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Could Plants Be the Future of Interface Design?

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Merging plants with our digital electronics to create a radical new interface might sound like the premise of a Black Mirror episode, but it's exactly what researchers at MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group are exploring.

Harpreet Sareen and Pattie Maes started their research with Elowan, a plant-robot that responds to light. Silver electrodes were attached to the plant's leaves, where they could pick up the electrical signals within the plant that react to the presence of light and route them to a robotic stand underneath. When light sources were placed near the plant, those signals would trigger the wheels to autonomously move in the direction of the light source.

"Plants are normally thought of as passive creatures in the environment," Sareen explains. "Contrary to this, they can not only sense what's happening around them but respond and display naturally. Through cyborg botany, we power some of our digital functions with the natural abilities of plants."

Previously, Sareen has cited this merging as "the future of interaction—where we don't think of interfaces as separate but within nature itself." This would open up a radical new approach in sharp contrast to the sensorial overload of our screens.

"Our interaction and communication channels with plant organisms in nature are subtle—whether it be looking at their color, orientation, moisture, the position of their flowers, leaves and such," he notes. "This subtlety stands in contrast to our interactions with artificial electronic devices that are centered in and around the screens, requiring our full attention and inducing cognitive load. We envision bringing such interactions out from the screens and back into the natural world around us."

The team recently released two new projects, titled Phytoactuators and Planta Digitalis, which explore this concept further. In Phytoactuators, the team connected electrodes to a Venus Flytrap, allowing it to receive signals. In an accompanying app, users see a live stream of the plant and when they click its leaves on the screen, it triggers the plant to act in real life. For Planta Digitalis, the researchers "grew" a conductive "wire" inside the plant so it could essentially function like an antenna or a sensor.

These experiments led the researchers to possible future applications that include sending notifications—the plant might jiggle to alert you when your package is delivered, for instance—or as a motion sensor, which could help you keep track of your pet or be applied to security systems.

For Sareen and Maes, electronic and biological systems have remained separate only because we haven't found an effective bridge between them—and that's where their innovations come in. "Plants are living creatures that are self-powered, self-repairing and self-fabricating—close to the science fiction electronics that we would ideally aim for. Using nature as part of our design process and ushering into this new course of interaction design can potentially be a key to ubiquitous sustainable interactions."

Joey Zeledón's Coat Check Chair is Reinventing the Closet Experience

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Recently, we wrote about Virgil Abloh and Vitra's homage to Jean Prouvé's work, but we felt the collection wasn't original enough: it lives more in the artist's edition realm than the re-interpretation one. So today, we were excited to see that industrial designer Joey Zeledón (Steelcase, Smart Design, Continuum, etc.) is finally releasing his take on Marcel Breuer's Cesca Chair, which pushes the idea of reinterpretation of iconic work a step further than CMF.

Zeledón's Coat Check Chair takes the Cesca Chair's recognizable steel tube frame and strips it of its seat back and cushion, leaving just an empty, sculptural shell. Users are then able to fill the gap with their extra hangers by sliding them one by one over the tubes (flat side facing up). The hangers, when placed in a tight group, are strong enough to sit on—ideal for a walk-in closet companion or as extra hanger options in hotel rooms.

"By bringing the elements of the closet into the foreground of a person's daily routine, the Coat Check Chair offers a unique design and a gentle encouragement to stay neat," says Zeledón. "The hangers' flexible plastic makes the chair surprisingly comfortable, while its impermanent construction lets users customize in terms of hanger color and pattern." The chair frame is designed to accommodate standard Container Store hangers. A set of hangers is provided with the purchase of a chair frame, but more can be ordered at any time to make changes to the chair's color.

The Coat Check Chair is available on Kickstarter as of today, but the idea isn't a new one. This was actually a student project for Zeledón, which he worked on while attending Rochester Institute of Technology. Noting that Coat Check Chair is one of his favorite projects he's ever worked on, he decided to refine the design and submit it to design awards programs. Even after receiving multiple awards (including a Notable for Speculative Objects/Concepts in the 2011 Core77 Design Awards), the designer still felt he could do more: "While I was excited that Coat Check Chair resonated with many, it was still just a concept. It was not a real chair you could buy and put in your living room or studio. I really wanted to make it real."

Designing and manufacturing a chair solo was a daunting task for Zeledón at the time, but he was able to call upon his long past of design experience at Steelcase and other design companies to figure it out. For the past few years, he has been refining Coat Check Chair's details to reduce production and shipping costs. After spending time searching for a local manufacturer, he finally partnered with one in Pennsylvania who doesn't use solvents that produce hazardous VOCs, uses rainwater as the source water in the pre-treatment process, uses an evaporation method to reduce wastewater discharge and uses energy-efficient infrared heaters to speed curing.

The Coat Check Chair can serve as inspiration to students today who may not be ready to leave their favorite projects behind after graduation. Remember: if you design a product that truly stands the test of time (especially one that solves an everyday challenge), it's never too late to bring your work to life.

If you want a Coat Check Chair of your own, pledge on Kickstarter here.

Pro Musicians Like Herbie Hancock Loved ROLI's First Keyboard. Their New LUMI Keyboard Is for Everyone.

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

When he read the email, Roland Lamb assumed it wasn't really from Herbie Hancock. The follow-up call confirmed that it was. Hancock wanted to try the Seaboard, a futuristic piece of super-piano hardware that Lamb had started developing at London's Royal College of Art.

Lamb, whose father is a jazz musician, has been playing piano since he was two or three years old. When he set out to make a digital keyboard that could push piano into new realms of musicality, he had expert players like Hancock very much in mind. "With some of his electronic music, it seemed like he took the keyboard to this new, incredibly expressive place," Lamb says. "'Chameleon' and stuff from his Headhunters album was a direct point of inspiration for me in creating Seaboard." Watching Hancock play those songs on a Seaboard in his L.A. studio was elating.

But Lamb's deeper interest has always been to make music technology for everyone. "I wanted to build a smooth and seamless on-ramp to music-making, but I knew that to make a low floor, I had to start with a high ceiling."

With LUMI, live on Kickstarter now, Lamb is finally tuning in to the needs of newcomers, casual dabblers, lapsed pianists, and experts alike. The LUMI app will stream your favorite songs and light up the notes to play on the small keyboard, which is designed to snap on to other sets for an expanded instrument once you master the basics.

Seeking inner peace, Lamb discovered the depth of his connection to music

Before Lamb started building the Seaboard, he thought he might be a Buddhist monk. He bought a one-way ticket to a monastery in Tibet and learned its disciplined routines. "When I say they're really strict, I mean every single thing that happens is regimented, like how you pick up your chopsticks or how you pick up your bowl," he says. "You have to follow really detailed rules."

Part of that meant selflessly renouncing personal possessions. If your family sends food, you're expected to share it with the group, even if you might be tempted to hide it away. "Everyone had their little worldly things that were harder to give up," he says. "For me, my one secret was that I had this minidisc player. I'd listen to many of my favorite albums on it. Very late at night, I would get under the covers and listen to music. That was my forbidden pleasure."

He ultimately decided he couldn't reconcile his deep love of music with the monastic lifestyle, but he carried the Buddhist spirit of human connection into his instrument-making philosophy.

"One of the things that attracted me to Buddhism is the idea that enlightenment is a collective activity that you can practice individually," he says. The creation of new music technology isn't such an unrelated pursuit. "Music is a powerful technology that has developed over two million years, closely connected to the evolution of language and altruism," Lamb says. "It rolls into our deep cultural membrane, our DNA. So for me, in terms of the impact that playing music can have on one's emotional state and ability to express oneself, to find new entry points into the world of music is a wonderful and exciting thing."

Starting very far from simple expression

Lamb started thinking about how a new instrument could create these types of experiences, and he ended up in a Royal College of Art PhD program, exploring the history of the piano and designing a new one for the digital age. His work would lead to the formation of his company, ROLI, and its first product, the Seaboard.

"Look at fields like photography," he says. "Thirty years ago, it was a very elite hobby to set up a darkroom and learn how to edit and then publish your photographs." Needless to say, a lot has happened in photography over the past 30 years, and Lamb realized that to create something as democratizing as, say, Instagram, he needed to build his credibility with a product more like a DSLR first.

"We had to start at the top and work our way down," he says. "First we built instruments that were for professionals, that really push the envelope in terms of sound. If we started with a toy, it would be hard to turn that into a professional music production system. We'd kind of be known for making musical toys."

So he launched the Seaboard, a digital keyboard with rubbery keys that give experienced players more control over a wider range of sounds, and followed up with iterative models that improved playability and introduced portable modularity with snap-together sets.

The experts were just the beginning

"Seaboard was really about saying, 'Can we improve upon the piano by making it more expressive and adding different layers of orchestral control?' LUMI is about improvements that make the piano much easier to learn, more fun to play, and more accessible for those just getting started," Lamb says.

He went back over his PhD research on the history of pianos, this time looking for opportunities to make them more egalitarian. "Even the basic concepts, like music notation, haven't really evolved," he says. Instead of forcing students to learn how to read music, LUMI will feature illuminated keys that express patterns more directly. Instead of the standard key widths created for adult male hands, its slimmer design will make octaves easier to reach. And like precursors to the piano, it will light up all the notes in a scale that naturally sound good together instead of forcing an in-depth knowledge of 12-tone music theory.

Most notably, its connected app leverages the never-ending library of streaming music that features piano, made possible through the company's relationships with Universal Music Group and Sony. "That emotional connection that you have with music is really important to nurture and sustain in the learning process," says Lamb. "If I like Drake, but I'm trying to learn piano and I'm only playing Beethoven, it doesn't connect with me emotionally the same way."

As students get comfortable on the small, manageable LUMI board, they can snap it on to another to make a larger instrument. "We were trying to make something that would be really easy to play but would also be expandable—a bite-sized thing that doesn't feel imposing," Lamb says. "When you walk up to an upright grand piano, you can feel dwarfed by that. You can feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities if you don't know what to do. It can be diminishing. With LUMI, you start small. You have this nice, portable, intimate palette to begin with, and if you want to build a larger instrument over time, you just click the pieces together."

The ROLI team was careful not to veer too far from the piano's universal recognizability. "The thing is, the family of instruments is very small," Lamb says. "Only a small family of distinct instruments have actually succeeded in human societies. Usually when radically new instruments have been proposed, they've failed. They don't have the players; they don't have teachers; they don't have people with the muscle memory; they don't have people who are used to hearing their sounds. There are so many interdependencies.

"This is a new instrument, in a way. It's a new interface," he says. "But it's very close to what is perhaps the most important and most popular instrument of all time. In that way, it really leverages a lot of the culture that already exists in the world."

LUMI is live on Kickstarter through July 17, 2019.

Reader Submitted: 'Accessories for the Paranoid' Generate Fake Data to Hide Your Digital Identity

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

When considering data as the oil of the 21st century, each of us is sitting on a small ground treasure—a resource that is being discretely mined by the most valuable companies in the world. As users of modern services and products, we have long become habituated to trade-offs in which "free" services are offered in exchange for some bits of our personal data. The IoT has introduced a new kind of object into our homes whose functioning greatly depends on collecting such information: Products that are able to observe the users, have the ability to learn from their observations and then make their own decisions without further human interference. With the comfort of automation also comes a subtle danger in our connected devices which process personal information about their users every day. If attempts to restrict the flow of our personal data would consequentially restrict our access to said services and products as well... do we have no other option but to obey and share?

The "Accessories for the Paranoid" explore an alternative approach to data security. As our physical environment reads, collects and stores an increasing amount of user information, this series of parasitic objects are designed to produce fake data. Through blurring our digital profiles, our true data identities get to hide behind a veil of fictive information.

Object AObject BObject CObject DView the full project here

Design Job: Viacom is Seeking an Executive Producer for Nickelodeon Velocity in New York, NY

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Nostalgia at its finest: Nickelodeon Velocity is seeking an Executive Producer to join their team. The Executive Producer is involved in the creation of branded and non-branded advertising content in support of Sales, Marketing Partners and External Clients. Work closely with Vice President/Head of Production, Creative Teams and Project Managers in the execution of commercial production, from conception to delivery.

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

The 2019 Core77 Design Awards New York Celebration at Kickstarter

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

To celebrate the 2019 Core77 Design Awards announced last Wednesday, Core77 threw a celebration on the rooftop of Kickstarter headquarters in Brooklyn, New York on the evening of June 12th to recognize and toast to the designers who took home honors in this year's awards. The party was packed with Core77 friends, with fantastic drinks from Duke's Liquor Box and catered snacks from Campbell Cheese & Grocery. Hidden within the garden was a tarot reader on deck to help any party attendees learn more about their futures, as well as a sketch challenge that asked partygoers to imagine an Ultimate Dad Shoe in conjunction with our Instagram Design-athlon (the prize being a pin from our friends at Studio Cult!).

Overall, it was a fantastic night and it couldn't have been what it was without the presence of our Core77 community. Thanks for hanging with us IRL!

Photo credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterThis year's party took place on the Kickstarter garden rooftop in Greenpoint.Photo credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterThe Core77 team thanks partygoers for attending the 2019 Core77 Design Awards celebration and sends a shout out to everyone in the audience who either judged the competition or won an award.Photo credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterPhoto credit: Grace Ann LeadbeaterView the full gallery here

Tesler + Mendelovitch Apply Their Sculptural "Wood Skin" to Interiors

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Best known for their sculptural wood clutches, the designers behind Tesler + Mendelovitch have progressively increased the scale of their work. Taking their innovative process to the next level, the latest product launch from the Tel Aviv-based studio provides sculptural solutions for interiors.

When we last spoke to Orli Tesler and Itamar Mendelovitch, the duo explained how they developed their technique of making wood veneer act like a textile through a series of diagonal crosshatches.

Mesmerizing GIFs brought to you by Goodeye Studio

"In the beginning, we interfered terribly with the wood," Tesler said, recounting how their early experiments involved weaving the wood or sanding it down and breaking it into small fibers. The breakthrough came when they tried scoring it and realized that allowed them to bend the veneer to the form they wanted. "If you go too much against the grain, the wood will not budge; it will crack or splinter," Tesler explained. "And if you go too much with the grain, all you have are straight lines. The point of going diagonally is to cross over the soft and hard points where wood can bend without breaking."

In making their clutches, the designers only scored the material where they had to in order to get it to perform. That materiality is expanded upon in their most recent products, which are made out of sheets of veneer that have been evenly cut by the designers to create a completely flexible wooden textile. "The flexible wood matrix we developed moves in such a way that it determines its own configuration," Tesler told me in a recent email. "As the material pulls itself into shape, we merely 'freeze' the textile in place—resulting in a myriad of shapes, product applications, and concepts."

The panels are structurally reinforced and can be customized to include integrated seating, as pictured above. (Image courtest of Tesler + Mendelovitch and Studio Maayan Golan)

(Image courtest of Tesler + Mendelovitch and Studio Maayan Golan)

Some of their most stunning recent work adapts this process to create a range of wood panels and sound diffusers for interior installations that can be completely customized depending on the project. "The sculptural nature of the wood textiles [allow] a flat wall [to] be transformed into an organic, curvy structure," Tesler said, "creating a spatial dialogue between floor, figure, sculpture, and structure."

Flying Rideshare Vehicle – Join in #C77sketching Challenge No. 2

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Last week it was the Ultimate Dad Shoe**, this week it is a Flying Rideshare Vehicle. It is the second of three sketch challenges this month, and a part of our summer-long Core77 Design-Athlon, where designers flex their creative muscles in three core skills of sketching, prototyping and rendering.

We were wowed by your enthusiasm and ideas last week and want to keep that positive design-energy flowing, so are adding a token of appreciation for all those who play along this summer: participate in at least one challenge in each skill and we'll send you a free t-shirt. (Offer good for US mailing addresses only. International participants who meet the requirement can receive a t-shirt with payment of $10 USD to help cover shipping.)

Again we have lined-up special guest-star judge Reid Schlegel, sketching guru, educator and Senior Industrial Designer at Aruliden, to help us choose the winning entries. We are excited to see what you can cook-up...

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The Brief

Ding! Your future is arriving now. Flying cars have been whizzing through our imagined futures for a long time, but today economics and technology driven largely by rideshare companies seem to be steering them out of dream space and into real-world air space. What is that really going to mean for us? Our infrastructure, our communities, our wallets? Artificial intelligence, advanced fabrication and the sharing economy all converge at this intersection; will it be a wreck or a seamless flow? And that is just our current timeline - who is going to think of how things *could* have been, or *should be* - what about alternative realities and value-systems?

Let your imagination take flight – show us your vision of what a future rideshare vehicle could look like. Sketch out a blue-sky scenario before Sunday!

Flying Rideshare Vehicle Deadline is this Sunday, June 23rd at 11:59pm Eastern!

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How To Enter

1. Follow us on Instagram

2. Explore the concept of "Flying Rideshare Vehicle" via sketching and take a picture or screenshot of your best work

3. Post your picture to Instagram, posting must tag us, @core77, and include the hashtags #c77sketching, #c77challenge

Good luck!

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• The contest ends Sunday June 23, 11:59pm EDT –– winners will be announced by July 3rd.

• Multiple entries are permitted but a participant can not have more than one winning entry per challenge.

• Winning entries will be selected by a panel of design professional(s) and Core77 staff based on skill, presentation and ideas.

• The contest is hosted by Core77 and there are no eligibility restrictions.

• This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.

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To learn more about our entire Summer-long design skill series, check out our announcement of the Core77 Design-Athlon.

**Dad Shoe contest participants: this is a reminder that winners will be chosen at the end of the month along with the other sketching challenges!

The Design Evolution of Car-Based Pickups, Part 2: From Australia to America

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Early Australian Evolution

1934 Ford Coupe Utility

Following Australian designer Lewis Bandt's invention of the Coupe Utility form factor, other manufacturers began releasing their own versions. In 1937 American manufacturer Hudson designed their innovative Terraplane Utility Coupe:

1937 Hudson Terraplane. Image credit: Alden Jewell, CC 2.0

What you may not realize from the illustration above is that this was meant to be a car or a truck, not both at the same time. It was essentially a car in regular use, but by opening the trunk, a steel box was revealed. This box could be extended outwards like a drawer and locked into position, effectively serving as a hideaway pickup bed.

1937 Hudson Terraplane. Image credit: 96Impala

The war years of the 1940s disrupted most worldwide automotive design and production, but by the 1950s manufacturers were back on track. Holden, an Australian subsidiary of General Motors, released the Holden Coupe Utility in 1951:

1951 Holden Coupe Utility. Image credit: Chris Keating, CC 2.0

1951 Holden Coupe Utility. Image credit: Chris Keating, CC 2.0

Ford Australia's offering for 1951 had more modern styling than Holden's design, with the front end pointing the way towards the look of the '50s:

1951 Ford Coupe Utility. Image credit: Sicnag, CC 4.0

1951 Ford Coupe Utility. Image credit: Frank Beale, TradeUniqueCars

Making the Jump to America

Following his original 1934 design, Lewis Bandt had traveled to America and met Henry Ford. Ford reportedly referred to Bandt's coupe utility as a "kangaroo chaser"--whether he said that in derision or affection, I don't know--and stated that they would one day build such vehicles for the U.S. market. That promise had taken some time to fulfill, but it really paid dividends in 1956, when Ford released a new design for the American market called the Ranchero:

1956 Ford Ranchero

1956 Ford Ranchero

1956 Ford Ranchero

1956 Ford Ranchero

1956 Ford Ranchero

In 1957 the design was tweaked, with cowling added to the headlights, and the body accent lines migrating rearwards:

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

In 1958 the design was tweaked again, with extra headlights added and the accent lines in the body now starting to flatten out:

1958 Ford Ranchero. Image credit: Detectandpreserve, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

1958 Ford Ranchero. Image credit: Detectandpreserve, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

1958 Ford Ranchero. Image credit: Detectandpreserve, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The customized version below has had the bumper removed from in front of the grille, and has had its suspension lowered, but you can still see the body's accent lines and overall gesture of the vehicle quite clearly:

1958 Ford Ranchero

1958 Ford Ranchero

1958 Ford Ranchero

The Ford Ranchero proved to be a hit with both buyers and the automotive press, selling in the low five figures annually. Here's how the car was marketed:

Ford competitor Chevy noticed the sales figures, and decided it was time for them to get a piece of this market. Before we show you what Chevy's designers did, first let's review how Ford's designers were gradually evolving the Ranchero, in terms of the accent lines, gesture and length, from year to year:

1956 Ford Ranchero

1957 Ford Ranchero

1958 Ford Ranchero

Looking at the photos above, it's as if some giant grabbed the car from front and rear and began stretching it.

With that in mind, here's what Chevy released in 1959, the El Camino:

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

Ford's offering for that year, the 1959 Ranchero, looks positively stodgy and dated in comparison:

1959 Ford Ranchero. Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/that_chrysler_guy/

It seemed like Ford's designers had lost it, and the sales figures for 1959 reflected it: Chevy sold 22,246 El Caminos, while Ford moved just 14,169 Rancheros.

Here is a magnificently restored 1959 El Camino by Randy and Peaches Clark at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff (HR&CS) in Escondido, California:

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

This coupe utility form factor--nowadays more commonly referred to as a car-based pickup--would continue to evolve in Australia, America and elsewhere. But as we shall see next, the results weren't always good.

Could the Classic Orange Construction Barrier Use a Redesign?

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Sometimes design opportunities are right in front of your very eyes. For instance, anyone living in an urban setting is familiar with the scene below:

The classic orange barrier (otherwise known as the plastic Jersey Barrier) is an iconic symbol of urban construction in the Big Apple, right up there with temporary green plywood walls marked "Post No Bills". Each plastic barrier is blow-molded and kept hollow to minimize weight during travel. Once placed at a construction site, they are then filled with water to ensure they stay put.

Even though they serve a noble purpose, the barriers are, without a doubt, a big, fat, orange eyesore to passerby and nearby dwellers. And if you live in any city, you're very familiar with the long lead times of construction projects—they often take anywhere from weeks to months to complete.

Brooklyn-based industrial designer Scott Henderson identified this design opportunity after walking past one too many ugly orange barriers in his neighborhood. "The city is always changing, and with that comes large scale construction projects that are surrounded by tens of thousands of these super ugly, construction barriers," says Henderson of his 'aha' moment. "It is clear to me that no one has ever considered these unsightly "Lego" blocks beyond their utilitarian purpose—like how they affect the lives of people forced to live around them."

So, he set out to do what any frustrated designer would do when confronted with an object in need of improvement: redesign. Recognizing that it would cost about the same amount of money to manufacture a more beautiful version of the orange barriers, Henderson went to work, eventually yielding the below solution:

Since the material is still plastic, the barriers could theoretically be any color, but we're digging the green. Below are a few more visualizations of what they would look like on site:

The lattice surface pattern makes the barriers more visually interesting while discouraging graffiti. Granted, the barriers would still be paired with a pretty ugly constriction site, but at least at eye level, the view would be much more pleasant.

Have you ever come across an urban object that could use an upgrade? Let us know in the comments.

New Book: The ABC's of Latin American Industrial Design

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Finally, a comprehensive study of Latin American design is available in one book. Pablo Diaz's recently released ABC del Diseño Industrial Latinoamericano (ABC's of Latin American Industrial Design) gathers the best design projects from over 14 countries in one, easy-to-read and picture-filled tome perfect for students and anyone seeking inspiration.

The idea for the book first occurred to Diaz in 2011, when he realized the story of Latin American design still wasn't being communicated adequately. "Although Argentina has a huge and cosmopolitan editorial culture, in terms of Latin American industrial design there is very little, and what there is is concentrated in pure and simple theory," he explains. "I felt the need to get rid of all that academicism and that centrality that is published on industrial design in the United States, Europe, and Japan, mainly."

In 620 pages, the book presents one hundred emblematic projects, across transportation design, furniture, household appliances, and more. The approachable study covers the first decades of the 20th Century to the present day. You'll find big names like Lina Bo Bardi, but plenty of lesser-known figures as well. "I include the heroes, but we put them on an equal footing with other designers, design offices, products, and companies, surely more anonymous, but vital."

ABC del Diseño Industrial Latinoamericano is currently available through Caligrama Editorial. The first edition is only available in Spanish, but fingers-crossed an English translation will be coming soon.

Design Job: Stay Cool! Hunter Fan Company is Seeking a Lead Industrial Designer in Memphis

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Looking for an extra way to beat the summer heat? Hunter Fan Company is looking for a Lead Industrial Designer with consumer product experience to manage multiple projects at various stages of the design process. Responsibilities include conceptual development of ceiling fans and accessories, preparing and presenting high-quality presentations and prototypes, mentoring Associate Industrial Designers, acting as a role-model and leading by example and more.

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Check Out What Uber Air's Skyports Might Look Like

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

This week, Uber unveiled an updated look at the future of its flying taxi service, Uber Air. At the third annual Uber Elevate event on Tuesday, chief Eric Allison claimed that Uber Air will eventually make it "more economically rational for you to fly than for you to drive." With an ambitious target launch date of 2023, the initial roll-out would use piloted helicopters and gradually become "fully electric and autonomous."

Ahead of the launch, Uber will need to build a series of "skyports"—the structures from which Uber Air will operate. A group of architecture firms has developed "fully considered and technically feasible" concepts for skyports geared toward the pilot cities of Los Angeles, Dallas, and Melbourne.

In contrast to the more imposing, futuristic structures previously proposed, Uber is now planning on working with real estate developers and city officials to primarily install the skyports on top of parking garages and other underutilized structures. The tame results essentially look like flashy shopping malls with helipads on top.

Without getting into the many details that make Uber's fast-track to launch plan seriously eyebrow-raising (feel free to sound off below), here are five visions of what skyports might look like:

SHoP Architect's designed a skyport for Los Angeles. It can handle 72 Uber Air trips per hour, and includes space for bikes, scooters and electric vehicle charging.

Architecture firm Pickard Chilton teamed up with Arup to design the only proposal for Melbourne, which would feature a mass timber structure and incorporate retail on the ground floor.

In Dallas, Corgan's design would tap into existing infrastructure and incorporate "restaurants, grocery stores, sports courts, and co-working spaces."

Mithun's "SkyPark" in Los Angeles is the most community-oriented, with more than two acres of public park space.

The Beck Group's simple, retrofit solution could easily be installed on top of existing parking garages.

Reader Submitted: A Step Stool and Suitcase Hybrid that Aims to Give Children Independence While Traveling

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

Hop is the suitcase that gives children independence. As a step stool and suitcase in one, hop makes destinations kid-accessible. This adds ease to travel and puts the focus back on making memories while staying the weekend at grandma's or spending the night at a hotel.

View the full project here

The Weekly Design Roast, #3

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-06-19 09:29

"Since most people can't figure out how to get water from a faucet into their mouths after brushing their teeth, it is my duty as a designer to bring this object into the world."

"I wanted to use ten times more material than necessary to create this staircase. I also wanted to create a confusing optical illusion as to where the step actually is, and I wanted it to be very difficult to clean. The only thing I don't like is, I wasn't able to get the edges of the glass handrail as sharp as I'd like."

"I think most people want to have an object they need to adjust under their desks, something that forces their feet into one of two positions. Also, my illustration of the silhouettes in the chair demonstrates that I don't understand how most seatbacks work."

"A conventional bookmark, which is just a slip of stiff paper, is too easy to ship and recycle; they also don't use up enough materials or take up any additional desk space. To solve this, I designed mine out of lacquered ash." [True story: This "bookmark" is "ideal for…books under 9 inches in height." For differently-sized books, you can order their larger version in STEEL.]

"I designed this for the Australian market, so that they can experience what it's like for water to drain in the normal, Northern Hemisphere direction."

"Only thing I don't like is, since we have this against a wall, my wife has to climb through my blue water to get into her pink water. But other than that I am satisfied with my purchase."

"Hear me out: This isn't an umbrella. I designed this to throw it over people who vape in public."

"These come in sets of three shapes with sliding connection points. You can buy as many as you like, figure out some way to affix them to a wall, then fit them together to create a way to store your books in absolute fucking visual chaos. If this doesn't give you a headache, then I'm not doing my job." [True story: The three-unit module retails for $595. The assembled unit shown in the photo costs about $2,400.]

"You will never tire of the novelty of needing to physically rotate this living unit, after removing any object that might fall, into one of three uncomfortable configurations."

"I often want to drink beer or wine while taking a shower, so I designed these. And in my experience, when you stick things to tile they never fall off. So with a wine glass hanging from the wall and me being boozed up and barefoot, what could go wrong?"

Together Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion Could Transform How We Interact with Devices

Design News - Wed, 2019-06-19 05:00
(Image source: Leap Motion)

Leap Motion's acquisition by Ultrahaptics could be seen as the curtain call of a novel startup. Or it could be the first step toward a new innovation in machine interactivity. Separately, Leap Motion's hand-tracking technology and Ultrahaptics' mid-air haptic feedback technology already offer some novel implications for VR, AR, and device interaction. But combined they could create something right out of science fiction – the ability to feel and manipulate virtual objects without the need for gloves or other wearables.

While Ultrahaptics hasn't laid out any plans for a specific product yet, it's clear from statements from company CEO Steve Cliff that this is their line of thinking.

“Together, Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion products have the opportunity to be at the global epicenter of spatial interaction. Taking a holistic view of this exciting market, not only can we continue to create two hugely significant technologies, but we can max out the potential of combining them,” Cliff said in a press statement regarding the acquisition.

Many will remember Leap Motion as the startup that garnered a lot of attention in recent years due to its innovative sensor and software technology that tracked the hand movements of VR and AR users, down to each finger, without the need of a glove or external controller.

Leap Motion's hand tracking technology lets users use their bare hands as controllers. (Image source: Leap Motion)

Leap Motion shipped its first sensor product The Leap Motion Controller – a peripheral that could be added onto computers or other devices. Despite seeing some product integration, as in the XTAL headset from VRgineers, the product was never able to garner a strong use case. The controller was also criticized for its limited range and inconsistencies with interactions.

In 2018, the company released North Star, an augmented reality headset with hand-tracking capability designed as a development platform for creating AR systems.

The buzz around Leap Motion was so strong that it even attracted the attention of Apple, which moved to acquire the company on at least two separate occasions. Both times Apple's advances were rebuffed by Leap Motion's founders, David Holz and Michael Buckwald, who reportedly did not wish to work with Apple. Sources speaking to Business Insider also speculated that Apple was less interested in Leap Motion's technology than in acquiring the talent behind it to work on other projects.

After the failed acquisitions by Apple, Leap Motion remained relatively quiet, until late May, when the company announced it was being acquired by UK-based Ultrahaptics. According to The Wall Street Journal, Ultrahaptics bought Leap Motion for a song – paying an estimated $30 million, only a fraction of the company's nearly $300 million valuation at its peak.

But Ultrahaptics seems a better match for Leap Motion than Apple. Ultrahaptics also works in the hand-tracking arena, albeit from a different angle than Leap Motion. The company utilizes ultrasonic technology to give users a tactile sensation for virtual objects. A plate-like sensory array emits ultrasound waves onto a user's hand – giving the sensation of touching a virtual object on screen.

Ultrahaptics' Stratos can be attached to devices and uses ultrasound to give the user a tactile sensation while holding their hand in mid-air. (Image source: Ultrahaptics)

While the implications for AR and VR are clear, the company is also expanding its technology into other use cases such as retail and automotive. In 2018 Ultrahaptics released Stratos, a plug-and-play module designed to add haptic feedback to digital signage, touch displays, and other device interfaces. The company is also actively researching and experimenting with automotive applications of its technology and has developed concept cars that use haptic interfaces for touch-free control and reducing driver distraction.

So on one hand (pun intended) we have a company that has developed hand-tracking technology. On the other, you have a company working in mid-air haptics. If the companies were able to marry the two it's not difficult to imagine the implications not only for VR and AR, but for wider control interface applications.

Imagine VR and AR games that let you feel when you're holding an object or getting hit. Or virtual design and training environments that let you feel real weight and feedback from tools and parts. Kiosks and installations in airports and other venues could use mid-air gesture control, but with a degree of feedback to simulate the feel of pressing a real button.

The value for some of these use cases has already been demonstrated. HaptX, a developer of haptic gloves for VR training, design, and simulation recently partnered with London-based Fundamental VR to add haptic feedback to Fundamental VR's training simulations for medical professionals.

The Fundamental VR/ HaptX platform uses gloves to give trainees a realistic sensation of holding a virtual surgical tool or instrument. It is currently deployed in several medical insitutions around the world including Mayo Clinic, UCLA, and University College London Hospitals (UCLH).

The potential of a union of Ultrahaptics and Leap Motion's technologies is scenarios just like this one...only without the gloves.

Whether those ambitions can be realized or if the two technologies will continue as separate products under one company umbrella remains to be seen. However, in his own statement regarding the acquisition, David Holz, co-founder and CTO of Leap Motion, expressed optimism for what the future may hold. “We’ve been the undisputed leaders in our respective spaces from the beginning and this marks an exciting new era of even greater technologies and more physical, intuitive experiences.”

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


Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


Octopus-Inspired Sensor Sticks to Both Wet and Dry Skin

Design News - Wed, 2019-06-19 04:00

Nature is often a source of inspiration for researchers developing new materials to solve various scientific problems—particularly in adhesives, which creatures such as mollusks and octopus seem to do much better than human scientists.

In fact, it’s the latter animal that inspired a team in South Korea to develop a graphene-based adhesive bio-sensor that can stick reliably to a person’s skin, an invention that straddles the disciplines of materials science and wearable technology.

A graphene-based adhesive biosensor inspired by octopus “suckers” is flexible and holds up in wet and dry environments. (Image source: Applied Materials Interfaces)

Wet and Dry Skin

Particular to the research is that the team wanted the sensor to stick to wet as well as dry skin. Researchers from several institutions—including Sungkyunkwan University and the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science

and Technology—found inspiration in the suckers on octopus tentacles, which do this effectively in the natural world.

“The property of adhesion to the skin in both dry and wet environments is strongly required for efficient monitoring of various human activities,” researchers wrote in an abstract for a paper they published about the research in the journal Applied Materials Interfaces.

Key to developing adhesives that stick when both dry and bet was the choice of substrate, which is the material upon which the sensing compounds rest. In the past researchers have used woven yarn, but it sometimes doesn’t fully contact the skin, especially if there also is hair on the skin. These yarns also tend to lose their grip underwater, researchers noted.

To overcome these challenges and achieve their desired result, researchers used octopus-like patterns on the side of a graphene-coated fabric (GCF) sensor “that are sensitive and respond fast to applied pressure and strain,” they wrote.


Full Range of Activities

“Using these characteristics, we demonstrate efficient monitoring of a full range of human activities, including human physiological signals such as wrist pulse and electrocardiography (ECG), as well as body motions and speech vibrations,” researchers reported. Their sensors could take ECG and wrist-bending motion measurements even in wet conditions, they added.

To developed the sensor, the team—which included researchers Changhyun Pang of Sungkyunkwan University and Changsoon Cho of the Daegu Gyeongbuk  institute—coated an elastic polyurethane and polyester fabric with graphene oxide, then soaked it in L-ascorbic acid to aid in conductivity while still retaining its strength and stretch.

They then added a coating of a graphene and poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) film to form a conductive path from the fabric to the skin, after which they etched the octopus-like patterns on the film, researchers said.

The team is eyeing the sensor’s use for not only personal health monitoring but also for potential new and innovative medical applications both externally and internally, researchers said.

“Our approach has opened up a new possibility for wearable and skin-adherent electronic fabric sensors working even in wet environments for health-care monitoring and medical applications in vitro and in vivo,” they wrote.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.


Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!

Chuck Murray: The Great Voice of Design News

Design News - Tue, 2019-06-18 11:01

The strongest magazines and websites have an individual and distinctive voice. The New Yorker’s clever voice originated with founding editor Harold Ross, and it continues on today. Rolling Stone is known for its humor smarts that came from publisher and founder, Jann Wenner. If Design News offers a voice in the engineering community – and we believe it does – that voice lives in the writing of Senior Editor Chuck Murray. Chuck has chalked up more than three decades of compelling stories and editorial perspective for Design News.

Chuck Murray retires this month after more than 30 years of writing and editing and writing for Design News. 

Like many of the editors and writers who have penned for Design News, Chuck began life as an engineer. He brings the cool and probing analysis of an engineer to his coverage. Add to that the warm heart of a writer who has mastered language – in the case of Design News, the language of technology. While his beat focus has primarily been automotive, and electronics & test, his know-how spans all areas of Design News, from automation & control through materials and software.

Chuck sustained the difficult and sometimes magical balance required of a great technology writer. He’s been continually inquisitive, good spirited, able to keep vast amounts knowledge at his mental fingertips, and skeptical. Like all good reporters, he understood at the core of his laptop that skepticism – but not negativity – is an absolute requirement of editorial excellence.

Off to a Busy Retirement

Chuck will be sailing off from the Design News shores at the end of this week. He’ll he turn his focus of inquiry to his family, particularly the growing number or grandkids who eagerly wait for Chuck’s trips to Disney World.

Few editors can reap the praise of editorial boss after editorial boss. Here’s a sampling. “In more than three decades at Design News, Chuck made an incredible contribution to the electronics and design industries, especially automotive,” said Suzanne Deffree, brand director for Intelligent Systems & Design at Informa Markets and a former content director for Design News. “Chuck’s honest and thorough reporting supported engineers and influenced innovation.”

Deffree pointed to the quality of Chuck’s editorial work: “No hype, no siding, just reporting truth and sharing knowledge. That was the job and he did it well,” said Deffree. “Beyond the news desk, he’s one of the best people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. He’s earned every friend and accolade received in life and so many more.”

A Reporter’s Reporter

One of the hallmarks of a strong editor and writer is the ability to track down sources and get the real goods on developments. A great editor should never rise above strong reportage. Just like Jimmy Olsen before him, Chuck could delve into a subject and eek out the truth. “Chuck is more than a writer who can handle any story you assign him,” said David Greenfield, director of content, Automation World and former Editor-in-Chief at Design News. “He’s a writer who’ll turn in an article that provides answers to questions you didn’t think to ask and angles you didn’t think existed.”

Another trademark for an exceptional editor is thoroughness. “Chuck always dug deep into his assignments, often turning up ideas for further articles. He didn’t just perform his job, he was genuinely interested in it,” said Greenfield. “In my time working with him he set a high bar for staff writers and editors that few others I have worked with have been able to meet.”

Always Exceeding Expectations

For all his attention to detail and exhaustive research, Chuck hasn’t been prickly or difficult. “Chuck was likely the easiest employee I ever managed. He knew what he had to do, and he did it, always exceeding expectations,” said Rich Nass, EVP at OpenSystems Media and former content director at Design News. “He’s very laid back and mild mannered. He obviously loves his work but loves his family more than anything.”

Chuck’s love of family was obvious to anyone who spent more than 10 minutes with him. “I can remember countless trips Chuck made to watch his kids compete, traveling literally thousands of miles on a weekend in his minivan with over 250,000 miles,” said Nass. “It’ll be the end of an era when Chuck retires, and while I’m sad to see him leave, he deserves a healthy and joyous retirement.”

The editorial and events staff at Design News warmly and heartily agrees! And Chuck will be sorely, sorely missed.

Design Job: Have a Passion for Destroying Pests? PestRoutes is Seeking a Senior UX Designer in McKinney, TX

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-06-18 08:28

Are you a UX designer that also happens to hate household pests? Look no further than this opening at PestRoutes. PestRoutes is a cloud-based, mobile friendly software for managing pest control offices. With this position, you'd have the chance to fight the good fight through the screen of your computer, working on multiple projects at once with both clients and in-house designers. Cockroaches, be gone.

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Fernando Laposse Developed a Colorful Veneer Made of Endangered Heirloom Corn

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-06-18 08:28

Long a staple of Mexico's gastronomy, the country has historically been home to over 60 species of native corn in a range of colors, from dark purple to soft cream. Industrialization and the advent of genetically modified seeds have led to many of these species becoming endangered over the years. Mexican designer Fernando Laposse has come up with an ingenious veneer material made from the husks of heirloom corn, and he's hoping it will provide a way to revitalize both the crops and the communities that grow them.

"The hope of preserving native corn really lies in the indigenous communities of the country which continue to plant it because it is essential to keep their traditions alive rather than planting it for financial gains," Laposse explained in an interview with the Design Museum last year. "I decided to call the project Totomoxtle because that's what the corn husks are called in Zapotec and Nahuatl, two of the most spoken native languages."

Laposse first partnered with International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, the world's largest corn seed bank, to find seeds for six species of critically endangered native corn. Once the corn has been growing for seven months, it can be harvested. To make the material, corn husks are first peeled off the cob, then ironed flat and glued onto a reinforcing material. The pieces can then be cut by hand or with a laser cutter and used to create a range of furniture, desktop objects, and interior finishes.

"All the trimmings that don't get used to make the material are composted…[and used] to fertilize the fields in preparation for the next harvest," he notes. "Every season is different, the sizes might vary, so I have to adapt my designs to the results of every harvest."

Laposse has been working with the residents of Tonahuixtla, a small village in the state of Puebla, since 2016, and Tototomoxtle is made entirely by the community. "I think the way design can help preserve biodiversity is by using its power as a communication tool to give a voice to farmers that are being forced to abandon their traditional ways of life because of economical and political pressures," he explains. "My project will never make a dent in the global corn trade, but it is a first step in taking a stand against how things are being done."

Continuing with the same holistic approach, Laposse recently started exploring a new material: sisal made from fibers of the agave cactus that's also native to Mexico. The indigenous Mayans used sisal to make rope and fishing nets, but the advent of nylon and other plastic materials have greatly impacted sisal production. "In my opinion tackling issues like plastic waste in the future is not so much about making new magic materials but also looking back to the ones that were already working well in the past."

Totomoxtle is on view as part of the exhibition FOOD: Bigger than the Plate at London's Victoria & Albert Museum through October 20, 2019.