Home | Feed aggregator | Categories | Industrial Design News

Industrial Design News

Extra Wide Office Chairs are Now a Thing in America

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

For years now in America, our cars, houses and people have been getting bigger. I'll let others debate why this is happening and what it means; I'm purely interested to learn that furniture designers have had to design some additional options for contract furniture, as waiting rooms are no longer one-size-fits-all:

Photo and caption by F.O.Mr.Lahey: "My doctor's office had a special chair for XL patients."

I looked into it, and it's a thing. Wayfair has a separate section for Big & Tall Guest & Reception Chairs.

Image credit: Wayfair

Image credit: Wayfair

Image credit: Wayfair

National Business Furniture's offerings let you specifically select for 275-pound, 400-pound and 500-pound capacities.

Image credit: National Business Furniture

Office Chair USA features a 750-pound-capacity model.

Image credit: Office Chair USA

And there are connected models that mix it up:

Image credit: National Business Furniture

If only this was an option for airlines in Economy class!

See Cars Floating Inside That Ship That Sank (And the Technique They'll Use to "Recover" Them)

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Last year a car-carrying ship called Golden Ray capsized off the coast of Georgia, in the St. Simons Sound. All 24 crew members managed to escape, but the cars inside (a mixture of Kias and GM vehicles) did not. Yahoo News says there are nearly 4,000 vehicles on board.

The St. Simons Sound's Incident Reponse Unified Command managed to get a LIDAR rig (I'm guessing via submersible drone, but they haven't specified) into the hold of the ship. Using the laser, they were able to create 3D images of the interior, which is of course unlit. In these images of the 4th and 9th decks, we see cars peacefully floating.

In photos extracted from the Tweet above, you can see oil draining from the ship after the incident:

The Drive reports that a response team has since removed "over 320,000 gallons of fuel, oil, and water" (that last one has got me scratching my head) from the vessel. However, it occurs to me that the cars themselves also likely contain fluids; while I doubt they're shipped with full tanks of gas, I'd imagine they at least have oil in them, and I wonder how long until they start to leak.

I'm wondering because, some five months later, the ship is still sitting there in the water. And I think I know why: Who do you call in this situation, outside of a team of superheroes?

Actually, there is at least one company that has successfully raised a sunken car-carrying ship before. A few years ago we covered the story of Dutch company Smit International, which specializes in tricky ocean salvage work. When a 50,000-pound Norwegian freighter carrying 2,800 BMWs, Volvos and Saabs went down in the English Channel in 2002, no one knew how to get it out. Smit International figured out that you've got to saw the entire ship into slices, and pull them out one-by-one. And that's what they did!

A Volvo XC90 turned into an XC45

"Hello, Mr. Jones? This is Bill from Springfield BMW. I know you said you couldn't afford the 535, but a situation has come up and we may be able to get you into one for significantly less"

A pair of Dutch workers reflect on how awesome Dutch problem-solving is while lamenting that no one wants to learn their language

Click here to see more images and details of how they pulled this off.

A Visual History of Sneaker Design: "The Adidas Archive" Book Documents 350+ Pairs of Kicks

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Here's something every aspiring footwear designer will want to have for reference: The Adidas Archive, a 644-page tome cataloging "the history of the adidas shoe, from its earliest beginnings until today" as seen through over 350 shoes.

The adidas story is one of groundbreaking designs, epic moments, and conceiving the all-around sports shoe, worn by the likes of Lionel Messi, Run DMC, and Madonna.

A mecca for sneaker fans, this book presents adidas's history through 357 pairs of shoes, including one-of-a-kind originals, vintage models, never-before-seen prototypes, and designs from Stella McCartney, Yohji Yamamoto, Parley for the Oceans, and more.

Strangely, publisher Taschen doesn't have a linkable page to the book on their website, but you can find and pre-order it if you scroll down through this link. Alternatively you can pre-order it on Amazon. The book will be released on March 20th.

A Watch Frozen in Time: Why CW&T is Removing Features from a Classic Digital Timepiece

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Picture a digital watch. Not a smart watch or activity tracker—the most basic digital watch you can imagine. Chances are you're thinking of something that looks like the Casio F-91W, the ubiquitous black plastic LCD watch that's been on the market since 1989. Its simplicity, affordability (it costs about $10), and accuracy (twice that of a $30,000 Rolex) has made it a favorite with hardware hackers, artists, and—infamously—terrorists building bombs.

Now it's getting a radical makeover from CW&T, the Brooklyn-based design duo Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy. Their Solid State Watch, currently live on Kickstarter, uses the F-91W's inner workings as a starting point for a timepiece designed to make you think about your relationship with time.

Turning a generic product into a relic

"We extract the movement from the Casio and place it into a 3D-printed case. Then we pour resin into the case to permanently seal the movement," Wang explains. "The upside is it's completely waterproof, dust-proof, and user-error proof—the three great enemies of electronics."

Taylor Levy and Che-Wei Wang making a Solid State Watch in their workshop

This process of encasing the electronics also renders the buttons useless and makes it impossible to change the battery, meaning the watch can never be reset and, after 10 years, it will lose power and cease to tell time.

CW&T embrace these limitations. Levy says, "We believe it's important for designers to be upfront about the life cycle of any product, especially one that is electronic, since the technology is outside the scope of what most people understand. One of our studio mantras has always been that if someone buys something we make, to make sure they really feel like they own it. We do this by being as transparent as possible about how things are constructed and setting up expectations."

Wang says, "If you think about it, 10 years is a long time for any electronic device to run, let alone a product that has gone three decades without an update. So our first intuition was to highlight and celebrate this amazing capability." A decade of operation on a single battery cycle certainly is impressive compared to the phone in your pocket, which requires a daily charge and you'll probably replace after a couple of years thanks to planned obsolescence. But CW&T's point of reference for the Solid State Watch is less gadget shop and more natural history museum: "We think of this like an insect caught in amber. It's frozen in time, but because it can live in a totally sealed environment, it continues to work for another 10 years before it becomes a relic."

The Solid State Watch alongside some of CW&T's other creations

Little Ingots of Time

Time and how we experience it has been a focus of CW&T's work for years. Past projects of theirs include Time Since Launch, a single-use timer that counts for up to 2,738 years, and a series of "over-engineered" pens designed to last for generations. Wang says, "We use timekeeping like a painter uses canvas and paint. It's a medium and a framework to explore subjects that surround time such as technology, materials, fabrication, long thinking, precision, accuracy, and decay."

Making a watch was a natural evolution in their practice. But telling time in a straightforward way was never the goal.

Levy says, "Working with the F-91W movement felt a lot like working with raw material. It's almost as if these things are little ingots of timekeeping. I guess we have the engineers at Casio to thank for that."

Daily wearers of the Solid State Watch will have CW&T to thank for a more purposeful—if not always convenient—relationship with time.

"Right off the bat, you might be wondering how we deal with daylight savings time," Wang acknowledges. "Since you can't adjust the time, you can remember that it's DST and adjust the time in your head or... get two watches."

The Solid State Watch says that it's 11:11:31 (but is it really?)

And while this humble marvel of '80s engineering is remarkably accurate, it will inevitably drift over time. Wang explains, "You'll notice it's a few seconds ahead or behind, then a few minutes, then towards the end of its 10-year life, it might be off by half an hour. We want to celebrate that drift."

—Nick Yulman, Head of Design & Technology at Kickstarter

CW&T's Solid State Watch campaign is live on Kicsktarter until March 4, 2020 at 10:20 am EST

LastObject Tackles Unsexy but Important Single-Use Items, Like Reusable Tissues, Strikes Kickstarter Gold

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

You know that old saying that great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and small minds discuss people?

The industrial-designer-specific version is surely that great minds design solutions, average minds design objects, and small minds design for Instagram likes.

LastObject is a Danish design trio that consists of great minds. They've chosen to tackle some of the least sexy objects out there--first cotton swabs, now disposable tissues--not for fame nor love of these objects, but because they are addressing the problem of single-use items, and looking past the highly-visible culprits (currently, plastic bottles and straws).

Their LastSwab is a washable and reusable silicone swab, designed after the team learned that 1.5 billion disposable cotton swabs are produced per day, and wind up becoming "a huge source of marine pollution," they write. Launched on Kickstarter, LastSwab attracted nearly 20,000 backers who pledged roughly $694,000 to get it going.

Now they're onto their next target, something you never hear people talking about: Disposable tissues. Despite the low profile, cutting down trees to convey your snot into a wastepail carries a heavy environmental cost. "The 'issue' in 'tissue,'" they write, is that

"The paper and pulp industry is the third largest industrial emitter of global warming gasses. Every year around 8,000,000 trees are cut down to make facial tissues for the US alone. "Deforestation can lead to a direct loss of wildlife habitat. The removal of trees reduces available food, shelter, and breeding habitat. It also removes the miraculous effect the trees have of cleaning our carbon emissions to breathable oxygen - helping to prevent climate change."

Hence they developed LastTissue, a package of six washable, soft-on-the-nose organic cotton tissues. And they've thought the UX through: How do you carry dirty tissues around without making a mess, and ensure that you're only pulling clean ones out of the package to use?

If you're wondering how much of a difference using LastTissues could possibly make, here's what LastObject has calculated:

- Every time you blow your nose with a LastTissue, you save 2 liters of water.- It takes 3 times more energy to produce paper tissues compared to the reusable cotton tissues.- With one LastTissue pack you will save the planet from more than 2800 single-use tissues as well as their plastic packaging.

On top of that, I figure the water required to wash and re-use these is negligible; six handkerchiefs can be thrown into a regular washing load without needing to bump up the volume settings.

At press time, LastTissue was proving to be another smash hit: While the goal was just $12,000, it's already up to $618,025.

I really appreciate that LastObject is tackling unsexy but significant items like these. It's worth noting that their first Kickstarter campaign was for a "meh" object that you'd expect to see from someone fresh out of design school: A fruit basket. Their second campaign, for a high-tech jewelry pendant that you could laser-inscribe a soundwave onto, failed altogether. But now they've refocused on far more important objects, and found great success as a result.

LastObject consists of industrial designer Nicolas Aagard, Co-designer* Isabel Aagard, and industrial designer Kåre Frandsen.

*(Interestingly enough, "Co-design" is something you can get a degree in from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts' Schools or Architecture, Design and Conservation; it's essentially a trans-disciplinary degree that combines a variety of design fields with social sciences.)

There's still 17 days left to pledge for LastTissue.

This German Woman is Tackling Her Town's Lack of Accessibility With Legos

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

62-year-old Rita Ebel has been in a wheelchair for 25 years. Now she's dedicating her golden years to making her German town of Hanau more accessible by building a series of small ramps entirely out of Legos (h/t RTÉ). Working together with her husband, she's constructed 12 sets of ramps so far and shows no signs of slowing down. Her efforts have earned her the nickname of "Lego Grandma."

Screenshot via RTÉ

The Ebels dedicate two to three hours a day to making the ramps, which have so far mainly been installed in front of small shops. The colorful constructions—which could easily look jarring to many—are embraced by locals. Their colorful nature is an immediate signal that anyone can feel welcome in the location where they're placed, and also serves to draw attention to the issue of urban accessibility more generally.

Image via Reuters

"Everyone that walks past is happy about the ramps," hair salon manager Malika El Harti told RTÉ. "Finally it is something where you can see from afar that you can get in here without any problems."

"Nobody just walks past a Lego ramp without taking a look," Rita explains. "Whether it's children who try to get the bricks out or adults who take out their mobile phones to take pictures. And that's exactly it. Simply to just try and raise people's awareness a bit. To make them think: If I was in a wheelchair or was at the point where I needed a Zimmer frame, well then I would start having problems getting in certain places. And those are my personal reasons and motivation."

Each ramp requires several hundred Legos, which so far have been sourced only through donations, and many tubes of glue, which is used to make sure the ramps hold up over time.

The solution is catching on thanks to Lego Grandma's newfound internet fame. To keep up with growing (and international) demand, the couple has put together instructions to show anyone how they can assemble their own Lego ramp.

Understanding Where Side Airbags Deploy From Before Selecting a Seat Cover (Toyota Tacoma in This Case)

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

After much debate, I just leased a new Tacoma for the farm. The one I could afford has cloth seats, which will not jive well with the dirtiness of farm life.

To avoid getting screwed on the lease terms, I want to protect the seats with a durable, washable cover. I know how to make patterns and sew, and I've got plenty of sewing machines, so I figured I'd DIY it. Then I remembered that the problem with seat covers and modern cars is this:

That tag indicates, obviously, that the seat contains a side airbag. If you cover the seat sides with a cover, the airbag cannot deploy in the event of a crash, and instead you have a controlled explosion that's constrained within the seat cover.

Figuring this problem has surely been solved, I went onto a Tacoma forum to see what others with the same truck had done. Sadly I came across what I believe to be misinformation, like this Tacoma-user-submitted photo of a supposedly airbag-compatible seat cover:

No good!

That would work if the airbag only deployed from this central seam in the seat…

…but I don't think it does. The "Airbag" tag is along this seam:

It's possible the person who posted that photo of the seat cover has an older Tacoma that maybe has a different seat-deployed airbag design, but that slit definitely does not correspond with where the airbag deploys from in my truck (more on this below).

Poking around some more, I also found this horrific video of a woman using T-shirts as seat covers, and insisting that if you cut the sleeves off to expose the tag that says "Airbag" in the seat, that that provides enough room for the bag to deploy.

No good, part 2

In other words, this person believes the tag pinpoints the location that the airbag deploys from. It doesn't. The tag delineates the seam that is torn when the airbag deploys. In fact side airbags originate from an area closer to the middle (as opposed to top or bottom) of a seatback's side, as can be seen in a variety of cars:

(Would an airbag just tear right through a T-shirt and go exactly where it's designed to go? It's possible, but why take the risk?)

I looked at my truck's manual and found this diagram of the airbags:

Unsure of whether the illustration is meant to be figurative rather than accurate, I then looked up photos of crash-tested 2020 Tacomas on the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) website:

It's tough to tell precisely where the airbag deploys from, until we zoom in:

There we can clearly see that the front-most seam of the seatback side is designed to tear away.

At the nearest Walmart, I spotted some seatcovers made by Dickies that use something called "Laser Deploy" that apparently makes them airbag-compatible.

My wife did some research and found that Dickies licenses the Laser Deploy technology from an Australian manufacturer named Kraco. Kraco uses a laser to perforate--or "ablate," in their words--the thin sides of their seat covers, so that they will tear away in the area of the correct seam.

The location of the tear appears to correspond with what I saw in the IIHS photos.

The Dickies seat covers were only 30 bucks, so I went back and picked up a pair, in this variant:

I installed them in the truck--it wasn't much more difficult than getting pillows into a pillowcase--and was surprised at how well they fit. In the photo they're a little wrinkly from being in the packaging, but overall I was impressed at how these universal covers fit:

Most importantly, I believe the tear-away area corresponds with actual location of the airbags.

Long story short, I am satisfied with my purchase.

Twitter Experimenting with Highlighting Lies With Color

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Twitter has apparently been experimenting with a new truth awareness feature, and someone leaked screenshots of it to NBC News. The new feature adds "brightly colored labels directly beneath lies and misinformation posted by politicians and other public figures," and it looks like this:

Twitter confirmed that the screenshots and the feature are real, and would rely on user participation to function: "This is a design mock-up for one option that would involve community feedback," a Twitter spokesperson told NBC.

From a design standpoint, I actually think the entire statement itself should also contain the color. But perhaps that's moot, as the big question is: Assuming they could get this to actually work, do you think it would actually make any difference? Call me a cynic, but I don't. I think people will continue to assume that whomever challenges their views is a liar. On top of that, we are all dumber than we think. As a prime example, look at this boogeyman-seeing response to NBC's Ben Collins, who broke the story:

DIY Technique for Making Furniture Hardware Look Antique

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Years ago I visited the workshop of a guy who did furniture restoration. Amidst the expected shop tools I spotted something unusual: A box filled with coins, rocks and a chain. He explained that these were his "weathering tools," for when a new piece of wood had to be integrated into an older piece. He'd judiciously drop different combinations of coins, rocks and the chain onto the wood, abrading the surface to make its wear-and-tear match the look of its neighboring panels.

I'm sure he had tricks for making hardware look antique, too, but I didn't get to see those techniques. Here, however, is a video from furniture restorer Kim Buckminster showing how he antique-ifies hardware using nothing more than a rag, acrylic paint and some fixatives for durability:

McKinsey Report on Design Leadership Finds Most Companies are Blowing It

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Now that Chief Design Officer is a thing, are we as a society seeing the benefits of having design thinking instituted at the top levels of powerful organizations?

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

Not yet, as it turns out. "Despite the number of design leaders in executive positions doubling over the past five years among the world's top 100 companies," writes global management consulting firm McKinsey, "up to 90 percent of organizations are not maximizing the full potential of this valuable resource."

Photo by Alberto Bobbera on Unsplash

This statistic doesn't come out of thin air. McKinsey interviewed 200 Heads of Design and 100 CEOs, and combined their feedback with an analysis of 1,700 companies that provided data for the McKinsey Design Index, which they use to measure design effectiveness. The resultant information was compiled into a freely downloadable report that was released this week.

At a launch event for the report in San Francisco, McKinsey got three design chiefs to sound off on "what they perceived to be the problems, and the opportunities, for design leaders." Here's what they had to say:

Justin Maguire III, Chief Design Officer at Salesforce:

"The shape of what's expected of a design leader is changing, converging with a change in what customers and users are expecting. A new type of conversation has to happen in the C-suite. You can't fix what you can't measure, and if you're not accountable then you don't count."

Katie Dill, VP of Design at Lyft:

"One of the things that is challenging and exciting about design is that we bring things to life. We visualize things, and oftentimes, what we visualize is the instantiation of the business, but a design team needs to not lose sight of why the company does it in the first place. As a design leader, if an organization is holding you back, then you need to design a way out of that."

Eliel Johnson, Vice President and Head of User Experience Design at Charles Schwab:

"The need for thoughtful design is only going to continue to compound for companies. It is the way they are interacting with their customers, and shows the need to think of design as a verb, not a job title. We need to demystify and democratize the meaning of design for our business partners and colleagues."

I'm going through the report now, and will break out some takeaway points shortly. In the meantime, you can download it yourself here. (It's free, but requires you sign up with an e-mail address.)

Animated Data Visualization of U.S. Population Growth Makes Americans Look Like a Virus

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

A moderator over at the DataArt subrebbit put together this data visualization of U.S. population growth from 1790 to 2010:

I couldn't help but notice it looks like an animation of a virus spreading. Of course, that's probably (and in some cases literally) what it felt like to the Native Americans. It should be noted that the visualization does not show indigenous populations of any of the regions.

The creator's data sources are listed here.

Pop-Up Book Celebrating the Design of Immersive Sega Arcade Game Cabinets from the 1980s

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

In the videogame arcades of the '80s, the rank-and-file games were pushed up against the wall. But in the middle of the room were the special ones--larger, immersive cabinets that you climbed into, paying 50 cents rather than 25 for the privilege. For an extra quarter you got to sit in a cockpit, in a driver's seat or on a superbike.

In the early 1980s, Yu Suzuki, a young videogame developer working at SEGA developed a series of groundbreaking arcade games – physically impressive, custom-built cabinets that utilised motion control, hydraulics and frenetic pseudo-3D visuals. These games provided players with immersive, heart-pounding simulations of motorcycle racing, air-to-air combat, and high speed driving.

"Nicknamed 'taikan' or 'body sensation' games, these cabinets remain high water marks for the once-vibrant arcade game scene," reckons UK-based art director and videogame historian Darren Wall. "[They were] seductive, gaudy fusions of industrial design and 1980s graphic art."

Now wall's publishing company, Read-Only Memory, has put together a book detailing the development history, game artwork and context of six notable Sega cabinets: Hang-On, Space Harrier, OutRun, After Burner, Thunder Blade and Power Drift.

Incredibly, the book contains detailed pop-up models of all six cabinets.

The book, SEGA Arcade: Pop-Up History was Kickstarted in 2018 and is now available here.

Pensa Tackles Aluminum Luggage Redesign for Zero Halliburton

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

Erle P. Halliburton wasn't an industrial designer, but he was both an industrialist and a designer. In the 1930s he traveled to various oil fields in America, implementing the new method of oil well cementing he'd invented; the frequent travel led him to design his own suitcase, which was made from a then-newfangled material called aluminum.

The suitcases caught on, and in 1938 Halliburton launched his own company to produce them. Movie star Marlene Dietrich was a fan, and either Halliburton formed a relationship with Hollywood or filmmakers found the cases cinemagenic; Halliburton luggage appeared in some 300 films and TV shows.

As you can see in the photo of Dietrich above, the cases were smooth-sided. That looks cool as heck, but given aluminum's properties, those cases probably got pretty banged up. In 1946 a design change was made, adding ribs for better durability.

Over the decades rolling suitcases were added to the lineup, but they didn't look terribly different from earlier iterations. However, in 2017 Zero Halliburton (the company's name from 1952 onwards) decided it was time for a re-design. They contracted Brooklyn-based design firm Pensa, who spent over two years doing the required research and design. Today, the fruits of their labor are officially being unveiled.

"As industrial designers, we saw a real opportunity to bring a fresh point of view to Zero Halliburton," says Mark Prommel, Partner and Design Director at PENSA. "We approached the process as engineers, travelers and observers of human nature, and from that experience, we were able to reimagine everything - from the wheels to the locks and even the packing system - and ultimately designed each individual element to create truly special and extremely functional cases."

One of the things Pensa looked at was the beatings that luggage can take, and they reinforced the edges in a novel way: Rather than adding protruding protective cladding, as with a roadie case, they instead sculpted concave channels into the edges, reinforcing the corners with form-following Y-shaped caps "to mitigate the potential for severe damage more effectively than typical convex-based travel cases."

An extra handle is hidden in an unexpected place--in the bottom, by the wheels. This makes it easier to use both hands to hoist the case up to an overhead bin, or out of a car trunk, when it's fully laden.

The ID tag is also concealed, though it can quickly be peeled back to glance at. In this age of privacy concerns, this makes much more sense to me than the standard approach, where people often have their name and address in full view.

It's impossible to tell this from photos, but the pull handles are "crafted from a high-strength polymer composite with a soft-touch feel reminiscent of a luxury sport watch strap," the company says.

Zero Halliburton's Pursuit Aluminum Collection offers two carry-on sizes as well as two larger sizes for check-in.

They've also got a snazzy attaché case.

Check them out here.

Hot Tip: You Can Access Free Tutorials on Coding, AutoCAD, Graphic Design and More Through LinkedIn Learning with a Public Library Card

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

On my daily Twitter morning scroll, I came across an interesting tweet by designer Amelie Lamont in response to a valid design education question for 2020: as more students come to class already knowing the basics of Adobe programs, what are good online resources for in-depth tutorials so teachers can direct students to learn those basics on their own and focus their class time on teaching more advanced lessons?

Lamont's response to question led me to an exciting discovery: anyone with a New York Public Library card can gain free access to Lynda.com, known in the present day as LinkedIn Learning.

The typical cost for LinkedIn Learning can range from $19.99-$29.99 a month, and their vast library ranges from HTML training, AutoCAD, Photoshop fundamentals, project management foundations, algorithms and more. It's a great resource for students and professionals alike to broaden their skillset, all for free.

Examples of tutorials at LinkedIn Learning

Access to this database is granted with both New York and Brooklyn Public Library cards, but there are plenty of other libraries around the US that offer free access. Curious if your public library has a partnership with Lynda? Simply Google the name of your public library and "Lynda".

In order to get the deal, simply visit the login page for Lynda's website > Sign in with your organization portal > put your library's URL in, like "nypl.org" > then enter your library card information. And boom! You're in.

This is information that has been available for several years, so for those in the know, yes this is old news. But for those like myself with public library cards completely oblivious to this treasure trove, please enjoy!

Sketching/Rendering Challenge: Can You Make This Bugatti Look Ugly, Using These Specific Design Cues?

Core 77 - 5 hours 33 min ago

I just read a classic "design fail" story whose three stages you'll find familiar:

1. Concept is unveiled, everyone loves it2. Upper management committee gets involved, requests conflicting design changes3. Revised design is a visual disaster, project gets canceled

We've all heard this story a million times, but this one is frustrating because only parts 1 and 2 have been visible to the public. No one knows what part 3 looked like.

The object in question is the Bugatti Galibier, a four-door concept car unveiled in 2009. Here's what it looked like:

While it's not my cup of tea, it's on-brand for Bugatti, and their small but wealthy customer base responded positively to the concept. So did the press. Thus the Galibier was green-lit for further development.

And that's when it all went to shit. According to the story told by Hagerty:

"Bugatti's higher-ups instructed [Design Director Achim] Anscheidt and his team to make several far-reaching visual modifications to the car after interpreting the feedback gathered at customer clinics held around the world. That's when Bugatti's grandiose plans for a super-sedan began to derail."

Apparently, the resultant design was so ugly that when an unnamed higher-up visited the studio in 2012, he canceled the car on the spot.

What's frustrating is that the ugly 2.0 design has never been publicly seen, and I'm dying to see what it looked like. All we have to go on are descriptions from Hagerty and Anscheidt, the designer giving the impossible task.

Request: Can those of you with rendering skills alter the images above, based on the six descriptions below? Some are vague, some are specific:

From Hagerty:1. "It grew almost six inches in height"2. It "picked up an astonishing 60 inches in length"3. "It…ended up with a small, notchback-like trunk due to [Chinese market input]"4. "The Galibier's curvaceous silhouette and…visual ties to the Type 57 Atlantic vanished"From Anscheidt:5. "Viewed from the side, the car looked like a dachshund"6. "From the back, it was like looking at a bowler hat on wheels"

Re: Point #4, here's what the Type 57 Atlantic, whose qualities vanished from the Galibier, looked like:

If anyone could pump out some sketches of this "Bu-not-ti," we'd be grateful.

Top 10 New 2020 Cars Named By 'Consumer Reports'

Design News - 9 hours 5 min ago

Consumer Reports has tweaked its Top 10 Cars list for 2020, categorizing vehicles by price range rather than body style and adding a requirement for standard automatic emergency braking with pedestrian protection in addition to the existing requirement for forward collision warning.

"We’re not willing to compromise when it comes to the safety of cars, which is why we’re pushing automakers to make life-saving technologies like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection standard on all models in order to earn a coveted spot as a Top Pick,” said Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “After all, we believe basic safety is a right for all of us — not a luxury reserved for those who can afford it.” 

It is important to remember that Consumer Reports scores vehicles based on road tests, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety, which are different metrics than other organizations apply or that drivers might prioritize.


Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

What Ring Camera Hacks Teach Us About Smart Home Security

Design News - 12 hours 56 min ago
Ring home security cameras have been at the center of several high-profile cyber attacks. But they highlight an issue among many different smart home devices. (Image source: Ring)

Cybercriminals are attacking IoT devices, including smart home devices, with very little technical resistance. Far too many devices are easy targets – lacking basic, fundamental security solutions.

Smart home devices, from Ring doorbells and cameras to smart refrigerators and TVs, and now even Smart Toilets, have emerged as a rapidly expanding multi-hundred billion dollar/year worldwide market. With IoT devices now present in approximately a third of U.S. homes, cybersecurity risks are growing for the average consumer.

Such risks are not just theoretical. Recently, Ring doorbells and cameras have suffered from several high-profile cyber attacks, including, in one case, a Ring camera in the bedroom of an 8-year-old girl that was accessed by a hacker who instructed the girl to mess up her room and to call her mother by racial slurs. In another case, a hacker told a young girl that he was Santa Claus and taunted her through the camera.

Stories of hackers harassing children are shocking and, as such, quickly gain headlines. These attacks show how vulnerable our privacy has become with the growth in smart home devices in contrast to their failing security measures.

And the concerns even go beyond privacy. IoT botnets frequently conscript smart home devices, weaponizing them into DDoS attacks, using them to send massive amounts of spam emails or to perform crypto mining. Other attacks have resulted in loss of personal data including financial information and WiFi passwords. Worse still, cyber attacks can escalate into physical threats. Criminals can monitor security cameras to determine when homeowners are absent and hacked door locks could allow easy entry for someone looking to steal more than just data.

Ring doorbells and home security cameras are far from the only smart-home device to have suffered from a cyber attack. Appliances are vulnerable as well. One of the first recorded botnet-infected appliance incidents occurred during the holiday season in late 2013 when, according to Business Insider and Proofpoint, a refrigerator-based botnet was used to attack businesses. Unlike most malware attacks, this Botnet did not attack the host it infected but instead served to out waves of DDoS attacks that were used to cripple businesses.

A slew of smart-home devices have been found to be vulnerable, including smart light-bulbs, smart locks, smart toilets, and baby-monitors. Despite waves of recent legislation that mandate higher levels of security, it does not seem likely that these security problems will be resolved any time soon.

These breaches show that devices require higher levels of security and that the use of static credentials is inherently flawed.

The Never-ending Battle of IoT Security

The Ring breach is not the first example of weak static credentials resulting in an IoT hack. The Mirai botnet, which used default passwords to access a variety of IoT devices, is the poster child of IoT hacks exploiting weak credentials. Static credentials (usernames and passwords) place undue burden on device users and are increasingly inadequate when advanced authentication technologies, available today, would inherently prevent such hacks.

We have moved beyond the introductory days of the IoT to mass deployments. It is no longer acceptable to sell and deploy connected devices, from cars to smart doorbells, with weak or nonexistent security. In light of damaged consumer confidence and increasing safety risks, it is critical that IoT device manufacturers begin taking security seriously and build comprehensive security technologies into their devices.

The state of California and the European Union have already enacted legislation requiring greater levels of security for IoT devices, and many other jurisdictions have pending legislation. In addition, industry consortiums and government regulatory bodies, such as the FDA, have begun to define cybersecurity requirements for IoT devices in specific vertical markets.

Keeping IoT devices and information safeguarded from cyber attack is not simple and will never be perfect. It’s an ongoing evolutionary battle. Cyber criminals are always improving their methods and developing new, even more clever attack tactics. However, staying current with cybersecurity best-practices and using proven security solutions provides a strong foundation for protecting devices from cyber attacks.

Home Security In The Age of IoT

To protect homes and businesses from cyber attacks, any and all connected devices must include a range of security features that protect the device from a variety of attacks, protect the integrity of the device, and enable “device identity “—so that any connected things can be authenticated to safely communicate via the internet using encryption. There are a variety of industry proven and tested IoT identity and integrity solutions that provide IoT manufacturers with highly effective techniques and protocols for authenticating and securing connected devices.

They can include:

  • Secure Boot. Provides embedded software APIs that ensure software has not been tampered with from the initial “power on” to application execution. It also lets developers securely code sign bootloaders, microkernels, operating systems, application code, and data.

  • Secure Remote Updates. It’s important to validate that device firmware has not been modified before installation. Secure remote updates ensure components are not modified and are authenticated modules from the OEM.

  • Secure Communication. The use of security protocols like TLS, DTLS, and IPSec adds authentication and data-in-motion protection to IoT devices. By eliminating sending data in the clear, it is much more difficult for hackers to eavesdrop on communications and discover passwords, device configuration, or other sensitive information.

  • Embedded Firewalls. By working with real-time operating systems (RTOS) and Linux to configure and enforce filtering rules, embedded firewalls prevent communication with unauthorized devices and blocking malicious messages.

  • Secure Elements. OEMs and medical device manufacturers should use a secure element, such as a trusted platform module (TPM) compliant secure element, or an embedded secure element for secure key storage. Secure key storage enables secure boot, PKI enrollment using key pairs generated within the secure element, providing very high levels of protection from attacks.

  • Device Identity Certificates. Adding digital certificates to devices during manufacturing ensures that devices are authenticated when installed on a network, as well as before communicating with other devices in the network—protecting against counterfeit devices being introduced into the network.


Alan Grau has 30 years of experience in telecommunications and the embedded software marketplace. Alan joined Sectigo, a leading Certificate Authority and provider of purpose-built PKI management solutions, in May 2019 as part of the company’s acquisition of Icon Labs, where he was CTO and co-founder, as well as the architect of Icon Labs' award-winning Floodgate Firewall. He is a frequent industry speaker and blogger and holds multiple patents related to telecommunication and security. More info about cybersecurity and protecting the cloud can be found at https://www.sectigo.com.

Katherine Johnson Was the Hidden Figure That Put Man on the Moon

Design News - 12 hours 57 min ago
Katherine Johnson at her desk at NASA in 1966. (Image source: NASA)

Katherine Johnson, one of the key mathematicians behind America's space program, and a prominent figure in black American history, died Monday at the age of 101. Her work calculating trajectories was crucial to the success of Apollo 11 as well as other several historic space missions.

Born in West Virginia in 1918 , Johnson first joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1953, where she became a member of the West Area Computers, a group of African-American women tasked with performing the tedious calculations for guidance and navigation systems. Human mathematicians at the time were often called computers and NACA's female mathematicians were often ignominiously referred to as “the computers who wore skirts.” Even though they were paid less than their male counterparts, the thinking was that women had a natural attention to detail that made them ideal for the meticulous work of trajectory calculations.

The West Area Computers got their name because Jim Crow laws segregated them into working in the west area of NACA's campus. But in a time where they were separated from their peers and often overlooked Johnson, along with colleagues like Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Winston Jackson, were still able to distinguish themselves for their work.

In 1958, when NACA was dissolved and reformed into NASA, Johnson became the only female, and the only person of color, on the newly-formed Space Task Force charged with finding a way to put an American astronaut on the Moon. During her time at NASA she would contribute calculations vital to the success of the early Mercury missions as well as the Apollo program. She was among the team of engineers that worked to rescue the astronauts of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission.

Before his mission to orbit Earth in 1962 as part of the Mercury program, astronaut John Glenn is said to have demanded that Johnson personally double-check the calculations made for his spacecraft because he didn't trust the machines.

In 1960 Johnson co-wrote the research paper “Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position,” which describes how spacecraft reentering Earth should fire their reentry rockets in order to land in a designated area. In writing this paper Johnson also became the first woman to ever co-author a paper at NASA.

Johnson retired from NASA in 1986, regarding her time there, she said in an interview that she never felt discriminated against. "I didn't feel the segregation at NASA, because everybody there was doing research," Johnson said in a 2011 interview with WHROTV. "You had a mission and you worked on it and it was important to you to do your job."

Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. (Image source: NASA)

In 2015 Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her lifetime of work. “Katherine's legacy is a big part of the reason that my fellow astronauts and I were able to get to space,” then NASA administrator Charles Bolden said at the ceremony. “It's also a big part of the reason that today there is space for women and African-Americans in the leadership of our nation, including the White House."

In 2017 Johnson was further immortalized when she and other members of the West Area Computers (Vaughan and Jackson) were depicted in the biographical film Hidden Figures (based on a book of the same name by  Margot Lee Shetterly). The film would earn critical acclaim, including an Oscar nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year. That same year Johnson was among the female scientists and engineers honored by Lego as part of its Women of NASA toy set.

“Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space, NASA said in a statement regarding Johnson's passing. “Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars...At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her. We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential.”

Katherine Johnson is survived by two daughters, six grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and the countless number scientists and engineers – past, present, and future – that she has inspired with her life and legacy.


Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics

Top Public Colleges for Polymer/Plastics Engineering

Design News - Mon, 2020-02-24 10:54

To mark National Engineers Week, which runs this year from Feb. 20 to 26, we have compiled a list of the top U.S. colleges offering undergraduate plastics engineering programs. The list is based on the U.S. Department of Education's Scorecard and is supplemented by additional information from various sources.

As the plastics industry is painfully aware, there is a shortage of skilled talent coming into the workforce just as baby boomers are retiring. In a recent survey from the American Mold Builders Association, workforce development was named the biggest challenge by 93% of respondents. It’s a refrain we hear from all corners of the plastics processing industry and, indeed, the larger manufacturing sector. Many companies have taken matters into their own hands, partnering with local schools and offering robust internship programs. But they and educational establishments alike are wrestling with some ingrained perception issues.

First and foremost, the public at large continues to view manufacturing in a Dickensian light, when the reality of advanced manufacturing is anything but the dingy, dirty and sweaty workplace of the past. The advent of smart manufacturing, encompassing sensing technology, the industrial internet of things, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, has transformed the shop floor into something more akin to a video game. The good news is that Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, are getting the message. According to a survey conducted by Leading2Lean, young people today look more positively on manufacturing and are more inclined to consider it as a career than previous generations. To learn more about this, read “Will Generation Z Be the Salvation of U.S. Manufacturing?

Another handicap that is specific to the plastics industry is the vilification of plastics among the general population. In a word, plastics technology is not cool, at best, and that can be a real hurdle when you are trying to interest young people in a career. As we have often stated in PlasticsToday, that viewpoint is myopic and doesn’t consider the considerable benefits that plastics technology brings to food preservation, medical innovation and light weighting in automobiles (enabling fuel economy), to name just three areas. Moreover, advances in bio-based materials and recycling technologies are making a significant dent in solving the plastic waste problem, and many of those initiatives are led by the plastics sector. As industry and educators continue to get that message out, we believe, in time, that the debate will become less emotional and more balanced.

When it comes to considering a career in plastics processing, it’s also worth noting that compensation can be quite competitive, a fact that is often neglected. The salary range provided by the Department of Education in the following statistics is overly broad. According to Glassdoor, the average national salary of a plastics engineer is just over $72K, with the average annual starting pay for recent grads at $61,789.

Sound good? Here are eight schools that can get you started on an exciting, fulfilling, and well-compensated career in the plastics industry.

Image: Prazis Images/Adobe Stock

Auburn University
Auburn, AL
23,391 undergrads
Graduation rate: 73%
Average annual cost: $23K
Salary after completing: $20K to 73K

Worth noting

The university’s Center for Polymers and Advanced Composites has well-equipped advanced polymer chemistry and testing laboratories. Students also benefit from a polymer manufacturing and coatings lab with single and twin screw extruders, and 3D printing capabilities. Composites manufacturing resources are in the works.

Image courtesy Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, Auburn University


Pennsylvania State University, Main Campus
University Park, PA
40,553 undergrads
Graduation rate: 86%
Average annual cost: $30K
Salary after completing: $18K to 84K

Worth noting

U.S. News & World Report ranked the school’s materials engineering program as 10th best in the nation.

Image courtesy Patrick Mansell/Penn State

Pennsylvania State University-Erie Behrend College
Erie, PA
4,283 undergrads
Graduation rate: 70%
Average annual cost: $24K
Salary after completing: $19K to 68K

Worth noting

The median earnings for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in polymer/plastics engineering from Penn State Behrend is $65K, according to the U.S. Department of Education. It is one of only four accredited plastics engineering technology programs in the United States. The plastics processing laboratory in the Jack Burke Research and Economic Development Center is the largest undergrad educational facility of its type, according to the university, housing millions of dollars’ worth of computers, materials, and processing equipment.

Image courtesy Penn State Behrend


University of Akron, Main Campus
Akron, OH
15,047 undergrads
Graduation rate: 45%
Average annual cost: $18K
Salary after completing: $22K to 68K

Worth noting

The university is located in a “polymer valley” in northeast Ohio. “It should be noted that Ohio is second in terms of state GNP for polymeric materials, and first in state GNP for the paint and coating industry,” writes Department Chair and professor of polymer engineering Mark Soucek, PhD, in his welcome message on the department web page. “We have a combination of core-coursework, usage of experimental equipment, access to industrial projects and short internships that continue to make our graduates highly sought after.”

Image of Goodyear Polymer Center at University of Akron courtesy Cards84664 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77904198

University of Massachusetts-Lowell
Lowell, MA
13,284 undergrads
Graduation rate: 56%
Average annual cost: $19K
Salary after completing: $26K to 71K

Worth noting

U Mass-Lowell is one of two schools—the other is University of Wisconsin-Stout—accredited by ABET for its plastics engineering program. ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental agency that accredits programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

Image courtesy University of Massachusetts-Lowell


University of Southern Mississippi
Hattiesburg, MS
11,747 undergrads
Graduation rate: 54%
Average annual cost: $13K
Salary after completing: $21K to 55K

Worth noting

The bachelor of science program in polymer science and engineering is fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission. The School of Polymer Science and Engineering owns more tha $20 million worth of state-of-the-art research instrumentation.

Image courtesy University of Southern Mississippi

University of Wisconsin-Stout
Menomonie, WI
7,955 undergrads
Graduation rate: 59%
Average annual cost: $16K
Salary after completing: $28K to 64K

Worth noting

It is one of two schools—the other is University of Massachusetts-Lowell—accredited by ABET for its plastics engineering program. ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental agency that accredits programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.

Image courtesy University of Wisconsin-Stout


Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA
14,876 undergrads
Graduation rate: 74%
Average annual cost: $16K
Salary after completing: $20K to 69K

Worth noting

The plastics and composites engineering (PCE) program is accredited by ABET. PCE describes its program as being “primarily a manufacturing engineering curriculum focusing on plastic and composite manufacturing processes.” The school touts its well-equipped labs that ensure graduates are proficient with production-scale processing equipment, quality assurance strategies, and characterization techniques.

Image courtesy Western Washington University

Plastic Egg Cartons Crack the Reusable Packaging Market

Design News - Mon, 2020-02-24 10:05

Thinking “outside the carton” is how Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs has proven itself an exceptional packaging innovator in introducing the industry’s first reusable egg carton.

How exceptional?
While it’s now counted among select major consumer packaged goods companies like Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever that have developed reusable packaging, Pete and Gerry’s offers a distinct difference: those brands operate within the relatively friendly and limited, closed-loop confines of TerraCycle’s revolutionary Loop system (Game-changing waste-free shopping platform introduced by TerraCycle at Davos, published January 2019).

The egg brand goes big and goes it alone in launching a test into retail, relying solely on its own know-how and select partners that include Hanover Co-op Food Stores in New Hampshire and Vermont where the pilot was launched in December.

A few key facts to know about what the refillable polypropylene carton brings to the table:

  • The average person in the U.S. eats approximately 279 eggs per year or about 23 cartons worth;
  • Projected over a lifetime, using a refill carton would save more than 1,800 cartons per person, according to the brand.

Reusable reasoning.

CEO Jesse Laflamme explains the game-changing reasoning behind the Monroe, NH, company's bold plans.

"While we are confident in the sustainability of our current carton, which is made from 100% recycled PET and has less environmental impact than the [expanded polystyrene] or molded pulp cartons used by conventional egg brands, we continue to challenge ourselves to find even better ways to improve our environmental stewardship,” he says. “Reusable cartons are a logical next step in our ongoing commitment to sustainability, moving consumer behavior from recycling to reuse a step up in the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle hierarchy. As many other major consumer packaged goods companies, we recognize that reuse is even better than recycling, and we’re proud to be at the forefront of this growing movement to help reduce the impact of packaging on the planet.”

The reusable cartons are made of white-pigmented PP that can be washed at home and reused repeatedly. Laflamme declines to identify the carton supplier.

“While the program is still in the pilot phase, the cartons are designed to be extremely durable, and have been thus far,” Laflamme tells PlasticsToday. “The goal is for them to withstand trips to the grocery store for years to come! We hope to have more data around its longevity as the pilot continues.”

There’s also a reason why new cartons are white, rather than clear as with the single-use rPET carton.

“The white variation made the most sense for low-volume production,” Laflamme explains. “We’re excited to have the chance to explore other options when we begin scaling up.”

Next: Shopping bags, payback and plans

The idea was sparked by the trend in reusable shopping bags, Laflamme says. “With reusable shopping bags now the norm, we thought, why not do the same for our egg cartons?”

He discloses there were two major concerns, the first of which was transporting, protecting and presenting the loose eggs. The brand closely worked with the co-op to ensure the packaging meshed with their operations.

The other concern was convincing retailers to supply the space for the educational display that houses the reusable carton. However, buy-in was gained because “this was perceived as very exciting innovation in a category that has traditionally been starved for innovation,” he reports.

 “We designed it so that it fits in the facing of a traditional egg carton,” Laflamme says, “and it is recycled by the stores after use. Eventually, we would like to make all aspects of this program reusable including the egg shipper.”

Payback after six refills.

While the reusable carton is the centerpiece of the program, the bulk display packaging plays an equally fundamental role. Made of recycled cardboard corrugate, it has a tearaway front panel that enables consumers to easily access the bulk eggs.

The loose eggs are sold at a discount, allowing the reusable carton currently priced at $2.99 apiece to pay for itself over time, further incentivizing shoppers to participate. “Consumers recoup the carton’s cost after six trips,” Laflamme points out.

When asked who their target consumer is, Laflamme responds, “Everyone! Eggs are one of the most widely consumed, affordable and nutrient-dense foods on the market. The more people we can convert to choosing reusable cartons to lessen our environmental impact, the better. Until then, we encourage consumers to recycle their cartons or participate in our carton Take Back Program.”

The brand is already positioned to convert mores consumers to refill cartons.  After receiving strong, positive feedback already, the brand is hatching bigger plans, Laflamme says. “We plan to expand this program throughout 2020 to reach even more consumers and amplify the program's impact nationally with major retailers clamoring for this type of sustainable innovation."