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

Core 77 - Thu, 2020-01-23 00:56

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 - Thu, 2020-01-23 00:56

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.

3D Printing Will Shift To Production In The 2020s

Design News - Wed, 2020-01-22 05:40

The coming decade will likely change the economics of 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM). Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal offers a number of predictions for the future of 3D printing and additive manufacturing in the 2020s. For one, he believes 3D printing is sufficiently mature for production. Over the next 10 years, mass production using AM may become a reality and not just a promise. The general belief has been that AM was too expensive to compete with traditional manufacturing methods. Fulop believes those days are over.

What’s changed? Fulop points to the cost of 3D printing technology coming down in price, 3D materials becoming less expensive and more varied, and improvements in 3D printing equipment. We caught up with Fulop and asked him about his predictions for 3D printing and additive manufacturing over the coming decade.

In the coming decade, additive manufacturing will compete robustly with traditional forms of manufacturing. (Image source: Desktop Metal)

AM’s New Frontier

Design News: Explain your prediction that the next frontier for additive will be in functional end-use applications and mass production

Ric Fulop: There is a long arc in the evolution of the additive manufacturing industry and I’m excited that we are able to do things now that people haven’t been able to do before. The 3D printing industry has been around for more than 20 years and it’s come into the prototyping and jigs and fixtures space with strong penetration. But, we haven’t even scratched the surface.

I’m particularly excited about the next frontier of additive manufacturing. Over the next year and into the coming decade, I’m expecting to see growth from this sub-segment of jigs and fixtures and early use cases to mass production, spare parts and functional end-use applications for components that were traditionally made with other manufacturing techniques. The industry is now mature enough that we can design machines that actually leverage these technologies into the products that people use every day.

AM Competing With Traditional Mass Production

DN: How will advances in 3D printing help AM compete with traditional manufacturing?

Fulop: Manufacturing is value at scale. You’ve seen the first wave of 3D printing technology adoption primarily in the design validation, prototyping, jigs and fixtures, making the factory more productive and some tooling applications. And if you look at the total manufacturing spend today, less than 5% is in prototyping, product development, or in tooling, and so that’s where AM has played to-date.

In this next decade for 3D printing, we are entering an exponential curve because the technology is more affordable, there are more use cases and more supply of raw materials, and that opens up the application space. This enables this new market, which is going from that early component now to end-use parts and spare parts. Now, 95-99% of the 3D printing spend will go into making the parts you want to make.

Changing Product Design

DN: Is AM changing the nature of product design?

Fulop: Absolutely. One of the things that’s unique about additive manufacturing is that it frees you from the tyranny of tooling. Tooling has been great because it lowers your per piece part cost, but it gives you a big upfront cost and limits what your product can do in terms of freedom of design. The great thing about AM is that we are now starting to do design that is physics- or math-driven.


Now you can actually achieve the shape that you wanted, lightweight it to get the performance you need, and, with the latest design tools like generative design, you can really do incredible things. When people look back on the 4th Industrial Revolution 50 years from now, they are going to be talking less about the Internet of Things (IoT) and more about how we removed 30-50% of material that we had in automobiles and how everything has become more efficient.

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.

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!


Self-Folding Materials Assemble Autonomously Into Robots

Design News - Wed, 2020-01-22 03:02

Dynamic materials that can autonomously move and assemble into different shapes are the way forward for materials science researchers who already have invented a number of novel materials with these characteristics.

A graphic demonstrates how researchers used kirigami-inspired techniques to design thin sheets of material that automatically reconfigure into new two-dimensional (2D) shapes and three-dimensional (3D) structures in response to environmental stimuli. (Image source: North Carolina State University)

Kirigami techniques have inspired a research team at North Carolina State University to develop thin sheets of material that can automatically turn themselves into 2D shapes and 3D structures in response to stimuli from the environment. Like the more popularly known origami, kirigami is a Japanese paper art form in which a single piece of paper is cut and folded to create new shapes and structures.

Specifically, the team led by Jie Yin, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the university created a variety of robots from the material that can transform from 2D kirigami patterns into 3D structures without mechanical input. “Instead, we apply energy in the form of heat, and the material rearranges itself,” said Yin, adding that the materials represent a first for this type of behavior.

Creating ‘Active Kirigami’

Researchers published a video online on YouTube showing how the kirigami-inspired robots work. The concept, which researchers call “active kirigami,” uses a three-layered material comprised of two layers that don’t respond to heat in addition to a polymer layer in the middle that contracts in response to heat.

The team used two ways to control the shape and structure of the material, researchers said. One is that that they created through-cuts that penetrated all three layers of the material, controlling its range of motion.

The other control method is through etchings that penetrate the outer layers and expose the heat-responsive polymer, researchers said. These etchings control the angle and direction at which the material folds, as well as how far it folds, they said. This results in the through-cuts opening as the material folds, which shifts the shape of the sheets into 2D or 3D designs, according to Yin.

“We can make a 2D template with the same pattern of through-cuts and use it to create many different 3D structures by making slight changes in the etching,” said Yin. “This effectively makes the active kirigami sheets programmable.”

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kirigami Robots

Researchers demonstrated how the materials work by creating several thermo-responsive kirigami machines in various forms. These machines include simple robotic gripping devices and self-folding boxes, they.

The team also created a more complex device showing a greater range of the material’s ability to move and assemble autonomously in the form of a soft robot with a kirigami body and pneumatic legs. By switching the orientation of the body, researchers demonstrated how they could rapidly reposition the legs, changing the robot’s direction of movement, they said.


The proof-of-concepts show that the researchers’ work has the potential to be applied to other materials in additions to the ones they used, Yin said. “We used a temperature-responsive polymer for this work, but there’s no reason to think that other stimuli-responsive polymer materials like photoactive liquid crystals--wouldn’t work as well.”

The team posted a video of the proof-of-concept machines on YouTube. Researchers plan to continue their work to explore the potential range of applications for the programmable, active kirigami materials they developed.

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!


NASA's Zaheer Ali On SOFIA, The Infrared Telescope Unlocking New Mysteries Of The Milky Way

Design News - Wed, 2020-01-22 02:21

Using mid- and far-infrared light allows SOFIA to penetrate the layers of space dust surrounding the Milky Way and capture new details about the galaxy. (Image source: NASA/SOFIA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Herschel)

NASA kicked off 2020 by releasing a stunning new image of our Milky Way galaxy. The composite infrared image spanned over 600 light years across and was made possible thanks to NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 106-inch diameter telescope.

SOFIA's uses infrared light to capture imagery that's inaccessible to other space telescopes and will give scientists new insights into star and planet formation. Imagery from SOFIA, combined with data from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope, will help scientists plan targets for future telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in 2021.

Ahead of his keynote speech at DesignCon 2020, Zaheer Ali, senior manager for the USRA Science and Mission Operations at SOFIA, spoke with DesignCon brand director, and former head of content for Design News, Suzanne Deffree about the development of SOFIA and where the project is heading next.

Watch the video below as Ali discusses the unique challenges of capturing infrared imagery from the stratosphere, the future of SOFIA, and why Antartica is the best place to take photos of the galaxy.

Ali will be delivering a keynote, “Microchips in Space: How Device Design Enables Amazing Astronomy” on Thursday, January 30 at DesignCon 2020 in Santa Clara, CA.


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!


Liberty For Plant Life in The City

Core 77 - Tue, 2020-01-21 22:32

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 - Tue, 2020-01-21 22:32

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 - Tue, 2020-01-21 22:32

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 - Tue, 2020-01-21 22:32

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 - Tue, 2020-01-21 22:32

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 

Core 77 - Tue, 2020-01-21 22:32

Last month, new brand 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 brand 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.

Starbucks capitulates to demands from anti-plastics activist group

Design News - Tue, 2020-01-21 17:48

After holding Starbucks Corp. hostage with the threat of another pending shareholder proposal, activist group As You Sow has withdrawn that proposal based on “months of constructive dialogue” that resulted in Starbucks agreeing to a reduction in the use of plastic.

A shareholder proposal was filed in 2019 that asked the company to renew a “failed effort” to serve 25% of beverages in reusable containers and to start recycling packaging in developing markets. As You Sow said that while the shareholder proposal was supported by 44% of shares voted, valued in excess of $20 billion, when the company did not adequately respond, the proposal was re-filed for 2020, which sparked a “more productive dialogue.”

According to a news release from As You Sow, Starbucks has signaled its intention to move from single-use cups and plastics to reusable packaging. The company also has committed to develop new reusable container goals, and to cut global packaging waste 50% by 2030. The company also told As You Sow it will “pursue a parallel track of making existing single-use cups more recyclable and more frequently recycled in the short term, while pursuing long-term efforts to shift to reusable or refillable containers.”

Starbucks said it will also continue its NextGen Cup Challenge, initiated in response to a 2018 proposal by As You Sow, which seeks to alter the composition of paper cups to make them more recyclable and compostable in many markets. The company also “pledged” to undertake “comprehensive market research and trials on consumer adoption of reusable containers over the next year and set a strengthened reusables goal, or range of goals, in 12 months based on research results.”

While all of that sounds good and might be enough to get As You Sow off its back for a while, Starbucks will soon find out what other brand owners are discovering: Recyclable plastics have a better environmental footprint than paper, which requires a lot of water—a scarce global resource—to produce. I’m not sure what they will find for their NextGen cups, but unless paper is lined with polyethylene it won’t hold hot or cold liquids.

As for the reusable idea, I’m assuming Starbucks will start selling reusable coffee mugs. They already sell reusable glasses for cold drinks made from polycarbonate, I assume? I’ve picked them up and tapped on them—it could be polystyrene, I suppose. Of course if someone wants to take out their hot coffee, they could buy a mug or bring in their own mugs or stainless-steel thermos cups. As You Sow references competitor Blue Bottle, which I wrote about recently, and its commitment to eliminating disposable single-use cups and replacing them with reusable cups. But there are problems with that, and as of yet I’ve not heard back from Blue Bottle about the increased water and electricity costs.

Health department rules typically have some restrictions on restaurants filling a cup or glass brought in from outside the store. Rules also restrict taking a used cup or drink glass behind the counter for refills. They could begin using drink glasses and mugs made from polycarbonate that would withstand reuse and sterilization and washing in hot soapy water, as required for sanitary purposes. The energy used to run dishwashers all day with hot water makes any CO2 savings moot and increases the cost to Starbucks, i.e. consumers.

As You Sow isn’t really as concerned about the environment as they would lead us to believe. They just want to get rid of all plastic, despite the fact that plastic used in single-use food-service applications has health and safety benefits. It saves resources, reduces energy use and is an overall better choice. Recyclability is the first good option for capturing the value of plastics. To that end, I do agree with As You Sow calling out Starbucks for the lack of recycling bins at its thousands of stores globally. That would go a long way toward boosting the recycling rate of single-use plastics.

Image courtesy Marco Paköeningrat/flickr

Industrial-class 3D printer shipments increase in China, North America despite headwinds

Design News - Tue, 2020-01-21 11:13

Shipments of industrial-class 3D printers (priced above $100,000) were up by more than 8% in Q3 2019 compared with the same period the previous year, according to market intelligence from Context (London). This key sector, which accounted for almost 70% of all 3D printer revenues for the period, saw even more impressive shipment growth of 12% on a trailing 12-month basis.

“The increase came as a surprise, given the headwinds many vendors reported in the second half of the year, such as reduced demand from the struggling automotive sector, sluggish European economies and a generally weak global industrial manufacturing market,” said Chris Connery, VP Global Analysis and Research at Context.

In the industrial polymer 3D printer market, HP (now number two in global shipments) saw excellent growth, shipping 347% more printers in Q3 2019 than in Q3 2018 as it continued to roll out its more affordable color-capable units. The company also began to ship the newest iteration of its high-end, production-focused models in volume, said Context’s report.

The Chinese domestic market also grew, mostly thanks to leading Chinese vendor UnionTech. Industrial 3D printer shipments increased 36% in China year-on-year while they grew 22% in North America during that same time period. By contrast, Western Europe, the second largest global market for industrial 3D printers, saw shipments drop 28%.

Sales in this sector of the market tend to be more provincial than in other industries. There is less east-west trade because of logistics (most industrial printers are very large and very heavy) and less-than-favorable global trade conditions, which make it difficult for emerging technologies like 3D printing to flourish, said Context.

While industrial 3D metal printers made up just 32% of unit shipments during this period, they accounted for just over 51% of revenues. Metal 3D printing is one of the fastest growing additive manufacturing segments and has seen shipments increase at an average rate of 30% over the last two years. However, the dominant technology—powder bed fusion—began to struggle in the second half of 2019. In the third quarter, 18% fewer metal powder bed fusion 3D printers shipped than in the same quarter the previous year. Market leaders EOS and GE Additive reported weaker shipment figures not only for the quarter but for the trailing 12-month period, as well.

Of the three other major price classes—personal (less than $2,500), professional (between $2,500 and $20,000) and design ($20,000 to $100,000)—shipments in the professional class were most notable, said Context. Printer shipments in the third quarter in the design segment were largely flat, and shipments of personal-class printers continued to struggle, losing ground to kit-based solutions like those from China’s Creality3D. The professional segment continued to shine, however, growing by 21% on the previous year and a solid 17% on a trailing 12-month basis. Many vendors who formerly focused on the yet-to-explode consumer market have shifted their product lines to move into this price class.

Especially noteworthy in the professional class in Q3 was the performance of Formlabs, which began shipping new models in volume against strong pent-up demand. The company surged to the top of the market in this class, as the availability of their new products was bolstered by glowing reviews, said Context.

“Many forecasts for Q4 2019 and on into 2020 turned a bit cautious toward the year-end due, in part, to weaker demand from key geographies, softening orders from key vertical markets and uncertainties associated with global trade,” added Connery. “The period was also marked by significant managerial changes atop leading companies, also contributing to near-term uncertainty.”

Image: Ipopba/Adobe Stock

US Space Missions To Watch In 2020

Design News - Tue, 2020-01-21 05:00


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.

VSI Labs And FLIR Are Studying Whether Thermal Cameras Can Make Cars Safer

Design News - Tue, 2020-01-21 04:05
In tests thermal cameras and radar were able to prevent an autonomous car from hitting a moving dummy. (Image source: FLIR Systems)

FLIR Systems has contracted VSI Labs to help study how thermal sensors can enhance automotive safety. VSI reports that tests completed in December 2019 at the America Center for Mobility near Detroit, MI showed that thermal sensors, developed by FLIR, combined with radar created an effective automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that can detect pedestrians, estimate their distance from a vehicle, and stop the vehicle at a safe distance.

Three test cases were conducted using an Euro NCAP Pedestrian Target (EPTa), a belt-driven, human-sized test dummy: Having the dummy already standing in the road; having it cross the road; and having it cross the road from behind an obstruction. In each case, VSI reports the thermal-enabled AEB system was able to successfully bring the test vehicle to a stop before hitting the dummy. In total, VSI ran the vehicle through 35 test runs in both day and nighttime scenarios without hitting the dummy.

(Image source: FLIR Systems)

Thermal cameras hold a particular advantage for automotive sensing systems in that they function well in both daylight and darkness. These sensors are also not susceptible to headlight glare, bright sunlight, fog, or other inclement weather. They can also see up to four times farther than typical headlights.

More and more automakers have been examining ways to integrate thermal sensing into autonomous vehicles. New thermal sensors for automotive had a significant presence at CES 2020 with products such as the Viper, a thermal camera developed by Adasky that can be directly embedded into vehicle headlights. There's also the Raven thermal camera from TriEye, which is algorithm agnostic and can be implemented into existing ADAS and autonomous vehicle architectures.

FLIR itself came out of CES 2020 with an announcement that is is partnering with ANSYS in a deal that will see FLIR's thermal sensors being integrated into ANSYS' driving simulator so that thermal camera designs can be modeled, tested, and validated in virtual environments. “FLIR Systems’ recognizes the limitations of relying solely on gathering machine learning datasets in the physical world to make automotive thermal cameras as safe and reliable as possible for automotive uses,” Eric Bantegnie, vice president and general manager at ANSYS, said in a press statement. “Now with ANSYS solutions, FLIR can further empower automakers to speed the creation and certification of assisted-driving systems with thermal cameras.”

FLIR had a busy 2019 and announced a partnership with Veoneer that will see Veoneer bringing FLIR's thermal cameras into Level 4 autonomous vehicles as soon as 2021.

VSI Labs has said it is planning to conduct more tests of the thermal AEB system. In regards to the 2019 tests VSI commented: “Not all testing requirements were met as the winter weather was colder than the specified testing temperature range, roadways had snowy, wet, or slick surfaces, and wind interfered with the test fixtures.”

Additional testing is planned for spring and summer of 2020 when weather conditions will be more ideal and FLIR and VSI are able to make algorithmic improvements to the AEB system.


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

3 Advantages To Using A Multicore Microcontroller

Design News - Tue, 2020-01-21 03:25

Several posts ago, I wrote about how two major trends for the 2020’s was going to be Python as a dominate language and machine learning at the edge. A third trend is that multicore microcontrollers are also going to dominate the industry. That’s right, while multicore has been a technology relegated to application processors and FPGA based applications, multicore microcontroller solutions are on the rise. Let’s examine three advantages that multicore microcontrollers have over traditional single core microcontrollers.

The most common multicore solutions are dual core. They pair a high-performance, feature rich processor like a Cortex-M4 or Cortex-M7 with a low-power Cortex-M0+ processor. (Image source: ARM)

Advantage #1 – Balance Performance and Energy Consumption

The first advantage to using a multicore microcontroller is that it provides developers with additional methods for balancing performance and energy consumption. In a single core processor, developers mostly rely on low power modes or clock scaling to minimize energy consumption (although there are dozens of techniques that can be employed). A multicore solution allows a developer to have the performance that their device needs by enabling all the cores to perform at peak efficiency. When all that horsepower is not needed, cores can be turned off to save energy and maximize battery life.

Within the microcontroller domain, right now the typical multicore solutions are dual core implementations. The most common implementation is to pair a high-performance, feature rich processor like a Cortex-M4 or Cortex-M7 with a low-power Cortex-M0+ processor. This allows the low-power M0+ to handle low power states and when something needs to be done that requires processing such as GUI updates, running a machine learning inference, etc, then the M4 can be turned back on. This provides developers will several potential profiles for balancing performance and energy consumption.

Advantage #2 – Separation of Concerns (Domains)

The second advantage to using a multicore microcontroller is that it allows the application code to be broken up by separation of concerns or domains. There are currently three main domain categories that fit well for most applications but there certainly could be others. These three domains include:

  • Rich / Real-time execution
  • Secure / Non-secure
  • Application / Comms (Wi-Fi / BT)

In rich / real-time execution implementations, the application is broken up into two domains based on its timing requirement. Components that are supporting rich execution features such as graphical user interfaces will be located in one core, presumably a Cortex-M4/M7. Components that are supporting real-time requirements such as sensor acquisition and control would be located in the second core, presumably a Cortex-M0+.

In secure / non-secure implementations, the application is broken up not based on its execution needs but instead based on security concerns. A component that supports secure boot, cryptographic libraries, secure communications or some other secure feature would execute on one processor like a Cortex-M0+. Again, general application components would then execute from the other processor like a Cortex-M4/M7. The main benefit to this implementation is that the Cortex-M0+ acts as a secure processor and execution environment which is hardware isolated from the rest of the application.

In the application / comms implementation, one core is dedicated to specifically handle a communication stack. This stack could be a Wi-Fi stack, a Bluetooth stack, some other communication stack or maybe even a combination. The advantage here is that it makes it possible to have a microcontroller with integrated communication. The second core is then dedicated to the normal application code.

As you can see, these are several implementation where it makes a lot of sense to use a multicore microcontroller and in some instances, it may make sense to even have more than two cores!

Advantage #3 – Workload Distribution

The third and final advantage to using a multicore microcontroller is that it allows a development team to distribute the workload. There are actually two things I mean by this. First, we can distribute the workload for developing and maintaining the application amongst multiple developers or teams. We can have a core one application team and a core two application team. Each team then focuses on the application components for their core and obviously interacts with the second team on areas where there may be overlaps in concern or a need to carefully coordinate application behavior between the cores.


The second way we can distribute the workload is fairly obvious in that we can distribute our application workload across multiple processors. We can get truly concurrent application behavior because we have multiple cores. Don’t forget though that just like in a concurrent application that uses an RTOS, when we have concurrency with multiple cores, we can encounter interesting race conditions, timing problems, shared resource issues and other concurrent behavior issues. When separating the workload between the cores it’s important to be very careful what interprocessor communication methods are used.


Multicore microcontrollers undoubtedly provide development teams with many advantages to help them solve the problems with ever more complex systems. The ability to separate the application into areas of concerns or domains is currently a leading driver for adopting multicore microcontrollers. The ability to balance performance with energy consumption and distribute the workload are also major advantages when considering moving to a multicore solution. While there are only a few multicore microcontrollers currently on the market, over the next decade we will undoubtedly find them in ever increasing numbers in our designs.

Jacob Beningo is an embedded software consultant who currently works with clients in more than a dozen countries to dramatically transform their businesses by improving product quality, cost and time to market. He has published more than 200 articles on embedded software development techniques, is a sought-after speaker and technical trainer, and holds three degrees which include a Masters of Engineering from the University of Michigan. Feel free to contact him at jacob@beningo.com, at his website, and sign-up for his monthly Embedded Bytes Newsletter.

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!


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 

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.