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Category Archives: Design

Microsoft Surface: “It’s Real And It’s Spectacular!”

In the dead of the night, Microsoft has taken the wraps off Surface, formerly known only as Project Milan. MS Surface is a surface computing device, one which could very well change the way we expect to interact with technology. “Surface computing device” really means that it’s a touch-sensitive table, with a powerful PC inside, and fancy software running. But the things it can do are stunning. It allows you to manipulate digital pictures as if they were right there in front of you, while resizing on-the-fly. It interacts with other devices, such as Zune’s and cellphone, allowing you to drag multiple “objects” into them, be them pictures, songs, maps, itineraries or calendar items. It recognizes the object with which it is being touched, allowing you to use paintbrushes, pencils or other tools the way they’re intended to be used. The list go on for some time.

Right now, the technology is aimed squarely at hotels, retail establishments, restaurants and public entertainment venues where the use of such hardware could revolutionize point-of-sale dynamic for some time to come. Things like placing an order in a restaurant, or splitting a bill in a particular way become possible in a way never before experienced. The price tag will also likely keep it out of consumers, at least initially, with MS Surface expected to cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000.

For a fuller picture, you should really watch the above video, a Popular Mechanics exclusive. We sound like gushing groupies, but you might share some of our feelings once you’ve seen for yourselves. Release date: Winter 2007.

VIA [ Everywhere ]

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the headline is a slightly modified Seinfeld reference.

Sony Experimenting With Column-Shaped Speakers

sound column

By David Ponce

Sony Design has been playing around with speakers, in this instance coming up with this column of glass named “Rin”.

[The device is a] column rising vertically from a stone floor, tapering into a translucent pole from which sound emerges in all directions. The radiating sound defines the space through which it propagates-like ripples produced by a stone dropped in a pond…

The base is made from Lombardy marble, long employed for creating acoustic spaces in so many historic churches and salons.

This design is part of several others resulting from a temporary union between Sony Design and Master Craft Lombardia, in Italy, in a project to “craft a variety of materials into unique and original pieces that produce sounds and images and are exhibited in a fascinating and suggestive setting.” Whether this or any of the other designs will ever be produced remains to be seen.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ 3 Yen ]

The Bubble Head Concept Redefines WebCams

bubble head webcam

By David Ponce

There’s no reason that webcams have to look like some ugly mechanical thing you stuck on your desk somewhere just because you had to. Nor is it even necessary to hide them altogether, the way Apple has. We vote for getting a little whimsical, and turning them into something like the Bubble Head. The cam itself is mounted into the head, while the body contains a copper skeleton and is covered in durable Thermoplastic Polyurethane. This means you can reconfigure the little guy any which way you want, and integrate him into your environment, as if he was really meant to be there; hang him on your screen, sit him on your books or make him climb the included ladder.

As a final design touch, LEDs were integrated on the circumference of the cam, serving a dual purpose as a clock that syncs with system time even when not in use.

Unfortunately for us, Bubble Head is still at the prototype stage. It was designed by one Eric Zhang, and there seems to have been a few prototypes made, although there’s no appearance of mass production just yet. If ever.

If you like pictures though, keep reading, cause we included a whole bunch.

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The Chrono Shredder Disposes Of Time In Style

chrono shredder

By David Ponce

The Chrono Shredder is an artsy project by one Susanna Hertrich. It’s pretty much just a calendar, but with an interesting twist. You feed it a 365 day roll of paper, and start it up. It’ll then slowly unwind, and shred the passing days as it does so. It doesn’t display the actual day, only the pristine future, and the shredded past.

The Chrono_Shredder is a device that makes past time tangible. It is a hybrid between calendar, clock and waste producing automaton. It has no on/off-button, thus it is unstoppable, just like time. It features the 365 days of the year represented on a paper-roll. The paper-roll is led through a hacked paper-shredder, which is programmed to use exactly 24 hours to shred one “day”. The Chrono_Shredder’s function is not to show the current moment, like a calendar. Instead, it shows the nearest future (the next day) — and all the time that has past from the time the device has been switched on.

We actually kind of like the idea, and think it would be quite the hit at our beatnik parties. Unfortunately, price or availability are unknown, though it’s likely just a project for now.

[ The Chrono Shredder ] VIA [ Technabob ]

The X-Net Improves On The Stop Sticks

x-net

By David Ponce

Part of the fun in watching cop shows on TV is seeing the “bad guy” run over spike strips (or stop sticks, if you prefer), only to see him keep on driving with tires disintegrating, and sparks flying and smoke billowing. But all that hilarity might end if this X-Net is ever embraced by law enforcement agencies.

See, the problem with the spike strips… is the fact that they’re strips. They bust a tire, but that’s it. The X-Net, as you might have guessed, is, well, a net. It’s covered in spikes and when run over by a car, wraps itself around the tire and wedges itself in. Once this happens, the wheels won’t turn anymore, and the vehicle comes to a stop. It can handle vehicles in excess of 10,000 pounds, and if used with the X-Tendâ„¢ deployment system, can be on the ground in about 3 seconds.

Of course, there are drawbacks; with withdrawal for instance: if the fugitive avoids the X-Net, trailing police cars might not be so lucky.

We don’t know how much it is, but it does seem to be available now.

[ X-Net ] VIA [ SciFi Tech ]

Patent Filed For PDA With Detachable Cellphone

pdacellphone patent.jpg

By David Ponce

Patents are a dime a dozen, and they don’t mean much unless a product is actually made. Of course, that’s only true until the lawsuits start flying, but that’s beside the point here. We’re just trying to put some perspective on the announcement that a patent has been filed for a PDA device that contains a detachable mobile phone portion. This makes perfect sense actually, as PDAs are a dying breed, though they do still have some use. While mobile phones are more popular due to a bunch of reasons (they’re more portable, do about as much as your average PDA, etc), the extra bulk of a PDA device does allow for the cramming of more computing horsepower. Cramming horsepower is always good, so to combine the portability of a cellphone with the potential of the extra computational abilities of a larger PDA seem like a good idea.

Of course, like we said, a patent by itself doesn’t mean much. Especially when it’s filed by one Jay G. Partkh of unknown pedigree. We think the concept itself is a really good idea, though we’re thinking this could be just one example of patent squatting. Now, if ever an actual company decides to make something like this, they’ll have to come talk to Mr. Partkh.

[ Patent Page (PDF) ] VIA [ MobileWhack ]

The Load-Thing Solves A Barely Existent Problem

load thing By David Ponce

Well, here’s another one on charging your devices. The Load-Thing is a folding piece of something or other (probably plastic), whose only purpose is to provide you with a place to put down your device. If you live in an apartment with absolutely no furniture and with electric sockets six feet off the ground, this is perfect! You just fold it according to instructions, insert the charger through the opening and plug it into the wall. The charger itself is what holds the Load-Thing to the wall, and the entire setup then gives you, well… a place to put whatever it is you’re charging.

It’s somewhat useful and could come in handy if you’re moving into a new place and have yet to bring in furniture. It costs 10 Euros, and can be shipped in an envelope.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Coolest-Gadgets ]

The Creepy Parasite Charger Reminds You Not To Consume So Much

parasite charger By David Ponce

The parasite charger, from Swedish design firm BRDA, was conceived quite some time ago, but damn if it ain’t an idea still worth talking about today. It’s a simple charger, much like the ones that you use to charge all your electronics, excepts it’s covered in a silicone-like material and is purposefully designed to look like a parasite. The reason that it’s covered in silicone is that as long as it’s plugged into the wall, a mechanism inside pulsates, giving the impression that the device is alive, and “feeding” on your electrical bill. Its disturbing kind of creepiness is really to remind you not to consume as much energy, and that chargers should be disconnected when the charging is done. At least, that’s what the designers had in mind.

What we’d like to know is if charger do in fact consume energy when they are not connected to their respective devices. If an electric loop is not closed, will current still flow? We think not, but the idea is still very cool. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem as though this product ever went past the concept/prototype stage, and as it’s been some time since its design, it probably never will be available for purchase.

[ BRDA Home ] VIA [ UberReview ]

The World’s Coolest Coffins

colcofnokia.jpg

By David Ponce

You know how when you go to these multi-cultural fairs, and come across the Africa stand, you always have cool wooden sculptures of elongated people and stuff. Yeah? Well, little did we know that the good people of Ghana had taken their art to a whole new level. We just stumbled across a website that sells a variety of African goods, particularly this line of wonderful coffins. Aside from the pictured Nokia coffin, they sell a Ferrari, a Subaru, a beer bottle (!) and a computer mouse coffin. In fact, the company claims they will make you a coffin in any shape or size you desire, if you have up to three months to wait for them. Not only that, but we reckon their prices are more than reasonable: a full-sized (6ft) Ferrari coffin will set you back $1,000.

Keep reading for a few more pictures and links.

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