Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page
You might have noticed that posts are getting slower these few days. Work’s been busy, and my computer’s spoilt (AGAIN!). By the way, my computer’s not booting up – power supply’s working, but BIOS screen doesn’t show. I suspect it’s either motherboard/processor. How’d I know which is it (for warrantee servicing)?
Anyway, bear with me for a while!
I stumbled across a rather old (dating all the way back to 2005), but still illuminating interview between Motorsportscenter.com and Aston Martin’s Design Director, Henrik Fisker. It’s three pages long, in which he talked quite extensively about the development process of the Aston Martin V8, as well as some other car-design topics, such as his personal favorites, goals and, well, cars in general.
“As soon as you curve a line, you lay that line over a surface, which is curving in another direction, and that line and that surface have to look good from any view when you walk around it. Once you’ve got that, that line will end somewhere, and then what you just designed at the back doesn’t line up with that now, and you have to redesign that to make it line up. There are all these aspects of the sculpture, the graphics, and the actual lines in the car. And then there are the overall proportions. There are so many things that have to come together. And that is why you can do a drawing that looks really good…you can’t turn a drawing around. You draw the perspective, which is one view – which you can make work, as a designer, it is your view – but what you don’t know is what happens when you turn this. That’s when you see it in the three dimensions.”
Anyone going “Ah! That’s exactly what I feel”?
Amidst the usually boring graffiti on Milan’s walls – here’s a witty self-referencing one:
Guy on Left: “Maybe one day we’ll be on that wall”. Guy on Right: “Impossible”.
If you’re designing cell phones, this research presentation by Nokia’s anthropologist Jan Chipchase et al. may come in useful – statistics regarding how people carry their handphones across various cities on the globe are presented clearly and succintly.
A rather effective ad by WWF in China to illustrate the sheer amount of pollution generated in one day by a car – I never imagined it was that much (the Chinese copy on the balloon doesn’t suggest that the amount was produced in one day though the English copy does). Anyway, it’s a promotion of the WWF’s microsite: 20to20.org.
These are some concept PCs released by the Samsung Design team – apparently there weren’t any accompany explanation materials around it… perhaps I’d just venture my own speculation/interpretation to the intentions behind these designs:
Perhaps the central core and base houses the hardware, while the nuclear-smokestack looking part actually projects the screen onto a wall or something?
Probably something more like a Media Center? Interesting pull string switch (?) though.
A more conventional keyboard, with an interesting lap-table like design. Could the balls be programs that you’re running? When you place them into the recess, it loads the programs that are stored in the balls (you better not live in a shaky place though).
Overall, even though I don’t quite understand these designs – just from the looks of it it is a refreshing take on the age-old beige-box. Haha, maybe Samsung should try and enter the Next Generation PC Design Competition…
Of course, Transformers, led by an Optimus Prime with lips, are beginning their marketing blitz for the movie’s launch on 4th July this year – and with that, we all (at least those who’re around my age maybe?) go back into our childhood obsession with Transformers. And who says Transformers can only come from cars? The SomethingAwful forum has a routine Photoshop Friday contest, and this time the theme really cracked me up – at page 6 or so they start to get cranky though.
As computers proliferated, various speculations of how it would eventually be a mainstay in our lives were rife, and the notion that computer displays would eventually replace the traditional published materials like books, newspapers and magazines etc. were especially popular. Like the Sony Reader (first picture) above, flat, book-like gadgets of all shapes and sizes were prophesied or produced.
E-ink was a particular fore-runner in this sector. Their technology is illustrated above – millions of capsules houses even more subcapsules that are either white or black in color. When an electrical charge is applied, the black/white subcapsules would drift up or downwards accordingly to form the desired display. There are some advantages in this technology over conventional displays (like LCD) – they are much cheaper to produce, can be made very thin, requires very little power because it doesn’t need to have a backlight, can be read over a wide angle, and are high in contrast and crispness.
It does seem that the E-ink display may be getting closer to their founder’s goal of an electronic display to replace paper. However, that can be a very limiting thought – not because I am against e-papers, but rather, by constraining the perspectives to simply replacing paper, we might have missed many other opportunities where this technology can be applied – and with much beauty indeed!
Above are Seiko watches that uses the E-Ink technology in their watch displays. The one on the right won it the 2006 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize for electronic watches for the breakthrough application in watch displays. And in 2007, they are even more delightfully used – taking E-Ink’s display versatility to have a much more sesual and evocative display, away from the conventional look of the segmented LCD that have been pervasive in digital watches (for the productivity-mule among you, the watch also has a efficiency mode where information is indeed displayed more clearly and directly). I’m definitely impressed with their sensual and elegant application of the E-Ink technology, which has erased my impression of E-Ink being confined to cheap-looking, squarish and boring.
The MOTOFONE is another great example in E-Ink application. The MOTOFONE was developed to target at the developing regions like India and China. A few factors would become very important: they have to be (dirt) cheap to produce, be able to last long in between charges (electricity supply may be erratic; the user may be out-of-home for extended periods of travel without access to any power points; designing for it to be used in the outdoors and rural areas would require good contrasts while in the sunlight, as well as dust-proofing):
The most radical thing about the Motofone is the screen. It’s the first cellphone to make use of technology from E Ink, a maker of electronic ink. E Ink is literally like ink embedded in the screen, and each molecule switches between dark and light depending on how it is zapped with electrical charges.
Once the ink is electrified into a pattern — say, the time — it stays that way without using any more power, behaving like ink on paper.
The result serves two important purposes for the Indian market. First, the screen uses exceedingly less power than a typical illuminated cellphone screen. The Motofone has about 400 hours of standby battery time. Second, the screen is clearly visible in direct sunlight, again like ink on paper. This is a nifty feature when marketing to farmers and fishermen.
With E-Ink as the display, it can afford to have a MUCH lower consumption in battery power (the screen has always been the chief gobbler of cellphone battery juice). It does not need a backlight, and there is zero power consumption to maintain the display (power is only required to switch between the black/white states). This would mean that they can afford to give it a slimmer and lower-capacity batteries without affecting performance at all (does YOUR cellphone have a 12 days standby time?), which would definitely have a tremendous impact to the price point. It costs around $40 to produce, and I have seen it being retailed for around USD55 without any contracts with service providers.
So, think beyond the paper!