Home | Feed aggregator | Categories | Industrial Design News

Industrial Design News

Design Job: Get Your Foot in the Door as a Junior Footwear Designer at a Well-Known Company

Core 77 - Sun, 2019-11-10 17:35

A well-known footwear company is looking for an enthusiastic casual footwear designer to work on our Junior Fashion brand that has The following: -Experience correcting and designing outsole moulds and have technical product knowledge -Knowledge of last development and ability to make corrections -Experience traveling to

View the full design job here

Bad Button Design: The Verge's Science Team Learns About It the Hard Way

Core 77 - Sun, 2019-11-10 17:35

Fun fact: The Bible of Industrial Design, Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, was originally titled The Psychology of Everyday Things. Good designers must of course understand the basics of psychology if they are to design objects that people can successfully interact with.

A good case in point are buttons. An engineer might conceivably create a button that, once pressed, sends an electrical signal to complete whatever task it was created for, without confirming for the end user that the signal was sent. Any designer or design student who's read Norman's book would know better. From Chapter One's "Fundamental Principles of Interaction" section:

FEEDBACKEver watch people at an elevator repeatedly push the Up button, or repeatedly push the pedestrian button at a street crossing? Ever drive to a traffic intersection and wait an inordinate amount of time for the signals to change, wondering all the time whether the detection circuits noticed your vehicle (a common problem with bicycles)? What is missing in all these cases is feedback: some way of letting you know that the system is working on your request.…Feedback must be immediate: even a delay of a tenth of a second can be disconcerting.

At The Verge Science's San Francisco offices, staffers have learned about bad button design the hard way:

I think we can all agree that this is insane:

So here we have an example of bad design that cannot be directly attributed to the designers of the building, the elevator nor its buttons, but to whomever is in charge of incorporating the building's security systems. Or whomever controls that group's budget. Whichever it is, chances are good they've never read Norman's book, and the building's occupants experience a resultant micro-hassle on a regular basis.

If I were an omnipotent dictator, Norman would be in charge of my newly-created Ministry of Good Design. They'd have the budget of the U.S. military, and they would take precedence over every other governmental body.

Six Different Japanese Design Approaches for Collapsible/Folding Helmets

Core 77 - Sun, 2019-11-10 17:35

When I lived in Japan, with its frequent mini-earthquakes, I quickly learned not to place items on top of high things in my apartment. In some of the space-tight apartments I visited in Tokyo, I saw that not keeping things atop bookshelves and cabinets was a luxury not everyone could afford.

Because Japan has a combination of frequent seismic activity and crowded interior spaces, there's a market for occasional-use helmets. These won't stop a girder from killing you, but are meant to prevent smaller items, like books or light fixtures, from landing on your head and possibly cutting you.

And because space is Japan is tight--every millimeter of storage space counts--having an occasional-use helmet that breaks down into a smaller shape would be greatly desirable. Particularly in group environments, like schools or offices, where the administration may require that multiple helmets be stored.

As with folding bike helmets, there is no one winning solution as of yet. Here are five design approaches we've found:

Tanizawa Portable Fold-up Disaster Helmet 

This interesting two-piece take on the helmet flips its lid, like a garbage can. That reduces its height by nearly fifty percent (from 140mm to 80mm), making it a bit easier to stow. Made from ABS.

Osamet Collapsible Safety Helmet

Made from ABS, the Osamet design telescopes down from helmet-height to about the thickness of an office binder (45mm).

Derucap Collapsible Safety Helmet

This fascinating spiral design eschews the ABS of the previous two, opting instead for polypropylene and polyethylene. It can collapse down to 40mm. As you'll see by looking at the following designs, the chinstrap in this one appears to be a bit of an afterthought; this design appears the most "designey" (in the pejorative sense of the word) to me.

Tatamet Designer Foldable Safety Helmet and Tatawing BCP

Designer Foldable Safety Helmet

Designer Foldable Safety Helmet

Designer Foldable Safety Helmet

Tatawing BCP

Tatawing BCP

Tatamet's two designs each fold flatter than any of the ones above, getting down to 35mm. Different from the previous three designs, they've gone with what look to be either PP or PE sheets, and their two designs look like they were the most complicated to engineer.

Also, one downside with the Designer model is that you need to use the included built-in tool (might be easy to lose?) in order to break the helmet down, as you can see in the demo video:

Flatmet Collapsible Helmet

Flatmet's design goes flatter than all of them, down to just 33mm. The designers have chosen to go with PP, ABS and polycarbonate, and unlike the others, this one looks the most form-follows-function.

My favorite design of all of them is the Flatmet, because it looks like the designers were not going for an aesthetic, but just trying to work with the material's properties--and then an aesthetic actually emerged.

Anyways, I will say that Japan is an amazing place to live, though I sure don't miss the earthquakes. If I had stayed there longer, I'd have probably purchased one of these to keep near my bed (being waken up by an earthquake is the worst in terms of fear factor). If you click on the links you'll see they're listed in the USD $70-range, but that's likely due to cost of importing; in Japan they go for the yen equivalent of about 30 bucks a pop.

If You're Going to Design Something New, Useful and Desirable, Please Make It Out of Recycled Aluminum Cans

Core 77 - Sun, 2019-11-10 17:35

Pop quiz: Which is better for the environment, plastic bottles, or aluminum cans?

Aluminum cans are, of course. But that doesn't mean they're all good; the details can get a little complicated. To start off, let's look at this data visualization of how many aluminum cans us Earthlings go through in one year:

(Note: The creator of the video, MetaBall Studios, cites their data sources as The World Counts and Web Packaging.)

So at press time we were at roughly 178 billions cans used this year, on our way to 200 billion by year's end.

The bad news is, those cans are a bitch to produce, at least from the planet's perspective. The bauxite mining required to produce aluminum "is harsh on the planet…leaving environmental destruction behind," Earth911 reports. "Bauxite mining contributes to habitat loss and water contamination, as well as a slew of other negative environmental impacts, like increased erosion."

The good news is, you can recycle the shit out of aluminum. As in, you can recycle it over and over again, infinitely, unlike plastics, which have a limited amount of times they can be recycled, depending on which type.

The bad news is, at this point we're only recycling about half of our aluminum cans. (Sciencing.com says 50%; Recycle Nation says 55%. Whatever the case, it appears to be growing--in author Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better, which was written in 2011, Leonard states that we were recycling 45%.)

The good news is, if we're producing 200 billion cans a year and only recycling half of them, that means there's 100 billion cans' worth of raw material just waiting to be used. And if there's demand for that product, there will be demand to recycle more of the cans. So if you're a designer with the power to spec that out, spec that out!

Passive-Aggressive Product Design: "U-Turn Deterrent" Fake Tire Spike Strips for Your Driveway

Core 77 - Sun, 2019-11-10 17:35

I'm a native New Yorker and former die-hard urbanite. But now I've given the city up for good, and have permanently relocated to a rural farm in the American South. This "Free Range Design Observations" section will detail the design-related observations made as a result of this radical location change.


"Future of Transportation Designs" concepts, be they monorails, scooters, mag-lev trains, bike shares or autonomous cars, no longer hold any personal interest for me. Those things are mostly designed with cities in mind. Out here in the countryside, the population is spread far apart and the only way to get around is by car. With no cell service on our farm, I can't even get a nav signal until I'm a couple miles away.

Some of the driveways here are short, and you can see the house from the road. Other driveways are long stretches of gravel that twist out of sight, and you only know there's a house at the end because there's a mailbox at the front edge of it.

A lot of times it's easy to miss a destination here, even when the nav is working. And when you overshoot, you need a safe way to turn around, which isn't easy on a twisty country-two lane. If there's no visible traffic you can try risking a three-point turn, but there's no guarantee that a logging truck isn't going to come barreling around the bend when you're in the middle of it. So I prefer to keep going until I see someone's driveway, then use it to turn around, as it's marginally safer.

But some houses have signs like these prominently displayed in their driveway:

Additionally, some of those houses pair the signs with NO TRESPASSING signs, to really drive the message home.

Upon first seeing these, I asked my wife about them and she suggested it's just a way to express hostility. I was surprised that people would be willing to pay for, install and have to look at such ugly signs as they return home from work each day, but some folks are angry people, I guess.

I've also noticed that it's only the short-driveway houses, visible from the road, that seem to have the signs. Down here, in general, Long Driveway = High Tax Bracket, Short Driveway = Low Tax Bracket.

Anyways, I just came across this thing online:

That's a high-visibility, fake tire spike strip made of rubber that you're meant to place at the end of your driveway. Because it's just flexible rubber you can drive over it without damaging your tires, but it's meant to fool would-be turner-arounders.

One five-star review states "works like a charm! no more invaders driving into my driveway! Another said "Finally, a product that caters to sociopaths!"Yet another wrote, apparently in earnest, "This is exactly what I needed for those darn driveway u-turning people! The gall of some people, using fifteen feet of my driveway without paying rent or even asking, just because they were 'lost' or 'missed' their turn! … The camera I installed five years ago allows me to enjoy te (sic) expressions of frustration and fear when these monsters roll into my driveway 'by accident'."

Upon reading these I thought geez, I haven't seen a product design this passive-aggressive since those knee defenders for airplane seats.

However, there were also some more reasonable reviews from people experiencing issues I hadn't thought of, like the following:

- "Great, safe product. Finally found something to keep delivery drivers from endangering the safety of my dogs in the yard."- "These really did the trick in tutoring our mail delivery person from patching out our front yard which he had been doing despite notes and other reflectors that attempted to show him the edge of our yard."- "These are AMAZING! We live the (sic) first house passed (sic) a major attraction with poor signage. We had 50+ turn arounds a day. We have a circle driveway as well so people were turning in and then driving around our cars across our grass! The final boiling point was when someone turned in and nearly hit our daughter on her bike. We have had the driveway spikes for 2 and 1/2 years and not one person has tested them and drove over them."

Okay, so it seems not everyone with no-turnaround devices is simply expressing hostility. But make no mistake, this product exists because assholes exist, on both sides of the driveway. If you go to the trouble of installing a camera just so you can see "expressions of frustration and fear" on people's faces, I think you need to start smoking pot. And if you drive across someone's lawn, especially when there's children or pets around, you need to stop smoking pot.

I imagine products like these, along with that Knee Defender, will only continue to proliferate. Maybe Kickstarter should add a "passive-aggressive" category.

So What Does Google Want With Fitbit?

Design News - Fri, 2019-11-08 07:00
The Fitbit Versa 2. (Original images source: Fitbit and Google/Alphabet)

Google thinks that Fitbit around your wrist is worth about two billion dollars. After rumors swirled of a possible acquisition, Google pulled the trigger, announcing it has made a deal to acquire Fitbit to the tune of $2.1 billion. Pending shareholder and regulator approval, the deal will close sometime in 2020. Google beat out Facebook, which was also in talks to acquire Fitbit.

“Google is an ideal partner to advance our mission,” James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit, said in a press statement. “With Google’s resources and global platform, Fitbit will be able to accelerate innovation in the wearables category, scale faster, and make health even more accessible to everyone.”

In a blog post, Rick Osterloh, senior vice president, devices & services at Google, outlined Google's hope that the Fitbit acquisition will help Google expand on its offerings in wearables – a space where it has been absent in terms of hardware. “Over the years, Google has made progress with partners in this space with Wear OS and Google Fit, but we see an opportunity to invest even more in Wear OS as well as introduce Made by Google wearable devices into the market,” Osterloh wrote.

Where Is Google's Wearable?

Google first introduced Wear OS, a version of the Android operating system designed for wearables, in 2014. At the time it was called Android Wear and it quickly led to speculation that Google was heading into the smartwatch market. Wear OS has appeared in third-party products such as the Fossil Q Control watch, but Google never released its own hardware, even as competitors like Samsung's Galaxy Gear and the Apple Watch hit stores.

At this year's Google I/O developer conference rumors were circulating that Google would finally announce a companion smartwatch to coincide with the release of the Pixel 4. Alas, nothing.

With the acquisition of Fitbit, Google looks to be course correcting to put itself on consumers' wrists. In Fitbit Google has acquired three key things that it is currently missing in terms of wearables: a hardware product; a built-in customer base (Fitbit says it has 27.6 million active users as of 2018); and a proven market in the form of healthcare.

According to IDC, health is the leading use case for wearables, a global market that includes smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wristbands, and holds a value of $1.64 billion, according to ResearchandMarkets.

"Health is now at the forefront for these devices since companies have started providing actionable insights and prescriptive measures for end users," Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement.

Even Apple, whose Apple Watch IDC predicts will account for 38.9% of all smartwatches shipped in 2019, has been pushing into healthcare. In 2018 Apple gained FDA clearance for an ECG app for the Apple Watch. Apple has also partnered with Zimmer Biomet on a clinical trial in which knee and hip replacement patients use Apple Watches to monitor their recovery.

For all of the ambitions of Google's parent company, Alphabet, there has been very little over the years in the way of practical health-related products. Aside from fitness tracker apps and functionality in Android, Google and Alphabet's most notable forays into healthcare have come in the way of moonshot ideas such as glucose-monitoring contact lenses and a mysterious subsidiary devoted to researching how to extend human life.


Moreover, healthcare wearables wouldn't really add a lot to Google's bottom line, as noted by Suzanne Frey, VP of engineering at Google, in an article written for The Motley Fool. “Alphabet drives more than $150 billion worth of revenue per year, versus the $1.5 billion worth of revenue Fitbit forecast it would produce this year as part of its Q2 update,” Frey wrote, adding that the deal “which is good news for Fitbit investors – just isn't going to add any meaningful value to the mix for Alphabet investors anytime soon.”

Data, Not Hardware

The real value proposition for Fitbit is all of the data that its devices capture. (Image source: Fitbit)

Unless Google has suddenly turned pragmatic about healthcare, what we're looking at is likely a small piece of a larger strategy for a wearable product. Perhaps Google is looking to implement Fitbit's technology into a product already in development – making fitness and health tracking part of a library of functions. After all, why bother building it from scratch yourself if someone else has already done it well?

There's also a larger factor to look at – something that could be more valuable to Google than any hardware – data. Fitbit's user base represents a huge stream of existing and readily incoming data on a number of factors from various health metrics to even locations – data that Google could leverage for all sorts of purposes.

Imagine having ads and apps target you based on your physical habits: Do you take a lot of steps throughout the day? Here are some ads for more athletic shoes. Are you sleeping less than you should? Here are some ads for mattresses and sleep medication. Do you eat a lot of veggies? Here are some vegan restaurants in your area.

And that doesn't even speak to more ethically questionable use cases. In one controversial move, companies have been giving employees Fitbits in order to monitor them for health insurance purposes. Wearables could also be used to measure workplace performance and to track employees in factories and offices.

Following the acquisition announcement, social media was flooded with comments from people concerned with how their Fitbit data will be used going forward.

“If I recall correctly, Alphabet acquiring FitBit means that Google now controls hardware that's tied to some people's health insurance coverage?” technologist Anil Dash tweeted.

'I don’t understand why all the tech press stories today talk about Google’s acquisition of Fitbit as a hardware acquisition,” Jen Simmons, a designer advocate at Mozilla, tweeted. “Why are they being so naive? This is a data acquisition. It’s about the data. That’s why Facebook was trying to get Fitbit instead.”

Dan Benjamin, founder of the podcast analytics platform Fireside.fm, shared Simmons' concerns on Twitter as well: “Google's acquisition of FitBit is 100% about tracking people (in the real world) and not about 'reviving Wear OS.' Google is a tracking company that wants to harvest data from our web activity, our email, our thermostats, and our IRL movements. Isn't this obvious by now?”

Luthor Lowe, SVP of public policy at Yelp, tweeted a lengthier reaction, outlining the data Google could pull from Fitbit. including your credit card, date of birth, and mobile number.

For its own part Google did anticipate backlash and concerns about user data. In his blog post Google's Osterloh addressed some concerns. “When you use our products, you’re trusting Google with your information. We understand this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control, and give you transparency about your data,” Osterloh wrote. “Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.”

The key phrase many will point to is, “Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads.” Ads account for only one of many use cases and health and wellness data doesn't necessarily include location tracking and other information that can be gleamed from the devices.

Given the great deal of scrutiny around large tech companies with regards to privacy and access to data, Google is no doubt looking to carefully navigate concerns around Fitbit. How regulators will respond to the deal is still a matter to be seen. But at this point it would be rather naive to assume Google only wants Fitbit so it can offer consumers a shiny new accessory.

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

Friday Funny: HBO Offers a Dorm Room Privacy Box

Design News - Fri, 2019-11-08 06:40

Those of you with roommates are probably hoping the HBO Privacy Box is not a hoax. After all, Box is HBO’s middle name.

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.


IndyCar Aeroscreen Targets Improved Driver Safety

Design News - Fri, 2019-11-08 06:30
IndyCar driver Scott Dixon testing the Aeroscreen. (Image source: IndyCar)

Open-cockpit racing preserves the gladiatorial feel of car racing in a way that closed-roof racing can’t capture. Even behind full-face helmets with reflective visors closed, fans can see the drivers at work behind the wheel, which helps draw a connection between the spectators and the athletes.

But open cockpits present risks to drivers, who can be struck in the head by debris when other drivers ahead have problems. Even worse, drivers can strike their heads on solid objects when they crash.

Some crashes will probably always be unsurvivable when the cars are going 220 mph or faster. But too many lesser incidents have seen drivers injured or killed. So racing engineers have pursued a solution to protect drivers.

Audi R8 Le Mans Prototype in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. (Image source: Audi)

Sports car racing gave up on open cockpits following the 2001 testing fatality of Audi driver Michele Alboreto, who was killed when a tire failure caused his Audi R8 to flip over. 

Open-wheel categories such as Formula 1 and IndyCar have endured injuries and fatalities, even when cars stayed upright. Ferrari driver Felipe Massa suffered a severe head injury when a spring fell off a car ahead during practice and struck Massa in the head. He recovered to continue his racing career, but IndyCar driver Justin Wilson wasn’t as fortunate. He died after a nosecone from a crashed car struck his head during a race in 2015.

In response, in 2018 Formula 1 mandated the Halo device, a protective structure atop the cockpit meant to shield the driver’s head from impacts. So far the Halo has demonstrated some benefit in crashes that looked like they might have been worse without it.

IndyCar initially preferred the idea of a windshield instead of the Halo’s bulky-looking structure, but found that the windshields tested deflected too much on impact.

The black Halo is plainly visible on the Haas F1 car of driver Romain Grosjean. (Image source: Dan Carney)

The new solution, which will be in place on all cars in next year’s Indianapolis 500, is the Aeroscreen,  created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies as an evolution of the concept it originally developed as a proposal for F1 in 2016. There are no carryover parts from that project, however, the company notes. The Aeroscreen looks like a Formula 1 Halo with a plexiglass windshield mounted on it, and in basic concept, though not in execution, that’s what it is.

Considering that the Halo has been on F1 cars for nearly two full seasons now, it might be easy to think that it would be a simple matter of adapting that known design to IndyCars. But there are less obvious complications that prevent that according to Tino Belli, director of aerodynamic development for IndyCar.

The first is that IndyCar races on ovals, where many crashes see the drivers smashing into the chain link retaining fence outside the track. The F1 Halo is designed primarily to protect from forward impacts, and it swoops downward as it wraps around the driver’s head, leaving them more visible to fans.

IndyCar’s Aeroscreen has a similar-looking structure, but its structure stays higher than the top of the driver’s helmet all the way around. This provides protection in the case of incidents like Robert Wickens' 2018 crash at the Pocono Raceway, which left him partially paralyzed as the result of neck injuries from a crash into the catch fence.

“We need to protect our drivers’ heads from getting up against the fence,” explained Belli. 

The Aeroscreen tested on Scott Dixon's IndyCar. (Image source: IndyCar)

And the windshield is there to guard against small debris from striking the driver in the face. This is more important for IndyCar because the average speeds on ovals are much higher than those on the road course-only F1. The resulting frequent high-speed impacts pulverize cars, producing a rain of small debris on close-following traffic.

“Debris that weighs grams, at 100 mph, if it hits you on the head, it gives you a concussion,” Belli observed. And driving through a storm of shattered carbon fiber and metal bits, the fear was that some of this could deflect downward off a Halo’s upper structure and strike a driver in their unprotected torso.

F1’s Halo is made of tubular titanium to minimize the amount of mass added to the top of the car and reduce its impact on the center of gravity. IndyCar’s Aeroscreen structure is also titanium for the same reason, but it is 3D-printed in box section, providing a flat surface for attaching the windshield rather than the curved surface of the Halo’s tubular structure.

The structure is printed in five pieces by Austria’s Pankl Racing Systems and then meticulously welded together by expert welders. Pankl was familiar to IndyCar as the producer of hubs, driveshafts, and wheel nuts and the company had the 3D printing capability. However, even Pankl had to modify its printers to be able to create the Aeroscreen’s large pieces, according to Belli.

The carbon fiber trim pieces of the Aeroscreen on Will Power's car are key to controlling cockpit buffeting. (Image source: IndyCar)

The Aeroscreen is trimmed in carbon fiber aerodynamic pieces that are made by Aerodyne Engineering, Inc. in Indianapolis. The company is already contracted to provide the approved aerodynamic update parts to IndyCar teams and it is a certified repair station for damaged carbon fiber, so it is a natural participant in the Aeroscreen project, said Belli.

The windshield itself is a 3/8-inch 2-layer polyester screen made in two pieces. “Bending polyester to a shape, they have to be correct,” Belli noted. “You have to make quite a few tools to make two windshields a week, and there is a reasonable scrap rate. They check each layer and optical quality is very tightly controlled.”

Indeed, so tightly that the original, unnamed supplier has been replaced by a new, also unnamed, supplier.

In addition to the necessity of mounting the windshield, the Aeroscreen’s structure also differs from that of the F1 Halo because the structure around the cockpits of the cars is different. IndyCars are built so that the roll hoop behind the driver’s head is the primary load structure, while F1 builds strength into the area around the cockpit.

The Halo mounts to the top of the cockpit opening, but the Aeroscreen attaches at the rear, to the roll hoop’s structure, according to Belli. Both are rated to withstand 150 kilonewtons of force (33,721 lbs.), though Belli says he is keen to test the Aeroscreen to failure because he expects it will significantly exceed that minimum rating.

The entire thing adds 60 lbs. to the car’s weight. And because it is mounted high on the chassis, the Aeroscreen raises the car’s center of gravity by 15mm and moves it toward the front of the car. This puts additional load on the car’s front tires, so the development work had to be done in consultation with series tire supplier Firestone to ensure suitable race tires for next season.

The view through Will Power's Aeroscreen. (Image source: IndyCar)

It also affects airflow over the car. This needs to be understood, not only for performance reasons, but also for crash safety. Modern IndyCar aerodynamics are carefully tuned to provide stability during spins, to discourage the car from flipping over, and this characteristic needed to be preserved, Belli explained.

Then there’s the matter of airflow inside the cockpit. IndyCar’s computational fluid dynamics modeling only applied to the flow of air over the outside of the car and didn’t provide any information on the airflow to the driver. This is critical for a couple reasons. One is to ensure acceptable pressure on the driver’s helmet, and the other is the need to provide cooling airflow during hot weather.

The challenge is that while the screen deflects the air that would strike the front of the driver’s helmet, the air hitting the back of the cockpit and pushing the driver’s head forward is still present. Only now it isn’t offset by the previous pressure from the front, so the airflow pushing forward needed to be controlled. “We had to shape the back of the structure carefully to reduce that,” Belli said. “We designed it in CFD and then track tested it to verify.”

And the teams will experiment with ducts that are being added to the access cover to the car’s front dampers to help bring fresh air to the cockpit, which is especially critical for hot summer street races that make up about one-third of IndyCar’s racing calendar. "Cooling for super speedways will be sufficient,” stated Belli. “But for boiling hot days in Detroit or Toronto, we weren’t sure.”

Preserving visibility through the windshield over a race distance is another matter. The Aeroscreen lacks windshield washers or wipers and doesn’t have a defogger to blow warm air on the inside during rain races.

The solution to the former is to add a stack of plastic tear-off covers similar to the ones drivers use on their helmet visors already. When the car stops for fuel or tires the team can simply rip off the top-layer tear off to clean up the driver’s view. And because there’s no hot air to defog the windshield like there is in your street car, the Aeroscreen is electrically heated, like your car’s rear window defroster, to keep it clear in damp, chilly conditions.

Scott Dixon peers through his car's Aeroscreen during track testing. (Image source: IndyCar)

In case of a crash, the Aeroscreen is not expected to introduce a hindrance to the driver getting out of the car, or, in the case of a severe injury, being quickly and safely extracted by the emergency crew. In testing so far with dummies, safety crews actually found it easier to pull the driver out of the cockpit because the Aeroscreen’s structure gave them something to brace against while pulling, according to Belli. “They believe it will be less of a hindrance rather than more of a hindrance,” he said.

The concern is that in an upside-down car, the structure and windshield could obstruct a driver from scrambling out. So far, that hasn’t been the case with F1’s Halo and it is hoped that will be the situation with the Aeroscreen. Further, having that structure in place should make the car more prone to tip to one side or the other if it flips, rather than resting flat on its top, said Belli. “The odds of being completely upside down are reduced,” he explained.

Scott Dixon's crew installing the Aeroscreen on his car. (Image source: IndyCar)

In everyday use, the teams will find the Aeroscreen a hindrance in servicing the cars, he conceded. “Working on the cars with the windscreen on is a real pain in the ass,” Belli said. “But the windscreen and frame can be removed in about 15 minutes. And that time will probably come down to 10 minutes with practice, so they will be able to take it off between track sessions if they want to.”

If the Aeroscreen is in the way of removing an injured driver after a crash, the safety team has practiced cutting one off if necessary and has found that process takes about a minute, Belli reported.

IndyCar drivers have been testing the Aeroscreen to get experience and suggest improvements. So far they say they are satisfied with its basic function. Driver Scott Dixon’s first observation was the reduced wind noise behind the windshield. “I can hear my radio for a change,” he said during a press conferencing following a day-long track test of the device. “Normally, I can’t hear that. So that’s kind of nice.”

His colleague Will Power noted some reflections off the bodywork on the back side of the windshield that the team can address with anti-reflective finishes in key spots. Similarly, both drivers found that the cockpit airflow will need to be customized to each driver’s preferences, with the teams adjusting the vents and airflow deflectors.

Scott Dixon slides into his car's cockpit, behind the Aeroscreen. (Image source: IndyCar)

Ultimately, both drivers reported acceptable visibility through the Aeroscreen and that they found it didn’t interfere with their cars’ handling. “The [impact on aerodynamic drag] was smaller than what I thought it was going to be,” said Power. “It was almost neutral.” However, the added profile seems sure to increase the car’s sensitivity to buffeting from side gusts on windy days, he added.

“Honestly, I think it is going to be a net zero [performance difference],” said Dixon.

Dixon pointed out that the Aeroscreen complicated the process of clambering into the cockpit and cinching the restraining belts tight. “I think you’re going to have to get in the car a little earlier,” he said. “It does take a little longer. But getting out was fine, actually,” 

In total, the Aeroscreen will extract an insignificant sacrifice from drivers and teams for the expected safety benefits. “You think about it, when you’ve driven it for a day, you’re going to feel naked without it," Power said.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

New Water-Based Invisible Ink Makes Your Secrets Eco-Friendly

Design News - Fri, 2019-11-08 06:00
Researchers in China have developed a water-based invisible ink that can be used to encrypt secret or sensitive information that’s printed on paper. The method is a low-cost and environmentally friendly alternative to fluorescent inks currently used for this purpose today, researchers said. (Image source: Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications)

Researchers from the Institute of Advanced Materials at the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications in China have developed a simple and secure printing technology in the form of a water-based invisible ink that can be used to encrypt secret or sensitive information.

The rather low-tech method is basically a rewriteable paper coating that can be printed by a water-jet printer on a manganese-complex-coated paper.

The writing produced by the technique is invisible to the naked eye. However, a 254-nanometer UV light shined on the paper reveals the message. Moreover, the paper can be recycled and reused for up to another 30 rounds of printing after heating the paper with a blow dryer for 15 to 30 seconds, which erases the message. 

The paper encryption method is not just low-tech, but also a low-cost and environmentally-friendly alternative to the current use of fluorescent security inks for protecting paper-based information, said Qiang Zhao, one of the researchers on the project and an associate professor of applied physics and computational mathematics at the institute.

“The rewritable feature significantly reduces the cost,” Zhao said in a press statement. Indeed, the cost per print is estimated to be RMB0.014 in Chinese yuan, or $0.002 US, he said.

"Most fluorescent security inks on the market used to record confidential information are environmentally unfriendly and cannot be erased,” Zhao added. “The paper is only a disposable recording medium."

Zhao’s team developed the new method based on previous work researchers had done to regulate organic materials' photoluminescence properties by modifying the molecular structure, he said. The team recently discovered that the material could change its optical or electrical properties through external stimulus alone.

“We developed a rewritable security printing method by utilizing the photoluminescence responses of manganese complex to water,” he said in the press statement.

Enhancing Safety and Security

Researchers view their water-jet printing method as a cost-efficient way to encrypt printed materials. But they said it does have one drawback – the short-wavelength UV light used to trigger the water-jet security printing can be harmful to humans.

Because of this, Zhao said the team is focused on developing humidity-sensitive manganese complexes that can be excited by visible or near-infrared light, which is much safer for humans.

"Our work is to provide a practical printing method,” Zhao said in the press statement. “Thus, we need to make sure that it's non-toxic or has low harm to the human body.”

The team also is developing a high-level security printing to complement the low-tech, water-jet technique to protect information from general decryption methods, researchers said.

In this technique, researchers coat the paper with phosphine ligands, which can grab on to manganese in the manganese-halide salt solution ink to create manganese complex, they said.

This renders the recorded information invisible under both ambient light and UV light; however, a photoluminescence lifetime imaging (PLIM) technique can reveal the encrypted data in different colors of red, yellow, green, and blue, depending on the emission lifetime, Zhao said.

"The dynamic manipulation of the emission lifetime has been achieved for the first time by utilizing the reversible ionic interactions of manganese complexes," he said in the release.

The team envisions that their techniques can be used widely in both the public and private sector to protect the security of information, especially in the economic and military fields, Zhao added.

Researchers published a paper of their work in the journal Matter


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.

Finding a New Use for Car Modeling Clay: Adaptable Furniture

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-11-07 14:12

Car modeling clay is typically used to create 1:1 prototypes of new car designs—one part of a development process that can cost upwards of a billion dollars. For designer Johanna Seelemann, this resource-intensive process represents a "non-rational focus on the way things look that drives modern over-consumption" and opposes the industry's efforts to become more sustainable.

When Seelemann first became fascinated with car modeling and the design process, she wondered: How does the designer know when to stop? Perhaps, she realized, the magic is in being able to keep going. As part of her graduate project at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Seelemann tapped into the adaptable qualities of modeling clay to develop a series of abstract, multi-purpose furniture pieces that are "stable but remain ever-transformable for the user."

"Industrial clay inherits the political weight of car design based on societal and economic dependencies. While the obsolescence of desirability is a driving motor for object evolution and corporate power, it can also tell the story of the human hand in the generation of mass-produced objects through a form of industrial craftsmanship that relies on the age-old art of sculpture," she explains in her project description. "By continually restyling it, an object will never be outdated."

Seelemann worked with automotive designer Daniel Rauch to develop five initial designs that evoke the lines and forms of a vehicle but can be adapted for multiple uses in the home. During DAE's graduation show held as part of Dutch Design Week from October 19 to 27, Seelemann and her collaborators put their concept to the test by continuously transforming the pieces on display throughout the run of the exhibition.

Sculpting clay is, of course, a highly-skilled task that won't be accessible to just anyone, but Seelemann's project proposes a fascinating take that's partly a critique of the automotive industry (and other forms of mass production) and part research project on the idea of aesthetic evolution and the future of adaptation.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals Can Be Your Cheat Sheet For The Future of Industrial Design

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-11-07 14:12

Last month at Core77's Third Wave conference, panel moderator, Leigh Christie of MistyWest, asked the audience how many of us in attendance had heard of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Among the scores of professionals gathered there, only a smattering of hands went up. Christie reacted with noticeable surprise, then remarked on the increased stakes of the panel discussion about the UN SDGs that he was imminently moderating. I, too, was perplexed by the lack of awareness in the room. In this era of human-centered design, I've found that to be in the company of designers, is often to be in the company those who are looking for ways to better life (while surely they exist, I have not yet met a designer who is totally ambivalent to the impact of their work). It is not difficult to find designers who are keen to tackle issues like gender equality, accessible healthcare, ethical production, urban sustainability, clean energy, etc. All of which, are SDGs, (#5, #3, #12, #11, and #7, respectively).

The coincidence makes sense, as most of us are aware that there is much to be addressed in these areas. For much of the last century (at least), industrial design (along with the rest of industrial practice) has largely been unconcerned with the ways in which production has exploited humanity and has accelerated ecological collapse. The SDGs aim to channel our collective awareness towards the development of a future that is more sustainable, or hopefully less colossally destructive (because most of us don't have much of a choice at this point). In setting out their "supremely ambitious and transformational vision" for the world in 2030, the UN created this set of goals that nations, corporations, and even individuals might use as a map for our collective visions of the future. With that in mind the SDG, can be a guide, a language of collaboration, and even a basis for the future of industrial design practice.

Or better yet, present design practice. As many designers have already used the goals as guiding principles for their work. Among the panelists at that UN SDG discussion, designer, Sandra Moerch of SAP, made the point that focusing on a particular goal can often and inevitably lead towards design solutions that have broader benefits for people and society. For Moerch, empowering women, and advocating for rights internationally, is not only about gender equality, but it is also about bringing innovation to different industries and bringing about fair labor with economic growth (#5, #8, and #9). The goals give direction but are broad enough that they can enable creativity and exploration.

Within this framework, universities have also begun to observe the UN SDGs as tools for design education, and as a means of explaining the world that students are designing for. Currently, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK), in Copenhagen, is host to a design and architecture exhibition that asked students to design their projects in accordance with the UN SDGs. For the last 3 years, degree projects have been required to address the goals in some way, the school does so as a way of "systematizing" the sustainable projects students were already producing. Additionally, the school sees the application of these goals as a means of seeding a "a new Danish growth sector driven by innovative products, solutions and strategies for a sustainable lifestyle and societal arrangement."

Alisa Larsen's project "Vertical Life" proposes that biodiversity can be cultivated and facilitated by making space for plants and insects upon drainpipes in urban environments.

Emil Holck Reimert's project, "Gazelle" is focused on using old manufacturing techniques to ensure that the chair lasts longer, and is less susceptible "wear and tear."

Wooden joints are used to maintain the chair's strong structure.

This reasoning is exemplary of why having this set of goals for development can have far-reaching impact. Even if you are aware that these issues need to be addressed, using the language of the UN SDGs, can signal to other designers, other businesses, and investors, that the ideas outlined by the goals are critical to development going forward. The UN SDGs are ready-made for industrial designers. It is a set of problems to be solved. It is their scope, that requires our collective efforts to bring about meaningful action in these areas. At the very least, the goals can be a reminder. If you find yourself going through these goals and realizing your work exists outside of these hard-to-argue-with ideals, maybe its time you reexamine the future you're designing for.

Design Job: Share Your Knowledge on Dynamic Global Teams as an Adjunct Professor for Carnegie Mellon University

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-11-07 14:12

The Integrated Innovation Institute (III) at Carnegie Mellon University's Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, CA seeks an adjunct professor for the Dynamic Global Teams course in the spring 2020 term, Mini 3 – January to March 2020. This position would teach students within the Master of Science in Technology Ventures (MSTV) degree. The specific teaching times are flexible (daytime or evening options) to accommodate the instructor's full-time job schedule. Qualified candidates will have prev

View the full design job here

New Footwear Design by Marc Newson: The Yard Boot 365

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-11-07 14:12

Footwear and clothing manufacturer R.M. Williams hails from Australia, as does designer Marc Newson. Recently the two collaborated, with Newson designing a new boot inspired by R.M.W.'s classic elastic-ankled Gardener Boot.

The result is the Yard Boot 365:

"The boot design embodies a sleek, streamlined aesthetic that has a unique understanding of contemporary culture - whilst always elevating the boot's heritage.

"Bench-made in South Australia and designed for year-round use, the boot is handcrafted using one single piece of leather with one back seam - true to the iconic R.M.Williams design.

"The Yard Boot 365 is is a fully lined boot with engineered elastic side gussets. The elastic gussets have an interwoven reinforced tug carefully engineered to be incorporated into the single piece of leather, assisting with foot entry. Under-foot comfort is enhanced by the addition of Poron padding under a full-leather sock lining. Finished with a rubber outsole."

"As an Australian, I was thrilled to have been asked to design a boot for R.M. Williams, a brand that I have grown up with and have great appreciation for ever since I got my first pair of boots in my early teens," Newson told GQ Australia. "I have had the most fulfilling experience collaborating with this company and especially designing a product that I have always loved."

In the U.S., the boots retail for $345.00.

A Composting Bin That Lets the Worms Do the Work

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-11-07 14:12

Runner Up Home & Living Award Core77 Design Awards 2019.

There are big things we can be doing to save the planet. We can enforce emissions standards for cars and corporate manufacturers. We can stop flying. We can commit to renewable energy, stop chopping down trees, and avoid animal products on a mass scale.

But there are little things, too: we can purchase secondhand, appropriately dispose of electronics, close our windows when the AC is blasting, recycle – and we can compost. We can take the time to replenish the planet with our food waste, reciprocally providing for it the way it provides for us.

That's where the Yield System comes in, to make composting more efficient, tidier, and a subtler part of the landscapes (yards, gardens, and the like) that we're composting in.

Yield is an-in ground compost bin that minimizes user engagement through its stationary design and employment of nature's raddest and most efficient composting machines: worms. Users can purchase and add in the little fellas once they have Yield set up—which only takes a few minutes—and they'll service the compost material by rapidly breaking it down, adding beneficial microorganisms to the soil and fertilizing surrounding vegetation.

The industrious worms aren't the only ones invested in bettering their (and our) terrestrial circumstances. "Organic landfill waste adds to our global greenhouse gas problem," say designers Delroy Dennisur and Hsuan-Tsun, the Maven Design team who created Yield. And landfill waste "underutilizes material that should be recycled into a valuable product. Composting this waste," they continue, "improves soil, can grow the next generation of crops, and improves water quality."

It offers a pretty robust contribution to a healthier ecosystem, one which the product designers are firmly dedicated to. Not to mention, speaking in (sometimes more relatable) economic terms, composting is more affordable than conventional soil remediation services. Yield is the most efficient way to institute composting, in that it reduces maintenance (no watering and turning the pile necessary) and above ground space consumption, and cuts out the middle operation of transporting compost from the home to the soil – it's already stationed directly in the ground, where it's needed most.

Although the actual bin resides in-ground, Yield also come with stackable, above ground vessels. These grant the system modularity, wherein composters can scale by adding bins to receive more landfill material.

Composting is a relative antithesis to our culture of quick consumption – and even quicker disposal. But it's necessary and important as a deliberate, non-hasty micro-action of nourishing the environments we so easily take for granted. With wonderful irony, this design is essentially the fastest way to play the slow game.

Read more about the slow game of composting, through the ultra-efficient Yield System, on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2019 Honorees.

It Takes a Village to Automate a Plant

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-07 07:00
A palletizing robot from Honeywell Intelligrated on the show floor of PackExpo 2019. (Image source: Design News / Honeywell Intelligrated) 

Rather than selling equipment to its plant and warehouse customers, Honeywell Intelligrated is creating solutions that include a range of technologies. As the name Intelligrated implies, Honeywell is acting like an integrator, by providing a range of equipment and software to solve warehouse, plant, and packaging solutions from concept to operation.

“We’re expanding our smart robotic offerings to provide end-to-end solutions to make work cells more efficient,” Joseph Lui, VP and general manager of robotics, computer vision and AI at Honeywell Intelligrated, told Design News at PackExpo 2019. “We can be a single source for autonomation for our customers. That’s automation with a human touch.”

Lui noted that the use of technology – including voice-guided solutions for workers to increase picking efficiencies and automated mobile robots for transporting items quickly – is just the start of the digital transformation of warehouse and manufacturing operations. “The next 10 years will see a revolution in how these centers work and operate,” said Lui.

Partnering to Build a Collection of Technologies

To accomplish this, Honeywell has brought together the expertise from a range of companies and equipment providers, including software vendors, universities, startups, and incubators. “In the digital technology space, we’re connecting warehouse operations to increase efficiencies by employing advanced solutions that include machine vision, smart robotics, augmented reality, and voice technologies,” said Lui.

As part of the buildout for creating solutions, Honeywell has partnered with Fetch Robotics to provide autonomous mobile robots for effectively fulfilling orders. The robots operate safely alongside human workers to transport items through distribution centers without human guidance or fixed paths. Honeywell is also utilizing a number of other robot companies. “In additional to Fetch, Honeywell has created strategic partnerships and investments in Soft Robotics and Attabotics,” said Lui.

In order to blend these technologies into solutions, Honeywell has created space where all the technologies can be integrated. “We’ve taken these investments, and established a robotics center of excellence,” said Lui.

Curating a Collection of Technologies

The investments to build out Honeywell’s logistics and packaging solutions reach beyond robotics and into advances that are still in world of academics and start-ups. “We’re investing in partnerships with software vendors, universities, startups, and incubators to create new solutions for both simple and complex needs,” said Lui.

In order to reach some of the bleeding edge technology, Honeywell has engaged Carnegie Mellon University. “Our collaboration with AI researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center is helping to develop breakthrough technologies for distribution centers,” said Lui. “The focus is on building architecture relying on artificial intelligence and advanced robotic systems for advanced supply chain demands.”


To support the packaged solutions, Honeywell has created platform that enables the technology elements. “Part of the collaboration comes from the Honeywell Universal Robotics Controller (HURC). This is a high-performance platform for vision, planning, and motion,” said Lui. “The HURC leverages the machine learning and robotic control software to provide the processing power to handle volumes of real-time data for faster perception and more effective action. The HURC uses a virtual environment for simulation, testing, and troubleshooting to drive rapid solution deployment.”

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.

NXP Makes V2X Communication a Standard in the New Volkswagon Golf

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-07 06:30
The new Volkswagen Golf will be able to gather information on road conditions from multiple sources, including other vehicles. (Image source: NXP Semiconductors)

Volkswagen’s eighth-generation Golf compact hatchback boasts an impressive array of technologies and upgrades over the current model, but the real breakthrough is the integration of NXP Semiconductors’ Vehicle-to-Anything (V2X) WiFi communications technology.

The Golf is the first high-volume, mainstream model to feature V2X technology. Previously, V2X has been limited to niche models like the Cadillac CTS, but it is now standard equipment on all versions of the Golf. This is critical because widespread deployment of V2X is crucial to the technology’s ability to deliver its promised benefits.

Those benefits include the ability for cars to survey smart infrastructure devices such as traffic signals and areas such as construction zones, as well as communicate with other V2X-enabled vehicles. The aim is to create what VW is calling “swarm intelligence,” which refers to the ability of enabled cars to tap information from other cars around them on the road.

NXP's processors make V2X communications possible for the new Golf. (Image source: NXP Semiconductors)

NXP’s V2X technology uses a WiFi signal to communicate with other cars and infrastructure – allowing cars within an 800-meter range to inform the Golf of their speed as well as important information such as whether they’ve crashed, or activated their anti-lock brakes or electronic stability control. Cars can even communicate small details, such as the state of their windshield wipers to inform trailing cars of rain ahead.

On-board sensors such as radar, infrared night vision, LiDAR, and cameras are limited to line-of-sight, and are inhibited by vision-impairing conditions such as fog, snow, and heavy rain. By using WiFi, V2X, by contrast, can communicate around curves, over hill crests, and further through the fog to notify vehicles of unseen hazards. “[V2X] even works in a tunnel environment,” Steffen Spannagel, NXP’s general manager for the advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), car infotainment, and driver assistance product line, pointed out.


V2X data sharing is also possible via a cellular telephone connection. NXP asserts that WiFi is preferable though because of its shorter latency compared to cellular systems, as time is crucial in reacting to emergencies. Also, cellular network access costs money. “There is no subscription, there is no monthly charge,” emphasized Spannagel. “That is another key benefit compared to mobile-based networks.”

Of course, transferring technology meant for wirelessly relaying internet access from a router to a laptop to the dynamic environment of traffic safety involved many challenges. “WiFi is typically for stationary use,” Spannagel said. “We’re using it at 800 meters and operating at very high [vehicle] speed. Running communications in such challenging conditions is one big challenge, especially with the [interconnectivity software] stacks you run on your WiFi protocol.”

The wireless signal must also be secured against intrusion, which is another challenge NXP says that it has successfully overcome. “At NXP, we are bringing together all of these factors,” Spannagel said. Volkswagen must agree, considering that it selected NXP’s solution for the Golf.

As nations and municipalities build out smart infrastructure, cars like the Golf will benefit from still more data flowing in about the state of the road. Austria, in particular, is ambitiously equipping construction zones and safety response vehicles with transponders to relay information to V2X-equipped cars. Ideally, this solution will quickly achieve critical mass, rather than be mired in a standards war with alternatives like cellular, so that drivers can benefit from V2X sooner rather than later.

However, V2X is a complimentary technology rather than a substitute. It works best when vehicles are also equipped with sensors such as radar. Anti-collision systems equipped with such vehicle sensors can provide an early warning system to tell trailing cars to watch for pedestrians and cyclists, for example.

Of course, those leading vehicles must also be V2X-equipped for the Volkswagen Golf driver to benefit. VW's hope is that its commitment to the technology will encourage other carmakers to follow. “We are hoping that VW going through with it is a breakthrough and will make it a de facto technology, and makes other OEMs jump on it,” Spannagel said.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

The Industry 4.0 Blueprint Is Being Rewritten by Startups

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-07 06:00
(Image source:  xresch from Pixabay)

The manufacturing industry is no stranger to misconceptions and buzzwords. Collaborative automation, Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, blockchain – the real reason we allow ourselves to spin in circles on these topics is because we’re inherently hopeful and practical people: We want to build better and believe there is a path to doing so if we could only find the way.

As part of my series to uncover what leaders in the manufacturing space are actually doing to build better, I sat down with Juan L. Aparicio Ojea, head of the research group for advanced manufacturing automation at Siemens. Aparicio Ojea’s role grants him unique insight into the latest research across universities, startups, and government agencies. Access to so many different types of technologies that are all working to provide value in one way or another has enabled him to create a simple blueprint for the key requirements of an Industry 4.0 system.

Aparicio Ojea acknowledges that we’re far from seeing completed Industry 4.0 systems in practice. However, while it seems like startups are leading the charge, there are steps every manufacturing leader can and should be taking today.

1.) Interoperability: One Solution from Many Parts

Much of the challenge of bringing new technologies to the factory floor is in the interfaces between them. Aparicio Ojea asserted, “Being able to interoperate machines from different vendors is key.” These connections will allow for the flow of previously underutilized data, enabling faster integration and time to value.

There are two schools of thought on this issue. Some, like Aparicio Ojea, believe that industry standardizations laid out by industrial consortiums, which includes frameworks for OPC UA and DDS, will be key. Others, like Andrew Scheuermann, CEO of Arch Systems, a data sensing startup, believe that the industry cannot wait for the long cycle of old equipment to be replaced.

New technologies like collaborative robots already have to work together with legacy systems. So Arch Systems, which counts top tier electronics manufacturer’s among its customers, has built out an extensive library of software and hardware retrofit integrations where manufacturers can expedite a path towards interoperability with what is on their floors today, while leveraging modern standards for their new equipment.

Universal Robots creates robots designed for manufacturing products with short life cycles (Image source: Universal Robots).

2.) Modularity: One Piece That Can Fit in Many Places

The second requirement is modularity, or as Aparicio Ojea clarifies, “not having a monolithic approach to manufacturing.” An easy-to-see example of modularity on an electronics factory floor is the surface mount assembly (SMA) line. Instead of one huge machine that can make only one kind of PCB, there are modular machines for each step in the process: solder paste deposition, pick and place machines, reflow ovens, and inspection.

But the SMA process has been around for decades, so what does it mean in the modern context? It means the time for custom-built, single-purpose machines is coming to an end, to be replaced by generalized technologies that can be applied to a much wider variety of products and problems.

Universal Robots, which was acquired by Teradyne in 2015, is tackling this by creating easy-to-program robot arms that can be reprogrammed to different functionalities when the program is over, enabling the technology to be viable for products with short life cycles (like consumer electronics).

3.) Digital Twin: Model What Matters

Aparicio Ojea believes the third element of the blueprint is the creation and use of a digital twin, or simulation, of factory processes. Here’s the point: If you want better outputs from your process (such as higher yields or higher throughput), as engineers we would measure the inputs (such as individual machine parameters) and to try to use statistics to figure out which variables matter. If you can find a mathematical correlation between the inputs and the outputs, you may be able to “turn the knobs” on the input parameters to get the outputs you need. A digital twin is the concept of doing that at a much larger scale, where the goal is to replicate every single process for a holistic model of the factory.

Digital twin technology allows design engineers to simulate the full design and manufacturing process. (Image source: Siemens PLM).

While it’s possible there are successful implementations of true digital twins out in the wilds of the manufacturing world, in general, this is viewed as an aspirational concept. As Aparicio Ojea said, “It is not a greenfield, it is a brownfield” – meaning that most factories already exist and are filled with both legacy equipment and manual processes that are difficult to digitalize.

While digital twins might be obtainable for highly automated bottling plants, it feels like fantasy for electronics assembly, which still has hundreds of human hands on the line. In those cases, leaders should focus on wrapping their arms around the data they can get at the highest possible resolution, if not from the process, then from the products themselves. Engineers can use this data to create these correlations the old fashioned way – with experiments, spreadsheets, and statistics.

4.) Flexibility: Pieces That Can Adapt

Arguably the most exciting element of the blueprint is flexibility. This element is all about reducing waste – not scrap waste, but equipment waste. Single-purpose machines are not easily repurposed, and yet are how short life cycle production lines have been able to automate to date.

How do we create more flexibility in the production process and the machines we use? AI, computer vision, and robotics can be combined to enable machines that are both more adaptable to variation, and more adaptable from product to product. A quick example is in the quality control process, where camera systems can program themselves to find anomalies more broadly during an inspection – allowing greater inspection coverage than humans or traditional quality control.


Where to Start?

How does one adopt Industry 4.0 technologies and embody these smart manufacturing principles? Aparicio Ojea recommends investing in two key areas: digitalization and strategic partnerships. Without digitalization there will be no data foundation, a requirement for a wide array of initiatives. Simply decreasing paper processes represents a first step that many can take. When it comes time to adopt innovative technologies, Aparicio Ojea recommends, “viewing vendors as strategic partners and having a co-creation mentality. Partnering with a startup, automation vendor, or university and working together to solve a problem that has a real KPI and a clear goal merits investment now.”

Aparicio Ojea specializes in these types of strategic partnerships for Siemens Corporate Technology. He views partnerships as opportunities for cutting edge technology to solve larger problems that have concrete ROI for big businesses. For instance, Siemens Corporate Technology has partnered with Sewbo in an ARM-funded project. Sewbo is a startup tackling automated garment production by incorporating a solution that stiffens fabrics. By reframing the problem of movement and variation, Sewbo (in conjunction with Siemens, UC Berkeley, and Bluewater Defense) has the opportunity to overhaul the status quo manual practices of the entire garment industry.

With so much expensive groundwork, is Industry 4.0 worth all of the buzz? Aparicio Ojea views it as an “evolution, rather than a revolution.” New technologies absolutely merit investment, but he advises that leaders to stick to technologies that make their processes better today and lay the foundation for the future.

Those new technologies may very well come from startups, which are reframing Industry 4.0 roadblocks and applying novel solutions. In order to stay competitive in this ever changing international landscape, it will be these technology investments today that differentiate the winners and losers tomorrow.

Anna-Katrina Shedletsky is a former product design lead at Apple and the Founder and CEO of Instrumental, a company that leverages AI and machine learning for quality assurance and manufacturing applications

Blade Runner Intro Re-Cut to Use Actual Los Angeles, November 2019, and It Still Works

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-06 13:17

The opening scene to Blade Runner, kicked off with a card indicating it's set in November 2019, depicts a hellish Los Angeles dominated by industrial structures belching flame.

Well, now that it's actually November 2019, BoingBoing's Rob Beschizza re-cut the intro with footage of actual present-day L.A.--and it still works, perfectly.

Ensuring Honesty and Authenticity Through Color and Material Design

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-06 13:17

Amy Frascella is the Director of Colour & Material Design at Jaguar Land Rover. Colour and materials touch all aspects of vehicle creation and her team encompasses concept vehicles, production vehicles and Special Vehicle derivatives. She graduated from North Carolina State University in 2003 with a BA in Art and Design and a BS in Textile Engineering, beginning her career as a textile engineer working with major Japanese automotive OEM's on production textile developments. She went on to work at Hyundai/Kia for seven years on cross car line colour strategies and future material developments. She joined Land Rover in 2012 as a Senior Colour & Materials designer, and in 2015 was promoted to her current role of Chief Designer Colour & Materials – leading a global team of 30 multi-disciplined designers.

Amy Frascella - Director of Colour & Material Design at Jaguar Land Rover

Chris Lefteri : I am really interested in how you marry luxury and utility from the perspective of CMF. Can you talk a bit about the challenges there?

Amy Frascella: Potentially stating the obvious - I think that is the unique selling point for Land Rover – Design leadership coupled with engineering excellence.

If I think about the last few years of projects – redefining the material strategies for Range Rover, Discovery and Defender, what connects all of them is honesty and authenticity. This is because our vehicles simply do what they say they are going to do. Our materials need to perform to these exacting standards, but what customers see, feel and experience in them is most definitely part of creating a feeling of luxury. Dialing up and down material technology attributes and visual characteristics for each family helps to create product differentiation. (As effectively Range Rover, Discovery and Defender are brands within the master brand Land Rover.) You can see we have begun to help to shift the definition of luxury materials within our industry from both aesthetics and values. A great example of this is our collaboration with our partner Kvadrat – Europe's leading manufacturer of premium textiles. We have delivered a Kvadrat Premium Textile option on the Range Rover Velar, Range Rover Evoque and most recently the Defender. Our team has actively pushed against traditional luxury conventions to deliver these conscious choices to our customers. These offers sit alongside leather as an equivalent choice. It is this curation of materials and choice that definitely signals luxury.

Working with more natural materials (like wool and eucalyptus fibres) is important as we move to develop materials that are more sustainable and responsible in their creation. Our testing requirements are some of the most challenging in the industry so material technology innovation can take time.

CL: Authenticity is part of a premium experience but how difficult is it to use real materials such as metal and glass in car interiors? Also how do you deal with authenticity and luxury and plastic materials?

AF: Using authentic and more natural materials can be challenging due to testing requirements. In addition to the wool blend textile I mentioned, Land Rover has also been industry leading to deliver semi-aniline leather (fewer top coatings) on the previous generation of Range Rover. More recently we were industry-first on the new Range Rover Evoque to deliver a plant-based textile using Eucalyptus fibres. This is all to say we work closely with Materials Engineering and our suppliers to simply find a way – as developing premium authentic materials is a strategic differentiator for our family of products.

We are continuing to develop and craft with plastics in our vehicles. When I arrived at Land Rover about six years ago nearly all our interior components were wrapped – predominately with leather. This was a world I did not come from, (previously working at a more value centric brand with a lot more exposed plastic for A surfaces.) So as Land Rover began to expand the product portfolio all interior components were not all wrapped due to different price points and trim levels, but more importantly for functionality. Defender's use of functional polymers is a great example of this. Making what may be considered a lower cost material appear crafted and premium is an exciting design challenge. Because there is variability in the approach to the production of plastics: dual shot injection moulding, co-moulding with other materials, exploring shore hardness, crafting the grain texture in the tooling to create surfaces that appear glossier or more diffused - the list goes on. Grain or surface texture is an incredibly important detail in crafting plastic tooling for components.

As we move forward we are also asking ourselves what is the future of plastics? We recognise we are amidst a plastic backlash amongst consumers – so how will we begin to make our plastics more sustainable? These are topics we are addressing.

CL: Do different regions change how you define what quality and premium is? For example in Asia is there a particular expectation of grain or surface texture?

AF: Not really – we are a global brand and the studio here in the UK is the 'mother' studio - our aesthetic definition is the global aesthetic. We design and develop multiple specifications for our consumers so there is always a curated choice.

CL: Is the CMF strategy consistent across the organization, or do you have a different approach for each vehicle?

AF: The Colour & Material Design strategy supports the overall Design strategy. Range Rover is about refinement and luxury, Discovery is about premium versatility and the architectural use of space, and Defender is our most capable vehicle. Sustainability is a key principle of the Design strategy so in everything we do we continuously aim to make materials more responsible and more sustainable – even if the development is for something our customers don't see. For example on B surface materials we have been working to incorporate more recycled polyester so this will help contribute to overall lower C02 for our vehicles. We collaborate with our Sustainability and Engineering teams to continuously improve our processes and materials in our journey to a more responsible future.

Colour, material and form are intrinsically linked – we view them as one in the same at Land Rover Design – they are developed at the same time together. And with this we are able to give our three families their own design language.

CL: Sustainability is also looking at how you would reduce energy in the production process.

AF: Yes – within Land Rover Colour & Material Design we describe our more conscious, more sustainable/responsible initiatives as 'Materiality.' This can include any material initiative really – leather for example could be a Materiality initiative, if we begin to use accept more natural markings and accept a wider visual tolerance on the material surfaces we gain higher yields therefore less waste. Any material development or initiative that brings us along the journey to move towards truly sustainable and circular processes is the ultimate goal – Materiality supports this.

CL: The perception of what is premium is always shifting. If you look to the future, what do you think will define premium for customers?

AF: I think it is about values and whether people actively recognise it or not it is also about pure desire. The heart wants what it wants! People want to see their values reflected in the brands they align themselves with – and that permeates at so many levels within our world of Colour & Material Design. After all Colour & Material Design is really all you see, feel and experience.

All of the things we have just been discussing, making processes and materials more sustainable and responsible can serendipitously create new aesthetics. Working more with alternatives materials and non-leather materials you can unlock visual solutions previously not achievable with conventional luxury materials. The attributes are different therefore how you work with these new materials requires new approaches.

We definitely see the influence of architectural spaces inside vehicles more and more. Less is more as this follows our reductionist design approach. Integration of technology and materials creates less visual 'noise.' Colour plays a huge role in the vehicle experience – is the environment a calm sanctuary? Are the exterior graphics and details visible? It will be more premium to move away from traditional, high contrast colour break ups that have long dominated in the automotive industry. We are also questioning the over use of black as well.

CL: What do you mean by high contrast?

AF: Typically when you look at an automotive interior (or exterior) key architecture is visually 'called out' through use of high contrast colour combinations. The midroll on the instrument panel (the middle of the dashboard) might be a very light colour whereas the upper part of the instrument panel/dashboard will be dark (this will be for UV and reflection requirements.) For Land Rover key architecture is our instrument panel midroll component – the unbroken beam. There may be other key architecture on doors and the centre console as well and by using a higher contrast colour palette these components, which are key to the design, will visually stand out.

We can achieve the same visual hierarchy in the future, but rather then continuously using harsh contrasting colour (almost black and white) we can move into layering of softer, monotone colour palettes – through textured surfaces and textiles. Bringing more architectural influences from your home inside the vehicle – one doesn't normally surround themselves in their home with this kind of harsh palette.

CL: That's interesting because one of the other interviews for this series is with Ivy Ross, who is VP of Design at Google. She talks about humanizing technology and you are talking about the same thing. It's about the interior of your car becoming much more like the interior of your home. I think textiles play a big part from what I can see in your cars.

AF: Yes – I hope the role textiles have in vehicle interiors will continue to gain mass acceptance moving forward. Our colour palettes will become more 'human-centred' moving forward whether customers actively realise this. We want to create safe cocooned environments – calm sanctuaries. Our technology should be working in the background and not be intrusive – called upon when customers need it. We need colours and materials and technology to seamlessly work together because as screens begin to hold more functionality (that may have been a physical switch up until now) they may become larger surfaces. How do you integrate all of this seamlessly? Colour and Material Design will have a big role to play.

CL: Going back to plastics, do you want to talk about any particular case studies of eco plastics in your cars?

AF: We use recycled plastic in some of our soft materials. For us this is not really new – but what is shifting is the proliferation of these materials. When the original Evoque was launched we used Dinamica microfibre suedecloth on the seats made from recycled plastic bottles – this material was combined with leather on the seat cover. For the launch of Range Rover Velar in 2017 we used this material once again but combined with Kvadrat wool blend textile – creating a full premium non-leather seat. We have launched the same set of materials on the 2019 Range Rover Evoque. For the Discovery Sport mid cycle fresh recently launched we offer the Dinamica material in conjunction with performance material Luxtex. This one single material example has had a big role to play in our Materiality strategy offering non-leather options for customers. Our goal is by 2021 all Land Rover's will have a Materiality offer.

CL: Do you think the consumers perception of sustainable materials would allow for imperfection in the way things look? Do you think that consumers will accept the idea of imperfection because because sustainability on that level becomes premium. Do you think consumers will become embracing of that in luxury?

AF: They already do. Think about shifts in how people eat, the things they buy - food packaging, beauty products, clothing and they way they live – travel, transportation and homes. Right now people accept many new ingredients and visual representation of natural materials/processes because if it is more respectful of planet, people and animals they understand the value and many times pay more. This is absolutely happening in many analogous industries and it is just a matter of time for this to become the norm.

This is coming to the automotive industry and we are getting ready for the shift. I would like to think we are even part of the few that are helping to lead the shift.

Process Porn: A Surprising Alternative Production Method for Making Heat Sinks

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-06 13:17

I always assumed that all aluminum heat sinks, with all of those fins, were either extruded or cast. And while both of those are common production methods, I just stumbled across this crazy-looking alternative method:

via Reddit