This week social media has been flooded with the following vid, featuring twentysomething athlete Kacy Catanzaro. On Monday night's episode of American Ninja Warrior, the gymnast from Jersey became the first woman in history to clear the obstacle course and qualify for the final round, performing seemingly impossible tasks: The 5’0”, 100-pound Catanzaro doesn't have the height and wingspan to easily reach from one obstacle to the next, so she compensated by swinging back and forth, then tossing herself through the air on sheer arm strength and momentum.
Training for a competition like ANW is an unusual affair. If you're training for a marathon you can hit a treadmill or the road, if you're prepping for a run on Jeopardy you can hit the books. But obstacle courses, particularly ones filled with the fiendishly unusual challenges first devised on Japan's ANW progenitor program Sasuke, aren't exactly on every corner. And even Parkour experts can find themselves stymied on the ANW obstacles, which shift, rotate, tilt and sway it ways that static objects like mailboxes and bannisters do not.
So how do you get the obstacle course experience to train for a show like this? Here are six ways:
In recent years we've seen some neat re-thinks of basic cookware, from a self-stirring pot to Mike Whitehead's CNC-milled cast iron skillet. Now a rocket scientist from the UK, Dr. Tom Povey, has designed a line of pots and saucepans that boast astonishing efficiency.
Oxford professor Povey knows all about influencing temperature changes, as his day job in the Osney Thermo-Fluids Laboratory involves thermodynamics and jet engines. And whilst engaged in his hobby of mountain climbing, Povey ran into the problem of trying to boil water at high altitude, which takes longer than it does at sea level, burning more of the precious fuel you've hauled up the mountain. After realizing that much of the heat in conventional cooking is wasted, he set about designing a more efficient pot with this assistance of some fellow lab brainiacs.
"The problem with the current shape of [existing cookware] means a lot of the heat is dissipated into the air," Povey told The Telegraph. "So, it is an aerodynamic and heat transfer problem and we applied the science used in rocket and jet engines to create a shape of a pan that is more energy efficient."
Povey's radical-looking cast-aluminum Flare line, which UK kitchenware brand Lakeland began selling last week, employs something you see on turbines: Fins. These carry the heat from the base to the sides more efficiently, reportedly cooking food some 44% faster than a conventional pan. And a conventional pan requires 40% more energy to achieve the same results as you'd get with a Flare pan, making it ideal both for camping—less gas to carry—as well as appealing to kitchenbound consumers for both the energy savings and the evenness of the cooking.
A harpoon gun, hand grenades, Bat-a-rangs (twice!), a "morning star" spiked flail, a 60mm mortar round, and of course handguns: These are all things you can't carry onto an airplane. Ditto with these weird circular multi-bladed things, labeled "Fantasy throwing stars:"
But that doesn't stop the millions of folks going through airport checkpoints each year from trying to smuggle these things through—often in carry-on luggage. With firearms alone, there were 1,477 discovered instances in 2013 alone, which is about four per day.
Happy Fourth of July! We know that our non-Yank readership doesn't care about our special day, especially you Brits. In fact, Stephen Merchant has explained why our holiday of independence rankles his British self—and how things would be better had Britain won. (If you're in the UK, the language is NSFW; if you're in America, crank the volume up all you want—those silly British curse words don't mean anything over here.)
But since the UK came up second best in that particular contest, we are free to launch fireworks on this special day. Unfortunately there's no prerequisite for intelligence when doing so. For one thing, my fellow countrymen, please don't launch fireworks while your dog is off-leash. In the following video this dog appears to have been trained by Al-Qaeda, though thankfully things do not end badly:
Tom Mabe is a comedian and sort of professional prankster, with a YouTube channel documenting his feats of fooled-ya. While I'm generally not a fan of deceiving people and videotaping it to entertain others, Mabe's most famous video has a a social-minded bent: He fooled a perennial drunk driver into thinking he'd just woken from a ten-year coma, in an effort to scare him straight.
But it's a more viscerally frightening prank of his that really got our attention. Last Halloween, Mabe mated an RC hexcopter with a Grim Reaper costume, and the results were pretty terrifying:
I don't know how, in litigious America, Mabe has avoided being sued. In any case, here's how he pulled off the Reaper stunt:
I never thought anything could be done to speed up bathroom lines. But a company called Tooshlights is claiming that their product can speed the process of getting people into stalls by up to 50%. The product, an overhead light that turns either red or green, does not cause one to pee or poop faster, but simply lets those waiting know when a stall is available.
"Currently, over 66% of the time there are vacant stalls in public restrooms that guests are not aware of," the company claims. "Patrons would have to look under the door, peek through the cracks or even trying opening the door just to see if it was in use or not." (When in doubt, I prefer to just kick the door in and apologize if it turns out to be occupied, but to each his own.)
"Can you describe what just happened in there? Take us through the second half: What was going through your head?"
What's not clear is how the sensor works. If a stall is empty but the door is closed, will that provide a false positive? Toilet sensors frequently misfire, and I wonder if Tooshlights can be similarly inaccurate.
Posted by erika rae
| 27 Jun 2014
Bootlegged jazz records might be one of the last things that comes to mind when you think about Soviet Russia. But decades before the tape recorder made its groundbreaking debut, oppressed Russian music fans found a way to listen to their tunes using discarded X-ray films from the dumpsters and archives of hospitals.
The music was pressed onto the discarded films using phonographs converted into very primitive CD burners for vinyl. (There's not a whole lot of information out there on how these hacked phonographs work, so we welcome any insight in the comments.) The copies were then cut into discs and a cigarette was used to burn a hole in the middle of the disc. Featuring the skeletal remains of the original substrate, the handmade discs were appropriately known as "bone music."
The easiest thing in the world is to be a critic on the internet. But the hardest is to be an internet critic who's funny. Internet personality Maddox, who first cracked me up with his brutally honest criticisms of children's drawings in the early days of the internet, is one of the few who's got the harder category locked down.
While the children's drawing series sparked painful memories in anyone who's sat through a design school crit (and has since been turned into a book), Maddox takes on far broader targets with his "The Best Show in the Universe" YouTube program. This week's topic: Pushed over the edge by inane living tips, Maddox takes on the recent glut of lifehacks that no one asked for. (Be warned: The language is NSFW!)
[Images by Fiddler49]
By mastering the assembly of compound materials, the Mongols had created an incredibly powerful bow, as we saw in the previous entry. But the way that they used it, which differed from the European method, necessitated a secondary support object that was the result of early ergonomic observation.
The Europeans used what is known as the "Mediterranean draw" to pull their bowstrings back. This uses the first three fingers of the hand. However, the Mongols used their thumbs to pull the string back, and curled their index and middle fingers over the thumb to support it. This, they reckoned, was stronger and allowed for a cleaner release. Whether you're an archer or not, if you use your own hand to mimic the release of either pull, you can clearly see it's easier to instantly spread your thumb, forefinger and middle finger than it is to release the first three fingers of your hand; that's because the thumb and fingers oppose, and thus balance, each other.
But concentrating over 100 pounds of force against the thumb would damage that thumb. So to protect them, the Mongols had to create yet another object: The thumb ring. This hand-carved object could be made from wood, bone, horn or antler. Here's a shot of a modern-day one owned by this Hong-Kong-based archery enthusiast:
The hard part about killing people is that sometimes they kill you back. (Just ask Prince Oberyn.) So at some point, some primitive pugilist concluded it would be better if one was not within arm's reach of the person one was trying to kill.
One way you can do this is to kill your opponent with kindness. But this can take an unsatisfyingly long time. A more immediate way to kill someone from afar is with a ranged weapon.
Spears and slings were relatively simple to make, but no civilization could gain an enduring military advantage with such basic and duplicable weapons. The earliest example of an object that required both design and manufacturing know-how, and which led to a tremendously decisive advantage, was probably the 13th Century Mongol bow.
Bows and arrows have been around for tens of thousands of years—depending on who you listen to, we may have had them 64,000 freaking years ago—but the Mongol bow was a standout. First off, it was made out of something like the carbon fiber of that era, a complicated-to-make sandwich of horn, wood or bamboo, and strands of animal sinew all laminated together with animal glue. The horn provided the rigidity, the wood or bamboo provided the flex, and the elastic sinew laminated to the wood helped store potential energy as the string was drawn.
The traditional problem with composite bows was that they tended to delaminate when wet, as water dissolved the animal glue holding them together. Since the Mongols didn't like the idea that they would have to surrender if it was raining out, and throwing arrows by hand didn't seem terribly practical, they either developed or stole the technology to produce a waterproof lacquer. By coating their bows with this stuff, they effectively made them all-weather. And the results were simply devastating.
I've always bought my soap pump bottles from a company I used to work for, because I remember doing the renderings and CAD drawings for the dispenser head. As ID'ers, we don't get a lot of compensation or credit, so little, quiet ego boosts like this go a long way. But several years ago I started feeding my dogs raw meat, and because I was handling it so frequently, I realized the design of soap pump I'd worked on would no longer cut it.
When your hands are covered in raw meat juice that you're trying to wash off, obviously you don't want to touch the soap dispenser with them. I tried using my elbow in the beginning but it was unworkable. So I switched over to Simplehuman's touchless Sensor Pump—but it's turned out to be a pain in the ass.
The sensor gets triggered every time I turn the lights on in the kitchen, squirting soap onto the counter, so I have to leave a sponge under it to catch it. I've tried cleaning the sensor to no avail. I hate the amount of soap this thing wastes, and because it goes off so frequently I have to change the batteries out often.
I consider your average sinkside soap dish a design failure. They either have no drainage, leaving the bar to sit in a puddle of water that transforms its underside into slime, or they drain into a container, and either way you have to empty the damn thing. The notion that this thing is designed to hold soap for you, yet you must constantly attend to it by draining it into the sink, is absurd. Oughtn't good industrial design free us from this minutiae?
A far better idea is this design for a slanted soap dish pictured up top. But Jeez Louise is it ugly. It looks like the bottom half of a mouth, with two fangs and a leering tongue.
That being said, it looks like it would get the job done, at least for certain types of sinks, and one variant of this design has a suction cup on the base so it doesn't tip over. (Both are made out of plastic, not porcelain, so it's probably too light to not tip over during use.)
Where the overall the shape came from is no mystery—the form clearly follows the function (the function being self-drainage). Which begs the question: What do you do when form follows function, and the result is freaking fugly?
Back in 2010 we showed you designer Jinsun Park's nifty Color Picker concept. The idea was that a magic marker would be loaded up with both a sensor and RGB ink cartridges, allowing you to instantly scan a color—and draw with it on paper. Here's one of her original renderings:
Now a new company called Scribble may be bringing us what Park originally envisioned (though it's unclear if she's involved). Their soon-to-be-posted-on-Kickstarter Scribble Pen operates exactly like Park's concept proposal, though they've opted for CMYK rather than RGB. "This innovative pen can hold over 100,000 unique colors in its internal memory," the company writes, "and can reproduce over 16 million unique colors."
If Park is not involved, Scribble's choice of promotional imagery seems pretty coincidental. Below is Park's rendering from 2010, side by side with Scribble's rendering from their press release:
Or maybe I'm just comparing apples to oranges.
In any case, the company plans to release two models: The Scribble Ink, described above, which can be used to draw on paper. They'll also have the Scribble Stylus, which has the scanner but no ink cartridges; the idea with the Stylus is that you scan colors to beam over to your smartphone or tablet via their mobile app. "Your colors become more useful when they are organized, tagged, searchable and converted to various color models," their thinking goes.
The Kickstarter is slated for July, with the Ink going for $149.95 and the Stylus for $79.95. But they're offering a 20% off deal for those willing to sign up for pre-orders here.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 18 Jun 2014
You may have seen Heimplanet inflatable tents bounce around the Internet before, and they're doing it again. These tubed geometric things are tents you don't have to pitch, held up (and possibly down) by air pressure alone. The German conceptual-outdoor company first debuted the Cave, a dome-like 3-person sleeper, then the smaller Wedge for the lone wolf. Now they're scaling up with the Mavericks—a tent so large and in charge they don't even give a suggested body maximum.
The tents rely on a series of tubes (don't we all?), which via an interlocking and overlapping geometric pattern provide stiffness and stability for the skin of the tent. The tubes themselves are a double-layered pneumatic situation, that can be patched like a bike tube. They're pumped up using a hand pump, and can be connected for quick inflation and then disconnected for safe independence. The pumping process does seem nice and quick, though the larger tents make the larger and heavier Heimplanet pump seem nigh on necessary for the speedy set-up they claim. I'm not really convinced that speed and ease are the selling points here, since a well-designed tent with poles goes up in less than a couple minutes.
The larger two tents don't even seem to use guy lines or stakes. As they put it, "The diamond. Its stability is based on its specific molecular and crystal structure." I have no idea how the molecular stability of a diamond in any way applies to the stability of their tents. But here their original "Cave" tent is put to a wind test, apparently without any kind of stakes:
Saitama-based Masanori Oji's interests are as broad as his skillset. The handicrafts designer has experience in architecture and graphics as well as product, and after attending a workshop at a brass foundry to learn about the material, it wasn't long until he proposed a series of product designs to the company behind the foundry.
That company is Futagami, one of the oldest brass foundries in Japan, and one that's produced everything from ship fittings to Buddhist altar equipment. In collaboration with Oji they've released a beautiful line of housewares, like the dope bottle openers you see up top, and these gorgeous sets of chopstick rests below.
They also produce rests for Western cutlery...
...in addition to the cutlery itself, which is primarily brass, but silver-tipped at the business end.
When George Lucas first spun his neo-mythical space yarn back in the '70s, he probably had no idea how deeply it would weave itself into the marketplace. It was of course the toy rights that made him a rich man, and since those first action figures hit store shelves in the '70s, a merchandising industry has sprung up around it to inject Star Wars into many facets of everyday life.
But not all facets. And here to stitch up one of the gaping holes in the market is Instructables user
Lando Calrissian Random_Canadian, who has recognized that even Jedis and Siths occasionally like to take the edge off by knitting.
Yes, by following along with the Instructable, you can now make your own lightsaber knitting needles. Expressing your alignment, whether you're on the Light or the Dark Side of the Force, is as simple as choosing either green or red LEDs. You'll have to cannibalize some LED flashlights and chop up a Lucite rod to make them, but it's a small price to pay to restore balance to the knitting galaxy.
These aren't the crochets you're looking for
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 13 Jun 2014
Quick and easy molecular analysis is, by most accounts, still a long way off. Many a project claiming the ability to scan an object and report its make-up have been scoffed at for idealistic and impractical leaps in logic. With that in mind, the guys behind the Vessyl are confident enough in their liquid-identifying smart cup's skills to start taking preorders. The project is headed by Mark One, and has been in development for seven years. Given its 2015 ship date and the fact that I ain't no scientist, it's tough to evaluate the veracity of their claims... but that's never stopped us before.
They promise the sleek Bluetooth equipped mug can identify the volume and type of beverage, down to the specific brand, and break out the according caloric value, alcohol content, caffeine content, and so on, in a tasteful display on the side of the cup. Additionally, the cup will weigh this information against your daily intake to help you make good choices about your hydration and diet based on projected goals or needs.
It can do yogurt, it can do coffee, and beer and god knows what else. You can tell it to tell you to cut down or ramp up, and it'll network with your workout devices of choice. It can tell how quickly you're drinking, and will judge you accordingly. Charge it wirelessly on a cool looking contact base every few days. All of the is managed via your handy app.
The Yves Béhar-designed form seems pretty dialed, and on-screen appears lightweight enough for practical use, though I might not personally stroll along the wharf with my pricey gadget-mug (preorder for $99, later $199). The outside of the mug is smooth, except for a lightly faceted section used for the display, giving you an easy tactile and visual cues for where to look. Activate the display by tipping the cup slightly.
The company is predictably tightlipped about their methods and tech. All we know is that the interior has a glass coating, and it looks nice. For the details that do exist check out their FAQ. Canned answers not enough? Perhaps you'd be better swayed by some high profile butt-kissing:
There's a building around the corner from me that I always notice, because they've got these sexy little floating numbers on the front of it. They're a bit more work to install than hanging a placard, but they sure look a damn sight better.
Although 185 there is the only guy in the neighborhood rocking these, I started poking around and found that floating house numbers are more common than I thought. Both Home Depot and Amazon sells this Hillman Group variant pretty inexpensively at six bucks per digit.
On the more expensive (and garish) side, Luxello LED sells a back-lit variant that's aluminum up front, acrylic in the back, for $57 per digit. And I imagine these are a pain in the ass as you've got to wire each numeral separately.
The World Cup is nearly here, with seemingly every bar in NYC hanging international flags out front and advertising Watch the matches here! Footie fever finally seems to have spread to America, as it's been reported that 111 million Yanks tuned in to the 2010 matches, and that Americans bought the most tickets to this year's event second only to the Brazilians. For the next month or so, the melting pot that is NYC will be filled with multilingual shouts of joy and agony echoing from bars across the city.
But it is, as always, a German company that will be at the center of every match, and this time with Pakistani fingerprints involved. Adidas' new FIFA World Cup Official Match Ball, the Brazuca, is manufactured in Pakistan using a variety of high-tech machines and manual handwork. Have a look:
I occasionally see a septic collection truck in my neighborhood with a big motto painted on the side: "We're Number One at Picking Up Number Two." That's a pretty good one. Artist David Rees' motto is somewhat similar, as he terms himself "The number one #2 pencil sharpener in the world."
In this hilarious and spot-on video, Rees calls out the nonsense of faux hipster craftsmanship by revealing his Artisanal Pencil Sharpening trade (which clueless YouTube commenters apparently think is real!). What do old rap group T-shirts, a leather strop mined from your grandfather's tomb and the criticism of luthiers have to do with sharpening $40 pencils by hand? You'll see:
As an industrial designer, I love what our profession has accomplished. Every time I hold a perfectly balanced drill—go pick up a Festool TI 15, or even my crappy ten-year-old Makita—I see the weeks of work put into each compound radius, I envision the endless clay models and hand studies that resulted in the weight sitting perfectly in the crook between your thumb and forefinger, and how the trigger has been placed in the perfect location and has just the right amount of pull on it. We made these things fit us perfectly, even though our hands were originally designed to grab tree branches, not power drills.
The hands of Lego figurines were also not designed to hold power drills. But the clever folks over at Sugru have discovered that they're perfectly sized to hold something else—USB and accessory cables.
Posted by Kat Bauman
| 6 Jun 2014
Yeah, that's not foamcore
Few endeavors in the history of cinema have been as divisive as the Star Wars prequels. Or rather, I can't think of another trilogy that so many people delight in hating. While I dig an epic space opera as much as the next guy, I'm clearly not a Lucas devotee. However, as an OG movie effects lover, I must say the exponentially increasing CG distracted from the plot (arguably a mercy) and clogged the movies with bewildering, fake-feeling detail. Beautiful as hi-res screenshots, sure, but difficult to take in. Imagine my surprise when I learned that each of the prequels used more physical models than the last!
Not to oversell it (Lucas did a good enough job himself), according to the SlashFilm story, physical miniatures bore a decent amount of weight in scene setting during several crucial moments. Using state of the art materials like clay and painted Q-Tips, the team of set builders and model makers created backdrops and objects in the film's most epic shots. Seen as a cost-effective and high quality method for delivering believability, miniatures were used in scenes as wide ranging as the pod racing arena and the Ultimate Showdown on Super-Lava Island, respectively depicted by a room-sized clay model full of cotton swab spectators, and a 20×50ft slanted miniature set that they poured under-lit ooze through.
Setting aside any lingering resentment (or love—what man is without folly), take a look at these ironically grainy behind the scenes shots of impressive models that made the madness possible.
What an era we live in, where both advertising agencies and regular consumers are able to program the television that is YouTube. It's a far cry from Don Draper's day, where information on products came primarily from those trying to sell them to you.
Here's a good example of the modern-day situation. First up we have a cheery ad spot for Coke by Ogilvy & Mather China, which starts off with the nice thought "What if empty Coke bottles were never thrown away?" To that end, the campaign imagines sixteen different plastic widgets that can be screwed onto empty bottles, theoretically prolonging their lives by turning them into everything from squirtguns to pencil sharpeners:
On the other side of the market coin, we've got the much-beloved YouTuber CrazyRussianHacker, whose endearingly thick accent and wacky experiments have garned 1.8 million subscribers. In his latest video—which had 4.6 million hits at press time and counting—he asks "What will happen if you boil Coke?" The labels on the bottles are removed, so arguably this could be any cola, but Jeez Louise is this disturbing:
Posted by Moa Dickmark
| 4 Jun 2014
About one year ago, I was giving a talk to students who were about to graduate from the various design schools in Copenhagen. After I finished, I leaned back in a chair located rather close to the door (and close to the drinks and snack section...) when I caught myself staring at a bag. It captivated me to the extent that everything around me disappeared, and the only thing left was the bag and me. Once I snapped out of it, I went up to the person holding the bag as to ask him where he had bought it. To my great despair, it turned out he had made it himself, and he was holding the only sample. The Man with The Bag turned out not just to have a great eye for design, but to also have a great and intricate mind, and his name is Brian Frandsen.
Core77: Tell us a bit about your background. How did you end up in the field of design?
Brian Frandsen: I was not supposed to study design to begin with, I never thought I would do anything like this. It sort of just happened. I've always been a bit of a book nerd— I live very much in my head. I've always loved school, mathematics and humanistic studies, so I thought I was going to study Danish, rhetoric, philosophy, political science or something along those lines.
After high school, I was lucky enough to get a job in quality control for a Danish mainstream clothing brand at their office in Hong Kong. I spent half a year there, with my partner at that time, and while I was there it hit me how disgusting the fashion industry really was.
My boss would find something she liked, draw it in Illustrator and send it off to the factory in China. After we got the sample and established the price of the product, they took away a few details to make it cheaper to produce and sent it back to the factory. The entire fashion and design mechanism was without feeling, without heart. I felt offended by the way it worked, yet at the same time it fascinated me.
I lived in Hong Kong for a while—just as with the fashion industry, I had contradicting feelings for the city itself. I loved it and hated it at the very same time. It's the most constructed place I have ever been. It feels like nothing in Hong Kong is natural, everything is man-made, everything has its place, and all of the buildings are built in a specific way. But at the same time, when you walk around and truly look you can see how the traditional Chinese culture is creating its own space in the cracks of the perfect façade. It grows like weed out of the asphalt. These perfect glass buildings and the uncontrollable growth that is happening in between theses buildings ignited something within me that changed me on a fundamental level.
After I got back, I still thought I was going to go to Copenhagen to study and get a serious degree in one of the rather academic fields. I don't know if they have it in other countries as well but in Denmark, universities have something they called Open House where you can visit the uni's and check out all of the courses available. I visited all of the ones I could think of, but in the evening, only Copenhagen design school was open so I went there just to see what they had to offer, and I was hooked. There was something about it, the same thing that had fascinated me with China, that was man-made and then the other side, the one that you could not control. That you should put yourself in the space between what the logic tells you and what your intuition tells you. That's where I wanted to be.
Another important factor in my decision to go to design school was a reform that resulted in a more theory-driven education. After that I went home, did some research and found out that there is only two design schools in Denmark: The Design School of Copenhagen and Design School Kolding. I visited Kolding and realized it was time for me to choose between a life (in Copenhagen) or a superior (to me, at least) education (in Kolding). I went for the latter. I applied the same year, and I actually didn't expect to get in that same year, but to my great surprise I did. So that was how I got into design.
A dishwashing machine is a luxury this blogger can't afford, but I've used these miracle machines at friends' houses. They are amazing and I've always wondered exactly what was going on inside after you close that door and hit "Start."
Well, thanks to GoPro and YouTube, now there's video:
YouTube user Bito wasn't the first to stick a GoPro inside a dishwasher, but he was the first to do it while lighting the interior properly for visual clarity. My first thought was, holy cow, how much water does this thing use? Washing dishes by hand has to consume less water, no?
None of you clicked onto Core77 today to read about impacted fecal matter, but design touches all aspects of our lives, including the gross ones. Don't worry, and don't put that sandwich down yet; I'm not going to dwell on the scatological. I am writing this entry out of amazement that some people do not understand the ingenious design of plungers and how they are meant to be used.
It's bad enough that this lack of understanding exists among consumers, but I find it unforgivable for product designers. When designers fail to understand the very devices they're designing for, it becomes what we call Epic Fail. First off, look at this design and see if you understand why it is flawed:
You either know right away why the design is fundamentally incorrect, or you don't. Read on.