off while rubbing his chest dramatically.

So yeah, walking and texting can be hazardous to your health on the sidewalks of Manhattan. And now The Atlantic reports that Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, the Chief of Spine Surgery at the New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine facility, finds that just standing and texting is bad for you, too. "Billions of people are using cell phone devices on the planet, essentially in poor posture," he writes in a paper called "Assessment of Stresses in the Cervical Spine Caused by Posture and Position of the Head," presented in Surgical Technology International [PDF]. Surprisingly Dr. Hansraj's research, which is intended to inform cervical spine surgeons of proper neck position during cervical reconstructions, discovered that one can increase the load weight of one's head on the spine by a factor of six, simply by tilting it down to text.

The weight seen by the spine dramatically increases when flexing the head forward at varying degrees. An adult head weighs 10 to 12 pounds in the neutral position. As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.

So what does this mean to the user? There are two areas of effect related to posture. For the first area, a fascinating combination of biochemical and emotional results, Dr. Hansraj cites a study performed by body language researcher Amy J.C. Cuddy (more on her below):

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Nov 2014  |  Comments (6)

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You can show up at your gym drinkless and buy overpriced beverages there, or you can save a few bucks (and the environment) and carry your own refillable bottle. As someone in the latter camp, I haven't been able to find a bottle I can easily clean the inside of, and nothing is more gross than the little black specks that eventually form inside on the radii, completely impervious to the bristles of a bottle brush.

Hence the brilliant Alex bottle design. The stainless steel vessel unscrews at its equator, so you can actually get a sponge down into the thing and scrape the corners as clean as you like:

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  17 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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For anyone who knows the serenity of woodworking, this video hailing from northern Japan of mastercraftsman Yasuo Ozakazaki at work in his shop, could be the most relaxing thing you're likely to see today.

Kokeshi dolls are a traditional of Japanese handcraft—a simple limbless doll made from two pieces of wood, and apparently the inspiration behind the design of 'Mii' characters for the Nintendo Wii. (The figures have also risen to prominence in the global design world in recent weeks with the news that the Boureullec brothers have reinterpreted the doll's design as part of an initiative to get local craftspeople back on their feet, following the devastation caused by the Fukushima disaster.)

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  14 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Today, Londoners were treated to a dual celebration of the highest order: The historic Borough market on the south bank of the Thames marking its 1,000th year (nope, not an not an extra zero added in error) in business AND the observance of Apple Day (a technically international festivity marked mainly by Brits). Having clearly anticipated this momentous concurrence for some time, the market commissioned London based agencies TinMan and Teatime to create an installation befitting of such an occasion—and what better way to celebrate this humble fruit than pay homage to the brand that has usurped its image.

The installation parodying the tech giant's distinctive retail spaces—mildly amusing but also fairly brave considering Apple's recent nailing down of the rights to 'own' the design of their spaces—featured 1000 apples of all manner of varieties displayed en masse on walls and individually laid out on clear acrylic pedestals on counters with accompanying specs, of course.

Whilst of course mainly nonsense, it is a rare occasion that we're given such an education and moment of quiet contemplation of the incredible nutritious creations of mother Earth in all their fascinating sorts—I refer you to the charmingly named "Knobby Russett" below. Perhaps our relationship with fruits and vegetables would be very different if we gave them such forums more regularly, and afforded these wonders of the natural world the reverence we reserve for our electronics.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  13 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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For every name-brand designer cranking out well-known, mass-produced products, there's an army of unknown designers quietly producing excellent work that most of us will never see. While not as sexy as a gadget that sells 50 million units, projects like visual identity and branding are often the bread-and-butter of many a designer and firm.

Like this beautiful laser-etched book enclosure. Designed by the UK's NB Studio, it's part of a branding campaign's assets for Park House, a fee-yancy mixed-use building in London.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  11 Nov 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The modern world is pretty hell-bent on eradicating even the slightest hints of inconvenience from our lowly existence. At the slightest sign of consumer discomfort or "user friction," any number of production lines or Kickstarter campaigns can be fired up or launched to conquer the nuisances of the everyday. If there's not an app for that, then there's a product.

With a critical eye on this branch of object culture, designer Ernesto Morales and filmakers Chris Maggio and John Wilson have been exploring the phenomenon that they dub "Object Solutions," with a number of speculative designs tackling as yet unsolved problems. Simultaneously both attractive and absurd, the critical product propositions questions the consumer culture that "encourages us to match our set of everyday concerns with an equally sized set of external problem-solving tools." Instead of being given time and space to adapt to the inevitable irritations of life or tackling more serious frustrations at the source, we're offered an ever-growing array of experiential band-aids, which indeed go some way in legitimizing a broken status quo.

Interestingly, the first two Chindogu-esque concepts emerging from the Object Solutions project focus on the topic of hygiene and cleanliness in urban life—the trio presumedly finding inspiration in society's irrational preoccupation with sterilization and disinfection. The Magnifying Spoon for example is a neurotic, untrusting device used to scan for unwanted debris in food consumed out of the home—the convenience of such outsourcing of food preparation being unavoidably laced with the uncertainty of what went on in the kitchen.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It created much blog buzz, back in 2008, when news outlets discovered New York City had been dumping its old subway cars into the Atlantic Ocean to serve as artificial reefs. The thinking was that the heavy structures of the retired subway cars would provide an attractive collection point for algae, barnacles, coral and oysters, setting up a lower link on the food chain that would gradually spawn higher ones.

There was some environmental concern about potentially toxic materials, and the source article linked above pointed out that "Tim Dillingham, the executive director of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group based in Sandy Hook, N.J., said natural rock and concrete balls were far safer and more durable materials for artificial reefs."

Sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor took a different tack on this. The Canary-Islands-based artist created a 60-ton, 18-foot-tall statue and had it sunk off the coast of the Bahamas.

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Dubbed "Ocean Atlas," the statue takes the form of a crouching girl carrying the ocean on her shoulders, providing a Caribbean twist on Greek mythology's Earth-carrying (presumably white male) Atlas; Taylor modeled his on a local Bahamian girl named Camilla.

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

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These are interesting days for product design, as companies are experimentally combining different technologies in an effort to create new classes of objects. Yesterday Amazon unexpectedly announced their Echo product design, a cylindrical domestic object that revealed the company is better at keeping things under wraps than Apple.

So what is Echo? The best way I can describe it is Siri in a can, or an iPad for your ears. Apple's tablet enabled us to view the internet without being tethered to a computer, and Echo aims to aurally provide us with information from the internet, with queries made via voice. Have a look at how Amazon imagines the device would fit into our lives:

Like Apple's iDevices before it, Echo consists of already-existing technologies that the designers are hoping will create a desireable functionality by being combined. But I'm not convinced it will succeed. In today's crowded product landscape, new objects succeed by fulfilling an unmet need, and/or possessing such a strong design-based sex appeal that consumers cannot resist buying it.

I'm not sure the Echo has either. The appeal of hands-free is that it lets you achieve something you'd ordinarily do with your hands, when your hands are already occupied; like the example in the video where the housemum is prepping food and asks for a measurement ratio rather than physically looking it up. That example is certainly valid, but it's a question of how often that need truly occurs.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In my shop I've got so many different types of tape—duct, gaffer's, masking, painter's, packaging, paper, conductive, electrical, et cetera—in so many different colors that I don't have the space to put them all in dispensers. Hence they all sit in a large drawer waiting to be pulled out. Which means anytime I'm using one for a project I'm constantly re-scrutinizing the roll to find out where the end of it is, or dragging my fingernail around the perimeter in low light, usually going in the wrong direction so I can't detect the lip. It's a minor annoyance, but a recurring one. (And I don't like doing the folded triangle thing because it's wasteful.)

Which is why I think these The End is in Sight electrical tape rolls from American Science & Surplus are so brilliant. A simple gray double line spirals around the entire roll, letting you see where the edge is instantly. At $3.75 for three they won't break the bank, but unfortunatly they only come in black, and only electrical tape.

Via Werd

Posted by Ray  |   5 Nov 2014  |  Comments (7)

Factory.jpgFactory in China, via Wikimedia Commons

In fairness to the much-derided MeezyCube—a case for the MagSafe Power Adapter, a.k.a. The Apple Accessory We Never Saw Coming—I should note that I haven't personally put a MagSafe through the paces; 99% of the time, it's just sitting on my desk. If the laptop charger's egregiously poor rating on the Apple store is any indication, they're rather more fragile than they should be, and, like iPhones and MacBooks, even the lowly power supply may be worth encasing after all. (To commenters who denounced my plan to return the charger after a week, I can only respond that pride had clouded my judgment but I eventually came 'round; the extra charger now sits in my desk drawer.)

In any case (no pun intended), there is still much more at stake—namely, that the unprecedented availability of tools, resources and means of production is but one factor behind the rampant proliferation of dubiously useful products such as snap-together plastic doodads—which is why I was interested to see a closely related topic crop up over in our discussion boards. Beijing-based forumite laowai hyperbolically asks "Are We Ruining the World?":

As industrial designers, we have a large footprint with regard to our contributions to manufacturing. Shouldn't we hold ourselves more accountable towards cleaner manufacturing and power? This seems like a no-brainer and as a global community of designers, surely we have some leverage, right?

The first few replies unanimously shift the responsibility to the consumer, and the fact that I consider myself to be a conscientious one is probably why I felt ambivalent about something as mundane—yet essential—as a laptop charger (this will make more sense if you read the previous post, trust me). That said, I do indulge in retail therapy on occasion, when I succumb to my weakness for printed matter and bicycles; in keeping with Lmo's advice to "buy pre-owned products whenever possible," tracking down deals on secondhand parts is part of the appeal when it comes to the latter. In fact, I very nearly posted another rant when I saw this bike, not for its asymmetric frame but rather its purported mission, to disrupt the bicycle manufacturing industry. Here's a disruptive idea: buy a used bike.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Google Glass: Some people love it, some hate it, and this guy became addicted to it. But overall they haven't gained much traction among the masses, presumably because there's no overarching unmet need they're fulfilling.

However, if there's one guy who can utilize them, it's filmmaker Casey Neistat; having a camera permanently hanging on the front of your face is a good fit for a guy who always seems to be recording everything around him. Check out Neistat's Google Glass review, and dig the clever, low-tech way he came up with for addressing the audience:

Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  27 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Berlin has rapidly made a name for itself as one of the foremost cities for tech startups to ahem, start up. In addition, to the budding companies that call the German capital home, we also have heavy hitters such as Soundcloud, Eyeem, plus satellite offices of Twitter and Etsy for good measure. With such an array of software and online products I've been asking around—dewy-eyed as a newly minted Berliner—where are all of the hardware tech companies?

One answer is that they do in fact exist, the tech hardware scene is growing tremendously particularly as wave after wave of creative and technologically inclined young people flock to the city. I first came across LUUV, a promising group of Germans building a camera stabilizer for your trek through the Bavarian Alps or skateboarding in Alexanderplatz during the international betapitch global event in Berlin.

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The design philosophy of LUUV reads almost as a Design 101 case study on the importance of fast prototyping and direct user research. Fresh from a long series of pitch competitions and as new alumnus of the tech accelerator HARDWARE.co, co-founder Tim Kirchner shared his thoughts on 3D printing and skateboarding culture in Germany. In the interview below, Kirchner elaborates on LUUV's success and the hardships of bringing a product to market, setting your sights on international distribution, and building a community from the ground up.

Core77: How did you guys started with LUUV?

Tim Kirchner: The idea of LUUV goes back to one of our co-founder Felix, who was filming with cameras like the GoPro. From the beginning, he was having this problem from the beginning that when filming with it either in the hand or attached to your head, you always end up with shaky, crappy footage you don't want to show your friends. In December 2012, Felix was on a snowboarding trip to Austria, and built a little DIY stabilizer, basically a stick with a weight on it to film for fun around the cabin and in the evening. He was traveling with a friend of his who works a big media studio in Germany, when the friend was looking at the footage, he started saying, "Wow, it's really impressive and stable." That's really where the idea of LUUV was born.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Oct 2014  |  Comments (6)

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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.

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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...

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

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

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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)

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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"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.

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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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)

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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:

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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