Archive for the ‘industrial design’ Category

Slurp digital eyedropper

Digital data and interfaces have certainly become more prevalent, even though to some it’s still a somewhat nebulous, intangible and hard-to-conceive abstract notion. There have been some efforts in making digital gestures more tangible, analog or personal, and the Slurp digital eyedropper is another very interesting concept. Here’s the description:

In this video I demonstrate how slurp can be used to move digital files between machines over the network. Rather than plug a usb drive into the port that corresponds with a specific file seen on a screen, just suck the file directly off the screen itself. Slurp is used like an eyedropper, it vibrates and displays light to indicate it’s state to the user.

Slurp is tangible interface for manipulating abstract digital information as if it were water. Taking the form of an eyedropper, Slurp can extract (slurp up) and inject (squirt out) pointers to digital objects. We have created Slurp to explore the use of physical metaphor, feedback, and affordances in tangible interface design when working with abstract digital media types. Our goal is to privilege spatial relationships between devices and people while providing new physical manipulation techniques for ubiquitous computing environments.

I have a personal interest in tangible media interfaces, especially in the balance between intuitiveness and “tangible-for-tangible’s-sake”, which we often see when some designers turn digital bits into some arbitrary physical objects for little additional benefits/interests. This uncanny valley between the two requires a delicate sense of what’s appropriate and resonant, and I think Slurp has managed this very well indeed.

Slurp is made by Jamie Zigelbaum, Adam Kumpf, Alejandro Vazquez, and Hiroshi Ishii, and you can see more of such works at MIT Media Lab’s Tangible Media Group.


Honda U3-X

Honda’s take on self-balancing personal mobility ala Segway – much more compact, personally liftable, well-‘wrapped’. While Segway seems to target the <3-5miles type of navigation (e.g. 5 blocks down the road), U3-X – by virtue of its size and user’s posture (sitting rather than standing over a platform) – seemed to be suited more for indoors use like museums & galleries. I doubt this will revolutionize personal transport or replace cars, but it’d be interesting to figure out the niche markets that would desire something like this: nursing homes? Front-desk service personnel?

Design for the First World

This is a very interesting design competition: somewhat subversive, wholly novel but really the question for me was “what took it so long?”

Our fellows in the first world often come to visit and give us their well intentioned but often very problematic “solutions”. We thought, why don’t we pay back? Dx1W is a competition for designers, artists, scientists, makers and thinkers in developing countries to provide solutions for First World problems.

Design for the First World (Dx1W)

Just as how a person from a first-world country may imagine the ‘typical’ problems of the entire third world, there were telling suggestions of ideas/problem spheres for the developed countries:

  • Reducing obesity
  • Address ing aging pop u la tion and low birth rate
  • Reduc ing con sump tion rate of mass pro duced goods
  • Integrating the immigrant population.

I’d be very eager to see the results!

Taurus Concept – Segway on Steroids

In a nut shell, the Taurus pictured above (designed by Erik Lanuza) is Segway-on-Steroids. Utilizing the same principle of gyroscopic balance (lean-forward-to-move, etc.), it is a lot sexier, and the design probably takes away a lot of the dorky-stigma that still plaques the original Segway.
And it got me pondering.
The Segway was very intentionally designed (based on the book Code Name Ginger which catalogs the design/development process) to look:
1) Unlike a transportation
The whole ‘revolutionary’ idea behind Segway was to look unlike a vehicle. If it looked like a vehicle, there’d be problems getting cities to permit it running on sidewalks. People would need licenses to drive/operate them. It’d be a lot less spontaneous to get on a Segway and roll down that sidewalk.
2) Not fast; perhaps to look almost meek, even
If it looked like it’s anything fast, sleek or sporty, everybody would claim it’d endanger (pedestrian) lives. Licenses and helmets become mandatory. The idea is to just portray a very neutral design that doesn’t look like it has untamed power underneath the hood.
3) Occupy minimum footprint
One of the rules-of-thumb in developing the Segway was that it shouldn’t exceed the footprint of a person’s shoulder – thus its current shape, which means that basically anywhere someone can go, the Segway should be able to fit. Office corridors, stairs, alleys, etc.
So, given:
– Designs like the Taurus above is a lot sexier. I’d love to get on it and zoom around, and be seen on it.
– Designs like the Taurus above, is a lot like a vehicle. It uses Segway-style technology, but it’s way too vehicular to adhere to Segway’s original “Personal Transporter” vision. It’s more like a motorbike.
– Designs like the original Segway, makes people label others using it as dorks, geeks, nerds.
How’d designers approach this tricky problem? Is the original Segway vision of an upright personal transporter that navigates sidewalks and office corridors a lost cause – no matter what you do, there’s no removing of that gloating-geek stigma?
Or is there some way to extract elements of the coolness in design from concepts like Taurus and apply it (in a deft way that defy looking dangerous to city council officials)?

Kaide Taide

It’s always great to see something wonderfully human arising out of (almost) nothing through astute observation and simple designs. Kaide Taide (by Finnish designers-duo Aamu Song and Johan Olin) transforms the spaces around the stairs and lobbies – most typically just dead spaces with little lingering value – into spaces for interaction (both with other humans or with the railing itself), whether for a quick rest, a hearty chat or a glancing peep down the stairwell.

Right now it exist simply as an art installation in Helsinki, but I’d say there’s plenty of opportunity for this to be brought to the public, particularly urban cities like Singapore where the large majority of its people live in flats that may have similar spaces.You can also see many more sketches and other types of manifestation over here.

[via designboom]

Lexus Carbon Fiber Weaver


Came across a video showing the carbon fiber rotary-weaving that is used to create the A-pillar of Lexus’ supercar, LFA, a car with a significant chunk made through advanced composite materials:

It’s awesome to see the complexity of the machine – the ins-and-outs to weave strands of carbon fiber – that goes into making a (visually and externally) much more elegant and graceful machine.

Maezm “Sharing Watch”

maezm sharing watch

It is the tiniest of gestures in watch design – but it’s one that I’m loving. As a young kid without a watch I often had to steal glances off other people’s wrists to determine the time, and I’ve always appreciated people wearing watches with very legible faces. The “Sharing Watch” by Korean design studio maezm takes the concept a little further:

When someone asks what time is it, the wearer simply has to raise his arm: the watch face is rotated clockwise 90degrees, making it easier for both parties to read the time.

maezm sharing watch 2

And it’s all achieved by simply (though really, this is probably the difficult part requiring very sensitive observation) discovering and communicating this very natural habit; and the rest of the design was probably straightforward with no modifications (minus the watch face orientation).


Car Cigarette Lighters


It’s one of those things that I’d label as ‘dormant trivia’ – curious questions that I didn’t know exist, even though on hindsight, the bigger question is “why didn’t I think of that question (and find out the answer)? Maybe it’s just me being particularly ignorant or slow – that this is general knowledge to everyone but me:

Why are car cigarette lighters so big (diameter) compared to the cigarettes they are supposed to light?

And today (finally?) I learnt the answer.

McLarenSport-Samsonite Luggage

mclaren-samsonite_K8uTW_52 copymclaren-samsonite_2_vzEvG_52

One of the key features of the MacLarenSport-Samsonite luggage is shown in the picture above – the wheels with suspension. The claim goes:

Apart from being lightweight and durable, the trademark of Samsonite’s collection, the new line of luggage presents a high-end wheel suspension system that absorbs the impact of bumpy ground to protect the valuables inside the bag, quite reminiscent of the trendy F1 racing cars, which protect the valuable driver inside.

I wonder how much of that is BS-marketing and how much of that is true engineering…

[via bornrich]

Higher Furnitures – Air Division

I just came across these coverage of these furnitures from SaloneSatellite by Nathan Yong of Singapore-based Air Division – the 70cm High Bed and Every Sunday:

70cm High Bed

70 cm High Bed occupies a curious and unfamiliar height for beds. With the extra elevation, the bed becomes a mini levitating loft in the room, requiring one to perform the ritual of literally climbing into bed everyday. Here’s what he says:

I keep the height at 70cm because I find familiarity in this height. The height of a table is about 75 cm and I have always felt good standing and resting my bum on it to take a short rest while chatting with friends in the workplace or at home. And sometimes I sat at this table height and felt a sense of playfulness and casualness. Hence I think 70cm is a good height for getting “high”… so a height of 70cm is appropriately functional in this case.

Every Sunday

This was yet another intriguing furniture as familiar elements of the railing are stripped away and reattached onto this furniture – an island of simulated balcony –

Every Sunday was inspired by the balcony. I like the ideal of lazing around on a Sunday on a balcony. I remember when I was young, the balcony was the only place that was closest to the outdoors. As most houses in Singapore are flats, I had a good view of the city. There is a sense of liberation in that, and I used to throw paper planes down the storeys. This image stayed on, and when I wanted to design a sofa, I wanted to evoke a sense of openness when people sat on it. Most sofas kind of coop you inside…so my aim was to have an open sofa that encourages sitting, playing, sleeping, and working within the space of the sofa … so a balcony space sort of has those kinds of functions. Thus I do not think it will work on a smaller scale.

It is perhaps a reflection of Singapore’s life – the density, pace and general attitude that requires a borrowed metaphor on the furniture to restore just that bit much of spirituality into life itself; where designs (have to?) manifest themselves as tangible, transplanted cues to trigger off a certain familiarity.

It is perhaps also telling that these furniture are both little islands within the room. Within the boundaries of the rock-solid HDB flat walls where one can possibly seek to isolate oneself, and create/redefine his own island-space within the larger island (Singapore).

How lonely?

Full interview via moco loco