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Ford Reveals the New, Bizarre, Tiny Truck They've Secretly Been Working On

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Proof that Ford's designers--who bear the heavy responsibility of not screwing up the styling of America's #1 bestselling vehicle, the F-150--still get to have some fun sometimes:

Yes, Ford has won the approval of the Unicode emoji subcommittee, so this official emoji for "pickup truck" will soon be coming to hundreds of millions of iPhones and Androids, starting with Apple's upcoming iOS14.

The story of how Ford made this happen--a multi-year process filled with setbacks and subterfuge--is actually pretty interesting. You can read it in The Atlantic.


Swiss Miss Ditches Cylinder for New, Eco-Friendly Package Design

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

When we say "Swiss Miss" it probably makes you think of Tina Roth Eisenberg's blog, but in this case we mean the hot cocoa brand. For years the company has been packaging their product in these round canisters:

The problem is, mixed-material canisters like this--which are typically made from a paper tube with a foil lining and a metal bottom--cannot easily be separated, and are thus considered unrecyclable.

Thus Swiss Miss parent company Conagra Brands, which seeks "to make 100% of its plastic packaging renewable, recyclable or compostable by 2025," has commissioned a redesign from packaging solutions company Berry Global. Here's the new packaging:

In addition to the recyclability, the company claims it's easier to grip--and it further reduces their carbon footprint by costing less to ship:

"The new light blue easy-grip container is made of recyclable plastic with a wraparound in-mold label and a space-efficient tapered cube design that, based on an analysis conducted by Berry Global, reduces the carbon footprint associated with manufacturing and transporting the hot cocoa containers by 15 percent."The new design reduces the package's carbon footprint by 98 metric tons each year due to less energy required to manufacture and transport the material. This is equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of driving a passenger vehicle 243,176 miles, which is further than the average distance from the Earth to the moon2. The new shape also allows Conagra to better utilize space in transit, saving more than 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually from fewer truck loads transporting plastic tubs."

Independent of the green credentials, I'm digging the shape of the packaging. I think this is one of those containers that I'd hang onto after it was empty, as I'm sure I could cook up another use for it (holding it against the wall to catch sheetrock dust while drilling holes comes to mind).


Apple Finally Lets You Control Your iPhone by Tapping the Back of It

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

After learning that Apple patented touchscreens with interactive backs way back in '07, I've been incorrectly predicting that they'd eventually add "back touch" functionality to iPhones. The idea being that your finger blocks the screen when you touch it, so why not manipulate the cursor from the back?

I was wrong (and off by years)--but close! With their rollout of the new iOS14, Apple has added "Back Tap" functionality:

Here's to hoping Apple goes the extra mile and add swiping to tapping. My fingers never feel as fat as when I'm trying to work an iPhone screen.


Credit Where Credit is Due: The Design Firm Behind LEGO's New Paper Packaging

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Earlier we brought you the story of how LEGO, responding to letters sent in by children, has decided to ditch the single-use plastic bags used to wrap their products. Today we get to tell you who the design firm tasked with prototyping the paper bag replacements is: RKS, the L.A.-based design consultancy founded by Xerox PARC veteran Ravi K. Sawhney.

RKS Design Researcher Meghan Preiss reached out to us with the skinny:

LEGO came to RKS, a design consultancy in the Los Angeles area, to design a sustainable packaging solution that would remove the single-use plastic bags currently utilized in their packaging system. With the legislation looking to companies to reduce their carbon footprint and their mission to have all packaging be sustainable by 2025, the plastic bag was the initial challenge that the team wanted to tackle. Given the global scale that LEGO operates at, the challenge for this initial strategic initiative was to develop a solution that maintained or enhanced the play experience and was scalable to meet global sales demand.

"This is one of my favorite projects in my career," writes Preiss, who served as Lead Design Researcher on the project. "Understanding children's behavior when it comes to playing and learning was eye-opening. We were able to disprove theories and hypotheses on whether a clear pre-pack was needed or whether the white or brown paper was preferred. By working with an incredible design and engineering team, we were able to maximize the play experience with just paper. Then to add all of the complexities of true-sustainable design, manufacturing, and business needs, this was an incredible challenge, and I am so proud of the team!"

Ben Azzam, RKS Executive Vice President, added that "When approached with sustainability challenges, it is always imperative to understand the impact that these opportunities can have on business and how that will steer the execution of new design solutions.

"Working with a beloved global brand like LEGO was inspiring for the team because it was an opportunity to create a solution that would span the globe with a positive impact. With our research efforts across the US, China, and Europe and deep understanding of the LEGO team's manufacturing capabilities, we were able to identify implementable solutions and improve the play experience across the broad age range of LEGO builders."

No, we don't have any sexy hero shots of the finished product to show you. But we're posting this because the ID firms behind even big-name companies often remain anonymous and unsung, and it's a breath of fresh air when we finally learn who they are and get to attribute some credit. ID is often a thankless field.

Video Tour of Apple's "Spaceship" Campus. It Looks Like an Awesome Place to Work

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago



Ample green space, bicycle infrastructure, sunlit offices and meeting rooms. A massive gym and a cafeteria that can feed 15,000 people. Indoor/outdoor space, a solar array, underground parking. If you've ever been curious to see what it's like inside Apple's "spaceship" campus, here's an excellent and succinct video tour of the place.

Filled with factoids and foibles (projected to cost $500 million to build, the actual bill came out to $5 billion), the video shows you the good and the bad of what it would be like to work there. From what I can see it looks mostly good, with much of it being fantastic:


Save Thousands of $: Autodesk University Will be Free This Year

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Add up the admission ticket, flight, hotel and meals, and traveling to the annual Autodesk University conference will set you back several grand. More than that if you gamble, as it's always held in Las Vegas. But this year the pandemic's scuttled the in-person gathering, and Autodesk is holding AU virtually--for free.

I think this is a fantastic idea. I've been to my share of AU conferences over the years, and except for the Exhibition Hall, I believe all of the talks, lectures, presentations and classes can deliver the same punch virtually as in person, plus you won't have to put up with Vegas between events.


This year's conference promises the same expert-taught classes, Q&A sessions, roundtables, keynotes and product briefings as the in-person events, but you can do them all mask-less and in socks. AU 2020 runs from November 17th to 20th, and while there's no admission to attend, you do need to pre-register. You can sign up or learn more here.


Konstantin Grcic's Suspension-Based Citizen Chair for Vitra

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

A breath of fresh air: Konstantin Grcic has not only designed a new type of chair, but has cited his inspirations and departure points for it. The gulf between the inspiration source and Grcic's final design reveals his talent.

First off, his dual inspirations: Grupo Austral's B.K.F Chair, a/k/a the Butterfly Chair, from 1938…

…and Finnish designer Yrjö Kukkapuro's swiveling Karuselli chair from 1965.

You'll notice both chairs are essentially suspended from their structures. His attention captured by this idea, Grcic put his own spin on it with his Citizen chair, developed for Vitra:

"The seat of the Citizen chair is suspended on three cables affixed to a steel frame to facilitate a swinging movement in all directions. The semicircular contour of the fixed backrest ergonomically envelops the upper body, preventing the sitter from slouching down in the armchair, and the cantilever structural frame of Citizen is mounted on a swivel base for additional flexibility.

"Citizen is available in two versions: Citizen Highback and Citizen Lowback. The upholstery covers can be selected from a range of materials."

Arriving at his final design took "many years," Grcic says. "For me it was a very enriching experience to devote so much time and attention to the development of a single idea."


What's the Most Popular Face Mask in the U.S., and Other Mask Statistics

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago


We all want off of the pandemic ride, but there's still a ways to go. Even if a COVID vaccine were to emerge before the election--which seems highly unlikely--experts say it won't be widely distributed until mid-2021 at the earliest; worse, 35% of Americans would refuse to take it, which will negatively impact herd immunity.

Speaking at a recent Senate hearing, CDC head Dr. Robert Redfield testified that "'face masks are the most important, powerful public health tool we have' to protect people from COVID-19 -- perhaps even more so than a vaccine," according to Reuters.

Which made us wonder: What's the most popular style of face mask in America, and what are the rates of mask uptake across the country, versus worldwide? Comparison website Finder.com surveyed 2,000 Americans to find out, and released their findings in a report.

Global Face Mask Rates

Finder.com

Most Popular Types in America

Finder.com

Women More Likely to Wear Masks Than Men

Finder.com

Mask Ownership Far Higher With Older Americans

Finder.com

Mask Popularity by Region

Finder.com

U.S. Mask Rates vs. UK and Canada

Finder.com

Web Search Rates for Masks by State

Finder.com

You can download the entire report here.


Great Use of AR: Heat Signature "Iron Man" Vision for Firefighters

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Operating under the motto "Superpowers that save lives," a company called Qwake Technologies has harnessed AR to give firefighters clear vision in the smokiest of environments.


By combining thermal imaging cameras with over-the-eye displays, and getting everything to integrate with a firefighter's full face mask, they allow the wearer to see crucial details--the contours of a room, the outlines of people--that simply cannot be seen by the naked eye in the midst of a raging fire.

Here's a demo of their technology, which they expect to begin rolling out in the next 18 months. (We've moved the start time of the video up to the relevant point.)


Technical Illustrator Giorgio Piola on "The Most Important Drawing That I've Done in My Life"

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Working designers among you: Somewhere in your archives, you probably have one drawing that's the most important one you've ever done in your life. Maybe it landed you a coveted job, provided evidence of a leap in skills or resulted in the best product you've ever worked on. Would you have trouble picking it out?

For technical illustrator Giorgio Piola, whose career spans more than five decades, his answer is definitive.

"The Lotus 72 sketch was the most important drawing that I've done in my life," he says, referring to an iconic and innovative Formula One car first fielded by Team Lotus in 1970. In the short video below he explains why, and describes what was so special about the car:

What would your 3-minute video on your drawing look like? If any of you ever shoot it, be sure to send us the link.

Also be sure to check out:Giorgio Piola's history of F1 steering wheel evolution

Image by Giorgio Piola for Motorsport

What Apple Didn't Announce Yesterday: The Apple Face Mask

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Yesterday Apple held a virtual press event announcing new iPads and Apple Watches, ho hum. Of far greater interest to us was a new object they designed that did not make the announcement: The Apple Face Mask.

Image credit: Mark Gurman

Image credit: Mark Gurman

Image credit: Mark Gurman

Image credit: Mark Gurman

As Bloomberg reports, the mask was designed in-house (in case the packaging wasn't a dead giveaway) and is not for sale to the public. Instead it's being distributed to employees, both corporate and retail, only.

The mask reportedly contains three layers of filtration and can be washed/reused up to five times. The shape is designed to more closely follow the human face (though presumably one-size-fits-all) and according to MacRumors, "The mask has a design with a triangle shape to accommodate the nose without fogging glasses."

Image credit: MacRumors

I know non-tech items aren't really Apple's bag, but I think if they designed a permanent-use face mask with replaceable filters, even at their premium prices I'm guessing they'd find a ready market.



Prompted by Children, LEGO Phasing Out Single-Use Plastic Packaging

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Yesterday LEGO announced they're investing up to $400 million over the next three years on sustainability initiatives, including material changes and the pursuit of carbon-neutral operations. In this day and age that's not surprising--what is surprising is the inspiration source for one of the changes: Letters received from children.

"As a company who looks to children as our role models, we are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action on climate change," LEGO Group CEO Niels B. Christiansen said. ""We have received many letters from children about the environment asking us to remove single-use plastic packaging. We have been exploring alternatives for some time and the passion and ideas from children inspired us to begin to make the change."

If you've purchased a LEGO set any time in the past few decades, you know that the pieces come wrapped in single-use plastic bags. That wasn't lost on the well-informed children who wrote in requesting the change. These children understood the importance of the change, if not the difficulty.

"Moving away from the existing packaging is not a simple task and will take time as new material must be durable, lightweight and enhance the building experience."

Thus far the frontrunner looks to be paper bags. LEGO has been developing and testing out 15 different paper prototypes with hundreds of children and parents for the past two years.

"Children liked the paper bags…as they were environmentally friendly and easy to open," the company says. Commercial trials of the paper bags are set to begin next year.

"The Futuristic Form Factor:" LG Unveils Wing Smartphone With Rotating Screen

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

Thirteen years after the first iPhone was introduced, we're finally starting to see some diversity in the form factors of smartphones. Thus far folding smartphones have been a wash due to tricky hinged-screen issues, but LG is betting that a rotating mechanism enabling dual-screen functionality may do better.

Compared to a conventional smartphone form factor, the LG Wing's "swivel mode" certainly looks easier to hold for horizontal screen applications:

And their proposed usage cases for the main screen/sub-screen set-up seem sound:

And in addition to the three lenses on the back…

…there's even a pop-up user-facing camera and a dual recording feature sure to please narcisstigrammers:

LG claims that the hinge mechanism for the rotating screen "underwent 200,000 durability tests to ensure it stands the test of time."

My question is, will the phone stand the test of flying out of my hand while it's in the open position? I keep hoping innovation in the smartphone space will arrive in the form of durability, but I'm probably asking too much of an object that manufacturers expect you to replace every few years.

At press time, LG had yet to reveal the WIng's price.

GMC Hummer EV's "Crab Mode" Uses 4-Wheel Steering to Move Diagonally for Obstacle Avoidance

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

For months now we've known that GMC is resurrecting the Hummer as an electric vehicle, and now they've announced when it will be unveiled: On October 20th. To whet the appetite, they've released this teaser of a rather unusual trick the vehicle can perform:

"The supertruck's industry-leading Crab Mode feature is enabled by the GMC HUMMER EV's four-wheel steering capability, allowing it to move in a diagonal direction – functionality that is tailor-made for off-roading customers."

Just imagine if the wheels could turn a full 90 degrees--parallel parking something this size would be a breeze!

You can sign up for updates here.

New "Dieter Rams: The Complete Works" Book Reveals Every Product Design He's Ever Done

Core 77 - 10 min 15 sec ago

If you were worried that 2011's Dieter Rams: As Little Design As Possible was the last book you'd see on the iconic designer, fear not. Publisher Phaidon has announced they're rolling out Dieter Rams: The Complete Works, a complete catalog of not just his well-known MoMA-worthy classics, but "a complete catalogue raisonné of every product he has designed in his lifetime."

With an introduction by German professor of design theory and history Klaus Klemp, Dieter Rams: The Complete Works includes over 300 images of his most noteworthy electronics, housewares, and furniture designs including the SK sound system series, alarm clocks, calculators, lighters, and camera flashes for Braun, his razors for Gilette, and The 606 Universal Shelving System for Vitsoe.

We've leafed through a press preview of the book, and it's stunning. Sadly we don't have permission to release some of the more noteworthy images we saw, but we can tell you that the book--which features over 300 images--documents plenty of Rams' designs that you've likely never seen before, from obscure consumer electronics products and appliances to furniture. It's organized chronologically, starting with Rams' earliest surviving work--a 1947 sketch for a chair he did as a design student--and encompassing every decade of his work right up to 2020.

Dieter Rams: The Complete Works, Klaus Kemp, Phaidon; 620 (RZ 62), 1962, Chair programme, high-back model with footstool, Dieter Rams, Vitsoe+Zapf / sdr+ / Vitsoe, high-back model with footstool (left), low-back model (right), pages 94-95

HZ 1, 1965, Room thermostat, Dieter Rams, Braun. 10.5 × 6 × 3 cm (4 × 2½ × 1 in) 0.2 kg (½ lb), plastic, acrylic, DM 34. Picture credit: photography Andreas Kugel / Gu¨nter Staeffler, Kirchbrak (page 122)

KMM 2, 1969, Coffee grinder, Dieter Rams, Braun. 18.9 × 11.5 × 8.2–12 cm in diameter (7 ½ × 4½ × 3¼–4¾ in) 0.95 kg (2 lb), plastic, acrylic, DM 49.50. Picture credit: photography Andreas Kugel / © copyright Dieter Rams Archive (page 157, left)

HW 1, 1968, Bathroom scales, Dieter Rams, Dietrich Lubs, Braun. 27 × 31 × 6.5 cm (10½ × 5 × 2½ in) 4 kg (8¾ lb), metal, plastic, acrylic, DM 34.50. Picture credit: photography Andreas Kugel / BRAUN P&G, Braun Archive Kronberg (page 155)

Dieter and Ingeborg Rams private residence, Kronberg, Germany, 1971, Dieter Rams. Picture credit: Ingeborg Kracht-Rams (page 183)

Dieter Rams: The Complete Works is available for pre-order now ($59.95) and will start shipping on October 28th.

A Smarter, Space-Saving Design for a Cutlery Tray: Joseph Joseph's DrawerStore Organizer

Core 77 - Fri, 2020-09-18 07:31

Broadly speaking, storage systems come in two varieties: 1) Broad, shallow and everything visible, and 2) Deep, multi-layered and obscured. Examples of the first are pegboard tool walls or bulletin boards, whereas the second is represented by tool chests and filing cabinets.

Conventional cutlery trays all fall in the first category. Homeware design company Joseph Joseph, however, has reimagined them in the second category with their DrawerStore Kitchen Drawer Organizer Tray for Cutlery.

Icons molded into the top indicate which utensil goes into which slot. In practice I think these would be too small (for my bad eyes) to read--see if you can spot the icon in the image below--but I imagine memory would take care of this after a half-dozen uses.

Reviews on Amazon are effusive (4.5 stars out of 17,884 ratings). Most of the negative ones I read have to do with users overstuffing them or trying to cram them into too-shallow drawers. These are designed to hold six place-settings of cutlery in a 3.25"-tall drawer, though I imagine the height requirements vary depending on how curvy your silverware handles are.


At just $10 a pop, I'll likely be adding these to my shopping list. Will report back on whether or not they live up to the hype.



The Government Modelmaking Shop That Helped Navy SEALs Capture and Kill Osama Bin Laden

Core 77 - Fri, 2020-09-18 07:31

A weird overlap between industrial design and assassinating a high-value military target: At some point during the planning process, you need to review a physical model.

For that reason exists the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency employs a team of modelmakers--people that we're guessing have architecture degrees--whose job is to accurately create FoamCore and 3D-printed mock-ups based on satellite photos and on-the-ground snapshots.

Here's a photo of one of those modelmakers:

Yes, he's shrewdly chosen to remain anonymous. If religious fundamentalists are willing to murder French cartoonists, they'll surely have no problem targeting a guy who's good with an X-Acto blade and a hot glue gun. Perhaps you recognize his work:


Here's a video interview with the dude and a look at that now-famous model he and his team made, unaware at the time that it was where Osama bin Laden was hiding:


For His Home Office, This Guy Built a Replica of a 1980 Via Rail Train Interior in His Basement

Core 77 - Fri, 2020-09-18 07:31

Someone get this man a job at an exhibition design firm.

Canada-based train enthusiast Jason Shron works for Rapido Trains Inc., a manufacturer of model trains. But working on scale models didn't quite scratch the itch for Shron. In need of a home office and obsessed with the Via Rail (think Canada's Amtrak) trains of his youth, Shron spent four years and 2,500 hours building a full-sized replica of a 1980 model in his basement.

Here's the tour:

More than a few commenters have suggested replacing the windows with flatscreens playing video of the countryside whipping past, but I'd think that'd make you motion sick, no?


Turn Stop-Motion Footage Into Smooth Video Using AI Frame Interpolation

Core 77 - Fri, 2020-09-18 07:31

YouTuber LegoEddy, who creates stop-motion animation shorts with LEGOs, typically shoots at 15 frames per second. That's fifteen set-ups for each second of footage. More fanatical stop-motion animators will go for 60 f.p.s., which is why it can take them years to complete a short that runs for mere minutes.

After learning about video frame interpolation, an AI-based technology that renders and fills in the differences between two shots, LegoEddy wondered if it could be applied to stop-motion animation. In other words, could he shoot 15 f.p.s. and have the AI fill in the other 45 frames, to achieve a 60 f.p.s. look with just 25% of the labor?

The answer, stunningly, is yes:

Link to download DAIN (for free).

Link to the source code.

Links to LegoEddy's Apollo 11 movie, both original and interpolated.

Stunning Graphic Shows Just How Bad the West Coast Wildfires Have Made the Air Quality

Core 77 - Thu, 2020-09-17 07:31

The pandemic's travel crunch brought emissions to all-time lows around the globe. Now it's as if the planet is overcorrecting for that breath of fresh air by engulfing America's west coast in a record-breaking, pollution-spewing series of wildfires.

Just how bad is the air quality out west right now? This bad according to AirNow.gov, the EPA's air quality monitoring website:

AirNow.gov

And this bad according to PurpleAir, an organization that monitors air quality using laser particle counters:

PurpleAir

PurpleAir

The numbers on the PurpleAir image (which were valid as of Saturday) tell the tale. Any number over 150 is bad, according to the EPA's Air Quality Index chart:

And here's what the fires looked like last week, as seen via satellite:

CIRA/NOAA GOES-West

"The West Coast," writes Business Insider, "has the worst air quality on Earth right now." That was written on Friday. As of today firefighters have made some progress, with some Oregonians returning to their burnt-out communities. But it isn't over yet. You can see updates of where the fires continue to burn here.