Many of my organizing clients have multiple mobile devices, and they get concerned about the space it takes to charge all those devices. No one likes a mess of cords on the kitchen countertop, the nightstand, the floor, etc.
For those who only have a couple phones (or perhaps an iPod), a few load-ding gadgets from xxd, designed by Max Kistner, might be all they need. These fold up to form a tray to hold a device by the socket; it's similar in concept to the Driin, which we wrote about before. However, there's nothing in this design to help manage the long cables that some of these devices have.
The Bluelounge MiniDock is also a single-device item used at the socket, but it solves the cable problem; there's no need to use a cable at all. The MiniDock attaches to the user's Apple USB Power Adapter, and the iPhone or iPod attaches to the MiniDock. Drawback: Users note that the MiniDock doesn't work with all iPhone cases—and no one wants to remove the case to charge the phone.
But many users are looking for charging stations that sit on a counter (or other similar surface) and hold multiple devices. The PowerDock 5 from Griffin Technology charges five iOS devices in their cases (and also works with many Kindles and Android devices) in a relatively small footprint. Again, though, there is no cable management control built into this design.
Purveyors of web-based procrastination-enablers Adult Swim have been treating online audiences to a series of ingenious infomercial parodies in recent months—from feature-creeping Broomshakalaka to the frankly pornographic Salad Mixxxer. The latest spoof from the series takes aim at the sitting duck of the connected/quantified/smart home/health/self start-up world—mocking the various absurdities of the industry well and truly in an 11 minute fictionomercial that is both amusing and terrifyingly believable.
Getting organized is the second most popular New Year's resolution, right after losing weight. While having the right products is only one part of making that happen, those products can certainly help. Here's a roundup of posts from 2014, with useful ideas and items for anyone aiming to get organized.
A key organizing principle is containerizing: grouping similar or related items together in a container so they are easier to store and to find. The HYVE system from Herbst Produkt is a wonderfully flexible way for doing just that; it's a modular system that can be used on both a tabletop or hung on the wall. HYVE was an active Kickstarter when we first wrote about it, and it's easy to see why it met its funding goal. Herbst will soon have a retail website available so those who missed the Kickstarter can buy the HYVE.
Another container with lots of possible uses is the toolbox from Vitra. It's one of many ways to organize a desktop, so that commonly used items (pens, sticky notes, scissors, etc.) are kept close at hand.
It's always easier to stay organized if it's easy to put things away. That's one reason organizers like hooks; they're easier to use than hangers, so there's a better chance things will be hung up rather than tossed on the floor. When it comes to hooks, users might want a single hook or a coat rack that's basically multiple hooks, such as this Leaf Hanger from Miniforms.
Those dealing with small spaces have special challenges when trying to find a place for everything—especially bulky things. Collapsible items such as the OXO silicone collapsible colander can help. The one concern: Make sure the item is easy to collapse and expand, and that functionality isn't being overly compromised.
Chances are if you're a designer, artist, musician or use a computer daily, you have encountered that fateful moment when your mouse keeps you from making that perfect color selection or nudging a layer into exact position with Photoshop. While most computer aided drawing and modeling programs account for clumsy hardware (thanks magnetic lasso), isn't it about time we demanded better hardware? The fact is—from fancy Wacom tablets to every incarnation of touch screen and foldable keyboards—UI tools still fall into the uninspired categories of keyboard, tablet and mouse.
Recently however, the Y Combinator alumni and Berlin-based startup Senic has tackled this exact issue of high precision interface with their wireless device aptly named 'Flow.' The freely programmable controller is not only compatible with most computer based applications but also has potential integrations for connected home objects and even Internet enabled microprocessors.
The sleek aluminum, stainless steal and polycarbonate casing pays not-to-subtle homage to Dieter Rams-ian simplicity. At just under 2.75 inches, Flow boasts 360 degree angular positioning, capacitive touch and infrared-based hand gesture recognition. Additionally, with 3,600 values in just one rotation of Flow, exact manipulation of brush sizes, color selection and anything else is right at your fingertips.
The four co-founders represent a broad skill set and media prowess enviable to most start-ups launching a crowdfunding campaign. We caught up with CEO Tobias Eichenwald to discuss the campaign, the frustration that gave birth to Flow and the future of UI.
C77: How did Senic start? What first put you on the path to designing a tool like Flow?
Tobias Eichenwald: We're three friends and co-founders from Germany and we use digital tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, Rhino or Eagle on a daily basis. We need to be fast and we need to be good at what we do. Browsing through menus and pulling a fake slider with a mouse didn't feel that way. Existing interfaces don't give us the pixel-precision we need; they are time consuming and interrupt our workflow.
We found similar problems in other fields like controlling our connected devices for example. We grew up with the assumption that you turn on a light by hitting a big white button on the wall without thinking about it. Now that smart devices are replacing traditional devices and the market for connected homes is exploding, we are expected to browse through apps and spend time waiting in a hallway, just to turn on a light.
Professional organizers will tell you that any papers with confidential information should either be shredded or taken to a shredding service (or perhaps composted). Shredders come in varying capacities; I'm going to focus on those intended for personal or small office/home office use.
The Bridge paper shredder, designed by One Tenth for Idea International, runs on four AA batteries. With its slanted sides, it's intended to fit on both round and square wastebaskets with a diameter of 21-25 cm. However, this is a strip-cut shredder—better than nothing, but nowhere near as good (for security purposes) as a cross-cut shredder. It's a fairly light-duty shredder, handling four papers at a time, which must be folded to fit into the slot. Also, unlike heavier-duty shredders, it can't handle staples or paper clips.
The Ziszor portable handheld paper shredder is another strip-cut shredder running on four AA batteries. It only weighs one pound. This would work for users who want a shredder they can just throw in a drawer or carry with them—and who don't feel they need the extra security of a cross-cut shredder.
L: The Fluidigm Juno, designed by fuseproject; R: Quirky+GE's "Tripper" sensor
As an editor at Core77, I often find myself attempting to explain what industrial design is, and I'm sure those of you who are actually practicing designers often find yourselves in find yourselves in the same position. It's regrettable that ID is a widely unsung (if not outright overlooked) force in the world, to the effect that it falls on a precious few star designers such as Karim Rashid and Jony Ive to speak for the profession. The latter made a rare public appearance at the Design Museum this week in a conversation with museum director Deyan Sudjic, making a strong case for design-led business model (perhaps RE: suggestions to the contrary), hands-on education, and maintained that failure is part of the design process.
If Apple represents the paragon of industrial design in the post-industrial age—hardware that is as much a vessel/vehicle for digital UX (i.e. a screen) as it is a beautiful artifact—so too are we always curious to see new developments in other the frontiers of design. A colleague mentioned offhand that insofar as space exploration is constrained by the logistics of astrophysics itself, there isn't exactly a 'design angle' to the Philae lander that, um, rocketed into headlines this week. (That said, we have reported on design at NASA, where problem-solving is paramount... whether you call it design thinking or not.)
Which brings us to fuseproject's recent work for fellow SFers Fluidigm, a B2B life sciences company that called on Yves Béhar—a star designer in his own right—for a complete design overhaul in a traditionally un-(or at least under-)designed category. From the now-dynamic logo to the genre-busting form factor, the entrepreneurial design firm has risen to the challenge of expressing the genuine technological innovation behind the Juno "single-cell genomic testing machine" with equally revolutionary design.
The shape is sculptural and practical; a delicate balance between a futuristic piece of machinery and something more familiar. The aluminum enclosure is machined at high speed and the rough cuts visible and used as finished surfaces, which is a cost saving. The resultant ridges run along the exterior in a fluid, yet pronounced way, and resemble the miniature functional traces on the cell sample cartridge that enable single cell manipulations.
The iPhone 6 and Apple Watch double launch may have put some minds at rest, but Apple is undeniably still struggling to shake off lingering pessimism regarding its future—countless column inches having been dedicated to assessments of the company's mojo and conclusions on whether it can be regained in a post-Jobs era. Time, of course, will be the judge, but the recent iOS8 update withdrawal, 'Celebgate' iCloud scandal and even the astronomical Beats buy-out, are all reminders (painful for the most fanatic) that things have not quite been the same since the untimely departure of Steve.
Recorded in 1995 and released in 2012, 'Steve Job: The Lost Interview' (full video), shows the then-ousted visionary offering a striking summation of how technology giants like IBM and Xerox lost their foothold at the height of their success. This clip from the interview is now, of course, making rounds with the suggestion that Jobs's analysis bears striking relevance regarding the current state of his former company.
Earlier today, connected device guru Matt Webb announced the closure of cloud service developer Berg Cloud in a blogpost, citing difficulties in finding a sustainable business model for the innovative venture since moving away from the agency model back in 2013. Conceived after experiencing the difficulties of making connected products first hand, the vision of the ambitious Berg Cloud had been to create cloud services that would make life easier for hardware innovators—effectively serving as the missing link between the wireless chip in a new connected device and a user-facing website or smartphone app.
The Little Printer—perhaps the most iconic of Berg's creations—also looks to be implicated in the sad news. Closure of the service behind the product, the release reports, could come as soon as March 2015 unless a suitable buyer can be found. Fortunately for fans and owners of the diminutive device and the wider technologist community, the announcement also suggests that the code for the Little Printer could be opened up—no doubt to the delight of legions of hackers and tinkerers.
Only in Japan could the worlds of novelty plastic consumer goods, fast-food fanaticism and brand worship collide in such awe-inspiring, object-cultural absurdity.
The Japanese arm of fast food giant KFC recently released a suite of computing accessories in the likeness of their deep fried product. Whilst the Colonel hasn't yet taken to directly battering computing equipment (though that may not surprise some given recent accusations of some of their stores unsavoury contents), winners of a promotional giveaway could find themselves the lucky owners of a curious red and white keyboard, the keys of which replacing standard symbols with cryptic castings of miniature fried chicken pieces, giving users only the K, F and C to anchor to (presumedly touch-typing is second nature to Japanese technophile whiz kids). To make this branded computing experience complete, KFC also offers consumers the chance to wrap their hands around a disconcertingly realistic USB mouse and equally disturbing, as well as impractically large, USB flash drive—both novelties employing a rather questionable amount of plastic.
Collectors and fried chicken fanatics from Harajuku to Akihabara are surely to delight in these wild creations. Looking beyond the shimmering golden brown surface however, critics of the fast-food chain may well come to point out that such questionable objects only operate to abstract KFC's fried products further from the suspect reality of their production (current estimates for chickens put through the KFC machine at around 1 billion per year!).
Definitive Technology; from L to R: W Adapt, W9, W7, W Studio, W Amp
A veritable three-headed giant in consumer electronics, Sound United's aptly differentiated trio of brands is well-established across the category, offering products for users of all stripes, from hip millennials to discerning audiophiles. Today sees the launch of its first two wireless music systems, major releases for both the Polk Audio and Definitive Technology brands. Building on its long history as a leader in bringing top-notch audio engineering to music fans, the Polk Omni family comprises a suite of speaker options, plus a standalone amplifier and a wireless adaptor for your existing home audio system. Definitive Technology's W collection is billed as the "first audiophile-grade wireless music system," with higher-end versions of a congruent product range—two sizes of speaker, a soundbar/subwoofer combo, an amplifier and an adaptor.
DTS' Play-Fi allows for streaming via services such as Pandora and Spotify, as well as Internet radio and, of course, the user's personal music collection. Each of the systems is controlled by a dedicated app, compatible with Android and iOS and specifically designed to complement the respective hardware.
Polk Omni, from L to R: S2, S2 Rechargeable, SB1, A1, P1
We had the chance to talk to Michael DiTullo—a longtime friend and contributor to Core who also happens to be the Chief Design Officer of Sound United—about the thinking and process behind the two new collections.
Core77: Home audio, as a category, has a certain aesthetic; to what degree do you abide by these standards, and to what degree to do you try to break away?
Michael DiTullo: We try not to think of what is going on in the CE category and instead focus on what is important to our target persona and what other objects they surround themselves in. An audio product lives with a family, in their living room, in their kitchen, in their bedroom. It has to respond to these spaces to earn the right to be there. Our Polk collection uses warm metallic finishes, warm metallic off blacks, a mix of dark and light grilles and softer, mid-century modern inspired form language to respond to what is going on the space of the Polk listener and visually represent the sonic profile which is very warm.
The Definitive persona, who we call the aficionado, is more Modernist, clean, crisp, very precise. The design language reflects that with machined aluminum bases, machined cantilevered aluminum UI's, and very strong, minimal forms. Likewise, the sonic signature is very cold, precise, and forward, just like the design.
It sounds like you imagine these products in context, i.e. in and among the kinds of interiors, furniture and lifestyles of the end users.
Very much so. Before embarking on designing this collection, we conducted a series of ethnographic interviews with a range of listeners, including recent college grads moving into their first apartment, couples moving into their first home, young families with multiple children, and empty nesters who were downsizing. We studied the use cases of these individual groups, the unique pain points with trying to get an audio experience around their rooms, and were able to extrapolate the insights that went into the innovation and form factor of each product. By learning about what wasn't working for people, we could develop a collection and system that does work and is flexible enough to grow with them and continue to surprise and delight. We always start every project by answering two very simple questions: Who are we designing for, and what can our brand and expertise bring to them that makes their audio life better?
Polk Omni SB1 (wireless subwoofer & soundbar)
Definitive Technology W Amp
Polk Omni P1 adaptor (at center), pictured with RTiA1 speakers
Being an organized traveller involves packing just the right stuff—and for most end users, that involves electronics. After deciding which devices to take (laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc.) the end-user also needs to decide how to keep them charged.
If the travel is international, that often means packing one or more adapters. For those who are traveling to multiple countries and want an all-in-one adapter rather than individual ones, there's this universal travel adapter from Kikkerland, which works in more than 150 countries. At 8 × 5 × 0.6 inches, it's flatter than any other such converter. And at 2.4 ounces, it's very lightweight. The two downsides: The two parts both have projections that could snag something else in the luggage. And while the converter comes with instructions showing you how to make it work in each country, they may be too complex for some end-users. But some end users have noted with delight that using this adapter felt like playing with a Transformer toy.
When we first wrote about Twelve South's PlugBug back in 2011, a commenter said, "Great product but does me no good when I travel to Europe." Well, that's been fixed with the new PlugBug World. As with the older version, the PlugBug World attaches to a MacBook power adapter, converting it to a dual-charger for both the MacBook and an iPad or iPhone—and it will charge that iPad faster than the factory-supplied charger. But the PlugBug World also has five attachments which allow it to work around the world. It measures 2.44 x 2.57 x 1.14 inches, and weighs 3.5 ounces. One minor quibble: An end user noted that the U.S. adapter plug isn't retractable like the Apple adapter plug is.
A number of my clients now collect compostable materials, either for their own outdoor composting, or for city curbside collection bins. While a home recycling station might include a compost collection section, that's far from the only way to go.
If you're designing a kitchen, you may want to consider having something like the BLANCO SOLON compost system built into the countertop. Shannon Del Vecchio, an interior designer, LEED AP, says that "this useful feature is well on its way to becoming standard issue for new kitchens and renovations in the [San Francisco] Bay Area."
But there are also interesting designs for end-users who don't have the built-in option. The OXO compost bin follows the common approach of not being airtight, to avoid anaerobic conditions and the resultant odors. The lid detaches for easy emptying when the bin is taken outdoors. This bin is designed to be used without a liner; all parts are dishwasher-safe.
One way to control the odor (and the flies) is to freeze the compostable scraps. Scrap Happy from Full Circle, made of flexible silicone, has a wire rim to attach to a drawer, so end users can easily push scraps into the bin. It then goes into the freezer until it's time to use it again—or empty it, by pushing on the bottom. Again, this is a dishwasher-safe product.
There's nothing inviting about a surveillance camera. Closed-circuit cameras invariably raise the question of security at what cost, and while the devices are pivotal to many movies, I'm more reminded of that tape scene in The Grudge that I always watch from behind my fingers. Italian designer Eleonora Trevisanutto gives the cold, boxy cameras a fun, almost toy-like makeover. In fact, at first glance I mistook these for disguised baby monitors.
Created for Italian company Parson, the camera lenses are hidden behind a semi-transparent screen and holds true to the designs' theme by attaching to the wall with a tree branch.
HTC launched the new HTC One (M8) to great fanfare in central London yesterday, its new DotView case stealing much of the show. Core77 UK correspondent Sam Dunne caught up with VP of Design Scott Croyle to talk industrial design on the front-line.
With the keynotes out of the way and a restless swarm of tech bloggers let loose on banks of demo handsets, we were plucked from the fray and ushered down a bright white corridor of pre-fab meeting rooms. A quick handshake and a warm smile, Scott takes a seat at a table strewn with a spectrum of handsets, apologizing for the smell of fresh paint. I mention the local joke that the smell follows the Queen around. He lifts his gaze and grins quizzically.
HTC's VP of Design makes no attempt to hide his relief at another launch event done and dusted. "Selling," Croyle tells me, "is a huge part of my job, of the designer's job, both externally and internally... You gotta engage the business with stories to drive home innovations that are actually meaningful to people... even our engineers are selling their new stuff with fun little consumer stories now..." And then, of course, it's showtime: "Giving the consumer the stories behind the design helps them engage with our work emotionally." Getting up on stage, Scott admits, doesn't come naturally, "but it's so important for us as designers to put ourselves and our ideas out there... we've got to be confident and resilient if we want to be heard."
As a leader within a massive organization, Scott eloquently elaborates on the ongoing battle of championing meaning in product development: "There's a fire hose of information and stuff coming at you from all directions all the time... the only thing you can do is to filter it. With experience, designers develop what I call an informed intuition. You don't need to know everything before you act. You do have to know when to trust your gut. These days, I can look at the title and summary of a report and know whether I should dig for more detail. It comes with practice." With a wince of self-awareness, Scott speaks of the language he has armed himself with for fighting feature creep and mediocrity. "I don't let anyone talk about differentiation, it's not about that, it's got to be better-entiated. I'm always talking about meaningful innovation... innovation by itself just doesn't cut it."
Everyone loves to back a winner. Eone Time brought the Bradley Timepiece to Kickstarter and the people of Kickstarter backed it to the moon and, uh, back. This slick watch was developed by Hyungsoo Kim, inspired by the surprisingly limited watch options for people with impaired vision and aided by simple design sense.
The Bradley Timepiece is made from machined titanium and powered by a Swiss crystal mechanism, but the brilliant point is the face. Two slightly exposed ball bearings representing the minute and hour hands are pulled around tracks by strong internal magnets which keep them in time and secure. Numerical positions are marked in relief, 12 is a bold triangle and quarter hours are textured to distinguish them from minor increments. As a result, you can tell time with a brief brush of the fingers.
It's blatantly obvious that today's attitude toward technology is very much "right here, right now." In an attempt to reorient a user's relationship to their consumer electronics, The Consortium for Slower Internet—a website focused on giving a deeper look into computation spaces and all of the different communication methods around us—has launched a series of products for our gadgets that's looking to reconnect users with their devices' roles within their homes. By incorporating a planter or photo display into charging dock and USB drive designs, the hope is that users will take a moment to reflect on their natural environment while using their technologies.
It looks like Aramique Krauthamer has been keeping busy since we visited Nike's "Art and Science of Feeling" pop-up experience last month. We encountered the NYC-based installation/interaction designer at the opening of "PLAY: A Visual Music Experience," the latest installation that he's designed with Fake Love for his ongoing collaboration with premium home audio purveyors SONOS. No brainwave sensors this time around: Since true haptic feedback would have required speakers with custom top panels, the 'touch' sensor is actually a discreet optical input, which toggles the colors of the ripple-like projections. The visuals reflect not only the amplitude of soundwaves (as in your iTunes visualizer) but also the pitch, tone and a few other attributes.
Frankly, I couldn't tell the difference, but I did share Aramique's interest in the custom 'furniture' he designed for each 'room' of the installation. The lucite boxes are embedded with LEDs that match the projects and were fabricated for the project, which is en route to SONOS' Los Angeles studio after its one-night-only debut earlier this week. The occasion for the celebration is the worldwide availability of the new PLAY:1 speaker, which debuted two weeks ago, just in time for the holidays.
CES being what it is, there were of course numerous displays of techno-wizardry; and the business world being what it is, most of the new businesses built around these technologies will fail, while a few will thrive. Here's a few we'd like to see make the cut.
We know that the odds are against Pulse Wallet, because it's one of those technologies that needs to be ubiquitous to work, so we hope they've got a good marketing team. Because here's what it promises: The ability to leave your credit cards at home and pay with your finger. After registering with the service, which is free, the vein pattern in a finger of your choice is scanned and linked to whatever credit/debit cards you'd like. Then (assuming merchant uptake), you can pay for your purchases at a touchscreen register with a finger-scanning device.
Velodyne Acoustics is a high-end audio manufacturing company that, having mastered soundwaves, is now messing around with lightwaves (specifically, lasers). The result is their LIDAR system for realtime 3D scanning. By placing a small, spinning, blender-sized contraption on top of a car, they can generate a CG map of the immediately-surrounding environment in realtime.
Machinery company Caterpillar has already signed up, so we'll reportedly see earth-moving and construction equipment kitted out with Velodyne's system.
If everything at CES actually worked (i.e., no concepts) and you won one of those grab-whatever-you-can-in-fifteen-minutes shopping sprees, what would you snag? We've worked out a short list:
The Cynaps Bone Conduction Bluetooth Headset is the perfect way to take noisy calls on a crowded city sidewalk (or CES exhibition hall floor). I tested the device out in person (it was embedded inside a baseball cap) and it's awesome; just push your tragus—that little flap on your outer ear—closed, and you can hear audio coming in clear as day, transmitted through your bones.
The Cynaps is currently up for pledging on IndieGogo, and at $9,000 of $20,000 with 20 days left to go at press time, it could go either way. I should also point out that I'm of the opinion that they need to add a throat mic, though they claim their external mic picks up voices fine.
PiqX Imaging's XCANEX portable scanner was one of the few devices on the showroom floor that actually looked like an industrial design project.
The portable, fold-flat device clips onto your laptop, and can then be used to "scan" (via snapshot) documents, books, receipts, you name it. The included software auto-rotates the image to the correct orientation while OCR sorts out the text, making it an easy, and quick, push-button solution. Also a great way to quickly scan ID sketches. Totally wish I had one.
Judging by the large amount of small, wheeled, floor-mounted robots we mostly saw coming from Asian manufacturers, manually cleaning spaces in Asia will be a thing of the past.
While iRobot is a well-known name in the 'States, in China it's Xrobot (see their machines up top, as well as the one below that looks like it was designed by Cylons) that's all over the "intelligent robot service industry."
EcoVacs' Winbot is also square, but can pull a trick the others can't: The window-cleaning robot sticks to vertical glass.
Moneual (the company behind the Touchscreen Cafe Table) makes a "state of the art robot air purifier" in the H800, which chugs around your apartment scrubbing the O2. I'm not crazy about the taller form factor, because unlike the floor vacs, this one looks trickier to flip over and disable in case it goes rogue.
The H800 is not yet sold in the 'States, but once it is, how long until a Star Wars geek hacks it up to look like R2-D2?
3D Systems seemed to be the only 3D printing company out in force at CES, perhaps because it was at last years' that they debuted their Cube 3D Printer.
This year they pulled the sheets off of not one, but two machines: Their updated Cube 2, a faster and more accurate update to the original, and their larger CubeX, which can print "basketball size" (10.75" x 10.75" x 9.5") in both ABS and PLA.
Once Nexiom had refined their wicked Power Slate ultra-slim battery, they needed some industrial designers to refine the product it would be a part of. After a successful Coroflot search that product is now ready: The AMPT Smart Bag is a sort of messenger bag/backpack hybrid capable of charging many gadgets at once.
The vertically-oriented, sleekly profiled bag can take a laptop in one side...
...and tablets, phones, cables, and smaller gadgets on the other side.
Inner sleeves take Power Slates to provide charging functionality, and the larger 1300 model has enough juice to get your laptop from zero to full.
On the crowded CES floor a company called Nexiom caught our eye, and as it turns out, we had caught theirs: "Ah, Core77!" exclaimed the rep, spotting our badge. "We recruited our designers off of your Design Directory." Hong-Kong-based Nexiom had spent years developing an interesting little technology, and hired ID'ers we'd listed to integrate it into a consumer-friendly product design.
We'll start with what Nexiom developed, a super-flat battery they're calling the Power Slate.
They're ridiculously thin, about the same thickness as a USB connection.
Folks, something strange about this exhibition: All these speakers everywhere and I've only heard "Gangnam Style" once. It came blaring from a booth labeled Exelway, and I expected to see some big-ass speakers, but was surprised to see the sound coming out of these two impossibly thin bars (marked in the photo with hot pink tape):
No word on how the technology works, but even the bass was pretty decent, and the system is sub-woofer free. Another thing I appreciated is that they didn't beat their heads against the wall coming up with a name: The product is apparently called the Slim Speaker.
Meanwhile, a Chinese company called In2uit has moved in an adjacent direction, going thin and flat. Their Audio Art series of speakers are wireless and just about paper thin:
We're seeing so many objects here where the form has nothing to do with the function, as a designer it's almost... offensive. So it was almost refreshing to run across this weird massage products section, where things need to be shaped in such a way as to interact with the human body. The area was hard to miss, because there were quietly moaning people apparently being eaten by chairs (like this one by Infinity):
Then across from him, we saw this dude:
Guy on the right is getting his eyeballs massaged, in addition to the top of his head. A company called Breo USA (ironically, a Chinese company based in Canada) makes a ton of different portable battery-powered massagers targeted towards different areas of the body, and he's wearing their iDream 3 Eye & Head Massager.
Breo's Mini Body Massagers are designed with different shapes at the business end, depending on where they're meant to contact.
Like rival Samsung, LG also caused a stir with their new TV offering, seen above. (I apologize for the crappy photos, but it was a real jostle-fest.) The EA9800 series is freaking curved, providing truly equidistant viewing to the corners, assuming you're sitting dead-center. The OLED display can also support 3D, which is why the second image looks janky; it looked a lot more impressive through the glasses.
Honestly this seems more a demonstration of manufacturing might than a design innovation that consumers will enjoy, but time and the market will tell. Samsung reportedly announced their own curved televisions just moments before LG, and I like to see this kind of competition--it means sooner or later one of them will be driven to produce a breakthrough the other cannot match, and assuming their designers are clued in, we'll hopefully see something a bit more profound.
In the meantime, I think the curved screen technology would actually best be targeted to art directors, 3D modelers and video editors, people who spend their lives in front of a screen manipulating images, and typically from a fixed position.