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Industrial Designer Creates Concept for Copic Marker with RGB Slider, Design Blogs Don't Understand It's a Joke

Core 77 - Thu, 2020-07-09 07:05

"I'm learning KeyShot 3D," industrial designer Burkay Gursoy wrote in an Instagram post, "and I like trying interesting things while learning." Thus he rendered up a fanciful design for a Copic marker with RGB sliders:

Gursoy meant it as a joke, writing:

What's more hilarious is that other design blogs are taking the concept seriously, with one calling it "genius" and saying "it truly solves our woes," with another writing "from full to faded, you can shift the copic marker's red, green and blue sliders to find your perfect color."

I can guarantee none of those writers have ever done a marker rendering. Exactly how do you mix red, green and blue to produce yellow or orange?

RGB, as Gursoy and every designer worth their wages knows, is a technique used for light, not pigments. RGB is how color televisions and monitors work. CMYK and tiny dots is how color printers work.

We should be thankful Gursoy's an ethical guy; if he held a Kickstarter for this concept, he'd likely gain millions in ill-gotten pledges.

As COVID Cases Rise in Texas, Female-Led Company Fights Back with Zipper-Mouthed Face Mask Design

Core 77 - Thu, 2020-07-09 07:05

While Texas has been slammed with COVID-19 infections, three Houston-area women are trying to combat the spread by encouraging people to wear masks. Jewelry designer Madison Herington, nutritionist Sarah Cordill and medical researcher Haley Manley teamed up to start Shut Your Mouth, a company that produces facemasks with a novel design feature: A zipper.

"Need to sip? Open the zipper! Need to hydrate? Unzip! We want to allow people to keep their faces covered, stay safe, be responsible," the company writes.

The $35 masks come in a variety of patterns, and judging by availability, have become a hit; a number of patterns are currently sold out.

You can see what's left here.

Here's a Variety of Responses to "7 Questions for an Industrial Designer"

Core 77 - Thu, 2020-07-09 07:05

A variety of industrial designers have been asked to post YouTube videos answering the same seven questions. Those questions are:

1. How did you get into industrial design?2. How do you explain your job to those who don't know what ID is?3. What inspirations have developed your ID style?4. Which company would you love to design a product for?5. What is your go-to industrial design program, and why?6. What do you dislike most about industrial design?7. What makes an industrial design good?

Videos came in fast and furious, and there are far too many to embed here, but we have put together a bunch of them in a playlist. Kicking it off is Sketch-a-Day founder Spencer Nugent:

There's currently 15 designers on the playlist (you can click that little icon at top right of the YouTube window to see if there's anyone you know) and we'll add more as they come in.

Husband-and-Wife Team Create Awesome, Affordable, Capable Off-Road Wheelchair

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Zack Nelson of the JerryRigEverything YouTube channel is the DIY electronics repair guy, but he's also got inventing chops. And now, manufacturing chops. Together with his wife, Cambry, Nelson designed and built an off-road wheelchair/bicycle hybrid (Cambry is a wheelchair user)--and they've figured out how to produce them for less than half the price of other off-road wheelchairs.

Take a look at what they're calling the Not-a-Wheelchair:

Here they show you what it can do off-road (and just as importantly, what it can't do):

In addition to the cost savings, I love that they've designed it with maintenance and serviceability in mind by using off-the-shelf bike parts. And as they stated in the video, this is no Kickstarter announcement; they're ready to go into production, and you can place orders here for delivery as early as September.

Translating an Apology to a Designer For Stealing Their Work

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

After furniture company Swoon Editions got caught stealing designer Simone Brewster's work, and profiting off of it, Swoon Co-founder Debbie Williamson issued an apology. I can't imagine anyone actually falls for this kind of language, but thought I'd provide a translation anyway.

I'm sorry we've caused you distress.I'm not sorry we stole your work, but the "distress" part sucks.I can appreciate why you are angry.I have as much empathy as any customer service representative.We value your design work, and that of other independent designers, and of course you should be paid for it.I'll say we value it now, but won't mention that we didn't value it before. Then I'll explain how a basic business arrangement works.I would never intentionally do something untoward…It's not my fault...…but in this situation, our processes have fallen down, and need to be improved....it's the fault of those darn processes! They fell right over! Who put those processes in place? Who knows?!? I guess we'll never know! Moving on!We have two immediate priorities:Previously these were neither priorities nor immediate, but now that we've been caught, they're both!(1) to work with you to ensure payment and (2) to take steps to ensure that this never happens again including:In other words, we've decided to do what business ethics and common human decency say we should have done in the first place.1. Ensuring all designers have a contract to outline how they will be paid and when.Not giving out contracts doesn't work anymore, now that we can't get away with it.2. Providing clarity on the invoicing process.Because the previous system, where we hire you to do work, you send us an invoice, and we pay it, was WAY confusing!3. Following up to ensure the designer has invoiced.Our research shows that sometimes designers don't want to be paid and will purposely withhold invoices. You creatives! (Shaking fist)4. Ensuring payment has been made.I know, this one is crazy! We got the idea for this when we ate at a restaurant, and they had this process in place where the waiter checks to see if you've received the meal that he agreed to bring you. It was totally Six Sigma!5. Giving feedback on the progress of the design through the production process.See, prior to this incident, we thought "feedback" meant "Don't pick up the phone if she calls." Fixed!We should have paid you the agreed amount on time but we didn't and for that, I am truly sorry.I am stating what you already know, which is that we did not pay you. I was not sorry when we first didn't pay you, but with all of these people reading this, I will now express sorrow.We've reached out to you directly and via your lawyers to ensure payment is made, along with compensation. In the meantime, we've removed the designs from our website until we can resolve this.Actually, we didn't remove the product page from our website, but we did remove the photo of it and write "This Product is out of stock. Please try again later," so if enough time goes by, we might be able to rip you off again later.

Debbie,Co-founder, SwoonThis last part is true. My name is Debbie and I did co-found the company.

Swoon Editions Gets Caught Stealing Designer's Work, Must Now Pay Up

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Freelance designers know the ritual of chasing down late checks. But imagine you submit a series of designs to a client, you do the follow-up work to get the designs production-ready, then they refuse to return your calls. Did the project get canceled?

And then, almost two years later, you look at their website and see that while they won't take your calls, they're selling your designs.

Furniture company Swoon Editions is a client who did this, to designer Simone Brewster. And thanks to social media, they've just been exposed.

Who is Swoon Editions?

Swoon Co-founders Debbie Williamson and Brian Harrison

Swoon Editions, founded in 2012 by Debbie Williamson and Brian Harrison, is a UK-based furniture company. As of 2018, Swoon Editions had an annual turnover of £20 million (USD $25 million), according to the BBC. The "Our Designs" statement on Swoon's website states that they "have a deep-rooted belief in the value of craft and work directly with the best artisans in the UK, Europe and the world to bring our designs to life."

Who is Simone Brewster?

Simone Brewster

Simone Brewster is a London-based designer with a degree in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and an M.A. in Design Products from the Royal College of Art. In addition to designing furniture, objects and jewelry, she's given lectures on contemporary design, specifically on "the potential applications of architectural principals across the scale and spectrum of three dimensional design."

Here's Brewster's story: "I was excited to be asked in 2018 by Swoon to design a range of cabinets. I was told that for each design that went into production I would receive a flat fee. If the designs were unsuccessful I would unfortunately not be paid, but there would likely be another brief and another chance to get something through. I was never presented with a physical contract."I saw it as a great opportunity to expand my portfolio, and see how the big guys did things. Also, I was confident in my ability to design something worthwhile, so I said yes."I was emailed a brief and a document outlining the trends they were interested in tapping into. I came up with some initial designs and an in-person meeting was scheduled.

"There was some discussion of modifications, largely about re-sizing the pieces to sit in line with existing ranges and the use of technical production elements that employ existing techniques already in use as opposed to more costly production processes.

"A handover date was set. I would work on finalising the designs. Presentation templates were e-mailed over so as to ensure the handover was in the in-house style. I was not to put my name on anything directly."On 1st July 2018, I emailed over the final designs. I was told that I should hear back from them by close of business Wednesday 4th July, 2018."I didn't hear anything back. I phoned a few times to try and get some feedback but could not get through to anyone I'd had previous contact with. I eventually wrote an email on 9th July 2018 asking if there was any news, the brief reply: "Nope - nothing yet, I'll let you know if anything comes up.""That was the last contact I received from Swoon. I assumed the proposal was unsuccessful."In January 2020 I was surfing the internet and clicked a link that took me through to Swoon's site. Before I knew it I was looking at a real life manifestation of the designs I had handed over in 2018. The designs that didn't warrant a thank you email or a follow up call or any form of recognition.

Brewster's design

From Swoon Editions' website, Google Image cache. Swoon has since pulled the listing, sort of--see below.

"I was so shocked that they appeared to have totally disregarded my part in designing the pieces, denying both recognition and payment.

"I enlisted a lawyer who contacted Swoon on my behalf. After much to-ing and fro-ing, Swoon offered a settlement that would not have even covered my legal costs, and said they would not go any higher. If the case went to trial, not only would I have to find further money for my own significant legal fees, but could also be liable for up to £50,000 for Swoon's legal fees if I lost. I therefore agreed with my lawyer to take a different route.

"So I reached out to my network of friends and contacts within the design world to share my experience on social media. The support has been overwhelming and I'm very grateful for that. Hopefully through highlighting my experience others will become more aware of some of the poor practices within our industry, and will be forearmed to better handle these situations."

After Brewster posted her story, support poured in and awareness of the situation built. Swoon Editions was forced to respond.

Here's Swoon's bullshit, PR-speak apology, written by Swoon co-founder Debbie Williamson: Simone,I'm sorry we've caused you distress. I can appreciate why you are angry. We value your design work, and that of other independent designers, and of course you should be paid for it.I would never intentionally do something untoward but in this situation, our processes have fallen down, and need to be improved.We have two immediate priorities:(1) to work with you to ensure payment and (2) to take steps to ensure that this never happens again including:1. Ensuring all designers have a contract to outline how they will be paid and when.2. Providing clarity on the invoicing process.3. Following up to ensure the designer has invoiced.
4. Ensuring payment has been made.
5. Giving feedback on the progress of the design through the production process.
We should have paid you the agreed amount on time but we didn't and for that, I am truly sorry.We've reached out to you directly and via your lawyers to ensure payment is made, along with compensation. In the meantime, we've revmoed the designs from our website until we can resolve this.Debbie,Co-founder, Swoon

This is the webpage where Brewster's work was being sold without her knowledge. Note that saying"This Product is currently out of stock" sounds better than saying "We stole this design, have been selling it, and just got caught for it, so we pulled it down."



I'm glad Brewster spoke up, and am proud of the creative community for supporting her. Below is her original Instagram post, populated with tons of supportive comments:

And below is that Swoon apology post, where you can read the feedback they're getting (at least until they disable comments, which I imagine they'll do based on the comments I read):

The attention drawn by this social media storm will ensure Brewster gets paid, and will hopefully dissuade other companies from following similarly fraudulent practices.

VanMoof Bicycle Commercial Banned From French Television

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

Since bicycle ridership has thankfully been increasing during the pandemic, and because even cities with decent mass transit like Paris have created new cycling initiatives, you might wonder: Why would French authorities ban one of the first bicycle commercials scheduled to air on French TV?

Dutch manufacturer VanMoof created the spot to highlight their S3 and X3 e-bikes. Here's the commercial:

The commercial--which has aired in the Netherlands and Germany with no problems--is totally non-offensive, isn't it? Here's the ban rationale, from the ARPP (Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité, in English, the Professional Advertising Regulatory Authority) as reported by VanMoof:

According to the ARPP, certain shots of the car's reflections "discredit the automobile sector [...] while creating a climate of anxiety." It is notable that the ARPP rejected what would have been one of the first bike ads on French TV, despite recently pledging to reinforce the sustainability aspects of their policies.

Further down in the press release, we get to the bottom of it. First off the ARPP isn't a governmental body, but "a self-regulatory organisation supported by the private sector." And as it turns out:

The [banning] decision comes at a time when the French car industry is in trouble, with sales plummeting due to COVID-19 and widespread economic decline on the horizon. In a bid to support the sector – responsible for almost a third of the country's greenhouse gas emissions – the government recently introduced a recovery plan worth €8 billion.

Well, that stinks. At the very least, I'm hoping it'll give VanMoof some good publicity. Here's their response, by the way:

"It's puzzling that car companies are allowed to gloss over their environmental problems, but when someone challenges that situation it gets censored." Ties Carlier, VanMoof co-founder.

A Clever Design for a Folding Ladder

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

A frequent UX fantasy I have: I want occasional-use products to disappear when I don't need them. Ladders evoke this feeling often; we've got three on the property that we use regularly, and all three are a PITA to store and transport.

So after seeing this cleverly-designed Murphy Ladder, I covet it:

How to Fix a Stuck Key on a Macbook Pro Butterfly Keyboard (2016-2019) Without Using Tools or Compressed Air

Core 77 - Wed, 2020-07-08 04:00

If you have a Macbook Pro with the butterfly keyboard (2016 - 2019 models) and one of the keys is stuck, try this fix:

Pick up your laptop and turn it upside down. Note the position of the stuck key. Using two fingers, simply give the bottom of the laptop a bunch of firm taps in the area of the problematic key.

Right the laptop and set it down. Push the problematic key repeatedly. It should pop back into place, if it didn't during the inverted step.

This morning the "U" key on my Macbook Pro became stuck in the down position. I read three pointless articles and watched four videos until I finally found the trick I just described. I hope someone Googles for how to fix it and finds this faster than it took me.

Remote Control Lawn Mowers Can Go Places You'd Never Dream of

Core 77 - Tue, 2020-07-07 02:46

Mowing slopes on a riding mower is dangerous. To avoid rollovers, savvy operators only drive up-and-down, never across, the slope. However, repeatedly driving up and down a slope will increase the rate of erosion.

After observing these problems, Mississippi-based inventor John Wright first decided to get rid of the operator, rigging up a mower with remote control. Then he got rid of the wheels, replacing them instead with turf tracks.

He started a company, Remote Mowers, to commercialize his products, which can go places you'd never dream of trying with a riding mower.

Here's one of his machines in action:

Here Wright explains the performance capabilities of his machines and discusses their typical applications. He also describes how he's designed them for serviceability:

Wright's invention is both mechanically and commercially brilliant. As for the latter, never mind the domestic market; consider that America is covered in highway embankments and rolling college campuses, all of which have landscaping budgets and regular maintenance needs.

Now for the bad news. After ten years in business, Remote Mowers stopped updating both their YouTube channel and Facebook page last year, as if the company had gone dark. One of the final YouTube videos was for a "Remote Mowers Investment Opportunity," which suggests financial trouble. And when I poked around on the internet for more recent traces of the company, I found these damning reviews on Yelp:

Ah well. It was still a great design for a great product, but as we all know, the business end has to be at least as robust as the design.

Financial Technology Company Aza's Rebrand Weaves African Heritage and Spirit Into Its Design Language

Core 77 - Tue, 2020-07-07 02:46

"Rebranding of Aza: Pan-African Financial Infrastructure" took home the Visual Communication Winner Award in the 2020 Core77 Design Awards competition.

Formerly called BitPesa, Aza is a financial technology company that preceded the growth of "Silicon Savannah" since its beginning in Kenya in the early 2010s. Simply put, the company helps foreign businesses transfer money into Africa, and African businesses transfer money out of the continent, bypassing the US Dollar intermediary currency.

And the growth of this financial ecosystem on the continent is rising fast—according to Forbes, Africa's Tech Hubs grew at a pace of 40% in 2019 alone, which means their global presence is also expanding.

To respond to both a need for a globally understood presence on top of a focus less strictly on cryptocurrency, Bitpesa began a rebranding journey to revamp their brand architecture, positioning, name and visual identity with the help of San Francisco-based design agency Wunderdogs.

The design thinking behind this re-brand was two-pronged in that the company wanted it to be strongly rooted in African culture while also appealing to worldwide investors and partners. Wunderdogs adds, "as a global business with roots in Africa, BitPesa was deeply committed to elevating and enhancing the geographies in which it operates. With a policy for hiring locals over expats and the majority of business done within the continent it was important the new identity was adopted by employees, understood by partners and appreciated by customers across Africa. With this in mind the identity had to be geographically agnostic...we wanted to create an identity that reflected and celebrated the wide-reaching impact technology had on the continent, enticing those in Europe and the US to realize and leverage potential within the region."

The design team wanted to embrace the cultural roots of Bitpesa instead of creating something homogeneous with brands around the world. They then asked the question: "How do you build modern African tech brands that showcase local and pan-African culture whilst appealing to Western counterparts?"

Their first hurdle came with changing the brand name. After different workshops and semantic explorations, the team came to the name Aza, a nod to several references within African culture. As Wunderdogs explains, "Aza is a female name used across Africa. A subtle yet powerful nod to the leadership team within the business and the matriarchal power structures of Africa. Its meaning varies across languages, yet from Yoruba to Swahili it represents power, strength and honesty. "

For Wunderdogs, the color scheme also needed to stay true to the African brand in which it represents. They took inspiration from the color palettes of 56 national flags across Africa and used it as a jump off point for branding. The complexity and sometimes universality of some of these colors however did present a unique challenge, as Wunderdogs describes: "Selecting distinctly African colors whilst avoiding an obvious similarity with one of the 56 national flags on the continent meant palette choice was one of our biggest challenges. To overcome this hurdle we turned to African textiles and Aza's industry for visual inspiration." To bring a balance to the design that suggested both heritage and universality, the team arrived at a palette that showcases Africa's heritage as well as it's techno-centric future. Blue was chosen as a widely accepted representation of the fintech space, with greens and orange an obvious tie to the continent as a whole.

Awarded the professional winner award in the Core77 Design Awards Visual Communication category for their expert design execution on Aza, Wunderdogs co-founder Daria Gonzales says of the honor, "As a young agency, winning Core77's Visual Communication Award is absolutely groundbreaking for both the team and for our future as a business. It is a great honor to be recognized alongside legendary agencies and designers, especially for one of the most interesting and challenging projects we've tackled to date. I am so grateful for having supported AZA's team on their mission to facilitate the flow of currency into Africa."

The overall success of the project demonstrated to Wunderdogs an important design lesson: never underestimate the power of your story. "The key learning from the Aza rebranding was authenticity triumphs trend," says Wunderdogs. "There is little to be gained from an African-tech company mimicking Western brand standards, and everything to be won by developing a brand that truly embodies the culture within which it operates."

Read more about the rebranding of Aza on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2020 honorees

Design Criticism of the Cognalyzer, a Wearable That's Like a Breathalyzer for Cannabis

Core 77 - Tue, 2020-07-07 02:46

If someone's drunk, you can measure their blood alcohol concentration with a breathalyzer. But there's been no equivalent for measuring how high on THC someone is. "In an era of cannabis legalization," writes industrial design firm Shape Products, "reliable impairment detection will become increasingly important for protecting consumer rights and safety in the workplace."

By "consumer rights," they're presumably talking about a purchaser of cannabis; does this pot get me as high as it's supposed to, did the producer measure what this stuff can do? And the latter point about workplace safety is well-taken: You manage a construction crew, Randy shows up a little glassy-eyed, maybe you don't want him working the crane that day.

Shape was hired by Zentrela, a tech company that developed an algorithm that can read a person's EEG results and measure how high they are. Shape's job was to design the physical object, a portable wearable that they call the Cognalyzer. (Apologies for the low-res photos, those are all that was available.)

As for how it works:

A series of electrodes collect electrical signal (sic) and send the information through a proprietary wiring harness and control unit. From here, the data gets transmitted via Bluetooth to a tablet or computer where the analysis takes place. After about 5 minutes of live data collection, Zentrela's algorithms will have enough information to determine the presence of impairment and the extent to which the test subject is impaired. This technology brings unmatched objectivity and clarity to the impairment detection industry while also opening the door for cannabis producers to better test and segment their products.

I do have a couple of criticisms about the design. Before I get to those, we should first understand what the design challenges were:

Testing validity is at the heart of Zentrela's core value proposition and the hardware must match the sophistication of the software upon which the Cognalyzer relies. One of the main challenges was designing the system to be a one-size-fits-all solution while keeping the manufacturing costs down to facilitate mass distribution. In order to optimize for these considerations, we designed the headset around a die-cut frame. Using early prototypes, we continually tested construction and adjustment styles to ensure that electrodes would be easy to position accurately.

The Cognalyzer system is designed for two users, both equally important; the test administrator and the test subject. Cognalyzer tests are designed to be performed in the real world, not in a laboratory setting and, for those administering and receiving tests, it's likely to be the first time interacting with EEG technology. Because of this, the hardware needed to be foolproof and easy to use.

From the administration standpoint, we carefully considered variations in head shape and size and designed the fit system accordingly. Eight of the ten electrodes can be accurately positioned and checked for signal quality regardless of head size or brain position within the skull. To help secure these electrodes in place for the duration of the test, we designed an electrode that can slide along a track in the die-cut headset to custom-locate on any subject. Our usability and ergonomic testing process was geared towards improving the testing experience for those administering and receiving the test. In addition to speed, we knew that a big part of the experience would come down to subject comfort which is especially important as many of us are predisposed to feel uncomfortable when receiving any type of medical test. To help make the experience more comfortable we added soft materials to the die-cut edges and electrode bodies that would come in contact with subjects' skin and head.[Zentrela's feedback] was instrumental in getting to a final product that strikes a balance between, subject comfort, ease of testing, and of course, medical validity.

So assuming the points they needed to hit from the design brief were physical comfort, ease of testing and medical validity, I can assume they've reached their benchmarks. Thus my criticisms may not be fair because they're outside of the design brief. I'll air them anyway, for the purpose of discussion.

My take is that while the device may be comfortable to wear, with well-considered touchpoints, it doesn't look comfortable. That's fine if I'm a professional marijuana producer testing out my product, like a farmer taking a soil sample--you don't care what the tool looks like, as long as it works well.

However, if I show up for work and my boss thinks I'm high, and asks me to strap this thing on, I'm going to be resistant. In my opinion and within this context, the device looks cold and clinical, or like some kind of torture device from a sci-fi movie. I don't want to be ordered to don this.

And my main concern, given recent events, is how this object would be used in a law-enforcement capacity. If I get pulled over--and if I'm a black person, who is likely already terrified--the last thing I want to do is let a police officer put this onto my head.

I understand that this object's design is form-follows-function, and I'm sure it works for providing readings. But I would want to see an equally important secondary function in the design brief, which is to consider the contexts in which this item might be used, and what the perception of it will be to the perhaps unwilling wearer.

That's just my two cents. Your thoughts?

How to Add Spray-On Lights to 3D-Printed Parts

Core 77 - Tue, 2020-07-07 02:46

Typically, if you're prototyping something and you need part of that prototype to illuminate, you have to design around whatever off-the-shelf lighting component you're using. The available technology thus influences the final form.

What if, instead, you could 3D print whatever shape you like, and spray the lighting on afterwards? I know that sounds crazy, but a group of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) researchers at the UK's University of Bristol have figured out how to do just that. They use multimaterial 3D printing to print a combination of insulating and conductive plastics, then spray a series of materials (including one layer of electroluminescent paint) onto the form and wire it to a power source.

Here are examples of what they can produce:

They call their process ProtoSpray, and here's what it looks like in action:

Interested to try it yourself? They've got an Instructable up called "ProtoSpray: How to Make Your 3D Prints Light Up!"

Will Fancraft™ Technology Finally Bring Us Flying Cars?

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-07-06 01:52

A company called Metro Skyways has been working on VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) systems in an effort to realize practical and safe flying cars. "Our mission," the company writes, "is to manufacture the world's safest, quietest, most compact, high occupancy VTOL aircraft in order to make aerial, mass transportation a reality by making it commercially viable."

The technology they're investing in is what they call Fancraft™, which is essentially a pair of large, drone-like rotors that are integrated into the overall form of the vehicle, rather than sticking up over it. The interior part of the form between the two rotors becomes the passenger cabin.

2003 prototype

Latest design, the Cityhawk

This approach, according to the company, yields multiple benefits:

Compact with Large PayloadFancraft™ have 1/4 the footprint of a helicopter with a more spacious cabin. They eliminate the risks associated with external rotors without compromising any of a helicopter's payload, range or hover capabilities.

More aircraft carrying more passengers can fly and land in less space making Fancraft™ a key element in establishing a successful urban, aerial, mass-transportation system.

Quiet Comparable to Street TrafficPart of being "urban friendly" is being quiet. Ducted rotors enclosed in the fuselage are inherently quieter than an open rotor, which means that Fancraft™ start out at a natural advantage when it comes to noise.

Add to that our multi-bladed, slow-turning rotors which generate less noise at its source and you wind up with an aircraft that will blend seamlessly into the ambient sound of city traffic at 70 dBA from just a block away.

They've got two different designs. The first is the Falcon XP, an air shuttle sized to carry 13 passengers and a pilot:

The second is their Cityhawk, sized to carry five passengers and one pilot:

Sadly, there's no word on how close they are to production, nor what regulatory hurdles remain.

Automotive Journalist Lists 10 Car Design Trends "That Need to Stop"

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-07-06 01:52

As a former art director, automotive journalist Mark Takahashi has the background to speak design a bit better than his peers. In a recent video called "Car Design Trends That Need to Stop," Takahashi aired ten gripes encompassing aesthetics, ergonomics and anachronisms.

Because the overall video's a bit long, I've isolated the time stamps so you can hear and see examples of the individual problem areas he points out:

1. Fake Vents

2. Big Grilles

3. Thick A-Pillars

4. Piano Black/High-Gloss Interiors

5. Flat-Bottom Steering Wheels

6. Lack of Buttons

7. Analog Clocks

8. Light-Colored Dashboards

9. "Four-Door Coupes"

10. Big Key Fobs

Will work up an additional list. Your suggestions?

The Design Evolution of the Air Conditioner, Part 2

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-07-06 01:52

As we saw in Part 1, the earliest domestic air conditioners (like the one above) were upright-piano-sized console units putting out up to 24,000 BTUs. But in the mid-1930s, some companies figured that smaller, more manageable air conditioners in the 3,500-7,000 BTU range--good enough to cool a single room or office--might be more desirable to consumers.

Thus in 1936, the Pleasantaire Corporation released this sleek, diminutive, 4,000-BTU window-mounted model called the Northwind:

(I love points #5, 6 and 7 in the advertisement directly above. Point #5 probably meant it drowned out noise, while points #6 and 7 are probably good ol' B.S.)

This sleeker design was apparently not very effective or didn't sell well--it was retired after just two years on the market. In 1938 Pleasantaire began producing a very different-looking machine. This design was slightly more powerful at 6,000 BTUs, and resembled a radio, aesthetically speaking:

By 1939 the preferred form factor evolved drastically, with consoles on the outs; this was something like going from mainframe computers to personal PCs, and window-based units became all the rage.

Below is the 1939 "Cool Wave" air conditioner. Interestingly, it was released as a joint effort between the York Ice Machinery Company and radio manufacturer Philco, and I believe you can see some radio DNA in this design as well as Pleasantaire's:

By 1940, Carrier jumped into the window-unit game. Their Weathermaker De Luxe had a bolder, more contemporary design than the Cool-Wave, splitting the louvers between the front and sides of the unit, and adding a contrasting visual element to the front:

Philco-York responded in 1941 with this "sensational, new" waterfall-front design:

Alas, by the end of 1941 America had been pulled into the Second World War. Air conditioner development would be largely halted for the next four years.

Stay tuned for Part 3.

More Realistic 3D-Printed Plant-Based Steaks are Coming, Courtesy of Redefine Meat

Core 77 - Mon, 2020-07-06 01:52

Meat is delicious, but it's bad for the planet (not to mention the animals that get eaten). Luckily we're now entering an era when plant-based meats taste just about as good as the real thing. And now Israeli start-up Redefine Meat means to boost the uptake of plant-based steaks, using 3D printing.

Why digital fabrication? You've probably noticed that two of the bigger names in plant-based meat, Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, are best known for their burgers. Both companies can come close to nailing the flavor of a beef burger, and the texture of ground beef is not difficult to reproduce. Steaks, however, are a different matter. "You need a 3D printer to mimic the structure of the muscle of the animal," CEO Eshchar Ben-Shitrit told Reuters.

In other words, Redefine Meat will be able to 3D print the materials representing lines of marbled fat and the "grain" of a steak, replicating precise cuts of meat. And according to Reuters, "The market is definitely waiting for a breakthrough in terms of improving the texture," said Stacy Pyett, who manages the Proteins for Life program at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands.

Redefine Meat reckons that the speed they can achieve with 3D printing--up to hundreds of kilograms of not-meat per hour--will eventually lower the cost below the price of real meat.

An Exclusive First Look at the Aston Martin V12 Speedster

Design News - Wed, 2020-06-24 11:16

Image source: Dan Carney

The lovely Aston Martin V12 Speedster didn’t get a proper coming-out party, as its planned debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show was upset by that show’s cancellation due to the COVID-19 virus. It is a pity, because the car’s styling, like most, is best appreciated in person, and not in two-dimensional photography.

Image source: Dan Carney

From the heavily processed photos Aston Martin released of the styling prototype, it would be easy to conclude that the V12 Speedster is little more than a Vantage, stripped of its windshield and roof. Fortunately, we’ve had the opportunity for a first-hand peak at the car in the carbon fiber, and found that it makes a very striking impression in person.

Image source: Dan Carney

Not only does the V12 Speedster possess feline musculature and stance, which is instantly apparent, but it is also detailed with eye-catching and thoughtful tidbits. These include the various hat-tips to the Boeing (McDonnell-Douglas originally) F/A-18 fighter jet that the company says inspired the Speedster’s styling, as well as functional features such as the stowage for a pair of helmets in the fairing behind each of the car’s two seats. Those helmets are visible though tiny windows in the hatch that covers them, and they are accessed by flipping that hatch open.

Image source: Dan Carney

Aston Martin had to settle for a virtual launch for the V12 Speedster when the planned unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show was prevented by that show’s cancellation. That has meant that no one has been able to see the car in person, and the company’s studio photos don’t really do justice to the car’s design.

Image source: Dan Carney

Also, since the time of the car’s planned debut and Design News’ exclusive look at the styling prototype, then-Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group CEO, Andy Palmer, has been pushed out by the company’s new ownership group. Before Palmer’s departure, he had said, “The V12 Speedster is an incredible demonstration of the breadth of capability and determination from the ‘Q by Aston Martin’ team, who have worked tirelessly to create this stunning, two-seat sports car aimed at our most demanding and enthusiastic customers.”

“Q by Aston Martin” is the company’s customization division. Its name refers to the advanced technology division of the fictional MI6 spy agency in the James Bond films that frequently showcase Aston Martin cars.

Image source: Dan Carney

Aston’s plan is to build just 88 V12 Speedsters, starting early in 2021. The project has rocketed forward, emerging as an idea only a year and a half ago. While the example we saw is only a styling model, the production cars will employ Aston Martin’s latest bonded-aluminum architecture, with elements from both the DBS Superleggera and Vantage model lines to create its own unique platform.

It will feature independent double wishbone front, and multi-link rear suspension with coil springs and adaptive damping offering Sport, Sport+ and Track modes. Wheels are 21-inch center-lock forged aluminum, and they surround enormous 410 mm carbon ceramic front brake rotors and 360 mm rear rotors.


Image source: Dan Carney
Under the V12 Speedster's hood (bonnet?) is a 700-horsepower 5.2-litre, twin-turbo V12 engine bolted to a ZF 8-Speed planetary automatic transmission with a limited-slip differential driving the rear wheels.

Performance estimates are 0-60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 188 mph. At that speed, you’ll want to get those helmets out of the trunk for wind protection, considering the car’s lack of a windscreen.

Image source: Dan Carney

To find out for yourself, budget approximately $950,000, because the list price in Britain is £765,000. You’d think for that much money they could include a roof!

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

New Polymer Glass Eyed for Fuel Cells

Design News - Wed, 2020-06-24 03:53

Scientists long have considered the fuel cell as a promising, clean source of energy—especially for vehicles—and they have been making some gains in creating efficient and cost-effective technology the last few years.

The molecular structure of the new polymer glass facilitated the movement of protons across it under dry conditions at 120 degrees Celsius. Researchers at Kyoto University used this material to develop a solid fuel cell. (Image source: Mindy Takamiya/Kyoto University iCeMS)

Now researchers have come up with a way to make fuel cells out of solid materials that can produce as much energy as their liquid-based counterparts, as well as add the benefits of strength and flexibility.

A team at Kyoto University’s  Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in Japan developed the new fuel cells, which are based on a polymer-glass membrane.

Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity through a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. They’re an attractive energy source because rather than emit any greenhouse gases or other pollution, their only byproduct is water.

To separate the hydrogen’s positive and negative particles—the protons and electrons needed for the electricity-causing reaction—fuel cells use membranes that conduct protons. Currently, most fuel cells in the commercial market use membranes that are made of liquid; however, these can’t operate under dry conditions, which makes their fabrication expensive and complex.

Solid membranes comprised of water-free electrolytes have the potential to provide better mechanical and thermal stability than liquid fuel cells, which is why the Kyoto University team has been working to develop them.

New Material, New Approach

Led by Satoshi Horike, a Kyoto University materials scientist at iCeMS, the team created a membrane comprised of coordination polymer glass by mixing a protic ionic liquid with zinc ions, they said. Protic ionic liquids are made by mixing liquid salts with an acid and a base.

The specific protic ionic liquid used by the team was diethylmethylammonium dihydrogen phosphate, which—with the addition of zinc—forms a solid, elastic polymer glass. Under dry conditions, the molecular structure of this material facilitated the movement of protons across it—key for a fuel cell to perform—at 120 degrees Celsius, researchers reported in a paper on their work in the journal Chemical Science.

Researchers tested the coordination polymer glass member in a hydrogen fuel cell, in which it produced high voltage, 0.96 volts, which is similar to the range of other typical polymer electrolyte membranes, they said. Its power output also was on par with Nafion membranes, which also are commonly used in fuel cells.

Moreover, “our coordination polymer glass performed better than recently reported ionic liquids and crystalline coordination polymers,” Horike said in a press statement.

The team believes their findings offer a new approach to use glass polymers in fuel cells. Researchers plan to continue their work to produce fuel-cell membranes using the material that can perform better than the current prototype and maintain stability over the long term.

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.


Garrett E-Turbo Jumps from F1 to Mercedes-AMG Production

Design News - Wed, 2020-06-24 02:47

The Mercedes-AMG F1 race car employs an electric turbocharger that works much like the Garrett unit coming to production models. Image source: Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Daimler-Benz’s high-performance Mercedes-AMG has stepped forward as the first carmaker to introduce a production model using Garrett Motion’s electric turbocharger. The German sporting brand has not revealed specifically which model will employ the turbocharger first, but the connection to the company’s Formula 1 cars makes it an obvious technology for Mercedes-AMG to feature in road cars.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team has won six consecutive F1 driver’s and manufacturer’s championships using similar electric turbocharger technology. These devices offer the possibility of rapid throttle response in a turbo with a larger turbine, which would normally have correspondingly slower-responding boost because of its greater inertia.

Image source: Mercedes-AMG

The electric motor not only spins the turbine up more quickly, but it also works as a generator the rest of the time, charging a 48-volt battery pack with free energy recovered from the engine’s exhaust stream, as we discussed in this previous article on the technology. Mercedes says that the electric motor generator inserted between the turbo’s impeller and compressor turbines measures just 1.6 inches in thickness.

At peak power, the turbo spins at 170,000 rpm, pumping a huge volume of air into the engine’s intake.

Image source: Mercedes-AMG

"We have clearly defined our goals for an electrified future,” explained Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “In order to reach them, we are relying on discrete and highly innovative components as well as assemblies. With this move we are strategically supplementing our modular technology and tailoring it to our performance requirements. In a first step this includes the electrified turbocharger - an example of the transfer of Formula 1 technology to the road, something with which we will take turbocharged combustion engines to a previously unattainable level of agility," 

Turbo supplier Garrett has said previously that the technology can yield efficiency gains of as much as 10 percent, and that it is working on production programs with ten different car manufacturers, so this Mercedes announcement of production plans is only the first of many.

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