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Posted by Ray  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Last we wrote about Black Eyed Peas' irrepressible frontman Will.i.am, he was dispensing nuggets of wisdom about logo design; earlier this year, he debuted a smartwatch on Alan Carr: Chatty Man, which he unveiled in earnest this week at the Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Here's the debut of the as-yet-unnamed Puls from April:

Billed as a cuff, as in cufflink or handcuff, the wearable.i.am. was reportedly two and a half years in the making and is noteworthy in that it need not be paired with a smartphone. Like the Samsung Gear S and Timex Ironman ONE GPS (both released in August), the Puls connects directly to a data network so it can function as a standalone device. Although the user can send and receive calls and texts, "it's on the wrist, therefore it should not mimic a phone." So says Will.i.am in a product walkthrough with the Wall Street Journal, in a video that is a appreciably less surreal than his talk-show appearance:

Jimmy Iovine reference duly noted; not entirely sure why he's pictured with Dr. Dre though...

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you live in a rural area with four seasons, you know that maintaining your property is a lot of work requiring a lot of tools. And when it comes to powered items, at a minimum you need a lawnmower for the summer, a leaf blower for the fall, a snowblower for the winter and maybe a pressure washer when it comes time to clean the house in spring. That's four contraptions taking up space in your garage, each with their own motor.

Which is why Troy-Bilt's forthcoming FLEX line of products is brilliant, at least in theory. The idea behind the FLEX line is that you buy a single motor (a decent size, too, at 208cc's), then buy lawn mower, leaf blower, snowblower and pressure washer "attachments" as needed, and you can swap each of them in and out, so you've only got one motor to maintain.

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As of yet there's no details on the FLEX's "Lock & Latch" connection system, but since the devil is in the design details, we imagine the ease or difficulty of swapping attachments is something that will boost or kill sales after customer reviews hit the web. Which will be next year; the FLEX line is slated to roll out in Spring of 2015, exclusively through Lowes.

Via Consumer Reports

Posted by Carly Ayres  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you have ever shipped mass quantities of products worldwide, it's likely that you've worked with a packing solutions company. Experts in cardboard, foam and other packing products, these companies work with clients to make sure your beautifully designed product reaches the hands of consumers in one piece. "It's like the walls of a house in a tornado," explains Mike Martinez, Director of Consulting Services at Ernest Packaging Solutions, based near Los Angeles. "We protect your contents from the outside elements."

But that's not all Ernest Packaging Solutions does. Last month, to kick off its Cardboard Chaos series—in which the company hopes to push its skills by inventing alternative uses for its paper products—Ernest collaborated with Signal Surfboards to create a cardboard surfboard, a far cry from its daily services.

Martinez led the endeavor, putting together a small team at Ernest with each member specializing in various packing techniques, from food handling to shipping fragile china. The crew at nearby Signal Snowboards introduced Martinez and his team to Jeff "Doc" Lausch, a legend in the world of surfboard shaping. With Lausch's help, the team decided to model its board after a standard foam surfboard, using Hexacomb, a paper-based honeycomb, as the underlying structure.

Taller and thicker than cardboard, Hexacomb's structure makes it ideal for safeguarding objects, with crushable air cells that protect on impact. In a surfboard, these pockets of air provide buoyancy. "To recreate a foam-core surfboard out of paper, we needed to maintain buoyancy through compartmentalization that will keep that air inside," Martinez says. "Foam is just a bunch of small, trapped air bubbles. We wanted to create these air pockets and knew that Hexacomb was a great medium to do it."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (3)

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This young student's name, country of origin, and the specific design school she attended are not important. But in this video she explains why she was motivated to study industrial design. At nearly ten minutes long the video is a bit rambling (cut the kid some slack), but one of the relevant stories is from 1:45 to 3:30 in the video; around 6:28 she discusses how she sees ID as the perfect blend of art and science, although it was actually her second choice as a major; and starting at 8:20 she reveals her perception of ID programs as being more cooperative than competitive. (Was not the case for me, but I guess your mileage may vary.)

So why are we showing you that video? Because later on she decided to quit ID, and explained why in this next video. At just over four minutes this one's a bit tighter, and while some of her points obviously have to do with her specific personal traits, other points she makes might hit home for some of you, depending on your program:

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Posted by Ray  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

AerialBold-NOAA.jpgL: ABC Dataset Samples; R: Photo credit: NOAA, Vancouver Aquarium.

We've long been enamored with the Eames' Powers of Ten short film, which is as much an introduction to aerial photography as it is to the math behind astronomy and biology. Just as everyone now takes beautiful images (and the retina displays to view them on) for granted, there is also a sense in which we are collectively GPS-enabled: After all, digital cartography is perhaps the most practical application of constant connectivity, and we can thank one company for the ability to zoom out to god's-(or satellites'-)eye view with a pinch of the fingers.

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Benedikt Groß & Joey Lee take it even further with Aerial Bold, the "first map and typeface of the earth."

The project is literally about "reading" the earth for letterforms, or alphabet shapes, "written" into the topology of buildings, roads, rivers, trees, and lakes. To do this, we will traverse the entire planet's worth of satellite imagery and develop the tools and methods necessary to map these features hiding in plain sight.
The entire letterform database will be made available as a "usable" dataset for any of your art/design/science/textual projects and selected letterforms will be made into a truetype/opentype font format that can be imported to your favorite word processor.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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The invention of a man named William Louden is a great example of industrial design in the era before the term "industrial design" was invented.

One of the first issues dealt with by the earliest farmers was where to keep their livestock. So they designed and built barns. They also needed a place to store the hay to feed those livestock, so the hay went into the barn too. The amount of livestock a farmer could keep, and feed, was thus limited to the size of the barn's footprint.

One early design solution to this limitation was to add a hayloft, or "mow," so you could keep the hay up above and maximize your floorspace below to house more livestock. But getting all that hay up to the mow was a lot of work, even after you rolled the hay wagon into the barn and stood on it to get a little extra elevation.

Enter William Louden, one of nine children born on a farm in Iowa in the 1800s. Louden was sickly and suffered from rheumatism, meaning he couldn't engage in the farm labor that his siblings did. But by observing their work, specifically the way that they had to pitch hay up onto the mow from the wagon, he designed a clever way to cut the workload down drastically.

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This being 1867, ropes, pulleys, wheels and beams had all long existed. But Louden put all these things together in a novel way, starting with the beam, which he suspended from the ceiling and used as an overhead track—an early monorail. His resultant monorail-based design for a hay carrier allowed men to get bales of hay up into the mow with a fraction of the effort required when done manually. Here's a modern-day demonstration of the Louden Barn Hay Carrier:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Recreational furniture is one of the more unusual subsets of furniture design, but it's apparently one that people will pay good money for, judging by the plethora of flip-top gaming tables on the market. Up above you see Hammacher Schlemmer's Rotating Air Hockey to Billiards Table, a 350-pound behemoth with a built-in blower for the air hockey side. Flip the surface over and you're set up for pocket billiards (though at seven feet in length, you're not exactly in Minnesota Fats' playground).

This competing table at Hayneedle has HS beat by one game, as they've got table tennis (again, truncated at seven feet) on top of the first two games. Literally on top of them; what a difference a piece of MDF makes, huh?

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That lousy giraffe that runs Toys R Us also sells a 3-in-1 gaming table, albeit a tiny one at just four feet in length.

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Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Maybe you're designing a garage for end users who wants to actually put their cars in their garages, along with all the other stuff they're storing there. Or maybe you'd like to create a shop, but you also need storage space for non-shop items. One way to solve that problem is to create some overhead ceiling storage.

One obvious way to do that is to install some racks. The racks from Monkey Bars, hold either 500 or 750 pounds, depending on the model. The height is adjustable, so there's a lot of flexibility regarding what gets stored, and where. There's a 2-inch lip around the edge to help ensure things stay in place, without making it too difficult to lift a bin into place.

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And as you can see with these racks from NewAge Products, users can add hooks (if vertical space allows) to create even more storage.

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Not everyone is going to want to climb up on a ladder to get things down from a ceiling rack. Some people will have issues with balance; others may have heavy items which can be tricky to handle on a ladder. In such situations, a lift system might be a better approach. This is a general-purpose lift from Racor. The pulley systems lowers the rack eight feet from the ceiling; it can hold 250 pounds.

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Designers have also create lifts to deal with specific items often stored in garages. For example, here's a bicycle lift. This one can be installed on ceilings as high as 14 feet. While end-users generally agree it's a good design, many of them have complained about the quality of the rope. It's a good reminder to properly consider the cost-vs-quality tradeoff for a product's components.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Do you like feeling you're on the right side of history? Do you value the true craft of storytelling (not just designers and advertisers telling you their products tell stories)? Do you love unexpected views into the lives and histories and work of others? Shh. Just click here.

The Radiotopia network kicked off last November with a super successful KS campaign spearheaded by Roman Mars and Radio PRX, who proposed banding creative indie podcasts together in a "new kind of radio." Their early efforts have paid off, with more amazing work coming out all the time. The networked shows include (my unabashed favorite) 99% Invisible, Fugitive Waves, Love + Radio, Radio Diaries, Strangers, Theory of Everything, and The Truth. They're very different, but each features a well-developed voice, interesting subject matter, and interesting production. There's fiction, history, design, sound art... Tuning in feels like stumbling on that special driveway moment more times than not. They've all expanded a ton in the first year, now they're moving into a second year of programming with the aim of bolstering the original member shows and bringing more into the fold.

Unsurprisingly (the founding podcast is entirely about design) the campaign has some good looking perks to offer. There are the standard attractive shirts and mugs, but there are also interesting prints, beautiful headphones, a chance at guest producing episodes, storytelling workshops, and the chance to get a stranger as a pen pal, among several others. That's awesome.

If you ever find yourself enjoying (or craving more) podcasts as you stoop over your work for hours, do yourself a favor and give Radiotopia a little love.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (4)

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We assume that gesture control will be the wave of the future, if you'll pardon the pun. And we also assumed it would be perfected by developers tweaking camera-based information. But now Elliptic Labs, a spinoff company from a research outfit at Norway's University of Oslo, has developed the technology to read gestures via sound. Specifically, ultrasound.

In a weird way this is somewhat tied to Norway's oil boom. In addition to the medical applications of ultrasound, Norwegian companies have been using ultrasound for seismic applications, like scouring the coastline for oil deposits. Elliptic Labs emerged from the Norwegian "ultrasonics cluster" that popped up to support industrial needs, and the eggheads at Elliptical subsequently figured out how to use echolocation on a micro scale to read your hand's position in space.

With Elliptic Labs' gesture recognition technology the entire zone above and around a mobile device becomes interactive and responsive to the smallest gesture. The active area is 180 degrees around the device, and up to 50 cm with precise distance measurements made possible by ultrasound... The interaction space can also be customized by device manufacturers or software developers according to user requirements.

Using a small ultrasound speaker, a trio of microphones and clever software, a smartphone (or anything larger) can be programmed to detect your hand's location in 3D space with a higher "resolution" (read: accuracy) than cameras, while using only a miniscule amount of power. And "Most manufacturers only need to install the ultrasound speaker and the software in their smartphones," reckons the company, "since most devices already have at least 3 microphones."

The demo of the technology, which they're calling Multi Layer Interaction, looks pretty darn cool:

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |  16 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Ziba turns 30 this year, and the renowned design company is understandably proud. To celebrate the diverse and lasting work of founder Sohrab Vossoughi, he and other design veterans discussed the future of product design. On the panel were Vossoughi, Allan Chochinov of SVA and Core77, John Jay of Wieden+Kennedy, and Aura Oslapas, previously Chief Design Officer for Best Buy, with questions and moderation by Carl Alviani. These folks had strong opinions, punchy advice, and more personality than your average lineup of industry heads. Here's our synopsis of the key questions and insights.

The definition of "product" has shifted over time. What does it mean now and why?

Oslapas started off clarifying that a product has come to describe services and software, in addition to hardware. Vossoughi agreed, but pointed out that even as design becomes more integrated with business the consumer still thinks of "product" in physical terms. Jay, as a communications and advertising pro, disagreed, pointing out that in his field of design creating an emotional response and relationship to another product is itself a product. Chochinov jumped on this, noting that Product Design has never been a particularly clarifying term, and now the growth of interaction design has made things even more complicated: "I can never hope to have a career moniker that makes sense. If it weren't so funny it would be cruel." Referencing the recent Facebook/Ello debate, he pointed out that point of view is everything, since from one angle Facebook is the product, but in reality it's us the users who are the profitable product. Oslapas countered that consumers still call the product by what it is, unless there's an issue—"product" is just a business term for the thing that we sell, rather than name or noun used by the user. In Allen's words: a product is something that needs to be fixed.

What are new impacts on the field and practice of design?

Social media was the first, albeit obvious, theme. In Jay's estimation, user engagement is empowering enough that it's changing everything. Ideas necessarily have to come from different places, and the production process is no longer a Push theory from the producer's end. Oslapas credited design methodologies and tools that cross disciplines. Prototyping tools and new work models are both rapidly shifting expectations towards greater collaboration.

User-centeredness, as Chochinov put it, is design's current but deeply problematic frame. "Users are part of the problem! Earth-centric design won't fly with consumers, but it's essential that we use the privilege of the design community towards making something of use at all." This shifted into a scathing critique of what he sees as the main goals in design, namely providing convenience, beauty, pleasure to anyone with the disposable income to afford it.

Ziba_Design_Panel-FIRST.jpgFrom left: Allan Chochinov, Aura Oslapas, Carl Alviani, John Jay & Sohrab Vossoughi

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Posted by Coroflot  |  16 Oct 2014

Work for Nest!

Nest is growing and there's a lot to do. You've never had this much fun working this hard. Nest is passionate about reinventing unloved but important home products by redefining human interaction and its aesthetic quality with strong attention to detail. This Palo Alto, CA team is looking for talented Industrial Designer who will collaborate closely with Engineering, Operations and the User Experience group to fulfill the complex demands of modern industrial production.

This role requires a holistic and user oriented approach to create delightful products that are simple and easy to use as well as having a good quality build. The Designers accompany and influence the product development process from concept till ramp. Being a great team player doesn't hurt either, so Apply Now.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you had to pick: What's the ugliest product design you unwillingly own, the most unsightly object cluttering your home? One object, above all others, that has simply not kept pace with the times? I'm willing to bet it's the power strip under your desk. Maxed out and spewing a half-dozen differently-colored cables and ill-fitting adapters, the modern-day power strip looks like a product design that's been turned inside out.

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"It's time to add design to those boring old power strips," proclaims the development team behind Boxtap, which aims to turn the power strip outside-in.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Prior to learning how to use a desktop CNC mill, I was very curious as to how to set the machine up, and I figured I couldn't be alone--if you're thinking about getting one for your own shop, you're probably wondering what kind of downtime it would create. But at the time I was doing my research, I couldn't find a concise video showing the process. So we've made one for you, below, showing you exactly what you need to do once you get it out of the crate.

The ShopBot Desktop we're using comes pre-assembled, so setting it up was a lot easier than I thought it'd be. Now remember that this thing is essentially a router on steroids, and like any router you'll need a method to contain the dust. Hooking up a shop vacuum is pretty straightforward, but here I'll show you a crucial mistake I made, and how you can easily avoid it.

Previously:
» Introducing the Core77 ShopBot Series
» An Overview of the ShopBot Desktop

Posted by Hand-Eye Supply  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Since Hand-Eye Supply opened we've highlighted the most practical, attractive workwear we could find. We pride ourselves on seeking out great construction, flattering fits, ethical sourcing, and high quality material. Now we're thrilled to meet our own high standards with the exclusive Hand-Eye x L.C. King Work Jeans. They're lean, mean, American-made, and tailored perfectly to the modern worker.

These jeans are made from beautiful raw selvedge denim and tough cotton duck, and they're built to look good. We couldn't have worked with a better collaborator than the L.C. King Manufacturing Company, makers of Pointer Brand and other durable, high-quality workwear since 1913. The 12.5 oz. selvedge comes from Greensboro, North Carolina, and each piece is still hand-sewn in Bristol, Tennessee.

Traditional materials meet a modern slim fit, and the result is solid: classic, dependable jeans that look effortless and can hold up to real use, at the right price. Check them out!

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Posted by Ray  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (6)

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First-world problems: As a frequent air traveler, I was confident that I had my pack-and-go routine dialed in, and it was only by the time that I was halfway to JFK—40 minutes behind schedule, due to e-mail exigencies—that I realized that I'd forgotten the power supply for my MacBook Pro. It wasn't so much the prospect of not having juice on the 13-hour flight but the fact that I was so hasty as to overlook the essential technological tether, at once a fuel supply and a fetter, and that I'd have a narrow window to get ahold of one in Beijing. I made it to the gate with time to spare; once I'd determined that none of the shops in Terminal 1 sold the 60W MagSafe Power Adapter (or a third-party surrogate), I looked up the closest pingguo store to the airport and planned to head straight there from PEK. CA982 was due to land at 6:20pm local time, which would give me about 3.5 hours to make it to the wraparound glass emporium that evening.

16 hours later, I was carefully unboxing a white plastic briquette at a nearby restaurant (with wattage taken care of, I sought food and wi-fi); chagrined that I had to buy one at all, I had it in mind to use it for that week and return it on the way home—my way of leaving no trace. Alas, it was all for nought: I only made it a few days before I ended up peeling off the last bits of protective plastic from the immaculate shell. Overpriced though it may have been, I figured that it never hurts to have a spare, and, insofar as my trip was predicated on being able to use my laptop, it was a justifiable acquisition.

An insipid anecdote, perhaps, about an unremarkable object—which is precisely why it may well represent the final frontier of third-party accessorization. As MeezyCube notes in their Kickstarter pitch video, there are cases galore for the iPhone, iPad and MacBook... so why not the MagSafe adapter as well?

A joke about the "Meh-zyCube" would be too... meezy.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think that this is an outright parody of case creep: It's a grating conceit beyond the fact that I suspect that a sizable proportion of Macbook owners don't bother with the fold-out 'wings' for wrapping the cable; even the dubious durability of the cord can be solved with Sugru. What disturbs me about the MeezyCube is that it's yet another gyre-worthy plastic thing that no one really needs.

First-world problems indeed.

Posted by Mason Currey  |  15 Oct 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Last month we asked the chairs of 11 leading industrial-design programs to talk to us about the evolution of ID education for our D-School Futures interview series. Since then we've received word of two new master's programs in design that seemed worthy of additional comment. In New York, Parsons is launching an MFA in industrial design—and we'll have an interview with Rama Chorpash about that program in the coming days.

Today, we're checking in on a master's program with a broader, more interdisciplinary focus. The University of Michigan's Stamps School of Art & Design is currently accepting applications for a Master of Design in Integrative Design. It's a two-year program with an interesting approach—the idea is that students with a variety of design backgrounds will work together in teams to invent solutions for a wicked problem that will rotate every few years. The inaugural problem is "wicked healthcare," and Stamps has lined up medical companies, biomedical engineers, surgeons and others to participate in the curriculum.

Recently, we talked to Bruce M. Tharp—a long-time Core77 contributor and a new addition to the Stamps faculty—about the MDes program. The following is an edited and condensed version of our conversation.

Core77: Who is this program for?

Bruce Tharp: We imagine that our ideal candidates are probably industrial designers, interaction designers, graphic designers, interior designers/architects—people in that design space. But we're excited about the possibility of students with other skills sets and proficiencies who also have experienced design in some professional setting. Of course, the program itself is highly cross-disciplinary. There is tremendous integration of non-design information and experts—for the current "wicked healthcare" theme, we have on board medical companies, a children's hospital, biomedical engineers, surgeons, technologists, entrepreneurial faculty and many more who will be integrated into the curriculum.

This idea of designers working to solve big societal problems—is that a career or a profession that exists now, or is it one that you're trying to help create?

The program is what we think is a 21st-century program for 21st-century design. The idea is that these are big, complex problems that are tackled in cross-disciplinary teams, collaboratively, with more of a systems approach. This is the way a lot of designers are now working, and that I would say design is increasingly being asked to work. So this is partly a response to the world and it's also partly a call to the world as well, about what design can do and its potential.

Now, that doesn't mean that there isn't a role in the world for what we would call 20th-century design or design education. In graduate education, that really comes from the MFA model, where you're working independently on a thesis project of your choosing, and it's something that you can generally handle in a year. That's a completely valid way of working and there are lots of applications for that kind of work, but increasingly designers are being asked to do more.

Design has a lot of visibility now, and other disciplines are saying, "Wow, what if we could use design in this way?" So the program is inviting design into more complex arenas. I think designers are really uniquely positioned to work on these wicked problems, but it demands that we be educated in a different way.

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Posted by Coroflot  |  15 Oct 2014

Work for KLIM!

Driven by the continual feedback and input from dedicated test pilots and passionate customers, KLIM has one mission - to improve your riding experience without compromise. From snowmobiling to motorcycle riding, KLIM utilizes the world's highest technologies in waterproof, breathable, durable and comfortable materials. Does designing these products sound like a dream job to you? If so, you might be the Technical Designer their Rigby, ID team is looking for.

With a strong knowledge of apparel and computer skills, you adhere to deadlines like white on rice. You have advanced knowledge of fit/construction and costing, plus you're more than ready to be responsible for the development of product, from design to final prototype. Go for it - Apply Now.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (0)

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"Everything can be a lamp with LumiLor," writes Darskide Scientific, the company that developed it. LumiLor is a patented coating that glows when a current is applied to it. (And yes, it's safe to touch, as it's sealed and insulated.) The brilliance of the system is that since it's water-based, you can load it up into any paintspraying system or airbrush and you're off to the races. Here's how the process is applied:


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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Oct 2014  |  Comments (15)

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Industrial design student Quentin Debaene's Dyson-Powered Invisible Umbrella concept generated strong interest when we showed it to you last year. Created as submission for the James Dyson Award, Debaene estimated that his fabric-less umbrella design, which would blow air so forcefully that falling water would be repelled, could be built in the year 2050. Now, however, a self-described research team in China is claiming they can produce an air-blowing, no-fabric umbrella by next year.

As of yesterday, the anonymous development team has successfully Kickstarted their Air Umbrella project (with a shockingly low US $10,000 target).

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But before you get too excited, a couple of caveats. One is that the development team's identity and credentials are murky. While they say "We are a R&D team from China. Most of our members hold Ph.D/Master degree of Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics or Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics," the only person listed by name on the campaign, a Chuan Wang, has a Facebook profile that does not list a college degree, indicating only that s/he "studied at" Southeast University in Nanjing.

Caveat number two is that the error-riddled presentation is a bit underwhelming. But we'll let you be the judge:

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