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Tag Archives: Concepts

Rotor Digital Camera Concept Is All About The Dials

Rotor Digital Camera Concept (Image courtesy Charlie Nghiem)
By Andrew Liszewski

Part of the appeal of Fujifilm’s FinePix X100—for me at least— is that settings like shutter speed have been made accessible via a dedicated physical dial. And I like dials. Particularly compared to having to change a setting by navigating a convoluted menu system in a cluttered UI. And that’s why I really like Charlie Nghiem’s Rotor digital camera concept.

Instead of a collection of buttons seemingly randomly located all over the camera’s housing, the various functions are controlled using a stack of dials on the back of the camera. It’s certainly an ambitious design, but with a bit of practice and a dash of muscle memory, I can see myself being able to easily change the settings on the camera without ever having to look at the dials. The cylindrical stack also has the added bonus of providing a physical bulge on the side of the camera, making it easier to grip and hold with one hand.

[ designboom - charlie nghiem: rotor digital camera ]

TAG Heuer’s Mikrotimer Chronograph Concept Measures To 1/1000th Of A Second

TAG Heuer Mikrotimer Chronograph Concept (Image courtesy Hodinkee)
By Andrew Liszewski

As far as concept watches go, TAG Heuer’s new Mikrotimer doesn’t look like something from the distant future. Or even some crazy LED-enhanced lightstravaganza from the likes of TokyoFlash. It might even look a little boring to some of you, until you see it in action. The Mikrotimer is a chronograph designed to measure down to 1/1000th of a second. To do this, the watch’s caliber—or its internal movements—run at 500 rotations per second, or 500Hz. That equates to 3.6 million beats per hour, and as you can see in the video embedded below, when operating as a stopwatch the sweep hand is moving so fast you can barely see it in motion.

At this point the Mikrotimer isn’t quite ready to leave TAG’s R&D department just yet. But as Hodinkee points out, it’s important for any company to foster this kind of development and innovation in their field, to push their industry ahead. Also, for anyone who’s still a fan of analog watch technology, seeing it in action is pretty amazing.

[ Hodinkee - Exclusive Hands-On ] VIA [ TechCrunch ]

Stem Vac Touted As The World’s Most Eco-Friendly Vacuum Cleaner

Stem Eco-Vacuum Concept (Image courtesy Cambridge Consultants)
By Andrew Liszewski

Just when we thought Dyson had created the definitive vacuum cleaner, a design and development firm called Cambridge Consultants have conjured up a new concept that promises to be the world’s most eco-friendly. And how does it justify claiming that crown? Well most obvious is the fact that it would be made from sustainable components, like the wooden frame which holds all of the components together.

However, the real innovation is how the Stem regulates its power use. It’s able to detect whether it’s being used on carpet or hardwood floors, or with the hose attachment, and automatically regulates the suction power. Though at all times ensuring it never compromises on its cleaning capabilities. It will even drastically reduce its power usage when the person vacuuming pauses to move furniture without shutting the vacuum off. Overall they feel the Stem could use as much as 43% less energy than the average vac, but since they haven’t actually built a concept to test out this theory — nor do they have plans to get it in consumer’s hands — your best bet is to still probably stick with a Dyson.

[ Cambridge Consultants - The world's most eco-friendly vacuum cleaner? ] VIA [ Fast Company ]

Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard With Retractable Keys

Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard (Images courtesy Levitatr)
By Andrew Liszewski

On-screen keyboards are fairly usable when it comes to compact devices like smartphones, but when you’ve decided to swap your laptop for a tablet and need to do some serious typing, a physical keyboard is still where it’s at. So it’s no surprise that with the iPad and plethora of other tablets to hit the market over the past few years, the selection of wireless portable keyboards has also increased. Apple still sells one of the best IMO, in terms of form factor, size and design. But James Stumpf hopes to give them a run for their money, at least in the design department, with his new Levitatr portable keyboard.

It’s wireless, relying on a Bluetooth connection to talk to your tablet or other portable device, and features a 12.5mm thick machined aluminum chassis so it’s rigid and sturdy. But its real claim-to-fame is that the entire keyboard retracts when not in use, sitting flush with the rest of the keyboard’s surface. The idea is to prevent accidental key presses while the Levitatr is being carried in your bag, but it also serves to keep dirt and crumbs out. The keys are backlit, which from what I can tell is the only way to discern what each one does, and the whole thing is powered by a set of 4xAA batteries. It even comes with a simple aluminum kickstand designed to prop up your tablet or smartphone.

You can’t go out and buy the Levitatr just yet, though. At the moment it’s just a Kickstarter project with quite a ways to go before it reaches its $60,000 funding goal. But since the keyboard seems to be popping up on blogs all over the interwebs today, I’m sure it will be getting a much needed boost. If you do think it’s an innovation you can’t live without, a pledge of $79 will effectively serve as a pre-order once they go into production.

[ Levitatr Portable Bluetooth Keyboard ] VIA [ Technabob ]

Elasty iPhone Case Is Brilliantly Simple, Infinitely Useful

Elasty iPhone Case (Image courtesy Yanko Design)
By Andrew Liszewski

Belkin isn’t a completely unknown electronics brand, I’m sure many of you have heard of them and may even own one of their products. But if they manage to follow through with this brilliantly simple concept for an iPhone case, I think they could easily have a best seller on their hands, and gain some valuable notoriety.

The Elasty, created by Yoori Koo, actually won the Korean Belkin Design Awards, and was inspired by wrapping elastics around your iPhone so you can use it to hold things on the back. The problem with elastics though is that they also block your display, so the Elasty case provides similar functionality in a more usable iPhone shell case. The product shot does a great job at showing how and why the case would be useful, but there are probably an infinitely number of other ways you could use it too.

[ Yanko Design - Simple Slits for Phones ] VIA [ Wired Gadget Lab ]

Tube Squeezing Toothbrush Seems Pretty Obvious

Tube Squeezing Toothbrush (Images courtesy Catherine Werdel)
By Andrew Liszewski

What’s most surprising about Catherine Werdel’s tube squeezing toothbrush design isn’t that it took so long for someone to come up with such a simple solution, but the fact that it still hasn’t been made a reality. Well, I guess it’s not that surprising. The two largest toothbrush manufacturers here in North America, Colgate & Oral-B (Crest), both also make toothpaste. So helping consumers get every last drop out of a tube is only going to hinder their sales. Clearly a conspiracy. So until some third-party brush maker steps in to shake up the industry, you’re probably better off just taking a router to your toothbrush and cutting your own groove in it.

[ Tube Squeezing Toothbrush ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Eraser Pencil Eliminates Wasted Wood

Eraser Pencil (Images courtesy Deuk Young Lee)
By Andrew Liszewski

While incredibly simple but highly usable, there are still two big issues I have with wooden pencils. 1) The wood basically does nothing more than make holding and writing with a thin piece of graphite easier. And it’s basically wasted every time the pencil is sharpened. 2) The eraser on the end is never big enough to accomodate my constant mistakes.

So I’m 100% behind Deuk Young Lee’s concept of making a pencil out of rubber eraser material instead. It can still be sharpened like a traditional wooden pencil, using the same office gear, but ends up being more comfortable and easier to hold thanks to the softer material. And there’s plenty of eraser for correcting your mistakes. Admittedly the delete key tends to fill the eraser’s role in my life these days, but as long as grade school kids still have to learn penmanship, I think this design has some merit.

[ designboom - deuk young lee: eraser pencil ]

Concept Umbrella Funnels Water Down Into A Squirt Gun In The Handle

Squirt Gun Umbrella (Images courtesy Alex Woolley)
By Andrew Liszewski

It kind of defeats the purpose of carrying an umbrella on a rainy day to stay dry, but the kid in me (who pretty much runs the show) really likes this more entertaining take on the brolly. The tip of the canopy is actually sunken so it works like a funnel, channeling the rain drops down into a squirt gun that doubles as the umbrella’s handle. As long as you’re the only one carrying around this special umbrella you’ll stay completely dry, while the random strangers you pass on the street won’t know what hit them. It was created by Alex Woolley as a concept piece sadly, and I’m almost certain it hasn’t gone into production. Otherwise there’d be one hanging on my door already.

[ Alex Woolley - Encouraging Adults to Play in the Rain ] VIA [ Fancy ]

Harvesting Power From Broadcast Signals Is Back With The Rectenna

Rectenna (Image courtesy DigInfo TV)
By Andrew Liszewski

A few years ago, at CES2010, we discovered a concept device that RCA was showing off that promised to harvest electricity from wi-fi signals, which could then be used to charge mobile devices. The ‘Airnergy’ charger, as they called it, sparked a lot of discussion about whether or not such a technology was even possible. And sure enough, at CES 2011, the Airnergy devices were no where to be seen at RCA’s booth. We assumed that would be the last we’d hear about the concept, but a Japanese company called Nihon Dengyo Kosaku has apparently picked up the torch.

Their unfortunately named ‘Rectenna’, which is actually a combination of the words ‘rectifying’ and ‘antenna’, is able to convert terrestrial TV broadcast signals, or wi-fi, back into usable electricity. At a recent trade show in Tokyo, where the company was showing off the technology, they were able to harvest about 1.2mV and 0.06µW of power from a TV broadcast antenna located about 3.4 miles away. Not a heck of a lot of juice of course, but there are electronics that can run on just micro-watts of power. So while it won’t be useful for charging your smartphone, it does seem to be a viable way to wirelessly power certain barebones devices.

[ DigInfo TV - Rectenna Converts Radio Waves To Electricity ] VIA [ Akihabara News ]