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Private Companies Will Lead the Next Wave of Space Travel

Design News - 6 hours 2 min ago

All across the world, entrepreneurs like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are taking their boyhood dreams of space travel and turning them into commercial space enterprises. Much of NASA’s work is now done by commercial companies. Indeed, when man heads off to the moon again over the coming decade, it will be commercial space vehicles – coordinating with NASA – that will carry the human payload.

Companies such as Boeing are developing space vehicles for private space travel. (Image source: Boeing)

NASA is all for it, since commercial enterprises take a good portion of the burden off taxpayer funding. “Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were inspired by the Apollo missions and they were frustrated that space technology petered out after that,” Loretta Hall, author of a number of books space development such as Space Pioneers: In Their Own Words, told Design News. When the manned spaceflight ended with the Apollo missions, these entrepreneurs nurtured dreams of taking the next steps. “Spaceflight didn’t progress beyond the moon like people expected it to, so these private citizens decided to do it themselves.

NASA leaders have viewed the emergence of commercial space companies as an encouraging development. “NASA views it as a positive when they have multiple technologies to choose from. In the past, they designed space equipment and choose someone to build it. Now, a lot of the raw research is going on outside NASA.”

Space Vendors Become Space OEMs

NASA has always used private companies to develop and product technology for space flight, so the aspect of private space technology is not new. “NASA has always had private companies building their equipment, usually aerospace companies already involved with military production,” said Hall. “Companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing were involved.”

However, in the past two decades, private companies have started to produce their own space-bound vehicle technology. “What’s new is NASA is no longer the sole customer for commercial producers,” said Hall. “Private companies are either building for themselves or building rockets for other entities. In the past, for anything related to space, NASA was the only buyer. That’s no longer true.”

The Space Passenger May Fund Space R&D

The concept of commercial space often comes from the idea that not all research and development funding has to come from taxpayers. “Commercial space is going into the technical areas of trying to utilize space resources for commercial purposes, and it’s also going in the direction of space tourism because that becomes a way to finance the more technical pursuits,” said Hall.

Even NASA plans to get into the business of commercializing space. “NASA has announced that beginning next year they’re willing to sell tickets for people to spend time on the International Space Station,” said Hall. “They see the value of commercializing space.”

A number of billionaires such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson all want to send private citizens to space. Their respective companies, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are dedicated to making space travel and space tourism more accessible. Here's how they plan to do it:


Managing Commercial Space Operations

In the past, NASA developed the program and used vendors to build to spec. In the past 15 years, commercial companies have started to develop their own technology. Now when they work with NASA, it’s under an agreement that NASA can’t disclose the technology. “NASA works cooperatively with anyone they’re trying to develop a space product,” said Hall. “Yet the commercial companies don’t want to share any proprietary technology with NASA unless they have an agreement.”

There are also restrictions on how commercial space companies can operate. For one, don’t expect any non-US conglomerates to buy up any of the commercial space companies. “There is a treaty called ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) that put restrictions on what technology American companies can share with other companies,” said Hall. “Anything they do is subject to government approval.”


Even with all of the commercial space development, NASA is still developing its own space technology. “NASA is continuing its development of space launch systems,” said Hall. “They have a rocket in development. There is question about whether it is going to be successful. There have been delays, but that’s sort of normal.”

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


Natural Materials For Printing 3D

Design News - 9 hours 32 min ago

3D printing with materials like polymers and metal are fairly standard these days, but natural materials are still largely unexplored territory for this type of fabrication method.

Until now, thanks to researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, where a team has successfully printed using a wood-based ink in a way that mimics the ultrastructure of the natural material.

Mimicking the natural cellular architecture of wood. The printed version is at a larger scale for ease of handling and display, but the researchers are able to print at any scale. (Image Source: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology)

By creating an ink that emulates this natural cellular architecture, researchers-- led Paul Gatenholm, a professor in Chalmers’ Wallenberg Wood Science Center--have paved the way for the production of eco-friendly products derived from trees, including clothes, packaging, furniture, and even healthcare and personal-care products, he said.

“Wood ultrastructure includes several things: porosity, honeycomb structure, anisotropy, fibrils orientation, and angle and composition,” Gatenholm told Design News. “We have mimicked all of these elements and showed that we can, with 3D printing and ‘wood ink,’ create wood-like structures.”

Keeping it Real

Wood typically has had limitations when it comes to processing, mainly because of its inherent inflexibility and inability to be melted or easily reshaped. Because of this, when it’s used to make other products—such as paper or textiles—the process must destroy its underlying ultrastructure in order to successfully turn it into something else.

The process Gatenholm and his team developed keep that structure, allowing wood to remain, well, wood--while also being turned into something else--through the entire printing process, researchers said.

“We can print any green product with wood-derived materials,” Gatenholm told Design News. “This has not been done before.”

The Chalmers team in previous work already had converted wood pulp into a nanocellulose gel that could be used for 3D printing. In their current research, they take this a major step further—they interpreted and digitized the genetic code of wood so it can give instructions to the printer, researchers said.

This achievement means that researchers can precisely control the arrangement of the cellulose nanofibrils during the printing process to replicate the wood’s ultrastructure, managing the orientation and shape of natural wood to take advantage of these properties instead of stifle them, Gatenholm said.

“This is a breakthrough in manufacturing technology,” he said in a press statement. “It allows us to move beyond the limits of nature, to create new sustainable, green products. It means that those products which today are already forest-based can now be 3D printed, in a much shorter time.”

Further, using the process, engineers also can replace 3D-printed products typically made with metal and plastic with those made in wood, which is a renewable and sustainable alternative, Gatenholm added.

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal Applied Materials Today.


Packaging Promise

Researchers envision a varied line of new products that can be custom designed using the new ink and process. To demonstrate innovations from their work, the team already developed a prototype for a novel packaging concept.

They printed honeycomb structures, with chambers in between the printed walls in which they encapsulated solid particles. Because cellulose has shown to block oxygen, researchers envision this prototype as an airtight packaging for pharmaceuticals or foods, Gatenholm said.

“I think the most important application will be tailor-made packaging on demand,” he told Design News.

Other prototype products researchers developed to demonstrate the research include healthcare products and clothing. They also believe the wood-based ink and process can be helpful for developing new products in space, which could be a good testing ground to prove the technology further, Gatenholm said.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for more than 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco and New York City. In her free time she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.


Drive World with ESC Launches in Silicon Valley

This summer (August 27-29), Drive World Conference & Expo launches in Silicon Valley with North America's largest embedded systems event, Embedded Systems Conference (ESC). The inaugural three-day showcase brings together the brightest minds across the automotive electronics and embedded systems industries who are looking to shape the technology of tomorrow.
Will you be there to help engineer this shift? Register today!


DesignCon 2020 Call for Abstracts Extended

Design News - 10 hours 2 min ago

Design engineers have an extra week to finalize and submit proposals to present a paper or tutorial, plan a boot camp or Chiphead Theater session, or even organize a panel discussion. The extended deadline to complete your DesignCon 2020 Call for Abstract submission is Friday, July 26.

Submissions should be educational and informative, and avoid commercial content. Presentation opportunities include 45-minute technical sessions, which require submission of a technical paper; 75-minute panel discussions; and 3-hour tutorials. Please submit through the electronic portal.

You may also submit a proposal for a full-day Boot Camp and Expo floor Chiphead Theater sessions. Boot Camps provide an in-depth introduction to core DesignCon concepts such as Signal Integrity, Power Integrity, PCB Fabrication, and Test & Measurement. Chiphead Theater sessions provide less-technical content such as teardowns, demos, and panels presented as 45-minute sessions open to all event attendees.

Our track numbers have changed, so please check your track carefully when completing the submission form. You can review all track descriptions and sample topics on the DesignCon website.

See you for DesignCon 2020 at the end of January!


By Engineers, For Engineers. Join our in-depth conference program with over 100 technical paper sessions, panels, and tutorials spanning 14 tracks. DesignCon. Jan. 28-30, 2020, in Santa Clara, CA. Learn more about the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company Informa Markets


Pacific Design & Manufacturing 2020 Call for Speakers Is Open

Design News - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:37

Pacific Design & Manufacturing, the nation’s largest advanced design and manufacturing conference — the one that connects you with more than 20,000 engineering peers — will return to the Anaheim Convention Center February 11-13, 2020, and the Call for Speakers in now open!

Pacific Design & Manufacturing, which is co-located with ATX and MD&M West, is geared toward serious professionals who are ready to forge business partnerships, and offers three days of in-depth, expertly curated industry immersion you won’t find anywhere else.

This is your chance to find/provide answers to current design engineering challenges — from robotics and CAD software to AI and 3D printing — while keeping up with the latest innovations reshaping the industry.

Don’t miss your chance to share your expertise during the three-day Smart Manufacturing Innovation Summit — including the latest information on robotics, IIoT, machine learning & artificial intelligence, big data, and more — and/or the three-day 3D Printing Innovation Summit — including the latest news surrounding new materials, rapid prototyping, new tools/techniques, and more! Information is presented through presentations, case studies, and panel discussions, and also include time for Q&A.

The summits will feature these topics over three full days, allowing attendees to track hop between sessions and co-located conferences as much as desired.

Click here to submit your speaking proposal now ahead of the August 30, 2019 deadline to reach thousands of engineers and executives, as well as hundreds of leading suppliers, across the advanced design and manufacturing spectrum who understand the value in working together on the industry's cutting edge.

Call for Speakers deadline is August 30, 2019. And, as always, the same rules apply — no sales pitches, please.

Questions? Email Technical Content Producer Jennifer Campbell.

PLAYLAB's "FANTASY LANDSCAPES" Brings Central and South American Scenery to the Middle of Manhattan

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Starting today, you can experience the sprawling landscapes of the Chilean Atacama Desert or the Iguazu Falls of Argentina smack dab in the middle of Manhattan—and snap a picture to commemorate your "trip".

This is thanks to PLAYLAB, the New York creative studio responsible for landmark projects like the + POOL and frequent collaborators with Virgil Abloh, who are continuing their public art project with the Avenue of the Americas Association with the new installation FANTASY LANDSCAPES. The project consists of a series of four hand-painted, immersive installations around the avenue. FANTASY LANDSCAPES follows their last project on location, Grown Up Flowers in 2018, which became a big hit on Instagram. "The flowers were about getting something that was historically here and blowing it up, giving it attention," notes PLAYLAB's Ana Cecilia Thompson Motta, "now we're bringing another part of the history which is that of the Avenue of the Americas. [New York City originally] wanted to bring all the Embassies here, so we wanted to bring a little more history and take people to the Americas through the Avenue."

PLAYLAB's 2018 installation "Grown Up Flowers"

The decision behind hand-painting stems from the old Hollywood practice of hand-painting backdrop sets as well as 50's tourist Americana travel posters. "These movie sets really transported the actors outside of the real world; they allowed them to go anywhere in the world, and that's what we wanted to bring to the Avenue of the Americas," said Thompson Motta, "so not only is painting the better technique to do this because it adds to depth to wherever you are standing, but it's also a nod to the techniques of these old movie backdrop painters."

The installation will inevitably be used heavily by visitors for social media purposes, but also emphasizes the importance of designing an art experience that can be appreciated as is, in real life. PLAYLAB Partner Jeff Franklin says of the installation "we've always loved to do artwork that people can interact with that's not like a white glove, precious type of thing. Especially for public art, it's not a 'look but don't touch', but instead a 'look but get in it' type of experience."

FANTASY LANDSCAPES launches Monday, July 22nd. Launch day will be accompanied by several "tour guides" helping visitors navigate the spaces, who will be taking Polaroids of visitors in the installations to take home with them. Some pretty cool limited-edition merch will also be able for purchase Monday, July 22nd from 12:00PM to 2:00 PM at the 1177 Sixth Avenue location.

FANTASY LANDSCAPES is located at 1120 Sixth Avenue, 1177 Sixth Avenue, 1221 Sixth Avenue, and 1251 Sixth Avenue and will be installed until October 2019.

Interested to hear more from PLAYLAB? Partner Archie Lee Coates IV will be speaking at the Core77 Conference this October! Learn more here and buy your ticket today.

Historical Fantasy for Industrial Designers: What if Apple Had Designed the iPhone in the '80s and '90s?

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

With the news of Jony Ive's departure--and given the way things have been going lately--it certainly seems an era has ended for Apple. And while I haven't been fond of the company's developments, it's impossible to forget the affinity I gained for them in decades past.

Someone who shares that affinity, or at least a fondness for decades past, is the self-styled "retro designer" who goes by the ironic handle FuturePunk. The UK-based FuturePunk refers to the 1980s as "the greatest decade in the history of mankind," and his passion is evinced with these fanciful iPhone designs and commercials he created:

Good gosh but he nails the aesthetic.

As more proof of his '80s prowess, check out the following graphic designs he's created:

Check out more of his stuff here.

Design Job: Jumpstart your career as an Industrial Design Intern at Make & Scale in Redwood City, CA

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

A dream intern is one who not only excels at the academic component of design, but also has a deep personal hunger for creation that permeates all aspects of their life.. Our Redwood City engineering team is looking for a currently enrolled or recently graduated Industrial Design intern who demonstrates both consulting professionalism and start-up adaptability. The successful candidate will create unique design concepts that consider material selection, surface finish, color, form factor, and ma

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Reader Submitted: Drop

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Drop is a product system, designed to empower glaucoma patients to self-administer preservative-free medication.

Actuated & Rest StateThe image shows the device in its actuated and rest states, indicating how users interact with the product.Credit: Harry MoormanDesign for ManufactureExploded view of the device, detailing the internal components and DFM features.Credit: Harry MoormanCap removalThe cap can be removed to allow access to the medication nozzle and forehead grip.Credit: Harry MoormanDevice in handCredit: Harry MoormanDevelopment (1)A multitude of development techniques were utilised during the project process, from digital and hand sketching, to 2D illustrator renderings and CAD.Credit: Harry MoormanDevelopment (2)A multitude of development techniques were utilised during the project process, from digital and hand sketching, to 2D illustrator renderings and CAD.Credit: Harry MoormanDevice in useThe device can be rested on the forehead to increase stability. Users use the blue grip to align the nozzle above their eye, and squeeze the two buttons together to administer a dose.Credit: Harry MoormanDevice in dockThe dock stores the device, completing the system and keeping all product components in a single location.Credit: Harry MoormanMedication removalSpare medication bottles can be stored in the dock.Credit: Harry MoormanProduct systemCredit: Harry MoormanView the full project here

C77Sketching Winners!

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Drumroll please! The first leg of the Core77 Design-Athlon has concluded and we have our winners! Thanks to guest-star judge Reid Schlegel and Core77 Staff for picking these fine examples of design sketching!

This Sunday July 21 is the deadline for our first #c77prototyping challenge! Anyone can enter and be in the running. You challenge-tested design-thletes already on the leaderboard have the advantage, so continue your winning streaks and get a Lunchbox prototype in before Sunday!

Without further ado...!The Ultimate Dad Shoe – Sketching Challenge #1

----> Winner, earning 15 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

_markmazzonedesign – M A R K of Melbourne, Australia!

----> Runners-Up, earning 11 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

katielim.id – Katie Lim of New York City!

benairsix of Paris, France! designbykaroline – Karoline Müller, Munich, Germany!

----> Honorable Mentions, earning 7 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

clousis – Claudia Miranda!
idrawonreceipts – James Connors of Brooklyn!
gigi_sketches – Thomas Gibson-Gamache!

Flying Rideshare Vehicle – Sketching Challenge #2

----> Winner, earning 15 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

designbykaroline – Karoline Müller, Munich, Germany!

----> Runner-Up, earning 11 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

4raz – Faraz Warsi, somewhere over the Pacific!
Pool Toy – Sketching Challenge #3

----> Winner, earning 15 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

clousis – Claudia Miranda!

----> Runners-Up, earning 11 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

chris.ference – Chris Ference, Pittsburgh! Anonymous User – who posted this gem but whom we can no longer find! Contact us pls.

----> Honorable Mentions, earning 7 points in the Core77 Design-Athlon...

kristibartlettdesign – Kristi Bartlett of Houston!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So who won the #C77Sketching Challenge Series? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Let's take a look:

The Core77 Design-Athlon Leaderboard

Karoline Müller –––––––– 26 pts (15 pts + 11 pts)

Claudia Miranda –––––––– 22 pts (15 pts + 7 pts)

M A R K of Melbourne –––––––– 15 pts

benairsix –––––––– 11 pts

Chris Ference –––––––– 11 pts

Katie Lim –––––––– 11 pts

Anonymous Pool-Cube-Person –––––––– 11 pts

Faraz Warsi –––––––– 11 pts

Kristi Bartlett –––––––– 7 pts

James Connors –––––––– 7 pts

Thomas Gibson-Gamache –––––––– 7 pts

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Karoline is our $200 winner!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This Sunday July 21 is the deadline for our first #c77prototyping challenge! Anyone can enter and be in the running. You challenge-tested design-thletes already on the leaderboard have the advantage, so continue your winning streaks and get a Lunchbox prototype in before Sunday!

Reader Submitted: MORPH - Exploring the boundary between Art and Robotics

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Morph is the first example of a fully actuated and touch sensitive luminous spherical surface. It is a reinvention of the digital canvas that allows artists to experiment with more than just light and sound. This is the future of tangible media, a fully modular and flexible framework which allows for rapid expansion and experimentation with both form and function.

View the full project here

The Weekly Design Roast, #8

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

"While most beds provide convenient ingress/egress from the sides, I wanted to design one where you need to crawl in and out through the foot of the bed. I also wanted it to be difficult to make the bed each morning."

"As you continue to sit on this wallet over time, it will develop a beautifully crunchy, splintery patina."

"Every time I close the door I yell 'Beam me up, Potty!' It never gets old."

This seat looks like what Drakkar Noir smells like.

"My target market: Carpenters who love Tron."

"My design conveniently stores the staples in the top of the stapler. You know, the part of the stapler that you press on with your…hand. Okay, maybe I didn't think this through.... Hey Jeff! Jeff! Do you know if they make blunt staples?"

"It's glass, inherently unstable, and filled with both water and a living creature. This is what I call exciting design!"

"I wanted to design a chair that you can only clean with an air compressor."

"I'm trying to design a series of sleep pods that make it look like you're being vomited by Pac-Man."

"I wanted the front end to look like a giant Cyclops grouper fish having sex with a hammerhead shark."


See more Weekly Design Roasts.

Design Job: Ice Cold - Qore Performance is seeking an Industrial Design Manager in Virgina

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

This is a senior position reporting directly to the CEO of a tiny and fast-growing cash-flow positive, national-award-winning, startup. It is a critical path role, requiring you to take our consistently amazing conceptual innovations from the level of concept to production-ready product. We are looking for someone to oversee both

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

Rethinking Car Design at the Petersen Automotive Museum

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

"I'm personally becoming more and more frustrated with new automobiles," said industrial designer Joey Ruiter in a 2013 interview about his first foray into car design, the Reboot Buggy. "The fluff, the marketing, the gadgets, the nicknacks, and the do-dads are overwhelming," he continued. Instead, Ruiter suggests we pare back automotive design to focus on the simple task it was made for: getting us from point A to point B. "Anything extra is purely for our personal comfort and enjoyment...I drive old era cars—cars that need your full attention when driving. I can feel the road, I hear the motor, and I understand what's happening around me mechanically."

Installation images courtesy of the Petersen Automotive Museum

This sentiment has been the starting point for all of Ruiter's automobile designs, a number of which are currently on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The show, titled Disruptors, pairs Ruiter's work with that of Dutch designer Rem D. Koolhaas (the nephew of the renowned architect), best known for designing architectural footwear and his brand, UnitedNude.

Given its setting, the show focuses on transportation design but includes some examples of the designer's other work for context. "Although Koolhaas and Ruiter do not come from automotive backgrounds, they both independently began applying their dramatic design approaches to the automobile, resulting in vehicles with limited facets and curves that are still technically advanced and fully functional," the museum notes.

All of the pieces in the show are fully functioning, despite their unusual aesthetics. The Moto Undone is powered by a 1500w 48v electric hub motor and has a range of 90 miles or about 3 hours.

The result proposes a future for automobile design that is decidedly minimal. Consider Ruiter's Moto Undone, a blocky, mirror-clad motorbike that's designed to disappear. "It's hard to image a motorcycle without fancy paint, overpowered motors, exposed mechanical genius, and sweet exhaust tones," Ruiter says. "Moto undone is pure generic transportation...the bike almost disappears, the rider just floats along the streets silently."

Then there's Koolhaas' Low-Res Car, which was made through a process that the designer sometimes uses to design his car-inspired shoes: making a 3-D scan of a model-size Lamborghini Countach and then manually manipulating the geometry and resolution of the image until the Countach's defining lines are no longer recognizable.

Disruptors will be on view at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles through March 2020.

Currently Crowdfunding: A Coloring Book About Climate Change, a Camera That Prints on Receipts, and More

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Brought to you by MAKO Design + Invent, North America's leading design firm for taking your product idea from a sketch on a napkin to store shelves. Download Mako's Invention Guide for free here.

Navigating the world of crowdfunding can be overwhelming, to put it lightly. Which projects are worth backing? Where's the filter to weed out the hundreds of useless smart devices? To make the process less frustrating, we scour the various online crowdfunding platforms to put together a weekly roundup of our favorite campaigns for your viewing (and spending!) pleasure. Go ahead, free your disposable income:

Featuring 33 hand-drawn, infographic spreads, this award-winning coloring book works as a perfect introduction to climate change and energy issues by presenting complex information in an engaging, user-friendly format digestible for all ages.

This handy charging case designed for iPhones and AirPods can protect your devices while also making sure you never run out of juice. It comes with two modes: one for charging AirPods only, while the other charges your AirPods and iPhone simultaneously.

This vintage-looking camera takes and prints delightfully grainy images on thermal receipt paper (which you can buy in rolls on Amazon or local office supply stores) or on the backs of old receipts.

Waveform prints are back with their striking visualizations of music. This time around, instead of choosing from a library of available songs, backers can choose literally any song in the world for their print—even one of your own! Customize the print further with a wide range of background colors and two available sizes.

You'll have to rethink how you tell time to use the Circa Solar watch, but in return, you'll be able to "realign" with the cosmological cycles and patterns that impact our daily lives. The timepiece beautifully visualizes the day-night cycle based on your location and changes with the seasons.

Do you need help designing, developing, patenting, manufacturing, and/or selling YOUR product idea? MAKO Design + Invent is a one-stop-shop specifically for inventors / startups / small businesses. Click HERE for a free confidential product consultation.

Design Job: Find your way down under. Join Büro North as an Industrial Designer in Melbourne, Austrailia

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Büro North creates better futures by designing impactful experiences within the built environment. We work with smart organisations globally to deliver game-changing outcomes including; increasing pedestrian activity, building loyalty in travelers, healthier patients, happier shoppers, safer residents and more engaged students. Our studio is led by recognized

See the full job details or check out all design jobs at Coroflot.

A Series of Desk Accessories That Take Stress Relief to the Next Level

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Central Saint Martins student Keyi Chen wants to disrupt our non-stop work culture with a whimsical collection of desktop toys that look like common office accessories. The tools in Chen's Inte-rest-ing Series are designed to encourage more play and moments of relaxation during the workday while minimizing the fear of being caught by a manager.

The Make My Day mouse monitors it's users' activities and can make judgments on whether or not they're distracted or exhausted based on how the mouse is being used. If it thinks the user is getting too far into the weeds, it will send a "fortune cookie" to the employee's screen in the form of a pop-up window. If you choose to click on it, the fortune cookie will open up to show you a random topic (users would note what they're interested in when they first start using the mouse) that will provoke a productive line of inquiry until the employee is refreshed and ready to get back to work.

The Speed Break calculator has a couple of simple games built-in to offer workers a way of relaxing without having to worry about being caught. "Perhaps the manager will think you're calculating projects," Chen writes in the project description.

There's also a small desk fan that you can start by breathing into it, as a way of promoting the subtle relaxation effects of deep breathing exercises; a pair of USB sticks that function a bit like those squishy, stress-relieving balls; and a "sound therapy pen" called The Rattle which lets you download whatever sounds work to soothe you like a rattle would a baby—the sounds are emitted as you write with the pen, softly enough to not disturb any co-workers.

The tools are speculative for now, though Chen has built working, 3D-printed prototypes.

Reader Submitted: BabyLegs: a DIY Research Trawl That Allows Citizens to Monitor Ocean Plastic

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

Made out of baby tights, soda pop bottles, and other inexpensive and easy-to-find materials, BabyLegs is a trawl that can be used to monitor floating microplastics from the surface of the water in your local ocean, lake, river, stream, or canal.

Does your water have plastics? How many? What kind? Where are they coming from? BabyLegs can help you find out.

The Kit

The kit is designed to be easy to assemble and cost as little as possible so that anyone can use it. It makes for a great classroom project, as well as an accessible tool for measuring local microplastic pollution.

Use it outside

BabyLegs can be used in many different places. Drag it from a boat, hang it from a bridge or use it by hand from a dock to collect a sample for analysis.

Images: assembly illustration by Paulina Kowalska. Photos by Dr. Max Liboiron and Public Lab.

View the full project here

Talking CMF with Alastair Curtis

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

This post is presented by the K-Show, the world's No.1 trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. Visionary developments and groundbreaking innovations will again lead the industry into new dimensions at K 2019 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Color, Materials and Finish, or CMF, is still an emerging part of industrial design and one that rarely gets discussed. This interview with Alastair Curtis is the first in a series with key players in design that are leading in the use of materials and CMF. I invited them to discuss materials and CMF for different reasons. Coming from healthcare, automotive and consumer electronics they will all address the changing use of materials within their industries with a particular focus on plastics and the environment.

Under the design leadership of Alastair Curtis, Logitech has used CMF and in particular materials as a way to build a bold, new strategy where it has reinvented itself with products that are defined by lifestyle than its heritage as black ABS computer peripherals. Its use of textiles to change the way we perceive a loudspeaker as a product not just to play music but an excuse to have fun on the beach, in the park etc was one of the early pioneers that took this adventurous step to replace hard materials with soft. Their speckled effect K780 keyboard was a great case study in how you can push aesthetics for electronics to make the more 'domesticated'. It's a brand that I admire both in its approach to CMF and ability as an organization to push through new materials, something that is always a huge challenge.

Chris Lefteri: Logitech has one of the most distinctive, resonant, ambitious CMF and materials across its different products. How do you, as the guy who heads it up achieve that?

Alastair Curtis: It was a relatively low-hanging fruit if you go back five or six years when I first joined. Logitech had seen phenomenal growth for thirty plus years riding the wave of PC peripherals in the early days and the explosion of people having a home computer, be it a tower or even a laptop. In that rapid growth, in the ability to ride that wave, Logitech had automized the machine to deliver incredibly reliable products, but they were, some-what, cost optimized to be reliable tools rather than emotional products. Whether it was conscious or subconscious, it evolved into a predominately safe portfolio of, and I'm simplifying, but black plastic.

Obviously, the introduction of the smartphone, the introduction of the tablet had a huge impact on Logitech and Logitech's trajectory. Subsequently, there were some hard times and a reevaluation of the portfolio and a reevaluation of the company's strategy. Bracken Darrell was brought in as the CEO and I joined as the Chief Design Officer. As we built out the design team, we started to have an impact of the portfolio. One of the key members of the team that I brought on was the head of CMF Katherine Pulford. She set about establishing a CMF strategy and how to apply color differently to our portfolio, but also starting to look at what new materials and finishes we could bring to the portfolio. So it wasn't just about taking the mouse and taking it from black to red, but bringing silicones, bringing new materials and finishes to the products to bring about new experiences. As we started to establish a momentum, we then started to broaden the strategy across the whole portfolio and all of Logitech brands.

CL: You went from black plastic products to products like the UE BOOM that embody very tangible experiences, because of the materials. The BOOM for example for me feels more of an excuse to have fun on the beach, in the park, on the move, rather than just to listen to music it was also one of the early uses of textiles in consumer electronics. Using textiles was a pretty bold move.

AC: If you look at that time when we were getting momentum with the traditional sort of 'heartland' of Logitech - the keyboards and mice world, we were also just starting to get momentum with Ultimate Ears and the BOOM and the MEGABOOM which were using fabrics. At the time, the use of the fabrics was quite revolutionary in the consumer electronics space. I mean, now you kind of see fabric everywhere- Google, Apple across the board, but at the time the Ultimate Ears BOOM was quite a new product and it gave us a great canvas for color, and a great canvas for print, and for one-off graphics specials. The infusion of new materials and new colors in the keyboards and mice gave Logitech a huge amount of confidence about how it could start thinking about and talking about color and materials as part of its point of differentiation to the rest of the market and its competition at that time.

Ultimate Ears BOOM Portable Speaker

CL: So you have these speakers that are very dominated by color, textiles, soft-touch materials. Then you have mice which have a use of materials that tell totally different stories for different audiences. Where other brands might try to unify their products through a singular brand CMF yours are very individually targeted. Were you tempted to create a homogenous CMF for the brand?

AC: We have high level design principles which apply to every brand and every category we have in the company, but when you sort of helicopter down, and come down into each brand, we were very conscious about maintaining authenticity and uniqueness of brand identity within that specific brand. So, it's not to say we didn't necessarily use a certain color in multiple categories and multiple brands, but we were very conscious of maintaining a color palette specific to each brand.

CL: I think that it's quite a challenge for a lot of companies to integrate marketing, sales, sourcing into design and to understand the value of CMF and using unconventional materials. I know that from the organization point of view different teams at Logitech are very closely integrated. Does the marketing team embrace the whole CMF and materials approach?

AC: You know, in some ways it's harder now than it was five years ago. That's not a critique of the people today versus five years ago. If you go back five six years ago, the company had gone through a very tough time and was more open minded – I'm trying to say that when you've been sort of humbled a little bit, when you've gone through a hard time, you are more open minded to new ideas, new ways of doing things and new approaches. If you look at it from me coming in, it was a great time for me and the design team to come in and establish ourselves because there was no baggage, no history and the incumbency was ready for change. We were a natural change agent. Introducing new colors and materials was not that hard actually. The sales regions were very open minded very welcoming to new thinking and freshening up of the portfolio.

If you fast forward to now, we review every brand, every portfolio on a weekly basis. Not every product that's live, but we'll deep dive on a specific product within each business group once a week. From the earliest sketch all the way through to final products and launch, we try and do those reviews not just as a design team, but we also call in part of our marketing organization. So they have visibility in the early days but they also have a means to input and, to a certain extent, co-create as we evolve from a blank piece of paper to final product. So it's a much more collaborative, shared process versus a, 'we do our bit and hand it over, and someone else does their bit.'

CL: Spotlight, which is the presenter tool, is another great materials case study. You created the product from researching the emotions people go through when giving presentations. I read that you studied how it feels to give a presentation, with even the most experienced presenters getting nervous. You used that research to drive a product that was going to change the way that the presenter felt about giving presentations. How did materials feed into that product to enhance that experience?

Spotlight Universal Notebook Remote Control

AC: Yeah, the materials played a key part in many ways. I mean you yourself do lots of presentations and I do a fair chunk of presentations and however many you do, you still become nervous, there's still anxiety depending on the number of people in the audience. When we started to design that product, it was clear that the more you can provide confidence in the tools, not just Spotlight, but all of the tools, that they are going to work when you want them to work, how you want them to work, it takes a chunk of the anxiety away.

So when we were designing the product it was 'how do you make it as simple to use,' which obviously, we paired back the number of buttons to make it as simple to use but how do you make it feel solid, reliable and make you feel good through the premium-ness of the materials? Yes, I'm sure we could have made it out of a beautiful plastic, with great finishes. But the coldness of the metal, the rigidity of the metal and just the perception of what metal brings as far as higher value - it may only be two percent, it may only be three percent but its just that little more confidence it gives the consumer when they're using the product versus when they're using anything else.

CL: Ok so you were bold in the way you were using textiles for the BOOM speakers but you were also pretty brave in the K780 keyboard which is a CMF icon and one my studio often use as a reference. It has also inspired many other products with the same effect. It was quite radical because you're using a texture that could potentially appear to be a flaw, and you have to get it absolutely right in terms of the density of specs, distribution and the color. Was that a challenge to get through?

K780 Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard

AC: When it was first pitched and proposed, it was quite a challenge and I think it's fair to say even though, as you said, its held up like a quite a key product from introducing the speckle and the CMF, in your words icon, it's also fair to notice that it's not that color and it doesn't have speckles in every region. So I think in Europe it has the speckles, but in the US it doesn't have the speckles because the US market wasn't ready for speckles. They thought it would be too polarizing. So I think that probably indicates how challenging it can be to get something like that into the global portfolio.

CL: I've heard some companies talk about the sense that there is an expectation from consumers of perfection in products. You can look at phones as an example of completely seamless products- there are no joints, no screws. What's interesting about the keyboard is that you could interpret that as a sort of a natural product where inconsistency in the flakes maybe shows imperfection. Do you think consumers are moving towards more of an acceptance of that kind of effect- when it comes to sustainability because maybe there are certain materials where it would benefit them not being so perfect and pristine?

AC: If you ask me that about the consumer today, then I would say no, I think there still is an expectation of perfection driven by Apple over the past five, ten years. I think we have to change that and I think the consumer will evolve in their understanding of materials, evolve in their understanding of sustainably and the implications of sustainability. I think, if you ask me in five years time, in ten years time, I think the consumer will be having a very different perspective, I hope they will have a very different perspective.

That's the challenge, I think, for Logitech - we discuss talk about it a lot. Actually quite recently we have, regarding our position and the fact that we don't talk about it. At some point we may need to talk about it, not sort of putting the flag up and going, 'woo! Aren't we great from a sustainably perspective?' We may need to, in some form or another, think about how do we communicate that our product is using sustainable materials and sustainable processes versus the competition. Because if the consumer doesn't understand that ours may be more sustainable in materials and finish than the competition, they may look at our product as a lesser product because of that perfection dimension.

It's almost not apples and apples as a comparison. How we do that? I think we've still got to look at and explore ideas. Its like food packaging – you look at the packaging and it talks about the food inside, it talks about sodium, fats, fibers, etc. So you have a sense of how healthy that food is inside the packaging. I wonder whether this idea from packaging is going to have to happen, within the consumer electronics market. It's going to have to play a role similar to that in the early days, where a consumer can hold a mouse against another mouse and see that, functionally, they are the same product but also then recognize that one is far more sustainable solution than the other.

I mean, we are moving in that direction. There will be companies who take a position and pioneer and drive towards more sustainable solutions and others will be slower, but the consumer won't recognize that, and we're going to have to work out how to, 'educate' sounds awfully patronizing, but make consumers more aware when they're making those choices.

CL: What else can you share about Logitech's approach to the environment?

AC: In general terms, we're incredibly committed to sustainability, and not just an abstract sustainability target, we have distinct sustainability targets which are aligned with goals beyond Logitech. We're looking at the Paris Agreement and other measures. We're looking at our complete footprint and handprint for the whole company, from our factories to try and make the factory carbon neutral, packaging and all the way down through materials.

So it's not like we flick a switch and we'll go, 'okay, everything has to be fully recyclable material from the get go.' But we are committed to transforming the whole portfolio in line with our sustainability targets. We dropped PVC cables three years ago. But it's more about transitioning the whole portfolio, not only from a materials perspective, but also how we assemble them, how we make them disassemble-able, so the full circular program.

CL: I have heard that at Logitech you are doing this not because we've done research that says your consumers want you to do or expect it, but actually, because you, ethically, feel that you should be doing it.

AC: I completely agree, that's why we've not really talked about it publicly at all. This is very much going up to Bracken and going down to the leadership team across the board. It's a commitment to our future generations, it's not a commitment to making a more sellable product to the consumer.

This post is presented by the K-Show, the world's No.1 trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. Visionary developments and groundbreaking innovations will again lead the industry into new dimensions at K 2019 in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Designers Discussing Design, #1: Shotgun Approach vs. Rifle Approach

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-07-22 15:20

As an industrial designer you have to know, or at least try to guess, how an end user will think or feel about your product designs. But it's also important to know what your fellow designers are thinking and doing. Whether you will be competing with them, co-creating alongside them, or unwittingly collaborating with them to elevate the industrial design profession as a whole, having a good grasp of the views of other designers provides context for the work you're doing, keeps you well-informed and can be helpful when you need to make tough decisions.

Ideally you'd be regularly exposed to conversations with other industrial designers. We've got something nearly as good, which is the Core77 Discussion Boards. They're packed with information and opinions from practicing industrial designers, but we admit that the boards are so dense, they can be overwhelming. So in this series, we're going to start mining them for interesting discussions, editing them for clarity and presenting them in a format that resembles an easier-to-digest roundtable discussion.

We'll start off with this occasionally heated discussion, which was initially about generative design--but rapidly began to reveal the concerns of working designers vis-à-vis technology, creation, good business, meaning in design and more. To provide some context, the discussion was kicked off by a non-industrial-designer, "SK," who seemed to walk the fine line between trolling and debate; it was also initiated some years ago, so some of the references may appear dated, although the larger issues are very relevant today.

(Note: This conversation has been edited for clarity, length, flow, and troll reduction).


SK: Years ago, on the Core77 Discussion Boards I attempted to interest industrial designers in generative design, which now seems to have taken architecture by storm. Every single architecture school of any consequence is trying to teach it. But from industrial designers I noticed a lot of scoffing and virtually no interest in generative design. I wonder if this has since changed?

Keifer: Without igniting a huge flame war, this reminds me of most designers' initial impressions of rapid prototyping. Both generative design and rapid prototyping technology seem to prompt a "Well, it lessens my importance as a professional, so it must not be positive" reaction.

I can certainly imagine that GD would be useful in design (as opposed to art). Assuming that I understand it correctly, it seems likely that various inputs (length, height, width, specific features, etc.) could be put together with standard template-like functions to create a product (most likely in less time/with less effort than a designer could give.) Of course, that wouldn't work for extremely specific things.

Art, on the other hand, maybe not. I appreciate art because it took skill to make it, not necessarily because it "looks cool" or follows artistic algorithms. I saw a video about generative art, it didn't do much for me. I'd appreciate it more if a person actually made it. But maybe that's just me, and I'm not really one to think that mass-produced objects are as "artistic" as individual pieces, so that probably distances me from some people.

Image credit: Genoform

IDiot: SK, I remember your original forum thread on generative design. Unfortunately most of the examples it showed were pretty bad, so it was a hard sell, but at that time I remember making the case (on a Core77 discussion) that in the hands of a good designer, it would be a very powerful tool for exploring variations on a theme (at the very least) once a design direction was underway.

I don't see it as a threat to designers at all, just another tool.

SK: Nowadays I certainly see more interest, or at least more people have heard of generative design. But the ship has left the port for industrial designers. Generative design is now fully embraced by cutting edge architectural practices to make both totally meaningless blobby shapes, but also to optimize performance to a very high degree. In architecture, generative design is going mainstream [see: The Bird's Nest and Water Cube from the Beijing Olympics].

Doing blobby stuff isn't easy if you have to crank out working drawings and resolve connection details--there is certainly some clever thinking and new capabilities required. Architects, unlike industrial designers, have created new skills and new value, through the adaptation of advanced design technologies which exploit the creative capacity of computers. In contrast, we are witnessing the demise of shape and color play, and with it the demise of professions focused purely on it.

Electroflux: The idea of using the computer to determine a best-fit solution given constraints is hardly anything new - it's the main strength of using the computer for any particular process!

SK: exactly. The understanding of design as a management of constraints is not new. The understanding that nature's designs are based on generative designs is not new. The understanding that computers can devise strategies that beat the best human players is not new. The use of computers as intelligent design tools is not new.

But for most industrial designers, the concept that the computer is more than a 3D drawing tool seems to be very new and hard to digest.

Generative design is about using the computers for design exploration.

Cameron: I've had happy accidents in modeling programs before. Does that count?

SK: Just imagine if you can choose from thousands of accidents. That is how nature designs.

CG: That's not really a fair comparison, because nature designs by incorporating subtle mutations and relying on natural-selection over many generations to pass on the strongest attributes.

I don't understand why you'd want a computer to generate meaningless design for a designer to choose from. As a designer, I want more meaning to go into form-giving, not less.

SK: Don't understand why? Simple: Generative design can do a far better job, faster and cheaper. It can extend human imagination. This is what architects are using generative design for.

Electroflux: Maybe the problem with industrial designers not picking up on this en masse is that as-is, it doesn't contribute much to the design process. A "Randomize parameters" tool is a rather different beast than "Fill in this space with stuff, make it strong, and use as little material as possible."

Architects seem to be using the latter approach in your given Beijing Olympics examples. While ID and Architecture share many aspects--both are designing things ultimately for the benefit, comfort, and safety of people, taking materials and space/shape in consideration--there's a big difference in scale. Simply making random designs is nice, but what if you could teach the computer styling and form? The architects weren't just getting random width and height walls and windows on a concrete rectangle, and until the tools for ID can move past that stage, I see this being rather hit-or-miss for benefits.

Perhaps if you could teach the computer about form and style, give it a parts library it can work from or build off of.

SK: In generative design, the designer is very much is control of style. Generated designs in most cases appear to belong to a design family, very often with strong stylistic commonalities. The big difference between those who use generative design and those who remain skeptical is that the first sector focuses on what it can do and the second on what it cannot--for now.

Brook: SK, I am disappointed by the responses you are getting from this topic. If so-called designers cannot think of a use for this tool, then what is the state of our design thinking? People, you need to up the ante, big time, in your creative levels and progressive thinking.

SK: Don't be disappointed; this is typical. It's wrong to assume that designers are creative thinkers and open-minded. I have not found them to be. Many are extremely focused on creating meaningless variations--which is, in fact, what inspired my interest in generative design. Those unfamiliar with generative design find it threatening. Designers spend a lifetime honing their work processes, and naturally they are reluctant to entertain disruptive thinking. So I do not blame them.

It was the same in architecture. Only the younger generation has embraced this technology. The older guys can't deal with it, it is just too much. But before long, they sensed that there is something in the technology for optimization and for marketing some forms of hi-tech design approaches. The main difference in architecture was that there were many dedicated academics who had worked unrecognized for decades on futuristic design technology. However, what led to uptake was the availability of easy-to-use CAD tools, and the sheer enthusiasm of design students who are now busy out-competing each other in generating designs.

Here are some examples of products I designed using generative design, around 2006 (hence it's an MP3 player):

Image credit: Genoform

CG: When I look at all those renderings of differently proportioned MP3 players, I just see "meaningless variations," so I guess you've succeeded.

SK: You make a valid point. But they were generated in four to five seconds, and in the hundreds. Would you agree that there are thousands of such meaningless designs currently on the market, designed at much greater expense and time? The good thing about digital design now is that you are able to see what is being designed or generated and kill those that you don't like. If you have skill, nothing is stopping you from modifying it to your liking, as you surely do with your other designs.

What you create, I can guarantee will not be liked by quite a few others. If they are industrial designers themselves, then we will possibly be down to a fractional percentage. I am sure you would agree, if you ask those connoisseurs who do not like your design, none of them are likely to blame SolidWorks or ProE or any other CAD package you use.

I don't consider myself a competent product designer; I am clearly not. So, the designs displayed suffer in quality. This has been pointed out many times and I accept my shortcoming. But I am not sure why many intelligent designers are unable to distinguish the quality and capability of CAD tools from sample designs created by it? Can you explain?

CG: The thousands of meaningless designs you refer to, were likely done without any kind of design process. They were done with a "shotgun" approach which is common in the East where manufacturing is cheap. The theory is that you flood the market first with as many inexpensive variations of a product as possible and see what sells. In the West, it's more common to have a "rifle" approach, which utilizes a lot of research, strategy and design process to ensure the product hits its mark, reducing risk.

Generative software is great for the meaningless "shotgun" approach, but designers strive for the meaningful "rifle" approach.

For example, if an Industrial Designer were to design an MP3 player, a good design process would be to use "generative research" (aka co-creation) to help isolate preferences among those customers. In an hour, I would make a bunch of wood or foam shapes, and hand them to research participants. I'd ask them to talk about the merits of each shape and weight, talking about how they'd use the product in their life. I would then give them a bunch of cut-outs that represent controls, like screens and buttons. I'd let them choose among them, and place them on their preferred model wherever they'd want. I'd have them discuss why. I would then go back and improve the fidelity of the concepts, by sketching and modelmaking. I'd then do another round of research.

Here's why that process beats generative design:

1) You want physical models, not renderings, and today's rapid prototyping software just isn't as efficient as a designer carving a bunch of concepts out of for a few hours.

2) You want to separate your research variables, and progressively-disclose choices to the user. In your MP3 example, you've created a bunch of renderings, but you'd really need to create thousands more to cover all the variations. That's just not practical for the research participant. Rather than give them 10x10 choices, you want to give them 2 choices of 10: pick your shape, pick your controls.

3) You want your subject to co-create with you. Give them a bunch of controls and have them choose what they are and where they go, and tell you why. This is cheaper, faster and gives you more meaning.

Cdaisy: As for "you want physical models not renderings"--you're saying it's more efficient to carve objects by hand out of foam instead of modeling it and sending it to a desktop printer or the like? Cheaper maybe, but more efficient? You must be one hell of a whittler!

NURB: I don't think CG was taking issue with the output (hand carved, rapid proto, etc.), his issue was the disconnected nature of flushing out 1,000 variants of one design without any thought to it. His process will get you from concept to completion with a much better outcome. The shotgun approach rarely works well.

Image credit: Bitonti Studio

Cdaisy: I think it depends on what you are using it for. The image of the spoons is a good example. A spoon is a spoon. Do you really need a ton of research to design a spoon? I would say not really, but you do want a shape that is both functional and pleasing to the eye. So if I can get 1,000 variations quickly and simply pick the one I like the most, I would say that's a pretty efficient use of my time.

Isn't that the argument people make for sketching being so important? Showing variations of the same object quickly?

NURB: Of course, but as someone else said you'd need to teach the computer your aesthetic in order to get the same result. It would have to learn from its visual mistakes, and build on a "happy accident" that makes the for more pleasing. That's something I doubt you will get by simply modifying a few parameters and pushing Go.

Electroflux: Which is why you'd somehow need to build on what's going on here. As I said before, the architects aren't just pressing a randomize button either. If they were, few would see the value of this either.

They have a question they want answered, they may know roughly what the answer should be, but the human-time to get it is quite large. The computer can just create 1,000 variations, run physics simulations, and delete the 900 that fall apart.

But teaching it aesthetics is a bit different than teaching it to make a strong roof.

EngineerErrant: Having generative design software to create things like truly random shapes is exactly the sort of tool CG would need for the design process he's talking about.

I think the shotgun/rifle dichotomy being set up is meaningless. There's an element of randomness requisite in creativity, and generative design is great for that. It's not like the final product is being spit out by the program and sent straight into production with zero analysis with regard to usability or aesthetic or structure or whatever else. (On the flipside, it's not like there isn't a randomly-generated-shapes aspect when we sit down in front of a piece of paper and draw shoes. Whatever we've got going on the radio gets assimilated and processed.)

SK: As for shotguns and rifles, it all depends what you are shooting at. If you are going for ducks, shotguns will do, as ducks fly in a group (products too are similar and belong to groups). It's satisfactory if you bring one of those flying fellows down.

With a rifle, if you get the target wrong, it is a miss. It's wrong to assume that you know exactly what will succeed, so a rifle approach is a gambling approach. Gamblers always believe they will win, or else they wouldn't gamble. But companies have less and less use for gamblers. This is a reality that few would argue with.

The description of your own design process is useful, but it is the best? You don't seem to be using any of the capabilities that computers can provide you.

If you want to prototype a lot of designs, then you will find generative to be most useful. The range of designs that you can generate are in the billions. So you will never cover the entire range of possibilities, even if you wanted to. It is up to you, to narrow it down to a few that you like to show your clients.

Also, generative design is perfect for the co-creation you mentioned, because genetic models can also be driven by consumers (replacing random inputs).

I hope I have convinced you of the merits of generative design.

Image credit: Genoform

Travisimo: To get a computer to spit out ten quality concepts, or to even pick ten good ones from your thousands of generative iterations, you are still going to have to understand the design problem and customer, input all the key variables in careful ways, and spend the time to refine whatever gets spit out.

It's going to take just as much time to do it (with the target consumer in mind), and I still don't think you would be able to capture all the critical information needed to generate the best solution - the human brain mixes variables in ways computers cannot.

Fractal patterns is one thing, but I don't believe your system will be spitting out iPhone killers anytime soon.

SK: Babies don't run as soon as they are born. Generative Design is still in its early stages. In its late stages, those who do not use it will not be in the business of design. Chess masters once thought that they were unbeatable by computers, not very long ago.

Travisimo: Maybe for engineering-type challenges, like finding the optimal shape for a fuel injector in an engine, generative design is a perfect approach. Evaluate designs for certain constraints, kill off the bad ideas, mutate the good ideas, et cetera.

Design that resonates with people is much more than just product geometry. Who exactly is going to be setting the criteria that this program would use to judge and evolve the products? Who is going to judge the resulting designs, and to what criteria?

To know the right criteria to input is like the wicked problem that can happen in design, which is to figure out exactly what the problem is in the first place. Afterwards the answer is more straightforward to solve.

SK: Judging the results would obviously be the designer's job. I'm reminded of an old professor telling me there was a similar reaction, when CAD was first introduced. Generative Design is a powerful design/search tool. Designers should not be threatened by it. Good writers are not threatened by word processors.

Travisimo: Of course it's the designer's job, SK, I feel like you're making my point. The designer has done the groundwork, has the experience, and spent the research time to know what the ideal solution would be. If he's worth his salt, he could sketch ten focused concepts without ever needing to sift through the generative designs, making the whole system needless.

Designers do a lot more than just sketch and pump CAD. Experience and creative problem solving is our value.

CG: And I have to say, you've got the shotgun/rifle thing backwards. The shotgun approach is the gambling approach since most of the shots will fail to hit the target. This won't work for western companies that have brands to protect--they need to ensure the products they create hit the mark and build positive brand equity. Western retailers won't allow it either: Wal-Mart will only sell one or two of your coffeemakers, not fifty.

Desktop printers: Not only will they have to get cheap, they'll have to get really fast to beat the typical Industrial Designer in carving foam. Let's not forget that there is some upfront time programming the generative model to create all those variations. In a timed side-by-side comparison, I guarantee the Industrial Designer will get to a preferred solution much faster and with less waste.

Creating billions of options: It's just not practical to weed through that many concepts. A progressive approach to both creation and down-select is more efficient.

Co-creation: I'm a believer in this, but sitting a participant in front of a computer and letting them find their ideal design is really just user-friendly CAD, not generative design.

Being convinced: I'm not.

From what I'm hearing, generative design is about automating the process of creating "meaningless designs" like spoons. This may be useful to someone, but not me. I'm looking for tools that help me put more meaning into my designs. If I was designing a spoon, my approach would be to spend a lot of time with people using spoons. To look at their style choices. To look at their cultural standards. To look at the use-cases. To understand their priorities when buying a spoon. From that information, I would design.

Can generative design process all that input and arrive at a better spoon? If not, then it's just a distraction.

Cdaisy: CG, so the higher ups in your company will let you spend that much time and money on a spoon design? I want to work where you work!

Spending a lot of time with people using spoons? Come on, man. The sad reality is that it comes down to whether or not the buyer at a retail store or big box chain likes the shape and quality of your spoon. All that research, time and money can be flushed right down the toilet if the buyer looks at it and says "meh". Research is important, but sometimes all you really need is a sexy shape that utilizes your taste and skill as a designer.

Consumers don't always know what they want until they see it. Same goes for buyers and bosses. Design isn't ALWAYS about solving problems. Sometimes it just has to be functional mass-produced piece of art that people want to buy. Are we not supposed to set the trends? Does everything you design need to be inspired by focus groups? Isn't that the reason terrestrial radio stations suck?

That's not to say your points aren't valid, but there are situations where this TOOL would come in handy. Let's say with a glassware company for example. Set the parameters for a martini glass and let it rip! Worst case scenario is that it sparks an idea you didn't have before. What's so wrong with that?

I think it would be a fun to have a generative design option available to me. Set certain parameters, look at the results, pick a few of the best ones, tweak the parameters a bit, look at more results, pick out a few more, narrow it down to three, show the boss, make some tweaks if you need it. Done.

IT IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR THE ENTIRE DESIGN PROCESS. It is a very cool option you can have ready in your tool box if you need it. sheesh!

SK: That's the problem with designers--wanting to put in meaning. Ask your boss if he wants meaning or money.



--To be continued.

That Small Step Is Still There After 50 Years

Design News - Mon, 2019-07-22 05:00


Apollo 11 landing site captured from 24 km (15 miles) above the surface by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter(LRO). Tracks of the astronauts can be seen between the LM and various other discarded pieces of equipment. (Image source: NASA Goddard/Arizona State University)

The remnants of the footsteps are still there. Fifty years after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon, the evidence of humankind’s first venture off our small blue planet is still visible. The astronauts had spent over 21 hours on the lunar surface after their Lunar Module (LM) had landed there on July 20, 1969. They had explored for more than 2-1/2 hours the surface outside of their spacecraft. Then they blasted off using the ascent stage of the LM, and leaving behind the descent stage on the surface.

In November of 2009, NASA released images of the Apollo 11 lunar landing site in the Sea of Tranquility. The images, taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) from just 15 miles above the Moon’s surface, shows the discarded descent stage of the LM, as well as tracks created by the astronauts as they moved about in the dust on the surface.

One of the astronaut’s trails leads to the Passive Seismic Experiment Package (PSEP), which was set up to provide the first lunar seismic data. It continued to return data for three weeks after the astronauts left. Also visible in the LRO photo is the Laser Ranging RetroReflector (LRRR), which allows precise laser measurements between the Earth and Moon to be made. It is still operating to this day and the discarded cover of the LRRR can be spotted nearby, where it was dropped by one of the astronauts.

Another trail follows an unplanned excursion near the end of the time spent on the surface. Armstrong ran over to get a look inside Little West crater, about 50 meters (164 feet) from the LM. This was the farthest either astronaut ventured from the landing site. Armstrong and Aldrin's tracks during their time on the lunar surface cover less area than a city block.

An artist’s illustration of the LRO taking photographs and measurements of the surface of the Moon. ( Image source: NASA)

The LRO was launched on June 18, 2009 and entered lunar orbit on June 23, 2009. LRO’s mission is to help identify sites close to potential resources with high scientific value, favorable terrain, and the environment necessary for safe future robotic and human lunar missions. The LRO has also photographed all of the Apollo lunar landing sites, as well as the locations where various the jettisoned Lunar Modules have impacted the lunar surface, after having returned the astronauts safely to the orbiting Command Module.

According to NASA, the instruments on board the LRO spacecraft return a range of global data, including day-night temperature maps, a global geodetic grid, high resolution color imaging and the moon's UV albedo. There has been particular emphasis on the polar regions of the moon where continuous access to solar illumination may be possible, and the potential for frozen water in the permanently shadowed regions at the poles may exist. LRO data sets have been deposited in the Planetary Data System (PDS), a publicly accessible repository of planetary science information.

Because the Moon lacks any atmosphere that would cause erosion, short of a major meteor strike at the landing location, the only degradation of the tracks of footprints and equipment remaining on the moon comes from the impact of micro-meteors. It theory this means that the artifacts from the Apollo 11 Moon landing could remain undisturbed for centuries—or at least long enough to become a prime tourist attraction for the inhabitants for a future Moon base.

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.