Remember when the mason jar was actually a breakthrough in the American way of life? How the revolutionary new threaded lid offered an alternative to pickling, drying and smoking as ways to preserve our precious aliments? Yes, the mason jar certainly harkens back to a simpler time, before refrigerators and artificial preservatives, and now that we take those things for granted, canning has become something of a throwback jam (cue snare)—the vessel once dedicated to keeping and storing foodstuffs is now commonly used as a drinking glass or decorative object. Not that there's anything wrong with that: Unlike, say, the Edison bulb, the design of the mason jar has virtually no room for improvement, and its timelessness is certainly part of its appeal—as an object, it is imbued with nostalgia, thrift and (if you'll excuse another terrible pun) a can-do attitude.
Of course, the canning jar didn't come out of the blue (though we'll see that the color has some significance), and its current mass-produced form was refined over the course of several decades in the latter half of the 19th-Century. The term 'mason jar' is, in fact, a generic trademark—à la Xerox, Kleenex, Jell-O et al (fun fact: phillips, as in the screw head, and zipper are also in the mix)—named after John Landis Mason's clever 1858 patent, No. 22,186, for a zinc screw-top lid. The tinsmith's innovation was to create a seal inside the lid, as opposed to attempting to make a lid that was flush with the jar: glassmaking techniques of that era allowed for rough threading, but the tolerance wasn't nearly accurate enough to create the airtight seal needed to preserve perishables. By grinding the lip of the glass until it was nearly flat (known as a 'square shoulder') and inserting a simple rubber gasket inside the lid, Mason achieved a sufficiently airtight seal, and his namesake was born.1
The Ball Corporation—which also provides funding for the eponymous state university—was among the companies that capitalized on Mason's invention when the patent expired.2As the story goes, Frank and Edmund—two of Lucius Styles Ball and Maria Polly Bingham Ball five sons (a sixth, Clinton Harvey, died in infancy)—borrowed $200 from an uncle to buy a kerosene can company in upstate New York in 1880. Although the vessels were made of tin, the cans were lined with a glass container to prevent corrosion. With the help of two of their brothers, they quickly expanded the glassmaking operation and decided to produce canning jars, for which Mason's patent had expired in 1879. When Frank heard about the natural gas boom in Indiana in 1886, they decided to relocate to Muncie (the fifth brother, Lucius Lorenzo, was a practicing physician prior to joining his siblings in 1897).
February 7, 1888, a Certificate of Incorporation was filed for the Ball Glass Works of Muncie. On February 18, fires were started in the furnace, on February 26, the blowers began to arrive and on March 1, the first products were made. The first products made in Muncie were coal oil containers and lamp chimneys, not fruit jars.
The rest is history: within three decades, they'd refined their flagship product into the form that is still produced today, and this year marks the centennial of the so-called "Perfect Mason." According to the press release:
Introduced in 1913 in Muncie, IN, the name "Perfect Mason" acknowledged the first-ever self-manufacture of each part of the Ball jar—ensuring a perfect fit and revolutionizing the home canning process by providing canners with matching jars, lids and bands in a single unit. The Ball Heritage Collection Pint Jars feature a vintage-inspired blue tint, period-correct logo and anniversary embossment.
Here's a sweet manu-vid (manufacturing video, for the uninitiated), which Ball has produced on the occasion of the 100th anniversary:
As Google Glass gets closer to its launch date, the search giant has released specs on what users can expect from the production models. The onboard camera will record 720p video and be able to shoot 5MP stills; audio will be piped into your dome via bone conduction; it will have Bluetooth and 802.11b/g WiFi; you'll have 12GB of storage; and the battery will reportedly last for "one full day of typical use." The 640×360 resolution of the video is claimed to be "the equivalent of a 25 inch high definition screen from eight feet away," but we'll need to see that in action.
Which we will, if we head out to San Francisco or Los Angeles. Word on the street (and by "street," we mean Buzzfeed) is that Google will be opening up their own retail stores, starting with California's big city. The physical storefronts will be meant to push not only Glass, but Android- and Chromebook-related products as well. There's no word on what the stores will look like or who will be designing them, but given that Apple's got the likes of Norman Foster on their stores/HQ and Facebook's got Gehry on "Facebook West," we'd be surprised if Google didn't go with a big-ticket architect/designer for the prestige.
Ian Murchison and Rohan Thakar are the industrial designers behind FDRL, a/k/a The Federal, an Ottawa-based design consultancy. Their forthcoming line of kitchen knives definitely demonstrate some outside-of-the-box thinking: As the name implies, the Maple Set knives are made predominantly from maple wood, with a dimunitive sliver of metal for the blade.
With this project we wanted to explore an alternative emotion to the standard kitchen knives you see every day. The focus is drawn to the high polished blade, while the rest of the knife's Maple wood body sits warmly in the hand and blends in to its surroundings. The wood is sealed and food safe to allow for easy cleanup. The knife gives the appearance of being lightweight; however their weight is balanced to ensure that they can be used by any level of chef.
There's no question that they're beautiful, but a valid question is whether they're practical. What say you hardcore chefs? Would the added thickness of the wooden blades complicate fine slicing? They mention the wood is sealed, but wouldn't you still need to periodically oil these, as with a cutting board? And hard though maple might be, would you feel comfortable hacking away with a wooden cleaver?
Got a tiny kitchen with no room for paper, plastic and trash cans? The Qualy Block stacking cans are a clever way to combine rubbish and recycling collection in a small footprint. A cove molded into the corner of each piece provides access to the bin below, while a retaining ring nested beneath the lid keeps the bags in place. Simple, neat, and sleek.
While your average American family would likely find the capacity too small, it seems a perfect solution for singles, city dwellers and others in space-tight situations where trash is taken out daily.
We previously looked at Qualy Design's work here, and while we love their stuff, we wish the design of their site mirrored the design quality of their work! The Qualy Block has been in existence since at least 2012, but it's absent from their site and we could only locate it at this Japanese e-retailer's page.
GoPro-captured footage is awesome, allowing us non-extreme-athletes to witness POV footage from amazing perspectives we'd likely never otherwise see. It allows the recording athlete to document a thrilling act that they've accomplished, and share it with others in a way that provides some semblance of what they might have been experiencing at that moment. However, now another wearable camera is coming onto the market, one that seems easier to wear and use than a GoPro. And frankly, it makes me a little uneasy.
The MeCam is a small, simple, inexpensive ($50), friendly-looking HD camera that you can wear on your shirt like a button. While the intent behind it is benign—"to capture all of life's moments"—it is actually its ease of use that has me uneasy. Whereas a GoPro requires the preparation of rigging it up, and by virtue of its form factor announces its own presence, the MeCam is more subtle and lends itself to ubiquitous recording. If I'm around a dinner table with friends at a restaurant or tossing drinks back at a bar, I'll say and do things I'd never repeat in, say, an office setting; if we can imagine venues full of people wearing these things, I think we all might be a little more mindful of our behavior. (Then again, maybe that's not a bad thing.)
It is somewhat amusing that George Orwell supposed that Big Brother would be watching all of us, and that it may turn out that we ourselves are Big Brother. But my paranoia aside, the device itself is pretty cool:
People invented elevators, which eventually led to skyscrapers. People invented cars, which led to highways and then suburbs. The full extent of the transformative power these objects contained was probably difficult to imagine when they were just trying to work out how to get a piano to the third floor, or how to get to the next town without saddling a horse. And it took decades for these objects to change our lives: The first successful instance of what we'd recognize as an elevator was installed in the 1850s, and we didn't get the Chrysler building unitl 1930; the first gas-powered automobile came around in the 1890s, and we didn't get highways and suburbs until after World War II.
I'm going to say the most transformative object of our era is the internet-connected smartphone. It's staggering to think the iPhone came out less than six years ago and it's already changed everything. And speaking of smartphones, here's a screencap from one. A few months ago there was an amusing question asked on Reddit, and one of the better answers has now gone viral:
Craftsman Eric Cashion is the one man shop known as Confederate Forge, and while I'm tempted to say he's got his work cut out for him, in actuality he cuts out his own work. Texas-based Cashion makes complete products in his hunting knives: He works the metal, carves the wood, fashions textiles for the grips and stitches up the leather sheathes.
A couple of things impressed me about the operation, one being Cashion's cross-material skills. Working metal is one thing, wood is another, and fabric is yet another entirely. On that latter front, while he'd previously figured out how to sew leather into sheathes...
...he only recently started monkeying with leather carving, and for an avowed novice the results are surprising:
"Started working leather a couple of months ago," he writes. "I figured I try something that was difficult and time heavy to work on my carving. Guys have asked for engraved sheaths so here is a start."
There are at least two companies battling it out for the throwable camera market, which in its nascent stages consists of firefighters, emergency responders and the military, and which I believe will eventually expand into the construction, HVAC and building inspection industries. What's interesting is the very different form factors pursued by each company's design teams.
Massachusetts-based Bounce Imaging is going with a softball-sized sphere peppered with multiple cameras:
Meanwhile, Minneapolis-based competitor Recon Robotics has opted for a wheeled barbell-like design featuring a single camera:
Starting next month, Quirky contributors are going to be able to pick a lot more than each others' brains: When the Quirky Inspiration Platform launches in May, contributors will suddenly be able to access thousands of GE-owned patents and technologies that they can freely integrate into their designs.
The spin is that "GE will open thousands of its most promising patents and new technologies"—i.e. the ones we're not currently using—"to the Quirky community for the development of new consumer products." New designs created through the partnership will fall under the Quirky/GE co-brand "Wink: Instantly Connected."
We're eager to see the full list of patents green-lit for the team-up. In the meantime, GE's released a teaser list of some of the patent categories that will become available:
- Optical systems, including holographic and fast-focusing lens technologies - GE's holographic storage technology can be used for archiving large amounts of data and fast-focusing optics technology enables rapid, high resolution 2D image capture of 3D images, currently applicable to markets ranging from contactless fingerprinting, to semi-conductor quality control and medical optics.
- Barrier coatings - GE's Ultra-High Barrier technology enables thinner, lighter electronic devices including smartphones, televisions and solar panels by using thin film encapsulation to protect electronic devices from degradation by moisture and oxygen.
- Telematics and asset tracking technology - Modules used for commercial fleet tracking and vehicle navigation systems, which are used to monitor the location, movement, and behavior of a vehicle or fleet of vehicles.
In Global Domination, Step 1 we showed you aspiring Bond villains several sources where you could order large steel globes to decorate your lair with. Turns out we missed one: Rick Wittrig's Third Rock model may not be as large as some of his globemaking colleagues', but it has the added bonus of containing a roaring fire. At this point, a jaded 007 has seen his share of global domination plans, so you can really freshen up your threats with this symbolic pyrotechnical display.
Wittrig, a.k.a. "Fire Pit Rick," is a Tennessee-based metalworker raised in a small Mennonite community, where he learned to work materials by hand. After purchasing a retail fire pit that fell apart and set his lawn on fire, Wittrig set about building his own, more solid versions, which quickly became popular enough to sell.
[My fire pits are] made from one quarter inch thick mild carbon steel and [have] an applied iron oxide patina on the outside. The interiors are hand rolled with a dense high temperature resistant coating and have a one and one half inch diameter rain drain in the bottom. All designs are easily adapted to propane or natural gas equipment.
In design school these days, we've gone so far around the 'sustainability' bend that it seems like the word might have lost meaning all together. That's why whenever we see a unique take on the cradle-to-cradle conversation; it's a breath of fresh air. The most recent addition to the canon of sustainable design comes from the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design's Hannah Dow, in her senior BFA thesis project cleverly entitled, Temp Tools.
I created Temp Tools aiming to stir up the conversation about the complete life cycle of objects; Thinking about where our items go once they leave our house in a garbage bag. I hope that with Temp Tools, I can get people thinking about other things they own that could be designed in a similar way as the tools, with sustainability in mind.
Hannah has been developing the tool line, consisting of a skewer to roast marshmallows or hotdogs, a spatula, and a shovel for nearly 8 months. Each tool in the line can be fitted to a stick to be used as a makeshift handle and will fully degrade in nature leaving only flower seeds in its wake. While sustainable design will never embrace the 'hey, just toss it out' mentality, maybe we can still do a little guilt-free littering with our Temp Tools.
We asked Hannah to share with us some insights into both the material exploration and product development leading to Temp Tools:
Core77: How did you develop a composite material strong enough to create a durable 'temp tool'?
Hannah Dow: The material the tools are made of is what comprised my first four months of the project. After trying to find a man-made, biodegradable, strong material that I could purchase and coming up empty-handed, I realized I needed to do my best at making whatever it was that I wasn't getting elsewhere. The composite material is completely natural and biodegradable after use and strong and rigid during its role as a tool. If put into production the tools would be made using a 3-4 part mold seeing that the material is a kind of liquid wood mixture.
What does that look like to you? The cave drawings at Lascaux, maybe?
How about this one? A shield from an ancient civilization?
Nope, these are the lowest of the world's low-value coins, those forgotten bits of metal that keep lint company in our pockets or fill forgotten jars. Perhaps sensing that cents are on the way out, Martin John Callanan—self-described as "an artist researching an individual's place within systems"—is photographically preserving them for posterity with his The Fundamental Units project.
The kicker is that a regular camera wouldn't do, not for what Callanan had in mind; so he teamed up with the UK's National Physical Laboratory, which is that country's national measurement standards lab, to use their infinite focus 3D optical microscope. Callanan then captured some 4,000 exposures of each freaking coin, resulting in a series of 400 megapixel images that, blown up and hanging on a gallery wall, reveal details you'd never spot on the real deal. Every nick, scratch, dent, ding and discoloration are laid bare.
If there's an audiophile's version of kicking the tires on a used car, I'm guessing it's turning the knobs on an amp. Short of actually listening to the thing, I for one would like to feel how the knob turns, see how it feels in my fingers, and detect if it has the properly heavy amount of turning resistance that makes me think it's well-built.
Well, some guy went ahead and started a blog called KnobFeel, with the sole mission of posting "Reviews based purely on the feel of the knob." Perhaps in a bid to increase his international traffic, the anonymous poster (who hails from English-speaking Britain) has devised an interesting way to ensure his reviews hurdle any potential language barriers:
At 30 large this isn't a watch any of us mortals will be buying anytime soon, but the design of the Ressence Type 3 is fascinating enough that you'll want to take a look. First off you'll notice there's no crown; all adjustments are made on the back of the watch, which is actually a series of concentric dials.
As if that wasn't cool enough, take a close look at the display:
It practically looks like the graphics are projected onto that curved surface, no? Reading the description of how they pulled that off clues you in as to why the price tag is so lofty.
The indications and their mechanisms are mounted inside a bubble crafted from extremely tough, anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The complication and indications follow the shape of the crystal. The mechanism (28 gears, 57 jewels) is enclosed in an upper compartment filled with a naphtha-type liquid that has a more similar index of refraction to the sapphire crystal than air does. Refraction bends light when it passes from one material to another, e.g. air-to-glass or glass-to-air. With the fluid-filled dial indications, refraction is greatly minimised, which tricks the brain into seeing the dial in two-dimensions rather than three. A thermal valve automatically adjusts for any expansion or contraction of the fluid.
At a press event yesterday, I was given press materials on the rubber USB bracelet that's becoming de rigueur. Apple's supposedly coming out with an iWatch. And a Hong-Kong-based company called Aeglo has designed a stylus that turns into a slap bracelet (see below). The wrist, it seems, is becoming the Manhattan real estate of tech devices.
It's easy to see why: The wrist is easily accessible and has long been the prime body location to wear technology, as pioneered by the wristwatch in the 1920s. In more recent decades headphones, earbuds and bluetooth earpieces have moved tech onto our domes, and if Google Glass goes mainstream, wearable tech will make the leap to our faces. If throat mics catch on, necks will be covered too.
While we've seen concepts for technology-embedded clothing, we're not confident that catch-all solution is going to catch on, outside of a few niche markets like iPod-controlling snowboard jackets. No, we suspect the wearable technology market will rise in fragments: An iWatch on your wrist, Google Glasses on your face, a Bluetooth bud in your ear, a throat mic on your neck. (While there are arm-mounted bands to hold iPod Nanos for runners, we can't see that one going mainstream either, as the bands are meant to be worn on bare arms or skintight athletic gear.)
At one point in time, humans had to grind their own coffee beans, boil water, combine the ingredients and filter out the grounds in order to get a cup of joe. Our limited imaginations of the time assumed that one day a robot, like The Jetsons' Rosie the Robot, would do all of that stuff for us in the future. Instead manufacturers developed a bunch of discrete objects: Coffee grinding machines, coffeemakers, packages of disposable paper filters we'd buy by the hundred. In this analogy we think the idea of computer-embedded clothing is the Rosie the Robot fantasy, and that things like the iWatch and bluetooth headsets are the separate objects that we'll still buy piecemeal and coordinate with each other.
Our question to you guys is, where else on the body do you see wearable technology migrating to, in a mainstream way? And which body part, if any, do you think various manufacturers will most compete for space on?
Well, as the saying goes, the large cat has transformed into a young sheep: As of last week, it seems that spring has finally arrived here in New York City after what has been a long and by all accounts brutal winter, and what better way to enjoy the mild weather than to go for a leisurely bicycle ride? In fact, I've already noticed more cyclists during my morning and afternoon commutes, and the forthcoming bikeshare will surely spur increased ridership over the next few months (so too has the long and imperious arm of the law seen fit to capitalize on the uptick... but that's a story for another time).
With the advent of the new season, I've treated myself to a new set of wheels—I'll spare you the details,1 but it so happens that my search led me to yet another slick manufacturer vid from alloy rim purveyors H Plus Son:
The industrial-footage-set-to-industrial-music approach is certainly in keeping with the brand's appeal, but they're also not ashamed to admit that they're manufactured in China. And who's to argue otherwise? The pricepoint is competitive and the product hasn't failed me yet (which is why I'm looking to get a second set). That said, there's no denying that the video is more style than substance. Thankfully, Science/Discovery Channel's "How It's Made" has it covered.2
If it seems that the folks at H Plus Son have omitted a few steps that are seen in the "How It's Made" segment, such as a detail shots of the CNC finishing and anodization, it's worth mentioning that I can see the joins on my Campy Eurus and Mavic Open Pros but they're nowhere to be found on my H Plus Son deep V rims.3 The 'edutainment' short nicely summarizes the process and precision that go into a set of strong yet lightweight, perfectly trued wheels, though there is much debate as to whether pre-built wheels are inferior to hand-builts.
While I've always suspected that this is what happens when you flush the toilet on a plane...
...but apparently it's a little more complicated than that. Zodiac Aerospace (remember their "recline forward" airplane seats?) has their own Water and Waste Systems subsidiary in L.A. that helps keep them on top of the airplane bathroom market, designing systems that keep 60,000 toilets flying and flushing every day, as the WSJ reports. The toilets flush—and generate that whooshing noise--by playing on the differential in air pressure between the cabin and the tanks, hurtling your poop down the tubes at nearly 120 miles per hour. (Maybe it's a guy thing, but after reading that I wanted to re-tell it to the guy sitting nearest me so we could high-five.)
In this video, reporter Susan Carey gets a look at a full-scale airplane flushing system in Carson, California:
Many a young design student has searched for a way to manufacture the feeling sentimentality in object design—it's a great moment when you buy a product and build a special type of inherent knowledge of its quirks and inter workings. In the Color Wheel Timepiece, ID Student Scott Alberstein of Carnegie Mellon has attempted to shake up the traditional use of a watch and challenge the user to build their own understanding via color rather than a traditional analog face.
Alberstein says of the timepiece:
The type of watch one wears can tell a great deal about someone. In order to build a personal relationship with this watch I decided to represent the passage of time through color. If used regularly, the user will develop associations between time and color patterns. Eventually, the user could tell the time based on what colors are shown.
Don't get me wrong; the color wheel clock is a poetic idea. In use, you realize analog clocks might be slipping into object nostalgia territory, replaced by ever-present digital displays. If 20-somethings do use analog displays- they tend to be by way of screens. While the IPhone seems a pretty good stand in for watch, timer, alarm... the list goes on, it's good to see someone tackle the wrist watch - one of designer's greatest fetish items. We've seen a few variations on color watch faces (The Ziiiro Gravity and Proton lines come to mind), and Alberstein's Color Wheel Timepiece is a nicely resolved challenge to the archetype.
If there's one thing I hate throwing away, it's a Sharpie. I've been using the things since childhood, and I use the ones I own today so much that I'll often wear the text off of the body; but the ink only lasts so long, and eventually they end up in the recycling bin.
Because I bought a Sharpie bulk pack years ago and tend not to linger in Staples, I didn't realize that they now make a refillable version!
The Stainless Steel Sharpie takes cartridges, has the fine point so you can write on envelopes, and has the logo laser-etched into the barrel. (I'd rather have my own name etched in the barrel, so my light-fingered coworkers in the studio won't think about nicking it.)
In my younger years I drove an ambulance, and while I saw a broad range of nastiness, the most consistently horrific things were injuries sustained in automobile accidents. It was the era before airbags became ubiquitous, and there were still plenty of people who refused to wear a seatbelt. A subset of people subscribed to this ridiculous conventional "wisdom" of the time: "If I wear a seatbelt, I could be trapped in a burning or submerged car and die because the belt was locked shut." There are no statistics that support this as a likely occurrence, either then or now; but pass through any junkyard and you'll see your share of pre-airbag cars that bear the clear marks of a human head going into the windshield.
I bring this up because of the object pictured here. That's Gerber's GDC Hook Knife, a little two-inch device meant to be worn on a keychain, and the blade "can be used to quickly cut yourself out of a piece of clothing, seatbelt or other safety strap."
My first thought was that it's an unnecessary device, as that scenario is unlikely—but then I realized this $11 device could have saved a lot of lives. Not by allowing people to cut themselves free from seatbelts, but by assuring people that they could do so, and hopefully encouraging them to strap the goddamn things on in the first place. It's a strange kind of product design placebo.
When American manufacturing jobs move overseas, the factory workers and machines don't go with them. Which means there are now a lot of very powerful machines popping up on eBay and Craigslist, for far less than the original owners paid for them. Likewise, the people originally trained to use these machines still walk among us, their heads filled with no-longer-tapped knowledge.
That's why Pennsylvania-based Ken Krout, a one-man manufacturing shop of miniature figurines and structures for gaming enthusiasts, was able to set up an injection molding shop in what looks to be his basement. Krout picked up a used Arburg press built in 1973 for the bargain price of $500—basically the value of the machine to a scrap metal dealer. He then muscled the 2,800-pound beast into his shop with an engine lift and figured out how to hack together enough attendant machinery to injection mold his own parts.
While Krout uses self-made molds milled from aluminum bar stock on a pair of CNC mills, he solicited a little help to get the press running. "I had a guy come out and explain [the functions of the buttons on the press], and I wrote on there with a Sharpie what they do," Krout explains. "There are so many people with knowledge and skills that are out of work because of all the outsourcing... they'd be more than happy to share the knowledge with you."
In this video Krout explains, in pretty good detail, what he needed to get up and running and how he did it all "in about a year." I love this guy's can-do attitude.
As we saw in Chevy's old-vs.-new crash test, older doesn't always mean safer, depending on the variables in a car crash; but looking at photos like the one above, it's hard to deny that we really used to overbuild things. The A- and B-pillars on that '69 Catalina don't look all that thick, but as you can see, they didn't crumple.
The photo is from ElectroSpark Studios, run by a Florida-based designer who's made it his mission to "[Bring] you photos and ephemera liberated from the attics, garages and closets of America's mid-century vacationers," as he writes. "Most photos are from original Kodachromes for which I have a particular fondness of." His Flickr photoset called Vintage Transportation is a pretty awesome browse—while it's got plenty of cars in it like Remarkably Retro, he's also got trains, planes and boats.
Speaking of planes, the Pontiac photo above reminded me of something else I'd seen:
That there is an astonishing reminder that America used to make ridiculously tough products: During combat in 1943, this B-17 Flying Fortress suffered a mid-air collision with a German Messerschmitt over Tunisia. The left horizontal stabilizer was completely ripped off, and as you can see, the fuselage itself was nearly torn in two. Take a closer look:
The mid-air photo was taken by a U.S. airman in a neighboring plane, who had seen the damaged plane start to go down... and then come back up, and fly level. He probably couldn't believe his eyes. Despite the damage, the pilot flew the plane 300-something miles back to base in Algeria and landed it safely.
A Dallas-based vintage enthusiast named David (no last name available) runs Remarkably Retro, a Tumblr page loaded up with images of vintage products, advertisements and photographs. And it isn't just a reblogging operation: In addition to scouring the web, David painstakingly scans old books and magazines, which is why we find images on his site that we've never seen elsewhere. Remarkably Retro is the source of that fantastic B.F. Goodrich manufacturing photo from 1939, presumably scanned from a Life Magazine or similar from the time period.
In addition to enjoying the interior design, product design and lifestyle photos from the '40s, '50s and '60s, the car designers among you will have a field day with David's curation of old car ads.
The otherwise-useless skill I've picked up from working in a photography studio: Untangling and elbow-winding a kinked extension cord. It's a pain in the neck to do, but after each and every shoot I have to go about the room collecting and organizing them.
Which is why this RoboReel Power Cord System is looking good to me. When I first saw it, my kneejerk reaction was "That's ridiculous and bulky, who would want that?" but quickly came to realize how much time I'd save in the studio alone. For those in shop and garage environments it's bound to be even more useful and, with the ceiling mount, out of the way. And I dig the built-in safety features you'll see in the demo vid:
P.S. For those of you using compressor-driven tools, the company is working on an Air Reel variant; for those of you with lawns, their Water Hose Reel can be rigged up for hoses and sprinklers.
While debate rages in the U.S. over drone surveillance of its citizens, drones were pressed into service over London on Saturday for a less contentious purpose: To promote the upcoming Star Trek movie. Ars Electronica Futurelab, an Austria-based media art lab, collaborated with German quadrocopter manufacturer Ascending Technologies to give Paramount Pictures publicity via "spaxel."
Thirty autonomous, LED-equipped "Hummingbird" drones took to London's evening skies, then self-assembled into the Star Trek logo, which then rotated as a whole. If that sounds simple, it sure ain't; Futurelab's software has to keep the drones from crashing into each other while they take off and find their positions, and the matter was complicated by both wind and snow, the former affecting the navigation and the latter affecting the drone-to-drone communication. Nevertheless, they were able to pull it off:
It's starting to seem inevitable that we will end up on the bandwagon that is self-tracking, whether we like it or not. While most of the recent tech-enhanced products seem to focus on logging fitness data, you might be wondering, "What about other things I could be tracking?" Well, if there happens to be room in your cloud after an onslaught of Nike Fuel Band data, CubeSensors are a set of environmental sensors that allow you to keep tabs on your indoor spaces.
The CubeSensors record interior conditions and store them in the cloud for access from any mobile device. A cleverly designed app sends you notices and suggestions about how you might better your indoor environment for greater productivity or comfort. Likewise, in contrast to the number of wearable tech items, the cubes are being pitched as an addition to both the home and the office. Essentially, they appear to give you the option of blaming your environment—not your boring powerpoint presentation—for low employee productivity.