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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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While L. Young has four albums out and a host of TV music credits, the Kentucky-based R&B singer has been toiling in relative obscurity for years. But 10 months ago he began playing around with an iPhone app (we've not been able to find out which) that records multiple takes of him singing different parts of the same song, then strings them all together into a single split-screen video for upload to social media. Though he's the only member of this "band," he attributed the subsequent videos—primarily covers of R&B classics—to "L. Young & Da Youngstaz" in a nod to his on-screen clones.

The videos were modest hits, with the least-viewed barely cracking 15,000 views and one just squeaking past 100,000. But last week he quietly posted this one, covering "Uptown Funk," Mark Ronson's collaboration with Bruno Mars:

At press time the YouTube version only had 166,000 hits. But uploading the same video to his Facebook account racked up 1.8 million in less than a week.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  23 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

If you haven't seen it already, BeMyEyes is a wonderfully promising and impeccably presented app allowing fully sighted individuals to 'lend their eyes' to someone with a visual impairment to help them through their day. As the slick promo video above introduces beautifully, the app connects those in need of some eyes (a blind person needing to read a sign or label for example) with a community of people willing to help—who can use the blind person's smartphone camera to help with the needed task. I can hear the 'CEO's pitch already—'Like Uber for eyes!'.

As if that wasn't enough triumph for the overcoming of sensory impairment, researchers at Colorado State University have been in the headlines this week with news of a new device that could help the auditory impaired by allowing them to listen with their tongues—thus avoiding expensive and invasive cochlear implants.

To be clear, the device won't magically transform the tongue into a hearing organ, instead it transforms sounds waves into electrical stimulation applied to the tongue (apparently with a sensation similar to sampling sparkling wine). In time, the sensation can be interpreted by the brain—a bit like braille in your mouth.

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These developments are of course very exciting (we're wondering what implications these ideas could have for the impaired and unimpaired alike) but if you've been listening to This American Life's podcast recently you might already be questioning if these developments are as beneficial as they seem.

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Posted by Anki Delfmann  |  22 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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Klanglichter by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter

Our first stop during Cologne's design week is Passagen, a collection of 190 exhibitions scattered throughout the north part of the city. Off the beaten path for people who are more used to strolling through more established hubs and brands, the chilly walk lead us to some unusual venues and reused spaces. Our favorite exhibition was held in an empty, glass-fronted shop space in the brutalist concrete underground station of Ebertplatz. LABOR: Design n+1 by Köln International School of Design showed some experimental objects and lighting, exploring the boundaries of art, design and research.

Klanglichter, above, is a laser harp that combines gamification and music-making. The Arduino-based audiovisual interactive installation was designed by Onat Hekimogulu and Tobias Kreter. Fueled by the will to hit targets on a projection on the wall, visitors play the laser harp to create new compositions.

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Binary Talk by Niklas Isselburg and Jakob Kilian transforms the ASCII data of a word into binary code, which is then translated into a smoke signal sent off through the air by a subwoofer. We loved this experimental approach to uncover hidden processes of modern communication. The project combines advanced technology and one of the oldest forms of long distance transmission, the smoke signal. Light sensors in the recipient module detect the binary smoke puffs, which are translated back into ASCII code on a second computer. Mistakes in interpretation caused by a breeze in the room remind us of the telephone game, and the accuracy we have come to expect in modern means of communication.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  20 Jan 2015  |  Comments (1)

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When we last looked in on the Phoneblok modular smartphone, it was just a concept video. Fast-forward to 2015 and it's...a new concept video.

But the project is in fact moving forward, and with a lot more juice than before. "Phonebloks" has been re-dubbed "Project Ara" under the auspices of its new master, Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group, who have released a Module Developers Kit for those looking to design components that will plug into the phone's endoskeleton.

With a modular platform, you can pick the camera you want for your phone rather than picking your phone for the camera. You could have a sensor to test if water is clean. You could have a battery that lasts for days. A really awesome speaker. A gamer phone. Or it could even be your car key. The possibilities are limitless.
You can upgrade different parts of your phone when you need too. Replace a broken display. Save up for a high-end camera. Share a module with your family, or swap one with your friends. Now you don't have to throw your phone away every few years.

GATP expects to launch a pilot program this year. And for interested parties, tomorrow the Project Ara team will be livestreaming their Singapore-based developer's conference. You can sign up to watch it here.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Jan 2015  |  Comments (0)

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They don't look like this yet

After seeing the "design features" that enable the cheetah to run so fast, I wanted to circle back to Boston Dynamics' robo-cheetah, which we looked at a few years ago. Their creation isn't faster than a Ferrari, but with a top speed of 28 miles per hour, it's faster than Usain Bolt.

The concept rendering is a good deal more optimistic-looking than the actually built version, which is headless, tailless and needs to be connected to an external power supply:

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However, more recently another Boston-based team has been working on a cheetah-bot of their own, and this one runs under its own power. MIT has harnessed the talent from several of their departments to create their robotic cheetah, which uses a high-torque-density electric motor designed by one of their Electrical Engineering professors and motor controllers designed by another engineer in their Research Laboratory of Electronics.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Jan 2015  |  Comments (1)

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UK-based OC Robotics specializes in what they call "snake-arm robots," which have two distinct benefits: 1) They can work in confined spaces, and 2) They scare the living bejeezus out of most people, which can keep troublesome employees in line and co-worker quarrels to a minimum. Strangely, the company doesn't mention the second benefit in their literature.

Our snake-arm robots are designed specifically for remote handling operations within confined or hazardous spaces. Where snake-arm robots excel is in their long, slender and flexible design; they can effortlessly fit through small openings and around obstacles. They do not have prominent elbows that potentially snag or cause damage to sensitive equipment and they are easily manoeuvred into position and retracted back without disturbing their environment.

That's right, the environment is not disturbed—just the people who witness the machines in action. Check out their latest, given the friendly name of the Series 2-X125:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Tonight is New Year's Eve, meaning a bunch of folks are going to get pulled over for DUI's. Some of the offenders will be blind-drunk, their judgment too dangerously compromised to have even considered they oughtn't get behind the wheel; others will be close to, but not over, the legal B.A.C. limit, and a subset from this group might not have driven at all if they'd been aware of their precise B.A.C. in the first place.

It is for this latter category of people that the Breeze breathometer was designed. For the conscientious tippler who wants to know exactly how drunk they are (or aren't) in legal terms, this sleek-looking breathalyzer fits on a keychain and pairs with your phone via Bluetooth.

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The attendant phone app goes above and beyond providing your B.A.C.: It estimates how long it'll take until you're back to sober, assuming you can keep yourself from doing shots in the meanwhile, and has buttons you can hit to call yourself a cab or an Uber.

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Happy New Year's Eve to you all, and stay safe!

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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On the one hand, taking notes during a meeting or lecture is crucial for later reference. On the other hand, the act of writing distracts us from listening and interacting. Thus the folks over at a company called SMART Technologies created the SMART Kapp, a dry-erase board that transmits whatever's written on it to nearby smartphones:

The $899 glass-screened device, which is only sold online, promises plug-and-play ease of use right out of the box; users download an app to their phone or tablet, turn the SMART Kapp on and it's good to go.

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As useful as the SMART Kapp is for business or educational settings, I also think it'd be really cool for an art event. It would be neat to see an artist work up a one-off piece in real time that could be "captured," for a fee, on nearby patrons' phones.

Via Werd

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Core77 2014 Year in Review: Top 15 Posts · Year in Photos · Drones · Transportation Design · Food & Drink · Wearable Technology · Power Tools and Hand Tools · Tool Storage · Organizational Solutions · Material News · Design Thinking · Architecture and Design GIFs

Ten years ago, "drones" referred to Dilbert-like office workers, not quadrotors. But as they explode in popularity—or just explode, when in the gunsights of Johnny Dronehunter (see below—there's been no shortage of drone-based news stories for 2014. For photography, weather control, domestic illumination, marketing, terrorizing, and even picking fruit, is there anything our flying friends can't do? Let's see what the year brought us:

Martha Stewart Loves Drones

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Drones gained an unlikely champion this year: None other than homemaking maven Martha Stewart, who delighted in revealing drone shots of her expansive property. If this sounds trite, realize it ain't: If anyone has the pull to make acceptance of drones mainstream, it's Martha. If Oprah gets one too, forget about it, drones will be everywhere.

Johnny Dronehunter Hates Drones

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Stewart's fandom aside, drones still have their detractors. And by "detractors" we mean "People who will shoot them out of the sky with a big-ass silencer-equipped shotgun." Utah-based SilencerCo, inventors of ""the first and only commercially-viable shotgun suppressor on earth" introduced the public to the company's superhero, Johnny Dronehunter.

Floating Drone Lamps

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On a more gentle note, a collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and drone developer Verity Studios yielded these awesome floating drone lamps. While this was done more as an art piece than anything else, if the technology eventually becomes practical, we think there could be a revolution in lighting design.

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Posted by Sam Dunne  |  29 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Purveyors of web-based procrastination-enablers Adult Swim have been treating online audiences to a series of ingenious infomercial parodies in recent months—from feature-creeping Broomshakalaka to the frankly pornographic Salad Mixxxer. The latest spoof from the series takes aim at the sitting duck of the connected/quantified/smart home/health/self start-up world—mocking the various absurdities of the industry well and truly in an 11 minute fictionomercial that is both amusing and terrifyingly believable.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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We've all had those moments in CAD, Photoshop, or whatever software you use where things just start going wrong. Your object won't Group, your Curve won't close, a Layer won't cooperate, you didn't leave enough Undo steps in your Preferences. For the most part these errors are ours, but as animator Nathan Hibberd shows below, sometimes it's just out of our hands.

While this video starts off looking like your average Maya tutorial, trust us, it ain't. At 0:35 things start to go wrong:


Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  22 Dec 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Chances are if you're a designer, artist, musician or use a computer daily, you have encountered that fateful moment when your mouse keeps you from making that perfect color selection or nudging a layer into exact position with Photoshop. While most computer aided drawing and modeling programs account for clumsy hardware (thanks magnetic lasso), isn't it about time we demanded better hardware? The fact is—from fancy Wacom tablets to every incarnation of touch screen and foldable keyboards—UI tools still fall into the uninspired categories of keyboard, tablet and mouse.

Recently however, the Y Combinator alumni and Berlin-based startup Senic has tackled this exact issue of high precision interface with their wireless device aptly named 'Flow.' The freely programmable controller is not only compatible with most computer based applications but also has potential integrations for connected home objects and even Internet enabled microprocessors.

The sleek aluminum, stainless steal and polycarbonate casing pays not-to-subtle homage to Dieter Rams-ian simplicity. At just under 2.75 inches, Flow boasts 360 degree angular positioning, capacitive touch and infrared-based hand gesture recognition. Additionally, with 3,600 values in just one rotation of Flow, exact manipulation of brush sizes, color selection and anything else is right at your fingertips.

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The four co-founders represent a broad skill set and media prowess enviable to most start-ups launching a crowdfunding campaign. We caught up with CEO Tobias Eichenwald to discuss the campaign, the frustration that gave birth to Flow and the future of UI.

C77: How did Senic start? What first put you on the path to designing a tool like Flow?

Tobias Eichenwald: We're three friends and co-founders from Germany and we use digital tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Rhino or Eagle on a daily basis. We need to be fast and we need to be good at what we do. Browsing through menus and pulling a fake slider with a mouse didn't feel that way. Existing interfaces don't give us the pixel-precision we need; they are time consuming and interrupt our workflow.

We found similar problems in other fields like controlling our connected devices for example. We grew up with the assumption that you turn on a light by hitting a big white button on the wall without thinking about it. Now that smart devices are replacing traditional devices and the market for connected homes is exploding, we are expected to browse through apps and spend time waiting in a hallway, just to turn on a light.

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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)

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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"[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)

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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.

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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.

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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."

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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.)

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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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