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Inside HGTV's 2020 Dream Home, Which They're Giving Away for Free

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Discovery, Inc.'s successful HGTV (Home & Garden Television) channel is one of the most-watched in America; four out of five households with a TV receive it, which translates to nearly 100 million households.

One of HGTV's more popular shows is Dream Home, which has been on the air since 1997. The program showcases the build of HGTV's annual sweepstakes house, which is in a different location each year; what doesn't change is that the fully-furnished house is typically worth more than $1 million, and comes with both $250,000 in cash and a new car from the automotive sponsor. Roughly 130 million entries were received for the 2018 house, the most recent year for which figures were available. (If you're wondering why the entries exceed the viewership, it's because you can enter the sweepstakes twice a day, every day, until the drawing. This year's drawing is on February 19th.)

This year's house is located on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Core77 and a handful of other publications and people were invited down to tour the house by Honda, the program's automotive sponsor; this year's giveaway includes a 2020 Honda Passport Elite SUV.

The house is, in a word, bananas. Located on the coast, it's beautifully sited such that the view from the rear of the house perfectly frames the sun setting over the water each day. Two stories, three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, 3,500 square feet, gigantic open-plan kitchen, massive Great Room, huge mudroom with a dog-washing station and built-in under-cabinet dog crates, gigantic outdoor kitchen, multiple porches, a detached two-car garage with an attached sub-garage for ATVs or a golf cart, you get the idea. From a design standpoint, the bedrooms and their attendant bathrooms are all sited as far away from each other as possible within the house for maximum privacy.

A lot of the house's features are things that we ordinary Joes might like in a home, but practically speaking, probably wouldn't be willing to pay for--hence their inclusion; this is, after all, a giveaway "dream" home.

As for the actual aesthetics, the interior--which combines modern elements with local tastes, as is the style of the show--isn't to my personal tastes. Which I get; HGTV isn't trying to produce a house that a design blogger will sign up to win, they're reaching for the 130-million-plus entries that creates ratings hits.

And as interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn led us through the house, it occurred to me what an impossible job he has: To design an interior not to appeal to one client, or even a family, but to those tens of millions of viewers, all of whom might have conflicting ideas.

Flynn was besieged by the Influencers invited to the tour, but I spoke with his handler to see if I could snag a ten-minute chat with him. I had to know how one person could possibly design an interior for that many theoretical clients; where does one even begin?

You can enter the Dream Home sweepstakes here.

Our Q&A with Flynn is up next.

<i id="c3082a_6241">WaPo's </i>Hilarious "Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sleeping Positions on a Plane"

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Self-Healing Bricks That are Grown From Bacteria

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

As we saw earlier, Hempcrete is amazing stuff. The concrete alternative is sustainable, lightweight, fireproof, acts as a natural insulator, and sequesters CO2.

Hempcrete's properties are passive; the material is not alive. But Wil Srubar, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at Colorado University Boulder, has been wondering: If we used building materials that are still alive, could we yield additional benefits from them?

Wil Srubar and CU Boulder graduate student Sarah Williams in the lab. (Image credit: CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science)

So far, Srubar and his research team's answer is "Yes." Their most recent project, published this month in scientific journal Matter, uses bacteria from the ocean to essentially grow bricks. Fortuitously for the environment, the bacteria does this by absorbing CO2 from the environment, rather than producing CO2, as happens in standard concrete production.

A mold for shaping bricks made out of living materials. (Image credit: CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science)

Using these bricks yields not only an environmental benefit, but also a potential a boon to manufacturers. "We know that bacteria grow at an exponential rate," Srubar told CU Boulder Today. "That's different than how we, say, 3D-print a block or cast a brick. If we can grow our materials biologically, then we can manufacture at an exponential scale."

The possibilities are big. Srubar imagines a future in which suppliers could mail out sacks filled with the desiccated ingredients for making living building materials. Just add water, and people on site could begin to grow and shape their own microbial homes.

A bacteria-grown truss. (Image credit: CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science)

Not all of the bacteria dies in the process of growing into a brick; the team's research showed that the bacteria survived and spawned three generations of itself after 30 days, with its overall population reduced to about 9-14% of the original. And that plucky percentage of survivors yielded a surprising benefit:

The researchers also discovered that they could make their materials reproduce. Chop one of these bricks in half, and each of half is capable of growing into a new brick.

If only the dilapidated front stoop on our farmhouse (pictured below) was made from these bricks. As it stands, I'm going to have to learn some basic masonry skills. With any luck, in the future this will be obviated by bacterial workers.

Three Things We Learned About the Future of Driving At CES 2020

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Due to the sheer scale of the annual Consumer Electronics Show (a.k.a. CES) , attempting to sniff out what the future will look like via the products on display can often be too murky to decipher. Where future trends are made most clear at this annual tech gathering are arguably in the automotive halls, particularly the cars on display.

At CES 2020, editors and companies alike tried to answer questions like: When will we actually see fully autonomous vehicles on our roads? What is the future automobile actually going to look like? Is it true that in the future, none of us will own cars? As Arup Senior Transportation Planner and expert in the future mobility space Melissa Ruhl stated in Core77's CES talk series "Moving Forward: Conversations on Transportation Futures," a question she is frequently asked is, 'when are autonomous vehicles coming?' Her response was simply, "That question is always really hard. We just don't know. Companies put out all these bullish predictions, only to walk back."

While we can't admit to knowing when that day will come ourselves, we have gathered a number of trends we noticed during the 2020 show that hint at what engineers, designers, and companies at large are working toward when it comes to future mobility. Here are a few of our insights:

"The Future of Driving" Will Come in Small Bites

With all the big names in transportation on display at CES, a pattern will typically emerge of what automakers are hoping to bring to market in the near future. And what companies are hyper-focused on right now are small design details that increase safety and energy efficiency.

Nissan Ariya

For one, concept cars such as the Nissan Ariya and the even more surprising Vision-S debuted by Sony at CES, focus not on fully autonomous driving but smart technology that keeps the driver informed and safe. The entirely electric Ariya (a prototype that is fully operational and likely similar to what Nissan hopes to release to market in the near future) was designed not only to harbor a 300-mile battery life, but also uses Level 3 autonomy to help keep the car centered in the lane, among other features.

The Sony Vision-S

Sony Vision-S interior

The Sony Vision-S, which although operational, will likely remain a concept at least for some time, introduced software made in collaboration with Bosch, Qualcomm, Nvidia and Blackberry that notifies sleepy drivers to keep their eyes on the road using a complex biometric system. Amongst this advanced technology, you'll notice, remains the familiar nodules of a typical personal vehicle—the standard car form, a round steering wheel, as well as an interior that looks more utilitarian than cozy and relaxing. In short, we're at least a few years ago from cars starting to looking less like a car and more like a living room.

Public Transportation is Where Autonomy Will Likely Be Introduced at a Large Scale

If the news around CES is any indication, the beginning of Level 4 or 5 autonomous driving on a mainstream scale will begin with ride sharing and public transportation systems. The most fleshed out autonomous driving system we have seen to date launched in Vegas last week: the Yandex Self-Driving car, which was one of the first examples of a fully autonomous rideshare vehicle driving on the road without an engineer in the driver's seat. As WIRED reported, Las Vegas law requires an engineer "seated in a position to take immediate control," so the Yandex engineer in the test car had a system in place to trigger the brakes from the passenger position if necessary. But it was an impressive early display of trust in the autonomous technology already available to us today.

In addition to rideshare, autonomous technologies are being utilized to envision self-driving public transportation systems. As mentioned by 2020 CES Speaker at our Moving Forward talk series, David Scott Neal, Director of Design Co-Creation at Launch Forth R&D, it is likely that private car ownership will drop by 80% come 2030 (according to a 2017 study by Stanford economist Tony Seba). It is projects like Local Motor's Olli, a self driving shuttle made using 3D printing, that support this theory, and several vehicles similar to this were on full display throughout the CES grounds.

The use of self-driving tech for public transportation makes a lot of sense, aside from the private money it requires to fund such an operation—citizens depend on public transportation routes to appear at stops on time and follow a prescribed path, making it a perfect preliminary challenge for the technology.

Just Like Everything Else These Days, Your Car Will Be Hyper-Personalized

Despite recent concerns regarding data privacy, the use of personalized algorithms and data proved to appear in full force at CES 2020. Largely rebranded as biometrics, a number of concept cars on the CES grounds integrated technology that tracked personal data as a way to activate and personalize a car's environment.


The VISION AVTR concept car by Mercedes Benz—an ambitious speculative design project that bakes in some early 2020 marketing buzz for the Avatar 2 film coming out later this year—took biometrics to extremes by replacing the steering wheel with a "multifunctional control element" that allows use through recognizing the driver by tracking breathing patterns (I can only imagine this feature enraged hot rod fanatics and arcade game lovers).

The VISION AVTR's future solution

This concept is obviously fanciful, but takes cues from technological advances taking place right now. Audi had on display a design study, the AI:ME concept car, that utilizes artificial intelligence to prompt environmental interior changes learned by the car over time. For example, one attendant in the CES booth informed me that the car monitors CO2 levels in the cabin, and due to the fact that your breath contains more CO2 during times of stress, when the level of CO2 rises, the car will trigger a pleasant fragrance to help relax the driver. For the car's infotainment system, the team developed an eye tracking software that detects an icon you're looking at on the screen, and can recognize when you want to 'click' the icon; no hands necessary. Maybe it is a blink-to-click interface?

As Digital Trends reports, the company emphasized that AI:ME is not a preview of a car to be released by Audi in the future, and that they haven't "decided whether to put it in production yet," however, the technology such as the eye-tracking entertainment will be implemented in the cars in the 2020s.

Something to consider in the midst of these new data-driven features, is whether the technology is being used in the most beneficial ways for the users, or is it all simply an example of superfluous engineering? 

In fact, many aspects of the future as demonstrated by cars at CES ought to be given a deeper second look— after all, many of them still remain a concept yet to be seen on the market, a least for the time being. A good exercise for designers would be to examine these trends highlighted at CES and think critically- is this the future I would like to see?

Next week, we'll be following this query with an article around the questions CES 2020 will leave designers asking. So stay tuned!

An Apple Store Concept Video From the 1990s

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

BoingBoing resurfaced this very colorful concept video for an Apple store designed by Marc Newson and animated by Me Company in the 1990s. It's blurry but we managed to spot a 20th Anniversary Macintosh (1997) that seems to place the video closer to the end of the decade. Though it didn't become a reality, there's some interesting modular designs and a TV Land-inspired soundtrack that (fair warning!) will definitely get stuck in your head.

Liberty For Plant Life in The City

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Photo by Iris Rijskam

Among urban planners, designers, and architects, the need to revitalize ecology in urban settings has not gone totally ignored. Though hardly enough has been done to temper the ever-expanding urban sprawl or to invite biodiversity into cities, one need not look far to find a growing interest in "green" developments in cities across the world (many of which result in little more than grandiose greenwashing projects). What remains distinctly rare, are efforts to confront the ecological potential of the things we've already built. The urban landscape that has for years, decades, possibly even centuries defined the modern human habitat. Architecture is not only a reality of our future, but of our past as well.

Which makes Matteo Viviano's project, Green Democracy, a unique examination of how plant diversity can be cultivated in existing urban architecture. "I am criticizing the contemporary construction system to be extremely exclusive toward nature," says Viviano. Inspired by the reclamation of ancient ruins and abandoned buildings, by flora, Viviano sought to interpret how the architecture of our more recent past has in instances included other species, in order to propose new approaches to architecture that "aim to include and balance ecology and facilitate biodiversity."

In Viviano's "dictionary for a green democracy": Fragments, we are given a breakdown of how that might happen. In the first part of the dictionary, the reader is provided an analysis of how ubiquitous architectural sections and forms might impact plant growth. This includes estimations of exposure to light, water, space, and the capacity for plants to climb and cling to various forms. The second part of Fragments features an array of European plants, that often can be found growing in urban landscapes, which includes both indigenous, as well as more recently introduced species.

Fragments reads almost as an anti-landscape architecture guide, suggesting plants of wide-variety grow uninhibited upon and within architecture. Landscaping in cities is almost exclusively an aesthetic effort and thus is often as false a representation of natural life as a landscape painting. In some cases, trees are merely planted to "offset" carbon emissions, e.g. New York City has planted 678,183 trees that have provided $109,625,536.06 annually in carbon offsets, allowing the city to buy its way out of having to limit emissions. Green Democracy is contingent upon giving plants the right to grow in a way that would likely be disruptive of the romantic expectations of Nature, while simultaneously suggesting that there is inherent beauty in the presences of plant diversity in a urban landscape.

But what does that look like? The mind is tempted to conjure the images of a dystopian sci-fi film, where nature has reclaimed abandoned cities as their own, ivy hanging off of skyscrapers and grass growing tall over former highways. Full submission of cities to plant life obviously isn't the intent, but perhaps those images shouldn't only be reserved for a dystopia that lacks society. Fragments implies coexistence, if our architecture is to remain, how can more than one species take part in it?

Such coexistence seems to be the only path forward that won't resign living generations to a volatile ecological (and climate) future. Offering other species the freedom to live and grow, upon all that we've constructed, is a small effort deter the acceleration of our global ecological crisis. Land use has been one of the primary engines of climate change and loss of biodiversity. As urban areas grow, so too grows the necessity of supporting biodiversity through architecture and planning.

This line of thinking presents the city as a space for architects and designers to be shepherds of biodiverse-ecosystems. Such design requires looking around, and seeing how a built environment that has almost exclusively been designed for humans (with varying degrees of success), can work for other species. With Green Democracy, Viviano offers a compelling ecological analysis of architecture. One that imagines the possibilities of urban spaces that largely remain sterilized, as spaces where the life rights are not only applied to people but to the multitude of other species that are most often treated as aberrations in the worlds we've built.

Works from Viviano Matteo's Green Democracy, will soon be on exhibition at Salone del Mobile in Milan and at the Atlanta Design Festival.

Reader Submitted: Keywing Key Turner

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Winner of the Design Council UK Innovation Award and a $85,000 investment from charity Versus Arthritis, new product the Keywing key turner will help millions with arthritis or reduced dexterity to open doors and regain independence.

The Keywing is an innovative and thoughtfully designed new product that clips onto household keys. Once in place, it creates a larger surface area and longer lever, making keys much easier to hold, grasp and turn, and locks much easier to open.

View the full project here

Currently Crowdfunding: TiGr's Latest Bike Lock Innovation, a Surprisingly Beautiful Litter Box, and More

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

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:

Created by furniture designers, this is the kind of litter box that you won't want to hide out of sight. Better yet, it includes a handy compartment with a built-in scoop, dustpan, and hand brush for easy cleanup. The minimal design comes with a grippy base and is made out of recycled plastics.

This book features a collection of essays and interviews with a wide range of people—scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, bioethicists, visual artists, Buddhist monks, and more—who are questioning how biology and technology are redefining what it means to be human. "Think of it as a guide to your future self," the campaign says.

Featuring a sleeker design than its competitors and no cords to weigh you down, this LED lamp can easily be moved around wherever you need it.

The TiGr team is back with a new and improved version of their bike lock. The latest iteration is made of hardened high carbon blue steel which is very hard to cut yet very lightweight and flexible.

This vacuum lid and pump set removes spoil-inducing oxygen from your containers (they can even be used with wine bottles) to keep your food fresher, longer.

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.

CES 2020: Are Smart Homes Undermining Our Sense of 'Home'?

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

The steady rise of the Smart Home, a sector projected to be worth £115.6 billion by 2024, has been fueled with the same consumer promise as the internet and social media: technology will give us a better quality of life and bring us closer to friends and family. But in reality, the current approach to Smart Homes, as seen at CES 2020, only risks adding to the disconnect that existing technology can already makes us feel, rather than remedying it.

CES indicates we're still a far way off seeing technology for the home that genuinely fosters our sense of comfort, wellbeing and community. If you look beyond the eye-catching gadgets and marketing bluster at the show, the focus is still on clever gadgets that offer individual experiences instead of intelligent technology that brings people closer together. The majority of products target early-adopters rather than broader society and communities and brands are still largely turning a blind eye to the issue of data privacy – a critical issue when it comes to how comfortable we feel in our homes.

As consumer fear and anxiety about how their data is being used increases, and their patience and trust in home-tech wanes, companies entering this arena need to be facilitating the creation of Smart Homes that genuinely enrich our home and emotional lives, or they risk eradicating our sense of 'home' altogether.

Systems that go beyond the individual

Look through the Smart Home product launches at CES and you'll struggle to find anything that looks beyond the individual experience. Instead, the majority keep us even more engaged with personal devices.

Samsung's Ballie companion robot

For example, Samsung's much-hyped 'life companion' robot Ballie might seem like a clever and helpful addition to the home but it ultimately keeps us locked into closed, individual-to-device communications instead of fostering real connections with others. At a time of a global mental health crisis and rising levels of stress, depression and anxiety, the focus of the Smart Home must be on products, services and systems that actually bring us together and add to the emotional fabric and connectivity of our lives.

Companies entering this arena need to be facilitating the creation of Smart Homes that genuinely enrich our home and emotional lives, or they risk eradicating our sense of 'home' altogether.

Brands need to create shared and collaborative experiences that encourage dialogue instead of stopping at one person's selection overriding another's or isolating us in the glow of an individual screen.

A more adaptive form of Smart

The one-size-fits-all approach to people, families and home-life that many Smart Home devices currently have is at odds with the realities of home-life today. Populations are aging, there is an increase in multi-generational homes, definitions of the 'family' are changing, and more people are living with their parents for longer.

Smart homes must be able to adapt to anyone at any time, and adapt contextually to what we need at different times of the day, week and year. People need to participate in the learning process of the algorithms that run our Smart Homes to create healthy and individualized feedback loops that re-humanize how tech behaves, instead of alienating us in our own homes.

Creating new benefits, not new anxieties

Brands that are getting smart systems right are looking beyond the instant gratification that new features deliver to build deeper emotional engagement. Companies must think carefully about how they develop new platforms, artefacts and interfaces that address a deeper need in all of us for feeling secure within our home without fostering new anxieties that come from overzealous data collection or fear-based marketing.

The "Bee" autonomous security drone by Sunflower Labs

For example, there were over 8,000 smart security cameras unveiled at CES 2020, including Bee: a residential "autonomous security drone" that detects motion and then autonomously flies to the activity and report on it. While securing our homes is a natural and primal instinct, this level of invasive surveillance and the focus on threats to our homes completely undermines our ability to truly relax at home.

At the other end of the security spectrum at CES we saw surveillance cameras bundled into other products like robot vacuums, water filtration systems and in the case of Home Hawk Floor, lamps.

Panasonic Home Hawk Floor

While these may be novel in design, this level of pervasive surveillance will never allow us to feel completely at ease in our own homes. Meanwhile, incorporating surveillance into products that are unrelated to home security also seems like a lazy way of building in relevance and 'smart appeal'. Instead, we need elegantly integrated smart systems and solutions that respond to our desire to keep our homes secure by discreetly addressing what can often be irrational or disproportionately perceived threat, or providing well-judged comfort to those living on their own.

Technology that nurtures existing rituals and creates new ones

The emotional and cultural fabric of our home-lives is rich in ritual, whether it's the new bonds created between students living together for the first time or old traditions passed down through generations of a family. To date, Smart Home products haven't done enough to support the enduring value of home rituals, overlooking a fundamental part of our definition of 'home'.

Kitchen Hub by GE

For example, smart ovens that beam new recipes to our kitchens via screens, such as the Kitchen Hub that GE launched at CES, might seem convenient but they completely eradicate the ritual of returning to unique collections of family recipes or recipes gathered from friends over time. Devices such as these bring an unnecessary level of tech into the kitchen, a place which is for many the heart of home life.

Technology should slow life down, not speed it up

Part of the added stress that seems inseparably connected with new technology is the idea that it should always enable to us to move and act faster; to be quicker to respond and be more time efficient. But this is our home we're talking about, not the office. It's where we unwind, relax and connect with loved ones. If anything, Smart Home technology needs to be encouraging us to slow down, not speed up, and to facilitate experiences and environments that allow us to connect to an emotionally rich and meaningful connection to our homes and loved ones, rather than be permanently plugged in to a 24/7 on-demand culture. Smart technology needs to account for both intense periods of task-based focus and urgency as well as slower-paced periods of the day when we're relaxing at home. Unfortunately, I don't think the answer lies in the Ten Second toothbrush, another headline-grabber of CES.

The Ten Second Toothbrush

These approaches represent a shift in meaning and values within smart home technology. As a result, tech companies need to start making more ethics-focused choices going forward and understand the variations of consumers who are opting in or out, rather than simply cutting off access to features and functionality. After all, it can't be right that one of the more impressive launches at CES in terms of value-based innovation was that of Impossible Pork. After all, home is a place where we switch off and where we want to be less conscious of what we are doing and why we're doing it. The challenge for brands is permeating these moments intelligently and meaningfully without downgrading what matters most to us in our homes while promising to do the very opposite. Let's hope we start to see this much-needed shift at CES 2021.

Watch All of the Presentations from "Moving Forward: Conversations on Transportation Futures" at CES 2020

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Each year at CES dozens of automotive OEMs put their bold visions of the future on display and allow you to touch and feel what always seems to be just about to be released. Electric vehicles, autonomous driving, smart cars, minimal and soothing interiors with entertainment and information systems that ignite the imagination. And while these dazzling displays of technology and style make you forget about your daily commute, evolving our current transportation ecosystem into a more harmonious future is a much more complex challenge than any one vehicle or advanced feature can solve.

In the not-too-distant future the mix of vehicle types, transit modes, subscription services, urban infrastructure and energy sources will become increasingly complex. Driving it forward will be a combination of technology, policy, architecture, human behavior and business decisions that are rapidly and independently evolving, without a coherent roadmap to guide us.

The latest models of cars that you see on the road now have been in development for over five years. The means that the transportation technology evolution is already well under way, and each year over the coming five years will move us closer toward an electric, autonomous, shared future that you've been hearing about. How we transform the rest of the mix that makes up the entire transportation system is a true systems design problem, and one that we all will be working on, and living in, for years to come.

This mix of design, technology, consumer preference and urban planning is what interested us, and why we chose to produce a program at CES 2020 on this subject. We hosted four speakers, with four different perspectives, and a panel discussion at the end. Expect to see and hear a lot more on this topic going forward, as the transformation of a huge part of our economic system and physical landscape is just beginning.

How Consumer Preferences Will Shape Future Mobility

The McKinsey ACES survey has explored Future Mobility global customer preferences since 2014, focusing on Autonomous Driving, Connectivity, Electrification, and Smart Mobility. In this presentation, Kersten Heineke, a Partner at McKinsey & Company, shares their latest findings from surveying more than 7,000 respondents on micro-mobility, autonomous driving, and more.

The Future of the Built Environment

In this talk, Melissa Ruhl, Senior Transportation Planner at Arup talks about design possibilities arising from the integration of autonomous vehicles in the built environment. New passenger interaction models combined with evolving trends in public transit and active mobility will reshape the urban environment in the near future.

The Substitution of Ownership

When you no longer own the vehicle you use for your daily commute, how do you replace the satisfaction of ownership? In this talk, David Scott Neal (a.k.a. Nemo), Director of Design Co-Creation at Launch Forth R&D, discusses revolutionary changes in the way cars will be designed and built in the near future. These changes will allow consumers to participate in the process of vehicle creation and customization in ways never before possible.

What Drives the Future of Transportation Design?

Future mobility must be considered from a systems level all the way down to the details. In this talk, Shady Shahid, Principal at MAST, a design consultancy in San Francisco, discusses the challenges and opportunities facing emerging transportation OEMs based on his years of experience working with some of the biggest auto brands around the world. His suggestions touch on personal digital integration to micro-mobility unit economics, even motion sickness once vehicles become mobile offices.

Moving Forward: A Conversation on Transportation Futures

What does the future of everyday transportation look like, and how do we get there? At CES 2020, Core77 invited four transportation and urban planning experts to gain insights on future automotive design trends, consumer preferences, and urban infrastructure. This panel discussion is a conversation on how designers can help shape more seamless transportation experiences in the future.

Participants: Moderated by Allison Fonder, Senior Producer, Core77 David Scott Neal (a.k.a. Nemo), Director of Design Co-Creation at Launch Forth R&D Melissa Ruhl, Senior Transportation Planner at Arup Kersten Heineke, Partner, McKinsey & Company Shady Shahid, Principal at MAST, a design consultancy in San Francisco

Lisbon-Based Design Studio MOR Debuts New Store and Lighting Collection&nbsp;

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

Last month, new design studio MOR opened its first storefront in Lisbon's LX Factory, a former industrial site in the Alcântara district that has become a creative hub in recent years. The studio is celebrating the new store with the launch of its first lighting collection, called BULB. Lisbon-based designer Pedro Sottomayor designed four lamps (available in two sizes) representing simple geometric shapes: a cylinder, a cone, a sphere, and a hemisphere.

"Each lamp is hand blown in Portugal in a region called Marinha Grande," the designers told us in a recent email. "Our intention with the lamps was to create the illusion of solid bodies sustained by a single cable. They are made in opal white glass and their inner light derives from a LED lamp that one can easily place inside the glass bulb. The rest of the components are hidden inside the lamp. These subtle details make the lamps look like they are floating almost effortlessly in the air and allows the light to spread a very gentle glow with a warm character."

As with their previous work, the focus is on subtle details that "achieve the most complex result: simplicity." We especially like the timeless CAST chair, whose structure neatly hugs the seat.

Design Job: Chart a New Direction as a Senior Industrial Designer at Garmin!

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

The Core77 editors hand-pick jobs from Coroflot for our audience - today we suggest you make your way to this great creative opportunity... Garmin’s Consumer Industrial Design team continues to grow in Kansas City. We are looking for talented Senior Industrial Designers to create amazing designs for cycling computers ...

View the full design job here

The 2100 Project Maps the Impact of Climate Change Across the Country

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

To help take the Green New Deal from abstract legislative goals to reality, the University of Pennsylvania's Ian L. McHarg Center for Urbanism and Ecology launched The 2100 Project late last year. Culled together from the Center's far-reaching research, the first part of the project is titled "An Atlas for the Green New Deal" and consists of more than 100 visualizations unpacking the intersecting issues that define our time: a changing climate, population growth, and an economic dependence on extraction, production, and consumption. Their work started with mapping the spatial impacts of these factors over the next century in the conterminous United States but hopes to expand and include other areas of the world in future additions to the project.

"The Green New Deal does not pretend to have all the answers, but it's a bold and necessary start. Because it connects social change with environmental change, and because it recalls the ambitious spirit of the original New Deal, the Green New Deal is the only set of ideas on the table that are scaled to the challenges we face," the project write-up explains.

"But right now, the Green New Deal is embryonic, represented only in the most abstract set of goals outlined in H.R. 109. Its outline of a sustainable future needs to be filled in. It needs to be developed, debated and designed. To that end, this Atlas for a Green New Deal brings together a vast and disparate array of information in the form of maps and datascapes; tools to help us understand the spatial consequences of climate change—not so that we may be frightened by them, but so that we may be mobilized around a response to them."

The platform includes detailed maps tracing projected migration patterns, coastal losses, the impact of the meat production industry, solar and wind power potential, and much more. Freely accessible online, the platform is a valuable tool for legislators, planners, designers, and anyone trying to get a better grasp on the consequences of climate change. Dive into the research here.

How Woodworker Chris Salomone Turned His Son's Drawing Into a Functional Piece of Furniture&nbsp;

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

We've featured the work of self-taught woodworker Chris Salomone quite extensively over the years. One of his recent projects began as a drawing made by his six-year-old son that Salomone decided to turn into a real piece of furniture. The result reminds us of Gianluca Gimini's drawings of bikes from memory—off-kilter but inspired.

"The trick with this build is that I didn't want to just do a really quick and bad job," Salomone explains. "Even though in the end it has to look kind of weird and messed up, it has to look like it was done on purpose." To achieve that look, "my idea was to build it really nice and square similar to how I would build any piece of furniture, and then after...remove material to achieve that...drawn look."

Check out the full process below:

Check Out the Cardboard Beds Tokyo 2020 Athletes Will Sleep On

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-01-20 21:00

The Athletes Village at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be furnished with 18,000 single bed frames made out of cardboard. They're made by Japanese mattress company Airweave and can withstand a load up to 440 pounds. The lightweight frames can easily be moved around and will be topped off with a three-layer mattress that athletes can customize to achieve their preferred firmness.

The initiative is part of the committee's goal to "reuse or recycle 99% of procured items and goods." The beds will be completely recycled at the end of the event as will the mattresses, which have plastic components. Their other efforts include manufacturing medals made out of donated phones, making the Olympic torch out of recycled aluminum, and the podiums using marine plastic waste.

6 Insights Into The Science And Technology Of The Mandalorian

Design News - Mon, 2020-01-20 05:30



John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

Apple, Amazon, And Google Want To Standardize Your Smart Home

Design News - Mon, 2020-01-20 04:07
(Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

Interoperability issues have always been at the forefront of the ever-expanding Internet of Things (IoT). While there will always be brand loyalists and evangelists out there, the reality is that it's simply unrealistic to expect a factory, office, or even a household to construct its entire IoT ecosystem with only one company's devices and protocols.

The Zigbee Alliance recently announced that it has brought together some tech giants, including Apple, Amazon, and Google to form a new working group, the Connected Home over IP (or CHIP) project, to develop and promote a new, royalty-free and secure connectivity standard for smart home products.

“The project is built around a shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use,” the Zigbee Allliance said in an official statement. “By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification.”

The Zigbee Alliance, which includes companies such as NXP Semiconductors, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, and IKEA, believes that leveraging smart home products from Apple, Google, and Amazon – products based on Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon's Alexa respectively – will accelerate the development of this new protocol and make it easier for third-party device manufacturers to create smart home products that are more universally accessible for consumers.

For its part Apple has pledged to open source portions of HomeKit, its development kit for smart home devices. Developers can now use the HomeKit Open Source Accessory Development Kit (ADK) to prototype non-commercial smart home accessories.

Apple hasn't pushed its smart home products as heavily as Google and Amazon has (Do you know anyone with a iHome ISP6X Smart Plug?), but the list of third-party devices compatible with HomeKit covers the gamut from thermostats and locks to faucets, garage doors, lights, and sprinkler systems. By open-sourcing parts of HomeKit, Apple is likely hoping to attract more developers to its technologies and gain some ground on Amazon and Google.

In a blog post Google said it will be bringing technologies from its OpenWeave project as well as its expertise in IP-carrying, low-powered mesh networking protocols to the table. OpenWeave is an open-source implementation of the network application layer behind Google's Nest line of products which include thermostats, cameras, doorbells, alarms, and locks.

Google engineers wrote that the company's interest in the CHIP project stems from the potential to do for the smart home what USB has done for devices – creating an easily accessible, secure, and universal solution for devices and cloud services.

“Because of the unique ability for IP to bring together disparate network technologies, it provides an ideal platform for convergence in the helpful home,” Google engineers wrote. “Further, rather than requiring product and application-specific infrastructure, IP-based solutions can leverage off-the-shelf network infrastructure than can be shared across many applications and products. This helps reduce the mess of wires and pucks spawned by gateways and hubs common in many smart home solutions today.”

Further, Google believes the approach being taken by the CHIP project will enhance overall cybersecurity by reducing points of attack. A common concern in the march toward one trillion devices has been the potential to create one trillion nodes through which malicious hackers can launch cyberattacks.

Amazon has yet to comment on its specific contributions to CHIP, but it is likely the company will be allowing developers some sort of open-source access to its Amazon Web Services and Alexa skills.


A Partnership...Or A Truce?

This new working group makes perfect sense, given that Apple, Google, and Amazon essentially make up the totality of the smart home products market. Every smart home device takes advantage of software and services offered by at least one of these companies.

But have three of tech's biggest competitors agreed to play nice for the sake of consumers? It's not likely that any of this is being done simply for the common good. So what's the real incentive behind this collaboration?

“It's true that some devices can communicate with both Alexa and Google Assistant, but only because the manufacturer of those products chose to include support for both. The products are essentially bilingual. There's added expense in development time, test time, and consumer support time to make a product support two or even three or more different protocols; to speak multiple languages,” Robert Bajoras, president of software development company, Art+Logic, told Design News. “Adopting a standard means you only have to build one solution, test one solution, and support one solution.”

Art+Logic has been developing custom software since 1991 and has boasted Google and Apple among its diverse list of clients. Bajoras believes what we're seeing is more of truce than a true partnership, and it's one centered around cost cutting. “The engineer in me would like to say the incentive is because it's technically better to have a common standard, but there's a cost savings to it. Cooperating costs less than fighting,” he said.

“Historically, most decisions related to consumer facing technology have been decided on by competition,” Bajoras added. “It's more about product promotion, advertising, and marketing. Sometimes the best solution wins, but often the company or consortium with the most advertising dollars wins.”

He recalled the old battle between Betamax and VHS as an example. While knowledgable users and enthusiasts knew that Betamax was superior to VHS, it was VHS that eventually won the war due to marketing forces. “When JVC decided to license the VHS format they effectively created a consortium that Sony couldn't compete against.  By the time Sony decided to license their format it was too late,” Bajoras said. The same thing happened again recently in the war between HD-DVD and BluRay...You can look at your own movie shelf or check out your local video store to see which technology won in that case.

“We've been in the middle of a similar competition between smart home technologies,” Bajoras said. “Competing technologies that are incompatible have been fighting for adoption. If history provides any insight, we know that competition would continue until one technology emerged as the clear winner. Then, like all the discarded Betamax players and HD-DVD players, consumers that made the wrong choice would be left holding obsolete products.  But, this time it's different.  A truce between the competing technologies is being drafted before a winner has emerged.”

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics

New Polymer Makes Batteries Self-Healing, Recyclable

Design News - Mon, 2020-01-20 02:26

One of the big problems with current lithium-ion battery designs is that defects in the battery can cause electrical problems that lead to explosions and fires. Because of this, researchers have been trying to find ways to prevent these defects—called dendrites—from forming and also to help them repair themselves if they do form.

Materials science and engineering professor Christopher Evans, right, and graduate student Brian Jing have developed a solid battery electrolyte that is both self-healing and recyclable. (Image source: L. Brian Stauffer)

To the latter end, researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new polymer-based solid electrolyte can do just that. The electrolyte—made of a solid polymer instead of a liquid material, which is currently typical of these types of batteries--can self-heal after damage.

Batteries designed using this electrolyte are more environmentally friendly, as the polymer can be recycled without having to use harsh chemicals or high temperatures. “Anytime you can make something heal itself, it means you don’t have to replace things as often which saves time, money, and energy,” Christopher Evans, a University of Illinois materials science and engineering professor who led the research, told Design News. “In batteries, failures tend to be catastrophic and the battery stops working entirely. Our goal was to be able to essentially restart the battery after it had stopped working."

Researchers for some time have been exploring the use of solid, ion-conducting polymers as an option for developing nonliquid electrolytes, said Brian Jing, a materials science and engineering graduate who worked with Evans on the research. However, high temperatures inside the battery tend to melt most polymers, which results in dendrite formation and potential battery failure, he said.

Tackling the problem

To solve this problem, researchers improved upon previous design by scientists that uses a network of polymer strands that are cross-linked to form a rubbery lithium conductor. This can delay the growth of dendrites, but the materials used are too complex to be recovered or healed after any damage.

The team addressed this issue by developing a network polymer electrolyte with a cross-link point that can swap polymer strands in exchange reactions, Evans said. In contrast to the previous efforts to use linear polymers, these networks actually get stiffer upon heating. “We designed a polymer network that is capable of reorganizing its components,” Evans explained to Design News. “It was made out of ethylene gycol and boric acid, materials that are abundant and cheap. The bonds that result can exchange with each other--for example one ethylene glycol chain can displace another one.”

This effect can potentially minimize the dendrite problem, as well as demonstrates that both conductivity and stiffness increase with heating, something not seen in conventional polymer electrolytes, Jing said.  The polymer strands also can break down easily and resolidify into a networked structure after damage, giving them their recyclable quality, as well as restore conductivity by self-healing, he added.

The path ahead

The team published a paper on its work in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers tested the conductivity of the new material and found its potential as an effective battery electrolyte to be promising; however, they acknowledged that further research is required to make the electrolyte comparable in performance to the ones currently in use. Still, Evans said that while the material was designed for batteries specifically, it also “could be applied to any energy relevant system like fuel cells or supercapacitors where self-healing would be advantageous.”


The team plans to continue its work to test the electrolyte in various conditions and further assess its potential uses. “The next step is to explore new chemistries and bonds to see how they can handle wet environments or highly acidic/basic solutions to broaden the scope of applications,” said Evans.

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.

DesignCon: By Engineers, For Engineers

January 28-30: North America's largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!


When Stores Have to Compensate for a Failure of Package Design

Core 77 - Sun, 2020-01-19 17:43

If there's one failure of package design that seems to be consistent across brands, it's the microscopic fonts used on medicine labels. They provide crucial information on products often being purchased by elderly folk with less-than-stellar eyesight, but the brand name is always given way more real estate than the active ingredients.

Smart stores compensate. This Rite-Aid's solution: A shelf-mounted magnifying glass on a retractable line.

Image credit: Dooughnut

And this pharmacy in Germany features them on the shopping carts:

Image credit: Elke Wetzig, Elya Creative Commons/3.0 Unported

Perhaps design schools should teach courses in "Remedial Design," where students have to come up with low-cost, easily retrofittable-solutions to compensate for industrywide design failures.

Currently Crowdfunding: Make a Custom Remote for Your Smart Home Devices, a Tool for Better Blade Sharpening, and More

Core 77 - Sun, 2020-01-19 17:43

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:

This tool was developed by a professional knife sharpener to measure the angle of your knife edge before/during/after sharpening so you can make sure you're getting a consistent result every time.

A flatpack plant stand that you can put together without tools and easily integrate into any interior.

This concept "lampscape" is inspired by the Guilin Mountains in China. It comes with a series of acrylic "hills" that notch into a steel base and can be composed however you like.

A UV light in this compact, portable toothbrush is activated every time you close down the head, helping you stay germ-free.

Make a custom touchscreen remote to control your smart home tech with this DIY, Raspberry Pi-enabled kit.

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