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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  12 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

PizzaHut_SubconsciousMenu8_Dec14.jpgJust look at those vacant expressions—if only there was an easier way

Something's definitely been cooking in the R&D department at Pizza Hut this year. In a market showing trends to polarization—the rise of the high-end, handmade, hipster-friendly, small batch, sourdough, pizza-craft on one hand, and the quick, easy, cheap, delivered-to-your-door stuff still going strong on the other—the middle of the road pizza chain has been struggling with a lack of relevance in recent years. Moderately priced, average pizza (to be kind?) and '80s salad bars are clearly doing it for nobody in the 2010's. And by the looks of things, they know it.

Earlier this year, we reported on the Hut's first foray into interactive ordering technology with the release of their concept touchscreen table top for (playing at) designing your own pizza (with some games and phone interconnectivity thrown in for good measure). Last month, the chain announced a total revamp, launching both an attempt at a bold and contemporary new menu—whipping out on-trend big guns like Sriracha sauce, Buffalo drizzle, "Skinny Slice" and more premium toppings, all under a pretty nauseating (and fairly offensive to Italians) campaign "The Flavor of Now" (I'm not linking to that shit)—and a big identity update; the company's fourth refresh in 15 years.

As if Sriracha, touchscreen tables and insulting geriatric Italian's (ok here's the video) wasn't enough innovation for one year, Pizza Hut have released a new concept that claims to be "the future of dining"...

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  11 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The latest scientific discovery kicking up a storm in the tech world (or at least on its blogs) is news coming out of the UK that researchers at the University of Bristol are claiming to have developed the first iterations of technology enabling users to feel entirely virtual 3D objects.

Something straight out of a science fiction thriller, the team's research published this month outlines a method for producing the sensation of touching physical objects with the use of focused ultrasound waves in a way that mimics the intended form. By linking up their ultrasound emitter with a Leap Motion sensor the device is able to recognise when a hand comes into contact with a virtual form and focus ultrasound waves to give the corresponding 'haptic feedback.' (See a video demonstration after the jump.)

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Posted by core jr  |   9 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

AU2014_3D_Car.jpgLocal Motors' Strati, the world's first 3D printed car.

Last week, Las Vegas played host to Autodesk University, Autodesk's annual gathering—part conference, part continuing education—for 9,000 professional designers, engineers and animators. Below is a summary of some of the big ideas and themes that will be shaping the conversation around making in 2015.

It's alive!
Design is a living process that lives past the moment of creation—a key theme for this year's Autodesk University. From featured speakers and workshop presenters to the company's CTO and CEO, the message was clear: we are moving swiftly past the Internet of Things, where devices interact with us, toward a broader, more complex and, ultimately, more valuable Community of Things, where products interact with each other and respond collaboratively to the environments in which they exist.

AU2014_Jeff_Kowalski_Autodesk.jpg Jeff Kowalski, Chief Technology Officer and SVP, Autodesk

Hardware is hot, hot, hot.
Three elements in the design process and manufacturing are supporting the innovation that will drive this evolution—an evolution that's not just on the way, it's already here. First, the advancement of 3D printing, micro-molding, capital and funding options means that production is more flexible and robust than ever before. Second, demand is continuing to grow from "a few sizes fit all" to individual customization (see Normal's custom-fit ear buds after the jump). And finally, our attitudes towards products are changing. For a variety of reasons—sustainability, cost, our own hyper-individualized mentalities and even our desire to create better communities—we are starting to expect that products will be responsive, change and get better over time.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   8 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

Only recently, techno-champion Elon Musk uncharacteristically called for caution on "summoning the demon" that is artificial intelligence. Now, it appears esteemed theoretical physicist Steven Hawking has expressed similar concerns—whilst also calling for a 'pinch of salt' in claims that we are close to AI emergence—alongside the announcement of a collaboration with predictive typing software Swiftkey to upgrade his outdated communication system (a boon for the tech company's own corporate communication too, no doubt).

In a project entitled 'The Assembly,' design students at the University of Arts Bremen Jasna Dimitrovska, Julian Hespenheide and Jonas Otto have imagined a future world in which machines have developed some sentience.

TheAssembly_2014_1_WrapGlue.jpgShrink wrapped trees and glued bark

Rather than launching a campaign to destroy their creators, the machines choose only to flee from their organic keepers. Describing their work as a 'cautionary tale,' the team envisages a group of Kuka robotic arms growing weary of their assembly line labor and leaving the modern world behind in search of a new beginning in more natural surroundings. Striking out on their own, our brave protagonists (The Wrapper, The Laser-er, The Gluer, The Sprayer and The Sorter) can't help but be haunted by their past; a trail of shrink wrap, laser-etched markings and sorted and glued natural objects show signs of the robots struggles to shake off the habits of the past.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   5 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Aw yeah, Orion! We thankfully got good news about the second attempt to launch NASA's Orion spacecraft. Originally scheduled for Too Damn Early AM PST Thursday, the delayed launch today (at Still Too Early AM PST) went off beautifully.

If you're even generally into science, or just movies with a lot of spaceships and lasers, the Orion project should pique your interest. Its success is a key stepping stone towards building the most powerful rockets in history, capable of taking us ungrateful bipeds past the moon, to asteroids and eventually Mars. The thing itself is a mix of new and old technologies, and it's absolutely massive. Reminiscent of the Apollos of yore, this new space explorer is based on super powerful Delta IV Heavy rockets with the "Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle" perched on top. No crew today, but after proving itself it will seat 4 for future deepspace explorations.

Orion2.jpgI want to believe.

Thursday morning the lift-off was stalled by wind, misbehaving valves, and (somewhat surprisingly) a nosy boat. But even without leaving the pad, the security checks still yielded good information about the monitoring and powering systems. Today's launch showed that the setup worked very well, delivering the capsule into orbit a whopping 3,600 miles above Earth, passing through the intense radiation band of the Van Allen belt, making two orbits and a perfect on-target splash down off the coast of Baja. Vitally, it survived both lift-off (a traditionally explosive point), and a blistering 4,000 degree Fahrenheit reentry.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   4 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's unlikely that 2014 will be fondly recalled as the year that saw the experience of buffering truly enter popular culture consciousness—but perhaps it should? In April, we saw Swedish broadband provider Ume.net hack an Oculus Rift headset to show what life would be like if we lived with the lag we experience online in our offline lives (with quite entertaining results). Over here in the UK, actor Kevin Bacon advertises network provider EE's 'superfast' 4G with spots warning of the perils of 'buffer-face'.

Now Brooklyn-based THINGMADE are paying tribute to the gods of digital loading sequences with this mesmerizing neon light sculpture in the image of the on-screen icon—as the website explains taking this "symbol of anticipation, frustration and promise and [extending] it indefinitely."

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |   3 Dec 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Spare a thought for the poor shrimp of Japan. If local restaurant goers aren't going to be boiling you alive in a Shabu-Shabu broth (video) at their table (with it seems a fair amount of enjoyment!) then you might as well face the equally terrifying prospect of being sliced and diced alive to be served up as Ikezukuri sashimi (video), your spasming remains prodded at with chopsticks for entertainment.

In a new development in shrimp suffering, such freshly departed souls are now being afforded the final, posthumous insult of being dragged into the advertising of Japanese mobile provider DoCoMo. To the accompaniment of pounding death metal, the cooked creatures are being shot through the air, lightly tempura-ed through jets of flour and egg mix and undergoing partial cremation in a ball of flames before smashing head long into a crash mat and coming to rest (RIP little fellas) on a plate—all in a tenuous attempt to imply the great speeds of associated brands services.

Whilst DoCoMo can no doubt rely on a healthy number of views thanks to such pyrotechnics (8.2 million and counting), we may have to call bullshit on this machine doing anything other than turning some prawns into a sloppy lukewarm mess. We do, of course, also have to come out in condemnation of such violence against our shellfish friends. Have some respect for the dead DoCoMo.

Posted by Sam Dunne  |   2 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Yup, our tech giant overlords and any number of hopeful startups are still in competition to develop increasingly novel applications for strapping technology to our limbs—a large majority of such devices still jostling for the prime wrist real estate, seemingly unperturbed by the loom launch of the Apple (i)Watch.

In a move unusual on a number of levels (though perhaps not totally unpredictably for a company so entrenched in hardware), Sony have taken a step away from the motion sensors and activity tracking hoo-ha of the smartwatch world and gone incognito on the crowdfunding scene to scope the demand for e-paper wristwatches. The FES watch launched on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake under a slickly presented pseudo-startup Fashion Entertainments. Prototype photographs and this utterly cringe-worthy pitch video show a continuous form wristwatch with full e-paper surface, capable of switching styling (fairly subtly, it must be said) to imitate stitched leather, crocodile skin or linked metal straps—or indeed switch from black to white when raised to read the time (to the apparent amazement of your fellow partygoers, as the video clearly demonstrates).

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  28 Nov 2014  |  Comments (0)

FlyingCollection_BlackFriday2014_3.jpg

To Brits, the frenzied shop-fest of Black Friday (a phenomenon slowly spreading to our shore) seems like an odd tradition to follow on from a day of giving thanks—a sentiment shared by counter movements such as Buy Nothing Day and, I dare say, by a number of our American readers. The absurdity of the custom is illustrated eloquently by British comedian turned political activist Russell Brand in a video lampooning Fox News coverage of the "pilgrimage of capitalism that has found its way to the forefront of American cultural life" in the light of planned Black Friday strike action of Walmart staff for the third year in a row.

FlyingCollection_BlackFriday2014.jpg

If scenes of consumers and striking shop assistants staking out retail centers in the early hours of a winter morning wasn't distressing enough, a Brazilian clothing brand has taken it upon themselves to envisage a future where Black Friday deals are inescapable. The video campaign by Brazilian creative director Antonio Correa for Colombo expounds the problem of high flying executives simply too busy to step out of the office to take advantage of Black Friday savings (ah, Capitalism eh?). The solution to this troubling situation? Fill the skies of Sao Paola's Business District with the apocalyptic sight of headless, poorly articulating human figures hanging limp from whirring drones, of course—completing the picture with price tags on their clothing for our deprived protagonists to glimpse through the windows of their corporate prisons.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Nov 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Last week I upgraded my cracked-screen iPhone 4S... with a 5S. I think the iPhone 6 is pretty, but it's simply too big for me. I tried one out in the store and decided I don't want to double-tap the home button every time I need to reach the top of the screen.

But I am clearly in the minority, as everyone else in the world seems to want a bigger phone. People are willing to put up with the wider, less-convenient-to-carry form factor for the improved UX. So here's my question: Do you think folks would put up with not only a wider, but a thicker form factor—if it meant they could fully charge their phone in less than one minute?

That sub-one-minute mark is what Israeli tech company StoreDot is working on. If you're wondering about the company's strange name, their technology is based on using biorganic nanocrystals that they call "Nanodots" that can store charges. These dots can also do other fancy tricks like serve as flash memory and even compreise display elements, due to their "inherent luminescence in red, green and blue visible spectral regions."

But it's the battery application that's currently generating a wave of buzz. "While the prototype is currently far too bulky for a mobile phone," Reuters reports, "the company believes it will be ready by 2016 to market a slim battery that can absorb and deliver a day's power for a smartphone in just 30 seconds."

It looks unlikely that this Wonderbattery will show up in the iPhone 7; the company has reportedly received financial backing from "a leading mobile phone maker [in Asia]." So it sounds like either Samsung or HTC will have a competitive edge, at least where juice is concerned.

Posted by Ray  |  14 Nov 2014  |  Comments (7)

fuseproject-Fluidigm_Juno-QuirkyGE-Tripper.jpgL: The Fluidigm Juno, designed by fuseproject; R: Quirky+GE's "Tripper" sensor

As an editor at Core77, I often find myself attempting to explain what industrial design is, and I'm sure those of you who are actually practicing designers often find yourselves in find yourselves in the same position. It's regrettable that ID is a widely unsung (if not outright overlooked) force in the world, to the effect that it falls on a precious few star designers such as Karim Rashid and Jony Ive to speak for the profession. The latter made a rare public appearance at the Design Museum this week in a conversation with museum director Deyan Sudjic, making a strong case for design-led business model (perhaps RE: suggestions to the contrary), hands-on education, and maintained that failure is part of the design process.

If Apple represents the paragon of industrial design in the post-industrial age—hardware that is as much a vessel/vehicle for digital UX (i.e. a screen) as it is a beautiful artifact—so too are we always curious to see new developments in other the frontiers of design. A colleague mentioned offhand that insofar as space exploration is constrained by the logistics of astrophysics itself, there isn't exactly a 'design angle' to the Philae lander that, um, rocketed into headlines this week. (That said, we have reported on design at NASA, where problem-solving is paramount... whether you call it design thinking or not.)

fuseproject-Fluidigm.jpg

Which brings us to fuseproject's recent work for fellow SFers Fluidigm, a B2B life sciences company that called on Yves Béhar—a star designer in his own right—for a complete design overhaul in a traditionally un-(or at least under-)designed category. From the now-dynamic logo to the genre-busting form factor, the entrepreneurial design firm has risen to the challenge of expressing the genuine technological innovation behind the Juno "single-cell genomic testing machine" with equally revolutionary design.

The shape is sculptural and practical; a delicate balance between a futuristic piece of machinery and something more familiar. The aluminum enclosure is machined at high speed and the rough cuts visible and used as finished surfaces, which is a cost saving. The resultant ridges run along the exterior in a fluid, yet pronounced way, and resemble the miniature functional traces on the cell sample cartridge that enable single cell manipulations.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Like these envelope-pushing urban downhill cyclists, we American motorists are also stretching boundaries—unfortunately, of our waistlines. And while we Yanks have been getting fatter for years, it took until now for someone to notice that crash-test dummies still look like they're in shape.

That's a problem, because having crash-test data from an average-sized dummy isn't much good when we are no longer "average-sized." And since we can't seem to get our fitness and diets together, leading dummy manufacturer Humanetics is going to start making, well, fat crash test dummies.

"Obese people are 78% more likely to die in a crash," Humanetics CEO Chris O' Connor told CNN. "The reason is the way we get fat. We get fat in our middle range. And we get out of position in a typical seat." This skews the data between in-shape, in-proper-position dummy and out-of-shape, out-of-position accident victim, so Humanetics' obese prototype weighs north of 270 pounds and has a Body Mass Index of 35. (A BMI of 18.5 to 25 is considered healthy/fit.)

0obesecrashtest02.jpg

"[Our] obese crash test dummy... is capable of measuring belt and airbag loads generated from heavier occupants during crash events," O'Connor reported in Crash Test Technology International. "The initial prototype dummy was made available in August 2014 for sled evaluations. Collaborating unversitites and companies will continue evaluations in the later part of 2014."

What we expect to see next: A celebrity or politican fat-shaming one of these dummies, then being forced to apologize on Twitter.

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

0cpiwindowless-01.jpg

You probably remember Richard Branson's April Fool's joke about Virgin producing glass-bottomed planes. I figured this next bit of news might be a gag too, but apparently this proposal for a virtually invisible passenger airplane is sincere.

0cpiwindowless-02.jpg

Put forth by the UK's Centre for Process Innovation, a science/engineering/technology incubator, this "Windowless Fuselage" concept is intended to save fuel and reduce emissions. The CPI's thinking is that commercial airplanes have windows for the passengers' comfort, but that if the windows could be jettisoned from the design, airplanes could be made lighter and thus save on fuel. To offset the feeling of sitting inside a tin can, airplanes would then be lined with ultrathin, flexible plastic screens covering the interior surfaces and even the seatbacks.

0cpiwindowless-03.jpg

These screens, the concept goes, could serve as mere lighting, or the entertainment systems, or be linked to external cameras to provide the impression of flying al fresco. The screens could even "allow the colour changes associated with sunrise and sunset to be controlled on long haul journeys, helping passengers to adjust to time zone differences."

0cpiwindowless-04.jpg

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Posted by Ray  |  27 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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In Casey Neistat's review of Google Glass, the filmmaker likens the wearable device to another much-lampooned gadget of a previous generation. Indeed, the Segway endures in pop culture, if only as a cautionary tale. Dean Kamen's much-hyped invention effectively poisoned the well for the personal mobility industry as a whole; short of the comfort and convenience of, say, the hoverchairs in Wall-E, this category will likely remain stigmatized as solutions looking for a problem. (Although a recent Kickstarter project may portend Disney/Pixar's rotund prognostication for the human race, task-oriented assistive devices may be the growth area for the time being.)

OKGo-UniCubVid-2.jpg

The use case that we didn't foresee: the ever-popular music video. Today sees the debut of yet another carefully choreographed performance from none other than OK Go, who have long since made the transition from run-of-the-(tread)mill rock band to viral video soundtrackers, writing generically catchy power-pop earworms as vehicles for their increasingly over-the-top cinematic efforts. More impressive than OK Go's songcraft is their clever use of props and optical illusions; for their latest effort, "I Won't Let You Down"—the second single from their new full-length, Hungry Ghosts, following the forced-perspective trompe l'oeils of "The Writing's On the Wall"—the foursome saddle up on Honda UNI-CUBs, a stool-sized monowheel vehicle (more on that below).

I won't reveal the grand finale, but quasi-spoiler alert: At about 1:03, it becomes apparent that the entire video—a continuously shot long take as in their previous vids—was filmed with a UAV, which is also pretty impressive in itself ('props' to Multi-Copter Pilot Kenji Yasuda). It also appears to be slightly sped up, perhaps in service of the umbrella-as-pixel visual effect [Update: here is a real-time version at 50% speed—trippy]. Let's just say they've come a long way from the treadmills...

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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  |  23 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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HP making magic?

Earlier this month it was reported that Hewlett-Packard was breaking up into two companies. While one half, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, will focus on boring stuff like corporate computing, the other half, HP Inc., sounds a little sexier with its emphasis on 3D printing and "new computing experiences."

Since that announcement, it didn't take long for HP Inc. to arrange an event to show what that new experience might be. The new organization plans to hold a press event next week, where they'll pull the sheets off of a new type of computer called Sprout. The all-in-one PC will reportedly feature not only a flatscreen, but a touch-sensitive flat horizontal area over which will be mounted both a projector and a 3D scanner.

No one knows what the thing looks like (in case our visual atop this entry didn't tip you off) or how the interaction will work, but it seems likely that it's similar to the Fujitsu FingerLink Interaction System we showed you last year, which features components similar to what the Sprout is described as having:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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With a lot of folks buying the Back to the Future 2 hoverboard prank earlier this year, it's no surprise that a purportedly real hoverboard just got funded on Kickstarter. (Or so we assume—at press time it was at $234,708 of a $250,000 goal, with 53 days left to pledge.) "We aim to get this technology into everyone's hands (and under everyone's feet)!" writes Hendo Hover, the California-based company behind the Hoverboard.

Yes, you can really stand on the thing and yes, it really floats, but there is a bit of a catch:

Our patented technology transmits electromagnetic energy more efficiently than previously possible, enabling platforms to hover over non-ferrous metals with payloads. It is scalable to any size and any weight.

The limitation of needing a non-ferromagnetic metal surface to float over aside, the technology still looks pretty cool.

Amazingly, only a handful of the actual backers will receive a working hoverboard; the ten units have all been snapped up at a buy-in of ten large. The sub-$10,000 tier of funding is for developer kits and short hoverboard rides at Hendo's facility.

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Posted by Ray  |  20 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

Snohetta-Beaufort.jpgReddit-USD.jpgAt top: Designed by Snøhetta, the reverse sides of all five denominations of Norwegian kroners form a continuous pattern; above: A proposed redesign of the U.S. Dollar

[Update (11/19): A fellow named Travis Purrington is reportedly the designer behind the new-look U.S. Dollar, pictured above and below; we also have more on Rønsen's kid-sourced design.

By now, you've probably caught a glimpse of what were widely hailed as "the most beautiful banknotes ever." Somewhat less widely reported, at least in the first wave of press, is the fact that the Snøhetta-designed reverse side of the new Norwegian kroner is based on the Beaufort Scale for windspeed, or the fact that the jury actually selected Enzo Finger as the winner but that Norges Bank overruled their judgment and, um, split the bill between runner-up Metric System—who, in fairness, received credit for the obverse—and the architecture firm's PR-friendly abstraction. (A curiously contrarian interview with Snøhetta's Matthias Frodlund in Creators Project is perhaps the most interesting window into the process behind the pieces: "[Since] this might be the last [paper] money to be produced in Norway, [it's like] giving the digital world a little sneer—look we can be like you, digital and pixelated, just much more beautiful.")

NOK100.jpgThe front and back of the 100kr note, designed by the Metric System and Snøhetta

In fact, all of the entries are available for viewing in the exegetical catalogue [PDF] (published with the October 7 press release), which elaborates on requirements such as standardized dimensions and colors of the notes—these properties remain consistent with extant currency for easy identification by both blind and sighted users—and judging criteria. Taking the theme of "The Sea," each denomination was required to express a subtheme, i.e. "Sea that brings us into the world" (100kr); "Sea that brings us further" (1,000kr). Other considerations include acceptance by the general public, aesthetic longevity, and, interestingly, the fact that it will represent the national idenitity as "a businesss card for Norway."

NOK1000.jpgThe front and back of the 1000kr note, designed by the Metric System and Snøhetta

That much I gleaned from some de rigueur Google translating; the 64-page document (only about 15 of the pages have text) is a fairly straightforward outline of the competition, but I won't deny you the surprise of seeing Aslak Gurholt Rønsen's entry (pp. 16–21)...

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Posted by Ray  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

AerialBold-NOAA.jpgL: ABC Dataset Samples; R: Photo credit: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium.

We've long been enamored with the Eames' Powers of Ten short film, which is as much an introduction to aerial photography as it is to the math behind astronomy and biology. Just as everyone now takes beautiful images (and the retina displays to view them on) for granted, there is also a sense in which we are collectively GPS-enabled: After all, digital cartography is perhaps the most practical application of constant connectivity, and we can thank one company for the ability to zoom out to god's-(or satellites'-)eye view with a pinch of the fingers.

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Benedikt Groß & Joey Lee take it even further with Aerial Bold, the "first map and typeface of the earth."

The project is literally about "reading" the earth for letterforms, or alphabet shapes, "written" into the topology of buildings, roads, rivers, trees, and lakes. To do this, we will traverse the entire planet's worth of satellite imagery and develop the tools and methods necessary to map these features hiding in plain sight.
The entire letterform database will be made available as a "usable" dataset for any of your art/design/science/textual projects and selected letterforms will be made into a truetype/opentype font format that can be imported to your favorite word processor.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (4)

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We assume that gesture control will be the wave of the future, if you'll pardon the pun. And we also assumed it would be perfected by developers tweaking camera-based information. But now Elliptic Labs, a spinoff company from a research outfit at Norway's University of Oslo, has developed the technology to read gestures via sound. Specifically, ultrasound.

In a weird way this is somewhat tied to Norway's oil boom. In addition to the medical applications of ultrasound, Norwegian companies have been using ultrasound for seismic applications, like scouring the coastline for oil deposits. Elliptic Labs emerged from the Norwegian "ultrasonics cluster" that popped up to support industrial needs, and the eggheads at Elliptical subsequently figured out how to use echolocation on a micro scale to read your hand's position in space.

With Elliptic Labs' gesture recognition technology the entire zone above and around a mobile device becomes interactive and responsive to the smallest gesture. The active area is 180 degrees around the device, and up to 50 cm with precise distance measurements made possible by ultrasound... The interaction space can also be customized by device manufacturers or software developers according to user requirements.

Using a small ultrasound speaker, a trio of microphones and clever software, a smartphone (or anything larger) can be programmed to detect your hand's location in 3D space with a higher "resolution" (read: accuracy) than cameras, while using only a miniscule amount of power. And "Most manufacturers only need to install the ultrasound speaker and the software in their smartphones," reckons the company, "since most devices already have at least 3 microphones."

The demo of the technology, which they're calling Multi Layer Interaction, looks pretty darn cool:

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

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They are the first to market, but they certainly won't be the last: Power tool manufacturer Bosch has rolled out wireless charging for 18-volt cordless tools before any of their competitors. An inductive charger transmits electricity to the battery placed atop it, meaning for the first time one doesn't have to disconnect the battery to juice it up.

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The productivity gains spread across the entire body of users should be enormous. I can't tell you how many times I've been using my drill and impact driver in concert, and invariably one or the other will run out of juice, meaning I've got to go back and forth with one battery on both units while I charge the other battery up. Arguably this wouldn't happen if I had the discipline to disconnect both batteries after every job and pop them back on the charger, but I just don't. With a charger frame like Bosch's, I could simply dock the entire tool after each gig and come back to 100% battery life, checking the little LED indicator on the base to be sure.

Check it out:

The company reports that the new 18V batteries are backwards-compatible, so legacy Bosch users won't be left in the wired-up cold.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Oct 2014  |  Comments (2)

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Bruno Francois is a clever man. Back in 2012 he figured out how to game the vibrating function in an iPhone 5, combined with data from the gyro and compass, in order to cause the iPhone to precisely rotate in place when stood up on its edge. The resultant app he created, Cycloramic, could then shoot hands-free panoramic photos and video:

This was good enough to garner Francois some 600,000-plus downloads, and with a $0.99 retail price, he presumably recouped whatever investment of time and money he put into developing the app. But earlier this year he appeared on the competitive "Shark Tank" TV show, where entrepreneurs compete to gain financial backing from Mark-Cuban-level big dogs, to see if he could go next-level. The clip was riveting:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Sep 2014  |  Comments (4)

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This is a fascinating idea that was developed by a research group at Japan's Keio University. By applying optical camouflage technology and using recursive reflectors, which "[reflect] light back in the direction of incidence," the researchers were essentially able to render the back of a Toyota Prius invisible, at least from the driver's point of view. Take a look:

What we found fascinating is their proposal that this could be applied to all 360 degrees. And aside from average motorists trying to back passenger cars into parking spaces, imagine what a boon this would be to folks driving delivery trucks, tractor-trailers, construction machinery and other bulky, blind-spot-laden vehicles.

Unfortunately, the technology may never come to pass. The concept was put forth in 2011, and there's been no word on an update since the video above was released in 2012. But tell me this thing wouldn't get Kickstarted in a heartbeat.

Via DigInfo TV

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Sep 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I'm not looking forward to winter, because the ex-manufacturing space I moved into last year is brutally cold and drafty. I spent last winter making futile attempts to caulk this and shrink-wrap that, only to achieve zero perceptible gains in thermal efficiency; the space is simply too deteriorated on all six sides for me to determine where I can best make a dent.

What I need is a focused plan, a way of determining where the largest heat leaks are so I can tackle those first. And I think I've found my solution in this awesome-looking Seek Thermal Smartphone Infrared Camera.

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The tiny, three-inch, half-ounce, $199 device brings something close to military- or industrial-grade thermal imaging to the common man with the common paycheck. (A commercial infrared camera would run you four figures.) You plug it into the bottom of your smartphone and bang, you've got an image on your screen that can accurately display a range of temperatures from -40° Celsius (-40° Fahrenheit) up to 330° C (626° F).

Here's a demo of it in action from Android Police's David Ruddock, and you can skip the first 30 seconds of pitch-blackness:

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

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We've seen drones used or proposed for package delivery, elaborate selfies, action sports capture, movie promotion, and even weather control. But a recent creative collaboration points to the possibility of a more domestic usage that we think could be the killer drone app of the future: How about floating lamps? Which is to say, just the lampshade and a light source, no stem, no cable, hovering in mid-air, able to follow you around the room if need be.

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In the video below you'll see what it would look like, but before it becomes domesticated, there are just a few (completely solveable) technological hurdles to clear:

Noise. To cancel out the incessant whining of a hovering drone, a small on-board speaker could project a noise cancellation frequency.

Power. During the daytime, the drone could dock itself, perhaps to something attached to the ceiling, where it would recharge the batteries required for both the light and its own sustained flight. (Ideally the power would come from solar, so you're not wasting a bunch of coal-fired juice on an admittedly frivolous technology.)

User Interaction. Remote control, gesture control or voice activation could turn it on and off, adjust the brightness and hue, and ask the lamp to follow you around or focus light on a particular area.

At any rate, a floating lamp would give you one less thing to vacuum around, if replacing a floor lamp, and free up some table space if replacing a desk lamp.

Maybe it sounds silly but it looks beautiful in practice. Check out this sweet video created in a collaboration between performance group Cirque du Soleil, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and drone developer Verity Studios:

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

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When modern warplanes have missiles fired at them, they deploy flares or chaff to lead those missiles off-target. The magnesium-containing flares are designed to burn hotter than the airplane's exhaust, drawing heat-seeking missiles to the flare rather than the plane. Meanwhile the reflectiveness of chaff—typically small pieces of aluminum or reflective plastic—are meant to dazzle and confuse radar-guided missiles. This overly dramatic video of a Eurofighter Typhoon shows you how it's supposed to work (at least with flares):

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