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IKEA's Mia Lundstrom on Tracking Societal Trends and Designing the Concept of Home Furnishing

Core 77 - Thu, 2017-10-12 16:25

The Älmhult, Sweden–based creative director answers our Core77 Questionnaire.

View the full content here

The Linux Steampunk Conference Badge

Design News - Thu, 2017-10-12 02:44

I prototype, write, speak, and consult on physical computing gadgets and wanted a one-off attention-grabbing conference badge that would break the conversational ice when I walked around trade shows. That quest started a few years ago, with the first generation Arduino Pro-Mini and a 1.8” color TFT screen conference badge.

The Gen-5 Steampunk Conference Personality Identification Apparatus.

The latest Generation 5.0 model uses a Raspberry Pi 3, a 480 x 320 color TFT touchscreen display, an ultrasonic sensor, a DS18B20 thermometer, a leather and brass-tubing framework, and an antique-looking 'Dr Torq' name plate. There's also an auxiliary Arduino Pro-Mini, to handle near-real time input/output jobs. The badge is Internet-enabled via WiFi and plays full-motion, promotional mp4 videos on the display. A USB 2400 mAh power bank supplies power for about four hours of show-floor attendee interaction. I can use the Chrome browser and LibreOffice on the display with a wireless Logitech keyboard or remotely log into the badge over SSH. Think of it as a full-function, Linux wearable.

The badge also promotes my eclectic, slightly quirky engineer/inventor/geek 'Dr Torq' persona. The good Doctor wears a top-hat, pin-striped vest, tweed jacket, tie and pleat-less/cuff-less trousers during tech talks and appearances. It's fun and makes my Steampunk character readily approachable.

Of course, encouraging audiences to build their own wearables and nano-Linux physical computing devices is also part of my schtick, as is soft-selling my consulting expertise. Making it fun, through over-the-top exaggeration and the Steampunk theme helps accomplish those things. While they may not be able to always define it, everybody recognizes and enjoys the Steampunk aesthetic.

Let's look at the Gen-5 badge in more detail.

Raspberry Pi 3

I chose the Raspberry Pi 3 model B because it's a powerful Linux-based nano-computer, featuring a quad-core Broadcom BCM2837 64-bit ARMv8 processor, with 1 GB of RAM and onboard Bluetooth and WiFi. A customized version of Raspbian Linux, burned onto the micro-SD card, made using the 320x480 TFT color touchscreen display a plug-and-play operation.


The touchscreen is a PiTFT Plus 480 x 320 3.5" TFT+Touchscreen plate for Raspberry Pi. It normally plugs directly into the Pi using the 2 x 20 header. Doing it that way made the badge too thick, so I built a cable to mount the screen above the Pi. The display is also upside down, with the connector at the top because it was easy to keep the wiring straight. I corrected the display orientation with a parameter change at boot up. Touchscreen operation is still upside down, so I may turn the display right-side-up and reconfigure the cable, in the future.

Let's next look at the parts list, before continuing on with other details of the badge.


Part Description



Part Number

Raspberry Pi 3




32 GB micro-USB card with TFT-capable Raspbian image


Best Buy

Samsung 32 EVO+

PiTFT 480x320 3.5" TFT+touchscreen for Raspberry Pi




Arduino Pro Mini 328 5V/16 MHz




SparkFun BOB-12009 Logic Level Converter, Bi-Directional




HC-SR04 Ultrasonic Range Finder




Maxim DS18B20 Digital Temperature Sensor




10-32 brass thumbscrews


Hardware store


10-32 x 1/2” brass screws


Hardware store


10-32 brass nuts


Hardware store


10 gauge wireless

3 inches

Hardware store


3/16” thin-wall brass tubing

2 - 36" lengths (use as needed)

Hobby Store


1/4” x 1/16” thick brass flat stock

1 - 36" length (use as needed)



26 gauge flexible wire


salvage from old serial mouse cable


22 gauge solid core wire


salvage from solid-core CAT 5 cable


USB-mini USB cable




2 x 20 female header


connector salvaged from old IDE hard drive cable


2200 to 10000 mAh 5 volt power bank battery




SPST Toggle Switch




SPST Micro-Switch




Header Push Pins

as needed



1K resistor (brn/bblk/red)




Through-Hole Resistor – 4.7K ohm 5% 1/4W (yellow/purple/red)












Logitech K400 keyboard/mouse-pad


Office Depot










Weller 100/140 Watt soldering gun




Plumber's copper pipe cutter




Side cutters




Needle-nose pliers




Wire stripper




Flat screwdriver




3rd arm jig








Leather punch












Adafruit/Raspbian Linux w/ PiTFT support

Image burned on the Raspberry Pi 3 micro-SD card




Electrical diagram design program

runs on Linux notebook


Arduino IDE

Arduino programming interactive development environment

runs on Linux notebook



Video editing software used for promo clips

runs on Linux notebook




Here's the Fritzing layout of the electrical components. I wasn't able to find a library part file for the 3.5" 480 x 320 PiTFT module, so I simply broke out the cable connections, from the Raspberry Pi to the display with labels.


Pi-to-TFT Screen Cable

The Pi-to-TFT screen cable was fabbed-up by salvaging a 2 x 20 connector from an old IDE hard-drive cable. Take the cable retainer clip off the back and peel away the ribbon cable, being careful not to pull the pins out of the connector. You can then solder solid core 22-gauge wire to the connector pins and route the wires to male push pins that plug into the display's 2 x 20 header. I think the exposed soldered connector, on the front of the Pi, enhances the “engineering” look of the badge.

Exposed Raspberry Pi Connector Detail


PiTFT Display Push Pins Detail (back side)

The Auxiliary Arduino Pro-Mini, Ultrasonic Range Finder, and DS18B20 Digital Thermometer

An auxiliary Arduino Pro-Mini (5V,16 MHz model), connects serially to the Pi through a level-shifter board, to get near-real time readings from the ultrasonic range finder. There's also analog input pins available for as-yet undefined new badge features. The rangefinder will eventually pulse an tri-color LED, in response to how close a person gets to the front of the badge.

Badge Reverse Side - Arduino Pro-Mini And Level Shifter Board At Lower Left

It made sense to connect the Dallas One-Wire DS18B20 thermometer to a Pi digital pin, instead of the Arduino. The DS18B20 requires about 750 ms to take a temperature reading and makes accurate distance measurements with the rangefinder (connected to the Arduino) impossible. The code would have to wait for a temperature, then echo/read the rangefinder, during each program loop. Reading an ambient temperature about once a second is fine using a Python script on the Pi.

Here's some sample Python code to read the DS18B20 digital thermometer, connected to the Raspberry Pi 3.


import os

import glob

import time


os.system('modprobe w1-gpio')

os.system('modprobe w1-therm')


base_dir = '/sys/bus/w1/devices/'

device_folder = glob.glob(base_dir + '28*')[0]

device_file = device_folder + '/w1_slave'


def read_temp_raw():

f = open(device_file, 'r')

lines = f.readlines()


return lines


def read_temp():

lines = read_temp_raw()

while lines[0].strip()[-3:] != 'YES':


lines = read_temp_raw()

equals_pos = lines[1].find('t=')

if equals_pos != -1:

temp_string = lines[1][equals_pos+2:]

temp_c = float(temp_string) / 1000.0

temp_f = temp_c * 9.0 / 5.0 + 32.0

return temp_c, temp_f


while True:




Fabbed Brass Tubing Frame/Leather Backing

Some 3/16” thin-wall brass tubing, from a local hobby story, was used to build the frame. Lengths were cut with a standard plumber's copper pipe cutter, available at any home improvement store. Soldering the parts were a challenge. I used “3rd-arm” jigs, alligator clips, wire, tape, and, occasionally, hot glue to hold the parts in alignment while soldering. For thumbscrew attachments points I simply screwed the 1/4” long sections of tubing vertically to a piece of wood, placing them in the desired locations around the frame. Square frame sections were aligned with weights and binder clips, during soldering. Brackets for attaching the auxiliary Arduino, rangefinder, Raspberry Pi, and PiTFT display to the frame were made from 1/4” x 1/16” brass flat stock. Ten-gauge solid copper wire was bent and soldered to the top of the frame for lanyard attachment points.

Brass Tubing Frame And Lanyard Hook Details

An old tried-and-true Weller 100/140 watt soldering gun and 1/16” rosin-cored solder handled constructing the frame without any issues. Fine adjustments in tubing length and corner rounding of the flat-stock brackets is easy with a small abrasive drum, in a Dremel tool. You can also use a medium grit sanding sponge, to knock off sharp edges and smooth out solder joints.

I like the hand-crafted, antique Steampunk look of the brass frame and thumbscrews. You have to be able to take the leather backing off of the frame for modifications and the thumbscrews make that very easy.

Antique Name Plate

A Steampunk conference badge certainly needs a cool looking name plate. After considerable searching I found an appropriate Victorian font and printed the 'Dr Torq' characters on standard laser printer paper. Next, I carefully ripped the paper to the appropriate size and soaked it in a mild instant iced-tea solution for a few minutes. The antique look came from wadding up the paper while wet and then flattening it out on a paper towel and drying it with an electric hair drier. I then used clear nail polish to glue the paper to the small leather name plate. After the “glue” dried, I painted the front of the stained paper with a coat of nail polish to give it a slight sheen. Don't worry about the paper tearing, here and there, because that only enhances the old-timey look of the badge. The leather and paper name plate was then hot-glued to the leather badge backing. I thought the aged effect turned out very well.

Dr. Torq Name Plate Detail

Wrap Up

The badge was a huge hit at a recent conference in Santa Clara, CA. I'd like to use photocells for input, instead of push-buttons, so that might be a possible new feature. It would also be cool to wear the badge around the conference show floor, then simply plug it into a projector to give one of my tech talks. Switching between the 3.5” TFT and the HDMI video output, isn't quite there yet.

I'm happy with the Gen-5 badge and not sure when Dr Torq will be motivated to go to version 6.0. He's a bit eccentric, you know.

Dr. Torq (aka: Rob Reilly) explains the latest, bleeding-edge technology and trends to audiences worldwide, through his widely published articles and in-person tech talks. The trademark Steampunk-themed gadgets, he builds, are insanely popular online, at conferences and at tech events. Visit his website at DrTorq.com. Always interested in new clients, you can contact him via email at doc@drtorq.com.

Hardware IoT Development as Simple as Drag and Drop

Design News - Thu, 2017-10-12 02:01

Earlier this year Google held its IO 2017 conference where the latest in Android and Artificial Intelligence tools where presented through demonstrations to attending developers.

Some of the software tools discussed at the event were Tensorflow, Kotlin, and Android Things platform using Android Studio. The Android Things session presented new coding features of Android Studio that allow hardware developers to build IoT devices.

At first glance, high level coding may sway novice IoT developers because of the steep learning curve in using traditional programming languages such as XML, Javascript, and C++ used to build wireless devices. Cayenne has removed this coding roadblock by creating an online and mobile development platform where IoT applications can be built by dragging and dropping device widgets onto a dashboard.


The mydevices Cayenne website provides IoT Project tools based on drag and drop of device widgets. (Source: Cayenne)


Getting Started

To gain access to the online IoT development tools requires a simple registration. Once registered, you have the complete online IoT development tools suite at your disposal. The mydevices Cayenne website provides an introduction video which shows the key features of the mydevices IoT platform and how to setup the hardware and download the programming tools to your microcontroller development platform. The Raspberry Pi, and Arduino microcontroller-based platforms, along with the LoRa devices, are compatible with the mydevices IoT development tool suite.


The mydevices Cayenne IoT development platform works with the Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and LoRa programmable devices. (Source: Cayenne)


Once the device is selected, the programming tools to connect with the mydevices Project Screen will need to be installed. There is a procedural guide that will assist in installing these tools onto the selected device. For the Raspberry Pi, the tools can be installed by a communications terminal using SSH (Secure Shell), or using the Cayenne Mobile app. The installation process can take up to 10 minutes.


The programming tools for a Raspberry Pi can be installed using a communications terminal using SSH (Secure Shell) or using Cayenne Mobile app for iOS and Android devices. (Source: Cayenne)


After the tools have been installed, an online dashboard will appear on the desktop PC or notebook computer’s screen.


The Cayenne dashboard will display on the screen after a successful programming tools installation to the Raspberry Pi. CPU performance and RAM usage of the wirelessly connected Raspberry Pi are immediately displayed on the dashboard. (Source: Cayenne)


Developing the IoT Application

Building the IoT application is as simple as dragging and dropping a device widget onto a dashboard. To expedite the IoT build, Cayenne provides a variety of widgets. Also, project templates for actuator, sensor devices are provided to help assist in building IoT concepts quickly. In addition, the look and functionality of the actuator or sensor can be changed by selecting from a list of event and visual attributes.


An example of sensors that can be used with the Raspberry Pi and mydevices IoT platform. (Source: Cayenne)


Hands-On Experience

To test Cayenne’s drag-and-drop method of building IoT applications, I built a simple wireless LED Light switch using the mydevices actuator widget. The software tools were installed on my Raspberry Pi 3 by SSH and the Tera-Term communication terminal. Once installed, I selected the simple LED light template for mydevices IoT project. I built the LED circuit using an Adafruit T-Cobbler breakout board and a solderless breadboard. I selected a pushbutton to activate the LED and placed it on my project dashboard. Also, I added a LED icon to the pushbutton to reflect the IoT project’s control function.


A simple LED – IoT controller built with a mydevices pushbutton for the Raspberry Pi. (Source: Cayenne)


Toggling the pushbutton on the dashboard with the mouse turns on and off the wired LED circuit on the solderless breadboard. The total development time of this project was 30 minutes.


LED circuit wired to a Raspberry Pi using an Adafruit T-Cobbler breakout board. (Source: Don Wilcher)


LED turned on using the mydevices digital pushbutton on the project dashboard. (Source: Don Wilcher)


I plan to further explore technology areas in robotics, industrial, and home automation controls using this simple drag-and-drop IoT platform development tool. Additional technical information and resources may be found on Cayenne’s website.


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. Besides being an Electrical Engineer, he’s a Certified Electronics Technician with ETA International and Alabama State Certified Electronics Instructor.


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frog's 'Yona' Project Reimagines the Awkward Gynecology Visit Experience

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

For anyone who has experienced it firsthand, a visit to the gynecologist can easily be a dreaded one. Some purport the experience to be so awkward, they skip the opportunity to visit a doctor entirely, which can be seriously detrimental to a woman's overall health. Last week designers at frog announced Yona, a complete healthcare overhaul of the annual gynecology visit that aims to stop this vicious cycle of neglect and ask, "is there a better way to design the doctor's visit experience?" Combining extensive research with abundant prototyping, the team has developed not just a more material and form-friendly redesign of the speculum, but also an experience that is relaxing, empathetic, and even lighthearted. 

"Our research showed us that many people with vaginas feel anxious about pelvic exams, which is no help to their health. Through Yona, we wanted to create a conversation and highlight that it is possible to balance human needs with clinical needs in the pelvic exam setting," said Hailey Stewart, the industrial designer who led the project alongside her research partner and former frog designer Sahana Kumar, with help from Mechanical Engineer Fran Wang and Visual Designer Rachel Hobart. Yona was originally a passion project the designers worked on with support from frog in between client projects and outside of work, conducting research and talking with medical professionals to learn more about the OBGYN visit experience on both sides.

A standard speculum (left) versus the Yona speculum (right)

The focal point of their pitch with Yona is to improve on the standard speculum, a metal instrument used to dilate the vagina and cervix invented in the mid-1800s with a controversial backstory (the inventor, James Marion Sims, apparently developed his original design based on research experiments he conducted on slave women without anesthesia). Amazingly, the design of the speculum has remained much the same since its development over 150 years ago. 

The Yona speculum takes into account not only the ergonomics of the tool but also the material—two simple fixes that could result in a drastically more comfortable experience. Noteworthy features of the speculum include a three-vs-two "duckbill" design, which opens in a triangular shape that allows doctors a clear view while also reducing how wide the instrument must open, a silicone build, silent mechanics, and finally, a more ergonomic handle that is angled at 105 degrees as opposed to the typical 90-degree handle.  

This redesign is not just aimed at giving more comfort to patients, as it also provides a chance for better accuracy with doctors. The currently dated design of the speculum forces doctors to open the cervix to an uncomfortable degree while also not necessarily even guaranteeing a good look into the vaginal canal. Stewart and her team prototyped different speculum designs and then put them into the hands of OB/GYN physicians to test, who noted that the improvements in ergonomics and form ultimately improved ease of use and efficiency when conducting exams. 

On top of an upgrade of the medical instruments used in pelvic exams, the design team wanted to take it one step further by evaluating the exam experience as a whole. Before even prototyping, the designers conducted a series of in-field research sessions with patients and providers to understand the true pain points of gynecological visits in both a technical and emotional sense. "We realized that redesigning the speculum was the right place to start, but it was inseparable from the context in which it is used...There are so many moments in the exam process that are anxiety-inducing, and simple adjustments in the overall experience can go a long way in reducing that anxiety and discomfort, making for a more human exam experience. We wanted to consider the end-to-end exam by improving a few specific elements and moments and how they flow together to empower the patient and promote healthy outcomes," noted the team. 

The first part of the Yona experience design involves an exam room app where you can set your exam procedure preferences and ask a health provider any prior questions you may have before getting started.

A "cheeky" caption

The team also designed products for the actual exam room that promote a more seamless and relaxed environment, like a hanger that allows you to hang your clothes as opposed to piling them in a corner as well as a playful graphic that shows you exactly where your butt should go (in an attempt, as they write it, to reduce "lots of awkward scootching and cold butts on crinkly paper") 

The Yona experience even incorporates a special meditation app that makes time waiting for the doctor more about zoning into a calm space rather than waiting awkwardly and nervously for your exam, which in turn makes the doctor's job that much easier. 

Although at the moment Yona is a conceptual project very much still in development, the whole team says this is just the beginning: "We will be continuing to prototype, test and refine all the concepts included in Yona...eventually, we want to branch out to other aspects of the pelvic exam, like the stirrups and the exam table, and even other exams entirely." 

The women who designed Yona are hoping to eventually partner with the right organization to bring this to life, but for now, they say it's about refining their concept to get the details just right—the most important part of the process is dreaming up a more human healthcare experience. 

Learn more about the Yona project here

Reader Submitted: <b id="4d8fab_4388">Brevite's Sleek Travel Backpacks are Secretly Tricked Out with Storage Solutions</b>

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

Brevite, developer of functional and versatile everyday-carry backpacks has returned to Kickstarter with the Hadley Series, which includes three different daily-carry backpacks offering backers the opportunity to choose the pack that best fits their individual life adventures. Taking a different approach to the current landscape of bulky everyday-carry backpacks, the Hadley Series' sleek design balances form and functionality by incorporating Brevite's unique removable insert system to deliver more adaptable solutions for daily uses.

Brevite has a mission to design functional travel accessories that help people get out and experience the world around them. We specialize in designing backpacks for photographers, commuters, and travelers.

View the full project here

How to Clear Security Without Stopping: Dubai Airport to Replace Checkpoints with Walk-Through "Virtual Aquarium Tunnels"

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

Imagine if you could get through airport security without having to stop and wait at a counter or metal detector. Well, officials in Dubai reckon they've got a technological solution that would allow you to keep walking, as you're being scanned.

According to The National, they've come up with a "virtual aquarium tunnel" loaded up with cameras.

Image by Satish Kumar for The National

The walls of the tunnel are screens on which eye-catching video, like images of an aquarium, will be played. The images are meant to draw the traveler's gaze, and as they walk through the tunnel, some 80 cameras complete a facial recognition scan. By the time you reach the end of the tunnel, you're either cleared and can pass through, or security materializes.

HH Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, walking through the tunnel. Image via What's On

While they're starting the tunnels off with just face recognition, the idea is to later add iris scanning. Additionally Rabie Atieh, Vice President of Emirates Group Security, speaks of "new Chinese devices that detect things that were not detected by earlier devices, like explosives" though it's not clear if those would be added to the tunnel or in another location.

The design is reportedly the result of 18 months' worth of brainstorming, and the first tunnel will be rolled out next year. The goal is for the tunnels to completely replace check-in counters.

Though the technologies are different, it does make me think a bit of the body-scanning tunnel in the original "Total Recall:"

I wonder if whoever came up with the Dubai concept is a Schwarzenegger fan?

In any case, I think that they could make the tunnel more fun to travel through by insisting travelers pass through it Soul-Train-Line-Dance style:

Toyota to Unveil Toolbox-Based Truck Design

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

At the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota will unveil this Tj Cruiser, a sort of SUV/van hybrid. 

Meant to be "used like a toolbox," the chunky vehicle has been designed to easily haul stuff.

The rear opening is huge, and would make it easy to get awkward objects like bicycles in and out.

The seats fold completely flat and have multiple tie-down points. The company claims that the interior will swallow "long items up to 3 meters in length such as surfboards."

It's a bit of a shame that the B-pillar is so chunky, but there's probably no other way to achieve the requisite stiffness required for the frame.

Visually, it seems that the seats have their own butt cracks.

I'm digging the little canvas strips everywhere, though it's not clear what they're meant to hold; pens?

The boxy exterior is quite the design departure for Toyota, so it'll be interesting to see how the public reacts at the formal unveiling.

Stanford Professor Claims to Have Developed Working Gaydar

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

All of us are recorded on surveillance cameras dozens of times per day. And soon many of us will be unlocking new iPhones with our faces. As facial recognition technology continues to improve, there is a danger that it can be combined with the ample existing footage of us to invade our privacy in new ways.

To warn against this, Dr. Michal Kosinski, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, set out to develop gaydar. By feeding 35,000 photos of both gay and straight folks' faces into a deep neural network's algorithms, and using an off-the-shelf facial analysis program, Kosinski and co-researcher Yilun Wang reckon they've granted AI the ability to visually distinguish between gay and straight.

The accuracy that they're claiming is astonishing: They say that if provided five photographs of a person, their system can correctly identify gay or straight with 91% accuracy for males and 83% accuracy for females. When humans were put to the test, their accuracy was far worse, getting it right only 61% of the time for males and 54% for females.

This has some terrifying implications. There are plenty of reasons that a person might want to keep their sexual orientation private, and there are still developed countries on this planet where homosexuality is considered a crime punishable by death.

Speaking of death, Dr. Kosinski has had his own life threatened after publishing the research, according to the Times:

"I imagined I'd raise the alarm," Dr. Kosinski said in an interview. "Now I'm paying the price." He'd just had a meeting with campus police "because of the number of death threats."

Plenty of folks have been tearing into the researchers' claims, which have all been recorded in a publically-viewable paper called "Deep Neural Networks Can Detect Sexual Orientation from Faces," and which is due to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Critics say the system could not possibly be reliable outside of the study, which relied solely on photographs of white Americans who were open about their sexual preferences.

Until Dr. Kosinski's gaydar is definitively proven accurate or inaccurate, we can choose to either believe that it works or that it doesn't work. Although the pseudoscience of physiognomy--whereby it was thought that one could deduce a person's intelligence and criminal proclivities by their facial features--has been debunked, I don't have a hard time believing that algorithms crunching through thousands of photos can detect patterns that we humans cannot perceive. "Just because humans are unable to see the signs in faces," the Economist points out, "does not mean that machines cannot do so."

I also remember reading a 2003 University of London study where researchers discovered that lesbians blink like straight men. To explain, people blink when startled, by a loud noise, for instance. The rate of this involuntary eye-blink is different between straight men and straight women. However, the researchers found that the blink rates lined up for lesbian women and straight men. As it is humanly impossible to control this response to being startled, the study would seem to reinforce that sexual orientation is involuntary and not a choice.

If Dr. Kosinski's gaydar is accurate, it, too, could be used to support that case; we cannot easily change the micro-dimensions of our facial features.

Alternatively, the gaydar could be exploited for profit or used in the service of hatred or ideology.

As is always the case with technology, it would be less about the tech and more about what we choose to do with it.

Design Job: Suck it Up! Electrolux is Seeking a Senior CMF Designer in Charlotte, NC

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

Electrolux is currently looking for a talented and highly creative Senior CMF Designer who will be part of the North American Major Appliances design team. The successful candidate will be responsible for leading the development of outstanding color, material and finish design alongside trend analysis and foresight work in relation to our North American market. The position will be located in Charlotte, NC.

View the full design job here

Reader Submitted: A Chef's Knife Roll Bag Designed for Wear and Tear

Core 77 - Wed, 2017-10-11 15:58

The chef's knife roll is a bag that combines the aesthetic and durable necessities of a professional chef's knife bag. The reality is that the current knife rolls on the market either celebrate aesthetic value or durability, but rarely both. The purpose of designing Coltello is to present a much needed solution to this gap in the market.

Bag opens to reveal a simple knife holding roll
No-slip material to protect the bladesConceptsChosen ConceptOperational SequenceView the full project here

Will World War III be fought in the cyber world?

Design News - Wed, 2017-10-11 03:50

Hacking has become a full-time career option, a weapon of mass disruption and a way of compromising privacy on a global scale. The billions of connected devices being bought by businesses and consumers every year is expanding the attack surface at a rapid rate. So, are individuals and industry dealing with the challenge of protecting their devices from cradle to grave? If not, what needs to change and how quickly? Do we now need a more human-centered approach to how we design and engage with technology that reduces our vulnerability to threats and makes us more empowered?

Cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken will address such questions as a panelist keynoter at ARM TechCon in Santa Clara, Calif., this month. Specifically, she will answers questions about the role of psychology in fighting cyber threats during the presentation, “Avoiding a Hacker’s Paradise,” on Oct. 25, 2017 at 9:50 am.

Ahead of her talk, we asked Dr. Aiken about her work in cyber-psychology and how cyber dangers have changed in recent years.

Design News: Could you describe what it means to be a cyber-psychologist?

Aiken: Cyberpsychology is the study of the impact of technology on humankind. This involves everything from virtual environments to Internet psychology. My specialist area is Forensic Cyberpsychology, which focuses on abnormal and criminal behavior online. Cyberpsychology has been described as the “new psychology” and as a discipline is expected to enjoy exponential growth due to continued rapid acceleration of Internet technologies, and the unprecedentedly pervasive and profound influence of digital connectivity on human beings. 

Cyber-psychologist Mary Aiken will speak on the role of psychology in fighting cyber threats during the ARM TechCon  keynote presentation, “Avoiding a Hacker’s Paradise,” Oct. 25.

Design News: I’ve noticed your study of technology has moved from “humans interacting with technology” to cybercrime and cyberstalking. Has this been prompted by a growth in the nefarious use of technology?

Aiken: Many years ago, in one of my first lectures in Forensic Psychology the lecturer opened the lecture with “if you want to live a long and healthy life - then you should change your next of kin frequently”.  He was referring to incidences of domestic homicide, where the death of a person has resulted from violence, abuse, or neglect by a person they are related to or have been in an intimate relationship with. The lecture was inspirational and I became fascinated by forensic science.

Many years later I studied cyberpsychology and published papers on cyber babies; the impact of technology on the developing infant, and cyberchondria; that is, anxiety induced by escalation during online health-related search to review morbid or serious content. I became increasingly intrigued by how human behavior could mutate and become amplified and accelerated online, specifically criminal and malicious behaviour. This led me to focus on research in the areas of organized cybercrime, youth hacking, cyber behavioural profiling, and human factors in cybersecurity. It also led to my position as an academic advisor to Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre.

Design News: In the time you studied cybersecurity, have you seen a change in the type of people engaging in cybercrime?

Aiken: The one phenomenon that is most alarming is the increase in the number of young people engaging in cybercriminal activity – everything from hacking to cyber fraud. The Australian Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research recently reported a surge in cyber fraud offences committed by people under 18 years.

In a recent survey, roughly one in six teenagers in the US, and one in four teenagers in the UK, reported that they had tried some form of Internet hacking. Law enforcement have noted that young people, particularly IT literate boys, are increasingly committing cybercrime offences ranging from money laundering for criminal gangs, to hacking, to use of remote access trojans (RATs) – that is, malware that can log keystrokes, lift passwords, encrypt files and hold them for ransom, and is used for everything from blackmail to financial fraud.

Youth involvement in cybercrime points to developmental aspects of cyber criminality, and therefore requires urgent investment in educational and intervention programs designed to address evolving cyber juvenile delinquency.

Design News: Have you also seen a change in the way people and organizations are protecting themselves from cybercrime?

Aiken: Recent reports have highlighted the vulnerability of insecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices. In 2016 we had the first massive attack originating from connected devices, as the Mirai malware transformed around 150 000 routers and CCTV cameras into a DDoS botnet. This botnet was involved in several attacks, including one targeting internet infrastructure on the West Coast of the United States.

The sheer volume, velocity and variety of cyber-criminal activity online from large-scale data breaches to ransomware attacks means that increasingly organizations will need to deploy artificial intelligence solutions in order to protect themselves.




Design News: Do you see developments in cybersecurity sufficient to keep up with advances in cyber-attacks?

Aiken: There has been some interesting work undertaken in terms of comparing how the human immune system operates, and how a defensive network policing the Internet of Things might operate. A technological immune system would aim to detect illness in edge devices through sensors. The system would have the ability to quarantine unhealthy devices and deliver automatic treatment.

Design News: Should governments get more involved in cyber protection of its citizens and organization?

Aiken: Government does have a role to play in terms of determining policy regarding cyber security – individual organizations and enterprises are at present responsible for their own security - when it comes to citizens I believe that cyber security starts at home.

Design News: Will World War III be fought in the cyber world?

Aiken: First of all, I hope that we never have a World War III. However, war in cyber contexts is a distinct possibility, if not probability. Just last year NATO declared cyberspace as a "domain of operations," acknowledging that the wars of the future will be fought on land, sea, air, and on computer networks.


ARM Technology Drives the Future. Join 4,000+ embedded systems specialists for three days of ARM® ecosystem immersion you can’t find anywhere else.   ARM TechCon. Oct. 24-26, 2017 in Santa Clara, CA.  Register here for the event, hosted by   Design News   ’ parent company UBM.


Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 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.

Image courtesy of European Cybercrime Centre.

What to Consider When Starting a Services Company

Design News - Wed, 2017-10-11 02:31

It has nearly been 10 years since my business partner and I decided to start our product development professional services firm. By all measures, Intelligent Product Solutions Inc. (IPS) has succeeded well beyond our initial vision. With this milestone approaching, it is worth recounting how and why we came to start IPS and some of the important “lessons learned” along the way.

How did we get here?

For most start-up and small business owners, there comes a moment of truth when the decision is made to start up. In many cases, a seminal event triggers the process. For me, the ball started rolling when I was released from my executive position at a large tech company. I had been there for more than 13 years culminating a product development career of nearly 30 years in the corporate world. There were a few things I knew. First, I no longer wanted to be directly employed in the corporate world, especially as an executive. Second, I needed time to soul search what I really wanted to do. After a few months, I decided to dabble in the consulting world using my dusty, but still intact, engineering skills at a small design consulting firm.

That experience led me to two insights. First, I found that I enjoyed being close to the technical work again. Second, I found that I had the ability to find, land, and satisfy new clients. After about two-and-a-half years of consulting through others, my business partner and I realized we could do this independently and left to start our firm, IPS. We also realized that, while risky, the client relationships we’d built and our former engineering team members would very likely join us if we struck out on our own. And so at the end of 2007, we did.

Why are we here?

Every startup may have a different motivation for striking out on their own. Certainly, there are those who start companies purely with the goal of getting rich. We see such founders every week here at IPS. For the majority, however, the focus is not on how wealthy they will be but rather, they have an underlying passion for what they are planning to do. For my partner and me, we really enjoyed the consulting world. The variety of projects, skills and relationships were exciting and motivating. We knew there was a market for the type of full service product development capabilities we could build and offer.

Furthermore, we knew there were gaps in the marketplace where we could thrive. This is crucial – it is not just a matter of can something be done. Where is the uniqueness? In product companies, this could be unique domain knowledge or better yet, strong and defensible intellectual property. In a services industry, there has to be a clear niche that is unserved or under-served. Hopefully, in either a product or services play, it helps if you have the knowledge, know-how or ability to do something that is very difficult to replicate and, as importantly, of high, compelling value to potential clients. In the case, of IPS, we knew it was hard to build as diverse and highly experienced a team as we ended up building and we knew (from my days of using professional services firms) there was a dearth of options with the full suite of competencies of IPS. I also knew that “If we build it, they will come” was a true possibility.

When starting any company, founders need to do a risk/reward analysis. While this need not be highly formalized, it is necessary. We understood the risk (i.e. my partner and I along with “family and friends network” could lose money) but considered the risk to be moderate. We knew the clients who would help us kickstart the company (to our friends out there, you know who you are and THANKS!). We also knew that we had the relationships we needed to rapidly build the depth and diversity of the team (in a services company, the team staff-hours are the “product”). We further realized that, while not a path to fame and vast riches, we could generate a return on our investment, make a good living and, as importantly for us, have all kinds of interesting, satisfying work. Lastly, for good, bad or other, we don’t have any other bosses to whom we need to report or satisfy (other than our clients, of course!).

What have we learned?

There are many lessons learned, and we continue to learn every day. Here are a few:

1. It takes a lot more capital than you think. Anyone who thinks they don’t need a lot of ready cash behind their business is sadly mistaken

2. Related to #1, it takes a lot longer to get paid than you can imagine. You want those nice, big Tier #1 clients? Great. So does everyone else. Realize that payment terms can be 60 days or longer (sometimes much longer). In a services business, it means you pay a staff member this week and you might invoice two weeks later. Then it takes two weeks for the manager at your client to approve payment. Then you wait 60 days for the client to pay (who sometimes will only start the payment process in 60 days). Then, be prepared to wait several days for the check to clear. Engineers and other skilled workers are expensive. Better have a lot of money in the bank or a hefty line of credit behind you.

3. Not all clients are ethical. In 30+ years working inside big companies, with very rare exceptions, if a vendor did the work, they will eventually get paid. However, there are a lot of unethical small/mid-size businesses out there who, as a matter of practice, will try to stiff their vendors/suppliers out of payment. Be prepared to spend a lot more time with attorneys than you might have imagined.

4. Landing new clients takes a lot more time than you think. Furthermore, the bigger they are, the longer it takes. We recently did work for awell-known cellular service company. We spent almost two years trying to land this client and get on their “approved vendor list.” (I am still not sure it was worth our time investment, by the way.)

5. You need a strong internal team to whom you can delegate responsibility -- and you have to be willing to delegate. I can’t stress this enough. You will fail if you do not have a very capable team with the various skills needed to build and run your company. I am fortunate in having a great business partner with whom I have a very natural division of labor. Without a great partner (or partners), I can tell you that it will get very lonely at the top. We also have a powerful team in all the functional areas of the company including finance and legal. We delegate responsibility and authority and hold people accountable. If you bring in a team you that you cannot trust to take charge, and can’t empower them to do so, you have the wrong team.

6. Whether you are selling shoes or you are selling high end services, realize you are selling to people. You have to be open, honest and engaging. Even in the era of social media, rampant electronic messaging and online shopping, when it comes to services, people buy from people. Your customers always have options. If you are going to grow your business your customers have to want to work with you.

That’s it in a nutshell. Starting a new business is not for the faint of heart. You need courage and stamina, and for most of us, it is a marathon and not a sprint. You also need a lot of self-confidence and a winning business model. You must be “all in.” That is, be prepared to do anything and everything to make your business a success.

Mitch is the President and Cofounder of Intelligent Product Solutions (IPS). He honed his deep knowledge of product design on the strength of a 30-year career with companies that manufacture commercially successful products for the consumer, industrial, and DoD markets. Prior to launching IPS, Mitch was VP of Engineering at Symbol Technologies. He holds numerous US and international patents, as well a Bachelor of Science degree from Hofstra University, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University, and an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He can be reached at mitchm@ips-yes.com.


How to Start and Grow a Start-up Panel & Networking Session You're smart. You have ideas. You want to start and grow your own company. But you also have to pay the bills. In this open-to-all session at Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) Silicon Valley, Dec. 7, 2017, we'll hear from a panel of engineers who became successful entrepreneurs. This session will conclude with a Q&A and networking opportunity. Click here to register for ESC Silicon Valley today!

Eek! DNA-Born Malware at ESC Minneapolis 2017

Design News - Wed, 2017-10-11 02:01

As I've said on several occasions, things are beginning to move very, very quickly in Embedded Space (where no one can hear you scream).

Just a couple of years ago, things like machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) were topics that were primarily of academic interest only. Now these technologies are being deployed in all sorts of real-world embedded systems, and we're only just scratching the surface of what's possible.

Day-by-day, I see more and more weird and wonderful items of techno-weenie news crossing my desk, such as a system with the ability to listen to a group of people talking -- along with noise sources like air conditioners and television news programs playing in the background -- analyze the entire sound space, disassemble it into the individual elements, and then isolate all of the elements and listen to them in real-time, including tracking the locations of individual speakers as they more around the room.

Or how about a start-up company deep-learning/neural-network-based systems can analyze as little as a minute of someone speaking and use this to generate a unique key. This key can subsequently be used to generate any speech, mimicking its corresponding voice, augmented with any desired emotion.

The thing is that, although some of this stuff is exciting, a lot of it is starting to get somewhat scary. Consider, for example, the AI system at Facebook that invented its own language. It has been reported that researchers pulled the plug when they realized they didn’t understand what the AI agents were saying to each other.

Or how about the fact that researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated that biohackers, using widely available tools, could embed malware in synthesized strands of deoxyribonucleic acid that would allow them to take over the computer analyzing the DNA.

So where should you go to learn about all the things you can look forward to, and all the things you have to start worrying about? Well, a good place to start is the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), November 8-9, in Minneapolis.

In particular, you should attend my talk on Advanced Technologies for 21st Century Embedded Systems, in which we will delve into cognitive (thinking / reasoning) embedded systems, artificial neural networks, deep learning, machine vision, virtual and augmented realities, and how all these technologies are coming together.

Happily, this talk will be in the ESC Engineering Theater, which means anyone can attend so long as they are flaunting a Free Expo Pass, but you do have to register. Hopefully I'll see you there. I'll be the one in the Hawaiian shirt.


Join Max "The Magnificent" Maxfield at ESC Minneapolis!
Once again, Max Maxfield brings his knowledge and wit to ESC Minneapolis, Nov. 8-9, 2017! Join him in the ESC Engineering Theater for "Building an Artificial Brain," and "Advanced Technologies for 21st Century Embedded Systems." You will be glad you did! Use the code SAVE15ESCMINN to save 15% when you register today!


This blog was first published on Embedded.com