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The Weekly Design Roast, #15

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-09-12 21:35

"Because no modern home is complete without at least one lamp that looks like a laundry detergent bottle on a stool."

"Yes, I do have the time, just give me a minute to puzzle it out."

"This long, steel door pull really gives you maximum leverage against the two screws holding it in place."

"As rendered, no, the car does not fit in the back. But renderings are just about, you know, the vibe."

"I found a clever way to use twice as much metal without conveying any benefit to the end user."

If I lived with a roommate who had this chair, I'd never not be hanging my dirty socks on those bars.

"I'm pretty good at drawing circles in CAD, but I haven't figured out how to get other shapes yet."

"Most shelf brackets can accommodate a variety of board widths. Using the power of design, I have removed that versatility."

"I wanted it to occupy the footprint of a loveseat, while only offering accommodation for one person. It is a metaphor for loveless marriages."

"Over time, using these chairs may put some wear on the steel edges. If that happens, call me and I'll swing by with an angle grinder to resharpen them."

Currently Crowdfunding: A Mechanical Pen That's Built to Last, Modular Flashlights, and More

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-09-12 21:35

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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:

These magnetic speakers come in a set of four that can be combined into a larger unit or used separately to create a surround sound experience wherever you are.

LiteCans is a modular system designed for the outdoors that starts with a base flashlight module and offers four possible add-ons, including a module with essential fishing gear and a canteen.

LOOG is back with their fourth Kickstarter campaign for a new electric guitar that comes with a built-in amp and speaker, an Augmented Reality app, and a deck of custom flashcards with easy-to-read chord diagrams. There are three available sizes so kids as young as three can get started learning how to play, but beginners of all ages will find the system very user-friendly.

The Wingback is a handsome mechanical pen that's built to last. You can snag the regular pen machined out of brass or stainless steel, customize it with a personalized engraving, or get a limited-edition version featuring illustrations that are laser-engraved onto the body with astounding detail.

This book is the first comprehensive publication dedicated to the typographic work of K.H. Drescher, a largely unknown graphic designer who worked for the Berliner Ensemble—the theater founded by Berthold Brecht—for almost 40 years in addition to creating work for other theaters and cultural organizations. The tome gathers together 400 of Drescher's poster designs and includes a series of essays about his life and work.

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Heard At The Battery Show

Design News - Thu, 2019-09-12 10:05

More than 700 companies take part in The Battery Show in Novi, Michigan. (Image source: Design News)

With more than 9,000 attendees and 700 manufacturers, The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2019, in Novi, Michigan has become one of the premiere venues for engineers, technologists, and industry leaders. As befitting its proximity to Detroit, the show has become the place to learn of new trends and directions, particularly in the electrification of transportation.

Breaking News

During the Leaders Roundtable on solid-state battery technology, Brian Sisk, vice-president of battery cell development at A123 Systems announced that the company would be building a prototype manufacturing facility at its Romulus, Michigan battery plant. The facility was originally expected to be closed and sold, however the company has now decided to use it to jump-start its solid-state battery efforts. A123 is working with Massachusetts-based Ionic Materials, whose polymer-based solid electrolyte will be used with graphite anodes and metal oxide cathodes. Sisk told Design News that the solid-state batteries can be built on commonly-used battery manufacturing equipment and that prototypes will be available for OEM testing before then end of the year.

What People Said

“The Jaguar I-PACE seems to be a step behind (the Tesla Model 3)”

            Corey Steuben, account director, Munro & Associates

“Biggest miss? Why do we have three standards for charging?”

            Christopher Michelbacher, EV charging & infrastructure manager, Audi of America

“All of you are irrelevant! The market is going to decide whether EVs are going to be successful!”

            Ken Stewart, CEO Bright Road

“Different people have different thresholds for inconvenience.”

          Bob Taenaka, senior technical leader in Electrified Vehicle Battery Cells and Systems, Ford Motor Company

“I have people tell me that they have never heard of wireless charging. Wireless gives you a more elegant solution.”

            Michael Masquelier, CEO at WAVE, Inc.

“Technologies don’t go away—the incumbent factor is huge!”

            Michael Sanders, senior advisor, Avicenne Energy

“There is a need for sustainable battery solutions based on Earth-abundant materials”

            Mark Verbrugge, director, Chemical and Materials Systems Laboratory, General Motors

“If you take these high power packs and put them in stationary applications, you can use them to power wireless chargers.”

           Greg Fritz, EV business unit manager, ACTIA

 “Our chairman has said that we will have solid-state battery powered vehicles at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”

Timothy Arthur, principal scientist, Materials Research Department, Toyota Research Institute of North America

“Electric Vehicles can be an asset to the (power) grid”

            Maureen Marshall, regional director, CALSTART

“EVs have gone from being “hip” and essentially a science project to being an essential core business.”

            Ken Stewart, CEO Bright Road

“Retail customers may only use fast charging on longer trips—they might want a larger battery (then) so that they have to make less stops.”

            Bob Taenaka, senior technical leader in Electrified Vehicle Battery Cells and Systems, Ford Motor Company

“There will be a lot of consolidation—but the large guys are going to win. The large guys aren’t going to let small guys take away their lunch!”

            Michael Sanders, senior advisor, Avicenne Energy 

“Batteries are like bacon—they are good in anything!”

           Eli Paster, CEO, PolyJoule, Inc.         

Here’s A New Concept

Dave Rich, whose job includes 12V - 48V Vehicle Electrification and Tech Development at General Motors, presented a paper titled “Dynamically Adjustable, Dual Voltage Batteries Without a DC/DC for Future Electrification.” GM has developed a way to provide both 12 volts and 48 volts from a single system. Called MODACS (Multiple Output Dynamically Adjustable Capacity System), the invention eliminates the need for a separate 12 volts battery in vehicles with 48-volt hybrid systems.

The system can provide any number of 12 volt and 48 volt sources, which mean that as a vehicle platform evolves and adds new functionality, the same MODACS can provide the required power outputs. It can also charge on 48 volts and discharge on 12 volts at the same time.

Rich also highlighted the potential to bring capacitors into the system—called Capacitor Assisted Battery (CAB). He told us that “In 12 volts, power is king, while in 48 volts energy is more important.” By adding the CAB, the best of both worlds is a possibility. Rich also noted that the system is robust. “An old CAB is actually stronger than a new LFP (lithium ion) battery,” he said.

Rich told Design News that General Motors has already filed more than 20 patents on MODACS, and expects many more to be filed in the coming year. He also told us that the concept isn’t limited to 48 volts and could be used with higher voltage systems.

Long term, the concept could be huge, as it removes the inefficiencies that come from DC to DC conversions and allows power and energy to be applied where and when it is needed.

The dates for The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2020, in Novi, Michigan will be September 15-17, 2020.

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


4 Reasons Why Someone Would Hack Your Car

Design News - Thu, 2019-09-12 05:00
Hackers could hijack cars to jam traffic, but the real motive for car hacking is proft.
Image source: (Rgoogin at the English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

If hackers are going to break into our cars they'll most likely be motivated by profit over anything else.

Autonomous vehicles haven't even hit public roads in any kind of widespread deployment yet, but Hollywood is already painting frightening scenarios on the potential of car hacking. The 2019 remake of Child's Play features a scene in which a woman is held prisoner in a self-driving car run amok. Most notorious is a scene from The Fate of the Furious in which hackers remotely control autonomous vehicles to wreak havoc on city streets – even making cars rain down from multilevel parking structures.

While these situations may seem outlandish, they're not terribly far from reality. Hackers have demonstrated for years now that it is possible to remotely access vehicles' braking and other crucial systems. A recent study by Georgia Tech's School of Physics found that if hackers were able to hack only 20 percent of the vehicles in Manhattan they could grind New York City to a halt. Such a hack would not only freeze commuter traffic, but also prevent important services and emergency vehicles from getting around the city.

But is creating chaos the only value proposition for car hackers? Asaf Ashkenazi, Chief Strategy Officer at Verimatrix, a provider of security solutions to the automotive industry, believes we should be worried less about terrorist-level attacks and more about the ways hackers will attempt to turn a profit by hacking cars.

“It's very sexy to talk about these terror attacks, I think. But if you put aside the terror – big states that are launching acts of war. You have to look at what is the practicality of that,” Ashkenazi told Design News following a talk at the 2019 Drive Conference & Expo.

Here are four major reasons hackers might want to break into your car in the very near future:


1.) Credit Card and Bank Fraud

As vehicles become increasingly connected to infrastructure for things such as automated toll booth payments, it will create more points of entry for hackers looking to steal personal data such as credit card or banking information. “Hackers are looking to make the maximum profit for the minimum effort,” Ashkenazi said. “Cars are going to have to implement a lot of payment systems because you will be able to pay via your car when you go to toll roads and parking lots.”

2.) Stalking

Fraud can be a big way for hackers to make money. But Ashkenazi also noted there's a healthy black market for other forms of stolen information as well. Hacked vehicles could provide avenues for stalkers or other malicious parties to track potential victims.

“All the cars will have GPS. So if I have the ability to track any car I can start a service where anyone that wants to track somebody can. I'd just need a VIN number,” Ashkenazi said. “Let's say that I have access to half of the cars in the U.S. You just log into my service, pay me monthly, and I give you access to track whatever car you want. It's a great business.”

3.) Helping Car Thieves

Thanks to key fobs and other security technologies, cars are becoming increasingly more difficult to steal the old fashioned way. But hackers could bridge the gap and give thieves an easy way to steal modern vehicles. “Let's say that I'm a hacker and I have access to your digital key,” Ashkenazi said. “If a car thief wants to steal your car they could connect to a service I offer, give me the VIN number of the car, and I could open it remotely.”

4.) Ransom

Even if a hacker were able to create a widespread disruption or attack using vehicles, it wouldn't be the best way to turn a profit, Ashkenazi said. The moneymaking proposition here is to use the exploits to extort companies.

“If I have the capability to stop the car and do all sorts of damage then as hacker I probably won't use it because the entire world would be after me – FBI and Interpol and the like,” he said. ”But I can demonstrate it to a car manufacturer and say, 'If you don't pay me this amount of money I'll leak it out. The real danger in this situation is the hacker makes the money and the public will never hear about it.”

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

The Top 5 Causes for Project Fatigue

Design News - Thu, 2019-09-12 04:30

Project fatigue can have a crippling effect on the project development cycle. A project starts and the development team is energized and dive in with positive fervor, but before long, the project stalls and seems to be going nowhere fast. There are dozens of potential causes for project fatigue, but in my experience, there are five main causes that result in project fatigue for developers. Let’s examine these causes.

A messy desk may, be an early indicator of project fatigue. Or maybe it’s just the sign of a creative engineer. (Image source: alleghenydesign.com)

Cause #1 – Projects that have complex and never-ending debugging cycles

One of the leading causes for project fatigue are projects that turn out to have complex and never-ending debugging cycles. There is nothing like working on a project where every line of code seems to generate a bug that a developer has to fight through. Debugging takes a mental toll on developers and as more and more time is spent debugging, developers lose their motivation and ability to quickly solve problems.

In many cases, the cause for never-ending debugging cycles are inherited monolithic code bases that have been poorly designed, but they can also be caused by development teams that are trying to move too fast and are not following best practices and development processes.

Cause #2 – Projects that are stop and go

It can be extremely difficult to make progress on a project when it starts for a while, is stopped, then some time later is started for a while only to then be stopped again. Not only does this require a fair amount of time to get the project moving again once it starts by reviewing where things were, it can result in project fatigue. Developers usually jump into a project motivated to get it done quickly, but when things move into a start/stop/start cycle, they start to wonder if it’s a real project and if the stakeholders are actually serious. These projects when they start are usually needed yesterday so when they stop and start, developers are less motivated to believe the urgency for the project.

Cause #3 – Projects that are more technically difficult than originally thought

Engineers are great at rising to the challenge and solving problems, but if a development cycle continuously proves to be too technically difficult or more difficult than originally thought, the engineers can become stressed out or like many of these other causes, they lose motivation. Teams can avoid getting stuck in a technically difficult project by properly managing their development teams skills and making sure that they budget for yearly training, continuing education and even third-party assistance.

Cause #4 – Projects that go past their deadlines

There are few project events that take the wind out of the sails of a development team as much as missing a deadline. As a deadline approaches, developers take on a heroic effort to do everything they can to meet the deadline, pushing themselves to the limits. When the deadline passes, it’s a giant letdown and it’s easy for developers to lose their motivation. The obvious result is that the deadline slips further, and costs start to balloon.

Unfortunately, this cause is potentially the most dangerous to a team. Developers often start behind the eight ball as management or overly optimistic developers put together an unrealistic schedule. The best way to manage this is to use a metric driven scheduling paradigm that uses past historical data to estimate schedule and effort.

Cause #5 – Projects that require consistent weekly over-time

It’s been shown in many different studies that working too many hours and over-time several weeks in a row result in decreased development efficiency. As the over-time becomes chronic, the project itself starts to fatigue as developers become less motivated and able to keep up the high-level of performance that is needed to push such projects out the door. The result is not only wearing out the developers, but additional costs to the project, project delays and a product that is delivered much later than expected despite the heroics provided by the development team.


There are plenty of reasons that projects become fatigued and start to falter. The trick is to be aware of the causes and to carefully watch for team behaviors that could result in project fatigue. When the signs of project fatigue start to show in a team, managers can take action to curb the fatigue or take preemptive steps to make sure that the project does not become fatigued in the first place. As you have undoubtedly realized, project fatigue is really about managing the mindset of the developer and ensuring that they are well rested, mentally sharp and motivated to work at their peak abilities.


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.

Nanotube Fibers Used to Heal Damaged Human Hearts

Design News - Thu, 2019-09-12 04:00

An irregular heartbeat—or cardiac arrhythmia—is one of the leading causes of sudden death. Now researchers have found a way to repair damaged hearts and restore normal electrical function using carbon nanotubes to make conductive connections in damaged tissue.

Researchers at Texas Heart Institute and Rice University have demonstrated that flexible, conductive fibers made of carbon nanotubes can bridge damaged tissue to deliver electrical signals and keep hearts beating despite congestive heart failure or dilated cardiomyopathy or after a heart attack. (Image source: Texas Heart Institute)

Scientists at Texas Heart Institute (THI) have shown that they can sew thin, flexible fibers made of carbon nanotubes into damaged heart tissue to restore electrical function, they said. The fibers can be used as electrical bridges to restore conductivity when it’s been lost, said Dr. Mehdi Razavi, a cardiologist and director of electrophysiology clinical research and innovations at THI.

“Instead of shocking and defibrillating, we are actually correcting diseased conduction of the largest major pumping chamber of the heart by creating a bridge to bypass and conduct over a scarred area of a damaged heart,” Razavi explained in a press statement. He and Rice chemical and biomolecular engineer Matteo Pasquali led the research team together.

Razavi noted that there is currently no technology to treat ventricular arrhythmias, which are caused by the disorganized firing of impulses from the heart’s lower chambers and typically occur when a heart has been damaged.

“They are challenging to treat in patients after a heart attack or with scarred heart tissue due to such other conditions as congestive heart failure or dilated cardiomyopathy,” he said in the press statement.


Technology Breakthrough

Six years ago, Pasquali’s lab first developed conductive fibers about a quarter of the width of a human hair from carbon nanotubes—tens of millions of microscopic-sized ones, to be exact.

The current research demonstrated for the first time that the nontoxic, polymer-coated fibers could serve as electrodes and could restore electrical function to the hearts of rodents and other models in lab tests in several instances when initial conduction no longer worked—whether it was slowed, severed, or blocked, researchers said.

When the fibers were taken away, conduction in rodents disappeared, tests found. Moreover, the fibers could successfully perform this function with or without a pacemaker, they found.

This isn’t the only medical use of the fibers that researchers are eyeing, they said. Scientists also are studying their use to act as electrical interfaces with the brain, or for use in cochlear implants.

Researchers published a paper on their work in the journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

Though the technology proved successful in the lab, several challenges and improvements remain before it can be used in humans, researchers acknowledged. The team must devise a minimally invasive catheter to sew the fibers in place as well as ensure the fibers themselves are strong and flexible enough to support a beating hear over the long term, they said.

“Flexibility is important because the heart is continuously pulsating and moving, so anything that’s attached to the heart’s surface is going to be deformed and flexed,” Pasquali said in a press statement.

Researchers also must determine more specifics about fiber characteristics, such as how long and wide they should be, how much electricity they need to carry, and if and how well they can perform in the hearts of younger patients that are still growing, they said.

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



BioLite Launches a Range of Emergency Kits 

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-09-11 21:04

Core77 readers are no strangers to BioLite, the company who's mission of bringing "Energy Everywhere" has resulted in a variety of products from outdoor stoves to off-grid energy solutions. Their R&D team has been using a process of parallel innovation to develop technologies for both the outdoor camp market and emerging markets in the developing world, but with climate change and natural disasters on the rise, the team realized they were missing a key part of the market: emergency preparedness. In honor of National Preparedness Month this September, BioLite has just launched a series of emergency bundles for families and homes of different sizes.

The need for emergency kits first occurred to them when Biolite's offices lost power during Hurrican Sandy in 2012. "We set up charging stations around New York with our camp stoves," BioLite's VP of marketing, Erica Rosen told Fast Company. "We would boil water so people could have a cup of tea and charge their phones using our solar chargers. It was a little moment of humanity, but it was also this moment when we said, 'Holy shit, we've been thinking about off-grid energy for outdoor recreation: We're totally missing the ball on emergency readiness.'"

The new bundles are designed to meet the needs of anyone during a power outage and include a Solo Kit (designed for 1-2 people), an Apartment Kit (for 2-4 people), and a larger Family Kit. Each bundle contains solar-powered lights, chargers, headlamps, and water filtration straws. Check out more details below:

The kits will only be available for sale during the month of September.

Design Job: Build Up Your Experience as a Junior Production Designer at MASHstudios

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-09-11 21:04

The Job: The Junior Designer will work amongst Studio teams to assist in developing production data under the direct supervision of the Production Design Studio Lead. The Jr Designer will be playing a supporting role for production designers and will be required to produce deliverables for multiple

View the full design job here

The American Prison Uniform: A Snapshot

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-09-11 21:04

Special thanks to the New York Public Library Picture Collection for its generous supply of visual references

In the late eighteenth century, when American colonists established detainment centers for criminals, they borrowed what they knew from Europe. Jails were disorderly, unsanitary, and lenient regarding regimen. People with means could purchase their way out of the discomforts of incarceration, buying or bartering for – among other comforts – clothing.

An illustration from 1860, depicting incoming prisoners' transitions from their street clothes to the striped uniform.

An act put into place in 1790, which was part of a so-thought progressive new system of penology proposed by a Philadelphia-based consortium of prison reformers, instituted a consistent manner of dress for incarcerated individuals. Introducing clothing manufacturing as a new system of labor within the prisons and jails themselves, the actual clothing that was being produced and worn now mimicked the general, modest style of the times: plain gowns for women, two-piece outfits of linen in the summertime for men, and of wool in the winter, with access to jackets and coats (source).

Incarcerated men in an Arkansas penitentiary working in the laundry facility. From Few Comforts or Surprises by Eugene Richards (1973).

Instituted in Philadelphia, the benevolence of this act didn't quite translate to other prisons in the U.S. at the time. In New York, for example, the introduction of a more consistent prison outfit shifted from a focus on normality, to a focus on explicit differentiation. In the later 1790s and through the early 1800s, uniforms were introduced to loudly call out the convicted nature of the incarcerated: they were colorful or other otherwise categorically differentiating, and were deliberately humiliating.

A group of incarcerated men photographed in 1895 in Utah. From Hoaxes, Humbugs and Spectacles by Mark Sloan (1990)

This uniform trajectory evolved into, by 1815, the black and white striped suits that are calcified into the history of incarceration in the U.S. by their widespread referencing (and, at times, their parodying) in visual media. In other words, we know these uniforms. We can picture them. We can picture, hypothetically, who's in them, what they're doing, and maybe even what they "did." Conspicuous enough to discourage escape attempts, the boldly, starkly striated uniform clearly and humiliatingly distinguished incarcerated persons – and, as clothing historian Juliet Ash identifies, took advantage of an inexpensive pattern that "symbolically represented prison bars", in essence rendering incarcerated citizens doubly caged.

A still from directors Joel and Ethan Coen's fiction film O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

A pair of incarcerated citizens waiting for their respective visitors at New York State's Sing Sing Prison, photographed in 1904.

Although the black and white stripes were abandoned in most facilities across the U.S. throughout the early to mid-1900s, with federal acknowledgement of their dishonorable associability with nominally outdated chain gang labor, the evolution of the uniform's design has since clung to the ideal of dishonoring its wearer.

In early February 2019, when temperatures in New York City were falling below freezing daily, the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn was reported as suffering from a power outage, leaving its detainees without heat. Rachel Bass, a Brooklyn paralegal who was communicating with some of the jail's incarcerated citizens at the time, shared with the New York Times that, among other harmful disallowances, they didn't even "have access to the commissary to buy an extra sweatshirt."

Rewind more than twenty years to the mid-1990s, when former Arizona county sheriff Joe Arpaio notoriously instituted pink underwear for incarcerated citizens of Tent City jail in Maricopa County (which is now closed). A long time coming, in 2012 a federal court ruled that "'the dress-out in pink appears to be punishment without legal justification,'" noting that "it's fair to infer that the selection of pink as the underwear color was meant to symbolize the loss of prisoners' masculinity."

Former sheriff Joe Arpaio with a pair of the pink underwear he notoriously introduced to the men's uniform at Tent City Jail, in Arizona. (source)

Although it's likely problematic to entwine legality with the maintenance of masculinity, not to mention to tether masculinity to a particular color, the importance of the ruling was the legislative positioning on the side of the detainees, in support of their psychological and physical comfort. The press attention and public outcry in response to the Metropolitan Detention Center's lack of heat functions in the same way, positioning parties in alliance with incarcerated communities and their comfort (or discomfort) through the uniform's clothing.

A mix-match of styles and garments worn by this group of men, photographed in 1983 at San Bruno Jail in California, exemplifies the drastic variety, between penal facilities, of access to uniform materials. This jail offers more lenience, allowing denim, cotton, and other more traditional materials and pieces of clothing to be introduced to the State-given uniform. From Black in America, Eli Reed (1997).

Even from this brief snapshot we can recognize that what's offered to incarcerated populations in terms of officially sanctioned clothing differs from facility to facility; but there's in fact an overarching regulatory statement all facilities of incarceration are technically required to adhere to. It's The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, drafted in 1957 and which, since its revision in 2015, is known simply as the Nelson Mandela Rules. Its rule number 19, under the heading of "Clothing and Bedding," states:

(1) Every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him in good health. Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating.

An anonymous photograph of a man in his striped prison uniform, captured in the early 1900s. From Prairie Fires and Paper Moons, published by David R. Godine (1981).

Institutions, in fact, often echo this regulation in their incoming detainee handbooks, stating that it is an "inmate right and responsibility" to have "proper bedding and clothing." Expectedly, however, many if not most facilities inarguably fall short on delivering this cited human right.

Perhaps this is an economic decision: it's cheaper to buy cheaply, to buy without the take-a-step-back criticality that allows empathy to slip into our systems and product design processes.

Perhaps this is an ideological decision: like back in the day, the collective, institutional "we" still thinks that prisoners deserve to be othered and humiliated (clearly, voting rights, facilities themselves, etcetera signs point to Yes, but entertain the rhetoric with me for a moment!).

Perhaps this is a decision of pure negligence; an indeliberate decision, so to speak, that's the result of trickle-down bureaucratic myopia.

Whatever the reason for the general, modern bureaucratic position that the contemporary prison uniform need not be all-encompassing comfortable – nor even safe, necessarily – we, as citizens and as designers or design thinkers, have the responsibility of consciousness.

A spread from the Bob Barker, Incorporated 2019 catalog – an ordering service and the nation's largest supplier of detention materials, ranging from security and disciplinary equipment to food and games to uniforms. The catalogs supply to correctional facility bureaucrats and superintendents directly, versus the incarcerated individuals themselves.

Photographed here in 1963, the final group of inmates was chaperoned off Alcatraz Island as its infamous prison shut down. They are pictured here in plain, two-piece outfits, a style denoting the move away from the striped uniform. From Inside the Walls of Alcatraz, Frank Heaney (1927).

Approaches to reforming the penal system, including its uniform, began before the ink on the nation's Declaration of Independence dried. They continue today, more than 200 years later, out of equally as urgent necessity. And so today we have the responsibility of the awareness that this piece of material culture – the design object of the prison uniform – is present and affecting; that it's one of the many products of design that's within the neglectful prison-industrial maelstrom; that it unignorably belongs to the day-to-day experience of being incarcerated, and that it has the power to be navigated from arenas of negligence, to arenas of progress. Progress, in this sense, means the right to corporeal comfort and safety, to retention of identity, and – perhaps paradoxically the most basic and the most difficult to institute – acknowledgement of humanity for those currently or once incarcerated.

Emily R. Pellerin recently graduated with her MA in Design Research, Writing and Criticism from SVA. Her thesis, Style on the Inside: Understanding power dynamics in the carceral environment through its clothing, focused on the prison uniform and its relation to identity and power.

"Why Would Anyone Pay $80,000 for a Pickup Truck?" GMC Design Research Explains

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-09-11 21:04

Having owned both a 2001 VW Golf and a 2019 VW Golf, I'll say the experience of driving basic-transportation cars has not changed much in eighteen years. Aside from the nav system and some minor refinements, my current car feels much the same as my 2001 did.

Trucks, however, have changed a shit-ton in the same time period. They've become more capable, more comfortable, easier to drive, safer, and have been lavished with the design attention a highly profitable object deserves. When I reviewed the full-size GMC Sierra last winter, I found it a tough vehicle with sophisticated features, and it was perfect for doing work around our farm. It does things that a car can't, and that a truck from even ten years ago couldn't.

Dodge, Ford and GM have been competing ferociously for their respective shares of the massive full-size truck market (2.4 million sold in 2018), and in this market, design is a big differentiator. As one example, look at the innovations in tailgate designs across the different manufacturers. The modern-day truck owner wants to maximize the utility of their purchase, and the designers are listening.

Honda's two-way tailgate (admittedly not a full-size pickup, but an innovative tailgate nonetheless)

Ford's tailgate step

Dodge's two-way split tailgate

GMC's MultiPro tailgate with step and loading stops

And just as the desirability of trucks has grown among consumers, so too have transportation designers' desires to work on them. "I've been here almost 28 years," says Carl Zipfel, GM's truck studios Design Manager, Exterior Design, "and when I was hired, most car designers coming out of college wanted to work on a show car, or something like a Corvette. Back then, if you got put in the truck studio, it was almost seen as a punishment," he laughs. "It wasn't as glamorous, right? Designing this utilitarian tool, while the Corvette gets all of the attention.

"But now," he says, "the truck studio is the biggest, busiest studio in the building."

So what are all of those designers working on, what problems are they solving? As with the design of most things, the first thing that needs to be done is research: What problems do the end users need solved?

The Research: Needs and Wants

"Feedback is super important," Zipfel says. "The architecture of the new Heavy Duty Sierra, for instance, is larger and completely different than the architecture of the Light Duty; this is the first time we've done that, and it was completely driven by heavy duty truck customer feedback."

2020 Sierra AT4, Light Duty at left, Heavy Duty at right.

I ask how that feedback is gathered and transmitted to the designers. "In all of the design programs in our building, whether it's car or truck, we go through a process, and it starts with the customer," Zipfel explains. "If it's an all-new vehicle, where we're designing it from the ground up, we meet with customers--owners of our vehicles or competitors' vehicles--at these events that we call clinics."

What goes on at the clinics? "In the beginning, basic questions, and things like putting them into seating bucks to ask 'Is this enough legroom in the rear seats, do you want more?' For the exterior design, we show them a lot of stimuli, our different trim levels, for instance. Part of the challenge is that there's not just one formula for us; we have a lot of different trim levels, so we're taking input from folks who have different tastes."

Zipfel explains that this all-important customer interaction is a multi-step process. "We hold these clinics three times during the design process. The first one is held early on, then we have one in the middle, then a final one that we call 'Confirmation,' by which time the design's pretty much locked up. That final one is to confirm that we've got it all together and got it right."

Design changes, however, can still be made after Confirmation. "As I was doing my design lock on the Heavy Duty, we added a step in front of the rear wheel. That step helps the customer get up to the front of the box, so they can hook up a gooseneck trailer, or slide cargo to the front, or just reach the tiedown hooks from the outside. And that step was added from direct customer influence."

Aside from prompting the designers to develop specific features and tweaks, the clinics also help the designers connect the dots, so to speak, by understanding how the customer's mindset and experiences drive their purchasing decisions. "Especially at the clinics for the Denali brand, we'd try to get to the root of, 'Why are you willing to pay $80,000 for a brand new pickup truck?' A lot of these folks would say 'I love my truck, I spend more time in it than I do my house.' These guys are earning a living in their trucks and they're in them all day.

"Others have said 'Yeah, my truck might be 80 grand--but I'm pulling $250,000 worth of value on the trailer behind it.' When you hear some of these stories, you totally get it right away. They start describing how they're hauling a couple of show horses in a 30-foot-long trailer. They're hauling out of Texas and heading to a high-end equestrian show in Colorado. So they're relying on their truck to safely transport their prize possession, and passion of life, to a place far, far away from home.

"And the truck is also going to be their base camp for the whole time they're there. So we incorporate power outlets, USB ports, all kinds of convenience features that you've come to expect. They need the power to pull a heavy trailer up and down a Colorado mountain pass road, so we've got the DuraMax engine with the diesel set-up and the ten-speed Allison transmission. Hearing those kinds of stories is why we develop all of these features."

Up Next: To check out these features in person, Core77 traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as part of a contingent of primarily automotive journalists. Stay tuned!

Rethinking Chair Comfort

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-09-11 21:04

Years ago, I stumbled into an old storefront in rural Virginia with some friends and encountered one of the thousands of rocking chairs that have been inspired by Sam Maloof. It was a dramatic example of the form with a huge sweeping back and long rockers. But most amazing was the seat itself.

It was a massive chunk of walnut that had been deeply scooped out – perhaps a 2"-deep saddle. And the pommel of the seat was tall – almost 2" high.

One of my friends said, "Do you know how come that's a lady's chair?" The rest of us shrugged.

"Because that seat 'lifts and separates.'"

Underwear jokes aside, the guy was right. Sitting in the chair felt like I was being prepped for a medical exam that few people enjoy. The seat looked gorgeous, but you don't sit on a seat with your eyeballs. So, you have to think hard about the human rump (and other body parts) when designing a chair.

Chair design is a topic that can fill an entire book. We don't have the space for that here, so I'm going to write about how I design the all-wood chairs that I build. Some of my guidelines are at odds with modern rules for chairs, but that's because my chairs aren't entirely modern. I take many cues from ancient chairs.

The seat of a Sam Maloof chair. The saddling is deep, but Maloof left some room for the legs to move. People who copy his work tend to make the saddling deep and without much room to move. Ouch.

Start with the Saddle

One of the most important principles in chair comfort is that "sitting" and "sitting still" are not the same thing. And we rarely sit still.

"One of the major difficulties in the design of seating is that sitting is…viewed as a static activity while, in actuality, it is a rather dynamic one."

— "Human Dimension & Interior Space," by Julius Panero and Martin Zelnik.

This is the problem with deeply saddled seats. We sit in them and they feel amazing at first – they support and cradle the bottom in a pleasant way. The only problem is that we can't often sit still. Here's why. In a typical chair, the sitter's weight is confined to about four square inches of buttocks. The pressure on that small area requires us to shift our weight, even just a little, to remain comfortable.

But a deeply saddled seat doesn't allow us to move much, if at all. So, these sorts of seats become agonizing in short order.

I have yet to see an ancient chair that is sculpted as dramatically as our modern Jell-O moulds with legs. I'm sure they are out there, but they've never been the dominant form. Instead, many old chairs had shallow saddling (maybe 1/4" to 1/2") or even no saddle whatsoever. A shallow saddle gives you some curve but also allows you to reposition yourself with ease. (Oh, and they are easier to make.)

I also suspect that many all-wood chairs would be draped with an animal skin or a small cushion. I've put sheepskins on all my chairs and can attest that even the minor cushioning they provide makes a world of difference in the department of butt comfort. (You'll see this cushion concept again when I sneak it into a discussion of seat height.)

For some reason, some modern chairmakers are masochists and seek to make a chair as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy recliner via the magic of curvy valleys. This strict attitude reminds me of people who insist that a single scrap of sandpaper in a shop is an abomination. Lighten up, Francis, and go fetch a cushion.

Seat Height

How far is the front of the chair from the floor? The typical modern chair height is 18" – that's almost inviolate. Sorry to say, I think that is too high to be a general rule.

Tall seats are punishing for shorter sitters. If their feet cannot rest flat on the floor, the front edge of the seat will constrict blood flow in the thighs and produce agony.

Slightly shorter seats, however, are just fine for tall sitters. Their feet can still sit on the floor and their thighs hover above the seat – allowing blood flow. The only downside to a tall person sitting in a shorter chair is the short chair is a little more difficult to dismount.

(Side note: This is true for a table's height as well. Standard table height is 30". A high table is a pain for a shorter people. But a slightly shorter table [29" or even 28"] is no problem for a tall sitter.)

So, if 18" is too high as an overall rule, what should the height be? The answer is not cut and dried with a custom chair. Here are the questions I ask to calculate the seat height:

1. What is the sitter's "popliteal height?" Some people call this "stool height." It's the distance from the bottom of the foot to the bottom of the thigh of a seated person. It ranges from 14" to 19-3/8" in the general population.

2. What sort of footwear will the sitter use? Work boots, 3"-high heels and moccasins all can change the equation.

3. What is the chair to be used for? If it's for dining or keyboarding, it should be a little higher so it is easy to mount and dismount. If it is for relaxing, it should be lower. How low? Seats can be as low as 12"-13" for lounging. Low seats allow you to stretch your legs – a luxury. Low chairs are harder to get out of – but that's the point.

4. Will there be a cushion or other seat cover? Cushions can add 2" or more to the seat height, so you should subtract that when making the chair's frame.

You might be wondering how to determine the seat height for the general populace instead of for a particular person. When I need to do that, I typically use 16-3/4" or 17" for a dining/working chair. And 15" to 16" for a lounging chair. These are on the low side, but they aren't radically low. Tall people will hardly notice. Short people definitely will, and they'll be grateful.

The seat of this Welsh chair is less than 13" deep. Yet it sits just as well as a chair with a 16"-deep seat. That was a revelation for me.

Seat Depth

A typical seat depth for one of my chairs is 16". Once you get deeper than 17", you risk cutting off the sitter's blood flow behind the knees. Surprisingly, shallow seats work well. I have made seats as shallow as 12" and they sit just fine (unless you have an epic backside or the seat is too high. Having both is a disastrous combination). A shallow and low seat also prevents the blood in your thighs from being constricted.

In general, I don't mess with the seat depth too much. If it's between 14" and 16" I know it will work in most cases. This slight flexibility allows me to build using narrower boards. If I have to glue up my seat from two 7"-wide boards, I'll do that and call the 14"-deep seat done. I won't glue on an additional 2"-wide strip of wood to get to the magic 16" depth.

We're not done with the seat quite yet. But to understand the last bit of seat data, we need to first understand the chair's armrest (sometimes called the "armbow").

Armrest Height

Biometric data suggests the top of the armrest should be about 7" to 10" from the seat, depending on the sitter. I usually shoot for 8" to 9" (or less). People have asked for 10" – this height makes some people shrug their shoulders, and you can feel it in the neck after a while. My rule of thumb is 8" for shorter people and 9" for taller ones.

Backrest & Seat Tilt

The small of the back – sometimes called the "lumbar" region – is where I do a lot of work to make a chair comfortable. If you build a chair that supports the lumbar spine, you will make friends – as well as chairs. The lumbar is about 7" to 9" above the seat. This is why I keep my armbows at 8" as much as I can and add a "doubler" above it (and sometimes below it) to increase the thickness of the armbow so I can support the lumbar.

Chairs that lack lumbar support are fatiguing to me. I squirm to push my lower back against the chair's back, but my shoulders and buttocks prevent it. I guess this is why we have low pillows. Nothing wrong with a pillow.

One of the oft-overlooked aspects of chair design – the seat's tilt – can help the lumbar region get to its destination, which is the armbow in my chairs or a lower slat in ladderback chairs.

Most chairs tilt a little toward the back. A seat that is flat to the floor can feel like you are being thrust forward and out of the seat. Adding some additional tilt can encourage the sitter to slide backward and put their lumbar directly on the armbow.

But how much tilt? I like Welsh chairmaker John Brown's method of using his fingers and a spirit level. Put a level on the seat's pommel so it runs from the front to the back of the chair. Raise the spirit level at the rear of the seat until it indicates it is level. If you can get one finger (plus a little more) under the level at the back, that's a chair that's for dining or other proper things – keyboarding etc. Two fingers and you have a chair that is good for lounging. Three fingers – alcohol consumption. Use that information to cut the legs down to get the tilt you want.

Here is the Irish Gibson chair I finished up in May. The back is angled at 25°. Surprisingly, it sits like a fairly normal side chair.

Back Angle

For me this is where the rules get blurry and surprisingly flexible. Most modern chairs have the chair's back tilted back about 5° to 7° or so. That's fine. But adding a couple degrees can also encourage the body to touch the chair's armbow and doubler.

So, I tend to tilt the back about 9° backward, but I will tilt it a little more at times. And I will continue to play with different angles as I think there are some discoveries to be made. Earlier this year I built a copy of an Irish chair that had its back tilted at 25°. That's about three times as much as normal. As I built the chair I imagined that sitting it would be like visiting the dentist. I was wrong.

It wasn't as different as expected. This chair – called a Gibson, hedge or famine chair – was historically used as a kitchen table chair. Even though it looked more like a chair for sunbathing. Your eyes and expectations can deceive you. So don't believe them, this book or your vicar. Work it out yourself.

The high headrest on this chair is comfortable but looks disproportionate to the chair's other elements.

Lowering the back by a few inches greatly improves the look of the chair without sacrificing comfort.

Headrest Height

How high should the crest (aka headrest or comb) be? That depends. For customers who want to be able to pass out in their chairs I want to have a high comb to cradle the head during unconsciousness (after reading a good novel, of course). So, I measure to the base of their skull. I think these chairs look too tall, but some customers like the anthropomorphic appearance of these chairs.

What I prefer in a chair is to have a crest that supports the shoulder blades without the crest digging into them. This is about 22" above the seat.

But this location can be tricky depending on how beefy the sitter is. Broad-shouldered sitters can feel the ends of a significantly curved crest rail push into their shoulders. Thinner sitters of the same height cannot.

The easy way out is to simply raise the crest rail a couple inches, however this dramatically affects the way the chair looks. I prefer a compact chair. Another way out is to make the crest rail so it doesn't have as pronounced a curve. My crest rail typically has a 10" radius. That's tight, but it keeps me from over-bending my chairs' spindles. The crest can be curved less, such as a 14" or 16" radius (which is OK). Or it can be flat (which fixes one problem but causes another by reducing support for the curve of the shoulder blades).

Here's the good news on the crest rail: You can do it at the end of the construction process and experiment with different crest rails – different curves and stick spacing. Dry-fit a prototype crest rail and see how it feels to your back. Make some changes and see how they feel.

When all else fails with your chair's design, add a sheepskin. Or pillow.

Nuclear Sheep

When I talk about chair comfort with other chairmakers, it's inevitable that someone will say: Ah heck, just put a cushion on it and call it done.

Me, I like sheepskins – a traditional Welsh chair covering. They don't add much bulk to the seat, and they won't make the seat too high. But they do add some cushioning and warmth. (And they give me an excuse to go to IKEA without a disguise.)

So do your best to make your chairs comfortable. But know that it's never a bad idea to become a man (or a woman) of the cloth.

Christopher Schwarz is the editor at Lost Art Press and one of the founders of Crucible Tool. He works from a restored 1896 German barroom in Covington, Ky. You can see his furniture at christophermschwarz.com.

Siemens PLM Becomes Siemens Digital Industries Software

Design News - Wed, 2019-09-11 05:00

At the Siemens Media and Analyst Conference last week, Siemens PLM executives announced Xcelerator – a collection of software, services, and application development tools that can be personalized and adapted for industry-specific needs. The goal is to help companies become digital enterprises. Xcelerator combines Siemens’ software for design, engineering, and manufacturing with an expanded Mendix low-code application development platform.

Siemens Xcelator is a protfolio of softare plartforms that bring together a number of Siemens brands. Many are now merged with the Mendix low-code application generator.

As part of this broadening of industrial software, Siemens PLM Software has changed its name to Siemens Digital Industries Software. The move came from the realization that PLM is just not sufficient to describe the wide range of software tools Siemens now offers.

As well as blending the recently acquired Mendix tools into Siemens PLM software, the Mendix platform has also been expanded. It now includes cloud and application services for digital engineering powered by MindSphere, the company’s cloud-based, open IoT operating system. Since Mendix uses low-code configuration instead of requiring original programming, the platform is designed to help companies go digital by using citizen developers and engineers rather than programmers.

The Ease of Low-Code Development

The standout feature of Mendix – which Siemens acquired last year – is the platform’s low-code development system. Applications can be developed Lego-like rather than requiring substantial original programming. “Everybody is moving in the direction of low code. It’s going into middleware at the minimum. Low code is the next logical step in software. Just like Java was a layer. Now it’s low code to speed productivity and re-use,” Derek Roos, CEO of Mendix, told Design News. “The other benefit low code is that it is abstractive from the technical details. This opens the opportunity for people who are less technical to participate.”

With the advantage of low code application development, companies can automate a wider range of manufacturing tasks. “This is part of the trend of automating what can be automated. Manufacturers can we use the meta data in our platform – which is model driven – and add machine learning,” said Roos. “How much more can we automate? More than we once thought. It’s a mega trend. Everything we’re automating is becoming easier and faster.”

The Further Integration of Siemens Software

As part of the expansion of Siemens Digital Industries Software, the company is blending the software from a number of Siemens brands. Capital software from Mentor has been embedded into NX software so experts across engineering disciplines can create new products collaboratively. Siemens Opcenter solution has been integrated with Valor software, which expands the digital thread from design to manufacturing. The overall goal is continuous quality improvement.


Siemens also recently integrated multiple automotive validation tools to create the PAVE360, a pre-silicon autonomous validation environment. This open-integration was created to provide rapid innovation and validation of products and operations by creating a more precise digital twin that melds model-based simulations with test data and real performance analytics.

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.

How to Build a Low-Frequency Theremin With the Evive

Design News - Wed, 2019-09-11 04:00

The maker movement has spawned a variety of electronics prototyping platforms like the Arduino, the Raspberry Pi (RPi), micro:bit, and the Circuit Playground Express (CPX). What all of these platforms have in common is their cost effectiveness, high-performance, and that they provide a low barrier to entry to those looking to get into DIY electronics.

But there is another development device that has entered the educational technology and maker product market called the evive. In this Gadget Freak article, the evive we'll be exploring the evive by building a low-frequency theremin.

What is the evive?

The evive is an all-one electronics and robotics prototyping and technology learning platform. (Image source: Agilo Research Pvt, Ltd.)

The evive was created by Agilo Research Pvt, Ltd, an educational technology hardware startup located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat India. The co-founders Dhrupal Shah, Abhishek Sharma, and Pankaj Kumar Verma, are three enthusiastic entrepreneurs and engineers who dreamt of enabling young minds to innovate and create by providing them with world-class technology and learning resources. The evive originated from this vision and provides a wealth of technology resources within a single prototyping platform.

The evive is a palm-sized prototyping platform (115 x 140 x 32mm) used for learning electronics and robotics through constructionism-based projects. The evive weighs 340 grams, including the rechargeable 5VDC lithium-ion battery.

The evive features are inclusive to a traditional electronics and robotics lab and include: an integrated oscilloscope; a function generator and voltmeter for electrical measurement data visualization; an Integrated H-bridge motor driver; two potentiometers; toggle/momentary pushbutton switches; a thin-film transistor (TFT) display; an adjustable 0-+5VDC power supply; and digital-analog converter (DAC).

On top of the evive’s printed circuit board (PCB) is a mini breadboard, dual in line female header connectors for external electronic circuit prototyping and placement of external shields, and external connectors for XBee and Bluetooth communication modules. The core development board that allows these integrated features to work synchronously is an Arduino Mega 2560 (which is based on the ATmega2560 from Microchip Technology). Technology concepts and projects that can be investigated with evive include: the Internet of Things (IoT) the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT/Industry 4.0); robotics; predictive maintenance; automation; and electronic controls. With the integrated solderless breadboard, General Purpose Input-Output (GPIO), and analog-digital converter (ADC) female header connectors, a variety of external embedded platforms can be included for building proof-of-concept prototypes.

A Low-Frequency evive Theremin

Now that we've gotten our introductions out of the way, let's explore building a low-frequency theremin using the evive.

The theremin is an electronic musical instrument that generates sounds from hand gestures based on their proximity to the instrument's two antennas. The theremin’s electronic oscillators direct the frequency or audible sound based on the thereminist’s hands' distance within the two antennas. A typical theremin’s variable frequency oscillator is in the range of 257 – 260 KHz. The output frequency range of the evive theremin is below 20Hz. Therefore, the audible sound varies between single clock pulses to a solid-state buzzer. The low frequency theremin’s device construction is based on a simple hybrid design consisting of the evive, a light sensor, and speaker amplifier.


Device Design (Block Diagram)

The low-frequency theremin is a hybrid design using off-the-shelf electronic components. The design consists of a photocell (light sensor) receiving ambient light levels at pin A12 of the evive -ATmega2560-based microcontroller. The embedded software residing inside of the Arduino microcontroller’s RAM memory will read the varying light level analog values. These analog values will provide varying flashing rates for the LED wired to pin D13 of the microcontroller. The LED flashing audible output sounds will be heard through the littleBits o26 speaker electronic module.

Here's the complete hybrid design of the theremin:

 The low frequency theremin consists of off the shelf electronic components.

Parts List and Device Assembly

The table shown next lists the components for the hand gesture-based control oscillator. Although the table lists specific electronic components for the project, the experienced maker or engineer can use appropriate alternative parts to build the device.



Description- Circuit Reference Designator




Electronic prototyping device



littleBits o26 speaker

Electronic speaker amplifier module

littleBits Electronics


littleBits proto

Electrical terminal block

littleBits Electronics



Light dependent resistor (PC1)

Jameco Electronics


4.7 Kilo-ohm (KΩ) resistor:(yellow, violet, red, gold stripes)

A fixed-pulldown resistor (R1)

Jameco Electronics


220 ohm (Ω) resistor: (red, red, brown, gold stripes)

A fixed-series current limiting resistor (R2)

Jameco Electronics


Light emitting diode (LED) red or alternative color

Audible output visual indicator (LED1)

Jameco Electronics


Electrical jumper wires


Jameco Electronics

The littleBits proto-module: (Image source: littleBits)

The approach behind this design is a physical mashup of different educational technology prototyping and learning platforms. Rapid prototyping using this this mashup method allows makers and engineers to use low- and high-tech development boards and tools to capture specific hardware features.

The design concept challenge of this project is the integration of the evive and the littleBits products to rapidly develop a proof-of-concept audible and visual electronics device. The evive theremin PoC produces low-frequency audible tones based on the physical proximity detection of a hand. The key component to assist in the electrical circuit integration of these different educational technology tools is the use of the littleBits proto module.

Pinout of a typical littleBits bitSnap. 

The littleBits proto-module consist of two three terminal blocks and jumpers mounted on a mini PCB. The mini PCB has two plastic bitSnaps that have metal pins for providing electrical connections to adjacent littleBits electronic modules. The electrical connections include: vcc (+5V power supply), sig (electrical signal), and gnd (electrical ground). To reduce error in building a littleBits gadget or device, small magnets are placed inside and flushed with the bitSnaps front surface.

With the proto-module, electrical integration of the evive to the littleBits speaker can easily be accomplished.

Building the Theremin

1.) Wire the light sensor circuit on the evive prototyping device. The light sensor circuit is wired to the evive using the mini solderless breadboard mounted onto its PCB.

The electrical wiring of the light sensor circuit to the evive.


Here is a closer view of the solderless breadboard showing the details of the light sensor circuit electrical wiring of the individual electronic components.

Closeup view of the light sensor circuit electrical wiring on a solderless breadboard.


2.) Next, the light sensor circuit is wired to the littleBits o26 speaker using the proto board.

The electronic circuit schematic diagram of the light sensor circuit to the littleBit’s 026 theremin.


With the electrical wiring completed, the low frequency theremin should appear as shown:


The completely built low frequency theremin.

3.) All that remains in the completing the project is the inclusion of software.

The software is basically an Arduino sketch coded in C++ language for light level detection and flashing the external LED. In addition, the evive’s (TFT) screen displays the varying analog values. With the theremin code uploaded to the evive’s ATmega 2560 microcontroller, the LEDs (external and evive wired) will begin to flash. Adjusting the volume control on the littleBits’ o26 speaker will allow the audible tones to be heard.

You can click here to download the source code as text file.

As an option, a visual stroboscopic effect can be created by adding the littleBits’ LED bargraph. The littleBits bargraph module is electrically and magnetically attached to the 026speaker module.

The littleBits o9 bargraph can be added to provide a stroboscopic -visual effect for the low frequency theremin device.

Additional technical information on the evive can be found on the STEMpedia website.

[All images courtesy Don Wilcher, unless otherwise noted]

Don Wilcher is a passionate teacher of electronics technology and an electrical engineer with 26 years of industrial experience. He’s worked on industrial robotics systems, automotive electronic modules/systems, and embedded wireless controls for small consumer appliances. He’s also a book author, writing DIY project books on electronics and robotics technologies

Design Job: Open the door to a new career as an Industrial Designer at Assa Abloy in New Haven, CT

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-09-10 19:52

The emphasis of the role is on conceptual development activities including sketching/ideation, 3D modeling, prototyping, documenting the development process, and acting as a liaison between sales, marketing, engineering and suppliers. The position will also expose the individual to the business side of design, so flexibility in work routine, to support multiple projects simultaneously, will be the key to the their success.

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

Motors Are As Important As Batteries In The World Of EVs

Design News - Tue, 2019-09-10 11:55

A standing room only crowd attended Cory Steuben’s presentation on the Jaguar I-PACE and Tesla Model 3 motor configurations. (Image source: Design News)

As electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular, most attention has been focused on the different designs of the lithium ion battery packs that store the electrical energy used to power the vehicle. But there is more to an EV than a big battery and the electric traction motor, or motors, are actually what provide the driving force that turns the wheels.

At  The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo 2019, in Novi, Michigan, Cory Steuben, account director at Munro & Associates presented a talk titled “Tesla Model 3 vs. Jaguar I-PACE Motor Insights.” Munro has dissembled almost 400 of the presently available EVs and the evolution of these electric machines and the variety of different engineering designs has been at least as important as the improvements in EV performance that have come from progress on the lithium ion battery front.

A group of parts that display the motor configuration differences between the Jaguar I-PACE and the Tesla Model 3 (Image source: Design News)

Going For Greater Efficiency

“Some of the initial electric motors we saw, back around 2010, were using ferrite magnets, but we have seen a transition to rare earth magnets in IPM (interior permanent magnet) motors,” Steuben told Design News. “Tesla initially launched their Model S and X with induction motors that did not have the expensive rare earth magnets inside of the rotors themselves. We’ve seen with the Tesla Model 3 transition to using an IPM motor in the rear as well as an induction motor in the front, Steuben said. In general, IPM motors are considered to use electrical energy more efficiently, while induction motors can provide greater performance.

Steuben’s talk at The Battery Show compared and contrasted the motor and drivetrain technology between the Jaguar and Tesla EV models. “What we see Tesla doing, versus some of the other competitors is a high level of integration,” Steuben told us. “Jaguar has an ultra-complicated thermo-electric system, with disassociated modules throughout the car—they have multiple TXVs (thermal expansion valves) throughout the car. Tesla only has two TXVs,” he said. Munro has shown that additional weight and cost can come from having dissociated major power electronic components of an EV, largely because of the extra wiring and hoses that are required. “A high level of integration with Tesla allows them to be more efficient from a weight perspective and more efficient from a cost perspective,” Steuben told us. “The Jaguar I-Pace seems to be a step behind,” Steuben noted in his presentation.

“When it comes to motors, we see many different attempts across many manufacturers—particularly with the geometry of how they put the magnets into their internal permanent magnet motors. When you look at the ideal shape is actually very expensive to manufacture—it would be three or four sets of parabolic magnets. There is no common orientation. With the Jaguar, we see three stacked magnets, all neodymium-ferrite-born magnets which is similar to others in the magnet material. Tesla does a simple single V. We have seen six or seven variations in various forms.”



“When it comes to paradigm shifts, Tesla pushed all serviceable fuses out of their vehicle and they pushed out the traditional park pawl—the electrically activated park pawl we have seen on every hybrid and EV on the market,” said Steuben. A park pawl is a metal hook that engages with a toothed gear to hold the vehicle stationary when it is parked—the Tesla eliminated the device and counts on the vehicle brakes when parked. “The cost of the park pawl is $30-55 when you take into account the manufacturing cost of the powder metal pieces, the springs, the returns, the electrically or hydraulically-actuated park pawl mechanism. That doesn’t exist in the Tesla Model 3…”

Steuben notes that the Tesla Model 3 also differs significantly from the Model S and Model X, which were designed for maximum performance. “The Tesla Model 3 brought the drivetrain to a different place where they could make money and it’s much further ahead than most other manufacturers.”

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

What's the State of Emotional AI?

Design News - Tue, 2019-09-10 05:00
(Image source: Gino Crescoli from Pixabay)

Is emotional AI ready to be a key component of our cars and other devices?

Analysts are predicting huge growth for emotional AI in the coming years, albeit with widely differing estimates.

A 2018 study by Market Research Future (MRFR) predicted that the “emotional analytics” market, which includes video, speech, and facial analytics technologies among others, will be worth a whopping $25 billion globally by 2025. Tractica has made a more conservative estimate in its own analysis, but still predicted the “emotion recognition and sentiment analysis” market to reach $3.8 billion by 2025. Researchers at Gartner have predicted that by 2022 10 percent of all personal electronic devices will have emotion AI capabilities, either on the device itself or via cloud-based services. The market will be driven by use cases running the gamut from consumer experience and entertainment to healthcare and automotive.

Yet the technology itself still has strides to make. In a 2019 meta-analysis of 1,000 studies on inferring emotion from human facial expressions, a group of scientists concluded that the relationship between our faces and emotions is more complex that meets the eye. The study was published in the journal, Psychology Science in the Public Interest and reported by The Washington Post.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, who worked on the study said: “About 20 to 30 percent of the time, people make the expected facial expression,” such as smiling when happy… But the rest of the time, they don’t. "They’re not moving their faces in random ways. They’re expressing emotion in ways that are specific to the situation.”

In short, if emotional AI is going to deliver on the lofty expectations placed upon it, it's going to need a very complex understanding of how our faces and voices correspond to our emotions.

In the same article, Rana el Kaliouby, co-founder and CEO of emotional AI company Affectiva, described the emotional AI space as an ever-evolving one. She agreed that emotional AI technology hasn't reached the level of sophistication needed for widespread deployment, but she expressed hope that more research will someday achieve this, and also better educate industries and consumers about the limitations of emotional AI.

Affectiva has emerged as one of the leaders in the emotional AI space. The company has focused primarily on applying its emotional AI to vehicles – imagining a world where cars can respond to the emotions of their drivers and passengers in a variety of ways from adjusting music and temperature to even pulling themselves over and offering emergency roadside assistance.


Just how far does emotional AI have to go? And how are we getting there?

Following his talk at the 2019 Drive World Expo and Conference, Abdelrahman Mahmoud, senior product manager at Affectiva, sat down with Design News to discuss the current state of emotional AI research and what's needed to push the technology forward.

Abdelrahman Mahmoud
(Image source: Affectiva)

Design News: What's your response to the meta-analysis that concluded that there needs to be more research done in the area for emotional AI to really have any efficacy?

Abdelrahman Mahmoud: A lot of that study was focused on the prototypical expression of emotion like joy, anger, and surprise. But fundamentally we believe that the emotion expression is much more than just just those five or six prototypical emotions. That is why as a company we don't just focus on these emotions. We actually focus first on the different facial muscles, like how people express a smile.

DN: Can you talk a bit about what's been happening at your company as far as research into emotional AI lately?

Mahmoud: From a research perspective there's a lot of continuous focus on multi-modal[methods], for recognizing things like frustration. We've done a lot of internal studies and we know that you need a multi-modal approach to try to solve that problem.

Early on we did a lot studies using just the face or just the voice and we've seen that the accuracy jumps dramatically if we use data from both -- which is kind of intuitive, but we just had to validate that. That's the main focus for our multi-modal effort these days – detecting signals like frustration and drowsiness that are important in a car.

DN: Has their been work into study things such as body language or position as well? For example, imagine someone who shows frustration less in their face but more in as tension in their shoulders or hands?

Mahmoud:: There are there are both strong signals on the face and in voice. But for sure adding gestures would be beneficial in some cases. Keep in mind that the automotive ecosystem focuses a lot on optimizing cost, which means you don't have a lot of room for adding a lot of models that can do different things.

DN: Meaning there has to be a balance between what information you want to capture and how many cameras you can place inside the vehicle?

Mahmoud:: For us it's always a matter of choosing the signals that will mostly strongly give an indicator about what's happening in the cabin. It might not be the complete picture but you want to get as close as possible. But we think it's very short term. In the longer term computational power and better compute platforms inside the car are going to change how much we can capture.

DN: Market analysis has been talking a lot about use cases for emotional AI beyond automotive. Affectiva itself even made a deal with Softbank to supply AI to its robots. Do you think automotive is still where the greatest opportunity for emotional AI lies?

Mahmoud:: There are a lot of markets that we can deploy general emotion recognition or emotional AI in. We actually don't see automotive as a very distinct market from things like robotics. And the reason why that's the case is because there is a lot focus going into the HMI [human-machine interface] in the car these days.

Traditionally, OEMS didn't really focus on the HMI and you saw very ugly HMIs in the car that were not really intuitively designed. Recently, there's a lot of focus on how the HMI in the car is going to have to change. With the push towards more autonomy if the HMI in the car is not intuitive the driver is just going to switch to the next intuitive HMI they can interact with, which is their cellphone.

And you see a parallel to that in the cellphone market where there is a lot of focus on the UI because that's the main differentiator in terms of different hardware manufacturers. This is very similar to robotics because a robot's human-machine interface is the thing that would benefit most from having emotion recognition. The cool thing about automotive is that you get to test HMIs at larger scale because the robotics market is still a limited market in terms of deployment.

DN: In your talk at Drive you spoke about how context is a very important aspect in regards to emotion recognition. Can you elaborate on this?

Mahmoud:: There is definitely a lot of research that we've been doing with partners with regards to how to translate different facial muscles to emotions in specific contexts. The thing is the context really matters as far as detecting emotion. With frustration for instance, one of the fundamental facial expressions is a smile, which is counterintuitive, but people do smile when they are frustrated.

Context is why a hybrid and multi-modal approach is important. You can have some of the machine learning detecting things like how people express a smile or how people move their facial muscles, but then there needs to be a layer on top of that that takes into account some of the context in order to understand the difference between frustration or just a smile.

DN: Would you say context recognition is the big missing component of emotional AI right now?

Mahmoud:: I think we're still far off of from a kind of human intuition as far as having an AI being able to just analyze all of these different signals and understand emotion. But this is an active area of research. But for the emotion recognition models you just have to understand the context that you are deploying them in and what they are trained on, which is very similar to any machine learning model you could think of.

*This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

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

Probiotic Hydrogels Designed as Spray-On Bandage for Intestines

Design News - Tue, 2019-09-10 04:00

Hydrogels are finding their way into medical applications due to their softness and the ease with which they can be made bio-compatible.

One latest use for this type of materials comes from Harvard University, where researchers have developed probiotic hydrogels that can be used to help intestinal wounds heal and promote intestinal health.

This SEM image shows a curli nanofiber network that is continuously produced by genetically programmed non-pathogenic commensal E. coli bacteria, and binds to mucus proteins on the surface of the intestinal wall. The network is found in hydrogels developed by researchers at Harvard University to heal wounds inside the intestines. (Image source: Wyss Institute at Harvard University)

Researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering External and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) developed the new hydrogels, which the team produced using cells from bacterial cultures, they said. The hydrogels are comprised of muco-adhesive nanofibers and produced by an engineered natural gut bacterium.

“This new type of engineered living material with its ease of production and storability, biocompatibility, and muco-adhesive properties could be a door-opener for bioactive wound-healing strategies for use inside the human gut lumen,” said Neel Joshi, an associate professor at SEAS and core faculty member at the Wyss Institute, in a press statement.

Researchers envision that doctors could apply the two versions of their hydrogels—longer-lived self-regenerating “Live Gels” or shorter-lived “Cell-free Gels”--to intestinal surfaces using syringes, spray, and/or endoscopic techniques to provide a seal to intestinal wounds, they said.

“We can essentially program the normal nanofiber-producing molecular machinery of non-pathogenic E. coli to produce hydrogels that have a viscosity strongly resembling that of mucus, and with muco-adhesive capabilities built into them,” explained Joshi in the press statement.

Moreover, the materials’ “modularity could allow us to tune them to match specific sections of the gastrointestinal tract with their individual mucus compositions and structures,” he said.


Expanding the Scope

The new research stems from previous work by Joshi and other Harvard researchers to use commensal strains of E. coli to create biofilm-forming nanofibers and as living foundations for new chemicals and materials. They achieved this by engineering a protein the bacteria secretes, called CsgA, which self-assembles into “curli” nanofibers in the extracellular environment, researchers said.

In these previous applications, researchers modified CsgA to enable additional enzymatic or structural functions, such as to perform a chemical reaction required to synthesize a drug or chemical. However, the new work now demonstrates the direct use of curli nanofiber-based materials for therapeutics, researchers said.

To achieve this goal and enable the formation of extracellular hydrogels, Joshi’s team programmed a non-pathogenic strain of the gut bacterium E. coli to synthesize a variant of the CsgA curli protein that is fused to a domain called human trefoil factors (TFFs), which can bind to the mucus inside the intestine. TFFs are co-secreted by mucus-producing cells to protect mucosal epithelia found in the intestine and help them repair injuries.

Researchers used a simple filtration to enable the clean separation of the live bacteria-containing hydrogel from the rest of the culture, they said. To create the shorter-lived Cell-free Gels, the team used an additional step to kill the bacteria using a simple chemical treatment.

The TFF domains are what researchers believe is the key to allowing the hydrogels to perform their job within the intestine, Anna Duraj-Thatte, a postdoctoral fellow on Joshi’s team, said in a press statement.

“We think that the presence of the TFF domains enable different curli fibers to crosslink to each other and form a water-storing mesh, and demonstrated that the exact hydrogel properties depend on the type of TFF used,” she said.

Researchers published a paper outlining their work in the journal Advanced Materials.

Tests Point to Uses

Scientists collaborated with researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to test the specificity of tissue adhesion of their hydrogels. They found that hydrogels containing TFFs enhanced adhesion only to the lumen-exposed mucosal surface of a goat colon tissue sample.

Alternatively, when a material showed binding to fibronectin protein--which is not found on the mucosa, but on the outward-facing serosal surface of the colon--the hydrogels instead showed a preference to stick to the serosal side of the colon tissue sample, researchers said.

Joshi’s team also tested how the hydrogels performed when giving orally to mice. In these tests, the cell-containing Live Gels could withstand the harsh pH and digestive conditions of the stomach and small intestine and reach the cecum with the bacteria intact, researchers found. Another result showed that hydrogels bearing one particular TFF domain, TFF2, enhanced retention of the material in the colon.

Based on these results, researchers envision using the hydrogels in endoscopic procedures to treat intestinal disorders, something akin to a spray-on bandage, they said.

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



Reader Submitted: Felt Good

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-09-09 18:37

Felt Good is a research and exploration into pine needles, an overabundant natural forest waste to develop products using its fibre. The pine trees constitute of the majority of the forest in the northern hill states of India. Every year from fall till summer, they shed their leaves that cover the forest bed choking the earth beneath. Since pine needles are an excellent fuel to the fire, thousands of forest burn every season in North India itself.

Felt good is about extracting fibres to create products of everyday use for the masses using the felting techniques(no binding agent, pure fibre). The fibres also have been dyed using natural dyes extracted from the local, flowers and spices. Moreover, It aims to root itself as a local craft in the hill states to sustain not only the ecosystem but also the economy.

Each product has been handmade by local artisans and dyed using local natural forest products. The end result: a collection that has been made locally, using local raw material, to sustain both the local ecosystem and the economy. Furthermore, all the pine needle waste generated during the process was processed into paper using natural binding agents with the potential to create a unique packaging material.

By maximizing the utilization of this abundant material, felt goods aims to minimize the harm pine needle does to the environment. The entire production process is designed to be self-sustaining to generate zero waste and to bring forward better solutions.

ScrubbersPine needle body scrubers and dish washers that can easily last for a month3d felted pine needle toysFibre felting ToolNatural Dye samplenatural dyes extracted from local forest productsIndoor slippersMicro green Felt PadsFelted micro green pads help seeds to grow faster with their moisture absorbing properties that doesnt let the top soil dry.View the full project here

Is This Toilet the Future of Wastewater Management?

Core 77 - Mon, 2019-09-09 18:37

Nutrient pollution is one of the lesser-known but most pressing environmental challenges we face. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are all essential for plant growth—they're known as the "Big 3" primary nutrients in fertilizer—but when they enter the environment in excess, they can cause a lot of damage. The Big 3 have another thing in common: they're all found in our urine. But since these nutrients aren't extracted at sewage treatment plants, they build up in streams, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, where they cause large growths of algae called algal blooms. Algal blooms reduce the amount of oxygen in water, killing fish while elevating toxins and bacterial growth.

The wall-mounted save! toilet looks like a conventional, rimless WC and can be used normally.

Austrian design firm EOOS and Swiss ceramics manufacturer Laufen have partnered up to propose a solution that's rather simple. By extracting urine from wastewater, we can reduce water pollution and simultaneously tap into an alternative source of essential nutrients for fertilizer production (as another example of this, consider the Rich Earth Institute's "pee-cycling" efforts in Vermont.) Continuing EOOS's submission to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's 2011 Reinvented Toilet Challenge, the companies partnered with the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology to develop a urine-diverting toilet.

Schematic section illustrating the different flows of urine, feces, and greywater.

According to the product website, the Save! toilet features one key innovation, a patent-pending "urine trap"' invented by EOOS Design, "which directs urine towards a concealed outlet using only surface tension." Laufen applied this concept to a new toilet design featuring a ceramic bowl whose inner geometries are "optimally shaped to guide the water flow" based on computational fluid dynamics simulations developed by ETH Zurich. The low-tech, out-of-sight solution means the toilet looks like any other WC, and for the most part, it doesn't require any changes to user behavior, save for one catch: you have to urinate in a sitting position in order for it to hit the trap.

The Toilet Revolution! An installation by EOOS, commissioned and curated by MAK - Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna, XXII Triennale di Milano 2019.

Designed for use in Europe, save! Is the first urine-diverting toilet that meets all industry standards. It received wide acclaim during ISH Frankfurt, a leading plumbing trade show, and was Austria's contribution to the XXII Triennale di Milano where it was exhibited as part of a multimedia installation investigating "the ecological interaction of coastal waters, sewage systems, and agriculture."

To make a real dent in the issue of nutrient pollution, cities would have to rethink urine collection on a large, infrastructural scale. Save! represents a promising design solution that just might steer that conversation in the right direction.

Are We Ready For Autonomous Vehicles?

Design News - Mon, 2019-09-09 07:00




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                                                                                    Data From KPMG Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index 2018

KPMG developed an Autonomous Vehicle Readiness Index in 2018 to rank 20 countries in how ready they are to accept driverless cars. (Data source: KPMG)

One of the automotive industry’s hottest topics is self-driving, or autonomous vehicles (AV). According to a recent Business Insider article, Morgan Stanley says autonomous cars could save an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars every year in the US. But is the US, and for that matter the world, ready for cars that can drive by themselves?

The Criteria      

Consulting firm KPMG recently examined 20 countries to rate their readiness for the move to vehicle autonomy. In their comprehensive report, the company looked at four major areas:

  • Policy and Legislation
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Consumer Acceptance

The Rankings

Of the 20 countries that were included in the study:

  • The Netherlands ended up the clear leader, ranking within the top 4 in each of the four categories and number one on infrastructure.
  • In second place was Singapore: it ranked first in policy & legislation and consumer acceptance.
  • Third was the United States. Ranked first in technology & innovation with strong industry partnerships,
  • Sweden was ranked fourth, with a second place Ranked #2 in technology & innovation due to its having the highest number of AV company headquarters by population.
  • Fifth place was the United Kingdom (UK). It ranked in the top five for three categories, with strong performance in consumer acceptance and policy & legislation.
  • The bottom five included Brazil (17th), Russia (18th), Mexico (19th), and India (20th)

What it Means

According to the KPMG study, “There will be economic benefits, because the time we currently spend driving a car becomes productive time in an AV that can be spent working, relaxing or sleeping. But moreover, there will be social benefit, including a vast reduction in the 1.3 million people killed each year in car accidents and accessibility for those who currently cannot drive, because of age or disability.”

Planning for an AV future will require everything from investing in AV-ready road infrastructure and next generation mobile communication technologies to consideration of impacts to jobs, road taxes (which are based primarily on gasoline sales), insurance, and data security. Doing these things will require a vast number of public and private partnerships and the necessary legislation to remove barriers to AV growth.

How soon will any of this occur? The US has become notoriously unpredictable when it comes to its national policy positions. According to Timothy D. Wilschetz, Principal, Infrastructure Advisory, KPMG, “The US has a highly innovative but largely disparate environment with little predictability regarding the uniform adoption of national standards for AVs. Therefore the prospect of widespread driverless vehicles is unlikely in the near future. However, federal policy and regulatory guidance could certainly accelerate early adoption, particularly concerning limited freight applications such as truck platooning.”  

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


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