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Posted by erika rae  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

Hitchbot-Lead.jpgAn artist's rendition of Hitchbot on the road

Seeing as self-driving cars won't be a reality any time soon, robots need to find an alternate means of travel for the time being. Case in point, the HitchBOT, a tiny, rainboot-wearing robot who is by (you guessed it) hitchhiking the time-honored tradition of hitchhiking. Even so, he's probably less eccentric than your average itinerant: With bright yellow Wellies strapped to his feet and a cake-saver helmet, HitchBOT has a bucket for a body and pool noodles for limbs and looks something like a child's storybook or TV show... which is kind of the point.

The brainchild of Dr. Frauke Zeller of Ryerson University and Dr. David Harris Smith of McMaster University, the HitchBOT was designed to travel some 6,000+ km from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design to Victoria, British Columbia, by means of friendly strangers. He comes fully equipped with 3G, GPS, WiFi and solar panels, so the hitchBOT team can track and receive texts/photos highlighting the droid's progress and deliver the updates to his quickly growing circle of fans. The robot will depend on the goodwill of travelers when he runs out of juice—once the energy from the solar panels is used up, all it takes is a simple connection to a car's cigarette lighter to reboot.

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The droid is pretty limited when it comes to mobility—his only moving part is his arm—but can sit thanks to a retractable tripod. A car seat is attached to his torso for easy buckling. HitchBOT can also speak English (along with a few sentences of French) and has access to Wikipedia for small talk topics. You could do worse when it comes to a road-trip buddy.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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You really have to feel sorry for rich kids living in cities. Because even if their parents own an incredibly rare Ferrari 250GT, it will be parked in the underground garage beneath their luxury building, and their children will never achieve spiritual growth by sending the car over a precipice like Cameron did in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The car would have to be parked somewhere on an upper story, preferably on the same level as their tony apartment, in order for the kids to experience this kind of gravity-based emotional catharsis.

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Posted by Carly Ayres  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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On any given day, many Marines carry more than 15 pounds of batteries along with all their other rations and gear. Add that to the fact that they're mostly on their feet, constantly moving, and you have a recipe for fatigue. But what if you could harness the energy from their movements and the weight of that gear while also decreasing the amount of poundage these Marines have to heft? That was the idea that brought together Lockheed Martin and STC Footwear to design and develop a pair of boots that capture the energy from all those footsteps and turn it into usable power.

The Kinetic Boots were announced early last May at the Marine Corps' Experimental Forward Operating Base (ExFOB) event, where Marines demonstrated their ability to generate around three watts of power after an hourlong walk, enough to charge an iPhone 5 three times. This just a start—Lockheed Martin and STC anticipate that the boots' have the potential to generate nearly twice as much power after further development.

"There were two or three key challenges that we identified on day one," says Michel Bisson, CEO and Chairman of the Canada-based STC Footwear. "The main one was that we wanted to use only the wasted energy generated when the person walks or runs. It was very critical for us that no additional work be required by any part of the body (i.e. joint) other than carrying the two to three ounces that the system weighed." Lockheed had previously explored solar-power chest panels and helmets, but those devices added significant weight, and STC was determined to avoid that trap.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Sure, smartphones allow us to communicate with anyone in the world at any time and provide access to a global network of knowledge and entertainment, but it's not like we can just pull the things out of our pockets and start using them. No. Instead we are forced to type in a four-digit security code!

This provides a unique set of physical challenges. For example, let's say that your security code is 1-9-8-2. This means you have to send your thumb up to the "1" at the top left of the screen, then move it all the way down to the bottom right to press the "9!" Then you have a little break moving it over to the "8," but that's temporary, because guess what, then you have to move your thumb all the way up to the top again to hit "2!" What are we, slaves?

Thankfully, for those of us who weren't born with Arnold Schwarzenegger's thumbs, help is here in the form of Digital Tattoos. These NFC-based skin stickers come in packs of ten. You stick one onto your body and tap your phone against it to "accept" it, which should be easier than getting your parents to accept that tribal/Celtic/Chinese character tattoo. From then on, you just tap your smartphone (it can be any smartphone in the world, as long as it's a Moto X) against the sticker and boom, the phone is unlocked, no Gatorade breaks required.

The adhesive "lasts for five days, and is made to stay on through showering, swimming, and vigorous activities like jogging," making this ideal for those who like to shower, swim, and/or jog vigorously.

Digital Tattoos aren't free, of course, they're $10 per pack. But that's no problem, because when you run out, you just pay them another ten dollars and then they give you another pack. In other words, you can just keep buying them!

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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It's 1952 in Cambiago, Italy, and a young man makes a fateful decision not to go into the family farming business. Ernesto Colnago loves racing bicycles, knows how to fix them, and wants to make them rather than tilling the soil. His father responds by grabbing an axe—and cutting down the family's mulberry tree, to turn the lumber into a workbench for Ernesto.

Colnago started selling high-quality custom steel frames in 1954, and in the subsequent decades gained a reputation for designing and building winning racing bikes. By the '70s, Colnago was making super-light steel frames, and in the '80s, used a then-radical top tube with an oval cross-section in a quest for increased stiffness. Then came the materials experimentation: Aluminum, titanium, and finally carbon fiber in a fateful collaboration with Ferrari in the late '80s.

By 1987 they'd produced their first carbon fiber prototype—but it wasn't ready for prime time. "The first fruit of Colnago and Ferrari Engineering's cooperation [was] the Concept bicycle," the company writes, "with carbon fiber tubes, composite three-spoke wheels and a gear system enclosed in the chainrings. The unusual gears [made] it too heavy for production, but the ideas in its frame [informed] all subsequent Colnago carbon fiber bicycles."

They've spent the years since working it out, and just this month they've updated their flagship bike. The Colnago C60 is hand-manufactured with the same process of "lugged" construction as its predecessor C59. Under this technique, the tubes that Colnago has formed from Japanese-made carbon fiber can be cut to specific lengths and inserted into a range of different lugs, or hubs if you will. This allows relatively quick and easy customization. (The alternative is to mold the frame in one piece, which would require a new, expensive mold for each variation in geometry.)

Watching the bike come together, it almost resembles a plumber cleaning and pasting PVC pipes together:

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Posted by Deena DeNaro  |  25 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Underway as of yesterday, the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow have been drawing lots of comparisons to the Olympic Games of London 2012. Some of this commentary has been plainly insipid, while others have been downright mean. Lyn Gardner's review of the XX Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony review was cruel and nasty, the way New York City fashion editors take pot-shots at Dallas by publishing images of big-haired women in loud dresses when covering social events in the Lone Star State.

While this may all come down to the "Scottish Cringe" (a national trait of self-deprecation), the Opening Ceremonies at Celtic Park on Wednesday night raise the valid question of how one distills culture and values into a stadium floorshow?

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To be sure, there were several cliché moments like giant dancing tea cakes, an inflatable Loch Ness Monster and John Barrowman's costume of purple tartan. But there were also some inspired moments like the Scottish Ballet's touching duet to a muted version of the Proclaimers' "500 Miles"; the Scottish terriers accompanying each nation's athletes; and the gay kiss in the opening moments. This last gesture was an unequivocal statement to the 42 participating countries that have laws against homosexuality on their statute books: These Games (a.k.a. The Friendly Games) are a celebration of equality and diversity.

But aside from the impossible task of portraying a nation's historical contributions in a one-hour spectacle (London 2012's supermodels and Sochi's weeping bear seem farther from the mark than highland dancing on whisky barrels), there is some stellar design work associated with the XX Commonwealth Games at Glasgow 2014.

Queen's Baton

In addition to the Queen's Baton, which we reported on last October, the designs of the medals, podiums and medal bearers' costumes all have a quality of elegant abstraction as they contemporary updates to traditional representations of Scottish culture at the medals ceremonies of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

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Posted by Coroflot  |  25 Jul 2014

Work for Eat24!

When job descriptions are this fun, we find it's best to let them do the talking...
"Do your Adobe Suite skills rival Beyonce's dance skills? Are you obsessed (not in a creepy way) with typography, spatial relationships, and awesome UI's? Can you design a tasty-looking egg roll with one hand while eating a real egg roll with the other? Alright, you don't have to eat while working, but if it helps with your work-flow we're totally ok with that.

Hi, we're EAT24 and we need a UI/UX Graphic Designer to keep our mobile apps, websites, ads, and email campaigns looking sexy. That means we need you to have at least a few years of experience designing for web and mobile app UI/UX with a kick-ass portfolio to back it up. Ideally you also have some understanding of business strategies and user research, as well as an ability to play well with others and adapt to specific styleguides." Don't miss out on this great opportunity! Apply Now.

Posted by erika rae  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

Kaleidoscope-Inside.jpg

Shipping containers have been becoming a lot of things lately—homes, churches, a Subway sandwich shop... the list goes on. We've got another one to add to the list: a larger-than-life kaleidoscope that you can actually walk into. The effect is much the same as a house of mirrors. Designers Masakazu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki are responsible for this psychedelic project, titled "Wink Space." At first glance, the structure comes off as a blinding beacon of mirrors—catch it at the wrong angle you'll be seeing sunspots instead of symmetry—but step inside and you'll find that Shirane and Miyazaki have a few surprises for you.

Kaleidoscope-Star.jpg

My favorite quirk has got to be the fact that the entire kaleidoscope is constructed with zippers—meaning various 'windows' can be unzipped and revealed from the inside. The designers call this "the world's first zipper architecture." Staying true to the quick assemblage/breakdown nature of shipping containers, they wanted this sentiment to translate in Wink Space. "A thin and light material was demanded to build the zipper architecture," Shirane and Miyazaki explain. "Therefore I referred to origami, which is a traditional game in Japan that can be made both light and strong only by folding. In other words, this polyhedron is built by folding one plane of 15m×8m."

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Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

Blanco-Solon-Compost-Bin.jpg

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."

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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.

Full-Circle-Scrap-Happy-Compost-Bin.jpg

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.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Jul 2014  |  Comments (8)

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This is a true story. Descriptions of companies, clients, schools, projects, and designers may be altered and anonymized to protect the innocent.

Editor: This True I.D. Story comes to us anonymously, from an up-and-coming designer ready to hit the trade shows. All he needed was a little manufacturing help...


I'd been working on this one [tabletop item] design for a while, I think Core77 even covered it. After a long development time, I finally got it to a point where it was time to industrialize it, get somebody else making it. Before that point I'd just been cranking out prototypes myself, with my little shitty little Craftsman router table—in other words, I was not set up to do any kind of real production.

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So I'm looking around for someone who can get the job done and I hear about this one older dude, I'll call him OPG for Old Production Guy. He's a friend of a friend of a friend, within an hour's drive of my shop, and is by reputation a fantastic woodworker. He came highly recommended with years of experience in the furniture industry. The word was that he'd eventually moved on into a tangential field related to woodworking machines, but was now reportedly itching to make stuff again. With all of his experience, he sounded like a good fit, and having worked in the industry, he presumably knew all about the importance of deadlines.

So I pay him a visit, and this dude has a gigantic warehouse with access to like every woodworking machine under the sun. Table saws, bandsaws, router tables, shapers, planers, joiners, and all of these crazy contraptions for performing multiple operations at once. He grabbed some scrap wood and demonstrated the tolerances of some of the machines for me and they were pretty impressive. You could tell by the way he handled the wood and the machines that he'd been doing this his entire life.

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I figured with a warehouse full of equipment like that I might be too small-potatoes for him—I just needed a small run of these [objects] that I could bring to a trade show—but after I pulled out my drawings to show him, he seemed excited by my design and eager to make it, and my low numbers didn't faze him. I got the vibe that he just wanted to make sawdust again.

So he asked me to bring out two prototypes, as I had designed both a smaller and larger version and he wanted to see them both. I brought them out there and we had lunch and talked about it while he looked the prototypes over. At the end of the meeting he goes "Okay, why don't I try to make a couple of these and we'll see how it goes? And then we'll go from there."

I was like "Wait, don't you need like a deposit? Or to like, give me a quote?"

"Nah, don't worry about it, we'll just test it out," he says. And I'm like "Oh, sweet!"

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So this was my first misstep.

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