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Production Methods: How Complicated Radiating Patterns are Engraved in Metal

Core 77 - Thu, 2019-11-14 21:45

Check out these patterns cut into metal, and ask yourself: How the heck did they do that?

The process has long been known to master watchmakers from the Continent, and in English it's called rose engine turning, done with a rose engine lathe. (The French call it Guilloché, with there being some debate as to whether it was invented by a guy named Guillot or not.)

A rose engine lathe

The rose engine lathe is sprung; that is to say, the entire rotating part of the lathe rides on springs, like a car suspension, except the range of movement is side-to-side rather than up-down. Large pattern wheels (the titular "roses") are loaded onto the lathe.

The stack of discs that look like gears with the teeth shaved off are the "roses," or patterns

Next a finger-like rubber--as in "thing that rubs," not the stretchy material--is placed against the edge of the desired rose.

The two rods protruding from the block under the wingnut are the "rubbers." Here he's advancing one of them towards the edge of the "rose."

Because the rubber is fixed and the lathe is sprung, when the lathe rotates, it moves in accordance with the pattern.

Close-up of the tip of the "rubber." It rides along the ridges on the edge of the "rose" as the lathe rotates, which produces a repetitive side-to-side oscillation.

Then a cutting tool is brought into contact with the object chucked up in the lathe.

Confused yet? Watch this short clip and all will be clear:

To give you some idea of how long a machine like this takes to set up, consider that the video above is Part 5 in the series. The first four parts were just the watchmaker, Roger Smith, getting the machine and material dialed in. (If you want to see the whole thing to better understand the machine, Part 1 is here.)

The McLaren Elva Eschews the Unnecessary in Pursuit of Lightness

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-14 05:00
Image source: McLaren Automotive

Looking at elemental classic cars can bring twinges of regret that today’s much safer machines have become massive, and massively heavy, armored tanks by comparison. McLaren Automotive must have been feeling nostalgic, as the company has looked back to 1964 to create the open-top Elva, a lightweight supercar that strips away as many modern amenities as possible to create a performance-focused driver’s car.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

Elva Cars was an English sports car maker that, in 1964, built street-legal versions of McLaren’s M1A race car. That car was a state-of-the-art steel space frame open-cockpit two-seater, powered by a 340-horsepower, lightweight aluminum 4.5-liter Oldsmobile V8 engine.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

In tribute, McLaren will build 399 of the $1.7 million new versions of the Elva. Like a proper minimalist race car, the Elva doesn’t even have a windshield, but one will be available in those states that require one. The elimination of the roof, windshield, wipers and other assorted ephemera not necessary for high-speed sporting drives are obvious contributors to the Elva’s claim as McLaren’s lightest model. Less obvious contributors include titanium pistons inside the brake calipers and a titanium/Inconel exhaust system that features 3D-printed titanium tips.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

The modern Elva features a version of the engine used in the McLaren Senna. In this case, the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is rated at 804 horsepower, 590 lb.-ft. and drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch paddle-shifted transmission. These factors combine to accelerate the Elva to 60 mph in less than 3.0 seconds and to 124 mph (200 kph) in just 6.7 seconds, which is quicker than the Senna.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

With no roof structure to support, McLaren says the Elva has its own unique carbon fiber chassis, rather than sharing the one of the two chassis designs, the MonoCell II or Monocage chassis designs, which would likely be heavier than necessary for the minimalist Elva.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

As with its brand siblings, the Elva features electro-hydraulic power steering assist for the superior feel it provides over electric power steering systems and it uses McLaren’s linked-hydraulic active suspension system to provide seemingly contradictory cushy ride and sharp handling.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

McLaren understands that you might not be interested in suffering in the heat or the cold while motoring al fresco, so they’ve incorporated an Active Air Management System which the company claims shelters occupants by manipulating air flow. It ducts air from the nose of the car to outlet vents ahead of the cabin to direct airflow over the cockpit, preserving a bubble of still air inside at speed.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

One visible difference between the original Elva and this new one is the old car’s fixed roll bar that provides crash protection in the event of a roll over. McLaren’s new car has a pop-up roll bar hidden beneath its rear deck that deploys if the car starts to tip over, providing roll-over protection.

Image source: McLaren Automotive

“The McLaren Elva is a true Ultimate roadster; it exists purely for the pleasure of driving, to deliver an enthralling and immersive experience born from the ultimate connection between the car, the driver and the elements,” pledged Andy Palmer, McLaren Automotive Vehicle Line Director for its Ultimate Series of cars. 

We should all hope to be lucky enough to find out firsthand one day.

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

4 Reasons to Use Artificial Intelligence in Your Next Embedded Design

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-14 04:30

For many, just mentioning artificial intelligence brings up mental images of sentient robots at war with mankind and man’s struggle to avoid the endangered species list. While this may one day be a real scenario for when (perhaps a big if?) mankind ever creates an artificial general intelligence (AGI), the more pressing matter is whether embedded software developers should be embracing or fearing the use of artificial intelligence in their systems. Here are five reasons why you may want to include machine learning in your next project.

Reason #1 – Marketing Buzz

From an engineering perspective, including a technology or methodology in a design simply because it has marketing buzz is something that every engineer should fight. The fact though is that if there is a buzz around something, odds are it will in the end help to sell the product better. Technology marketing seems to come in cycles, but there are always underlying themes that are driving those cycles that at the end of the day do turn out to be real.

Artificial intelligence has progressed through the years, with deep learning on the way. (Image source: Oracle)

Machine learning has a ton of buzz around it right now. I’m finding this year that had industry events, machine learning typically makes up at least 25% of the event talks. I’ve had several clients tell me that they need machine learning in their product and when I ask them their use case and why they need it, the answer is just that they need it. I’ve heard this same story from dozens of colleagues, but the push for machine learning seems relentless right now. The driver is not necessarily engineering, but simply leveraging industry buzz to sell product.

Reason #2 – The Hardware Can Support It

It’s truly amazing how much microcontroller and application processors have changed in just the last few years. Microcontrollers which I have always considered to be resource constrained devices are now supporting megabytes of flash and RAM, having on-board cache and reaching system clock rates of 1 GHz and beyond! These “little” controllers are now even supporting DSP instructions which means that they can efficiently execute inferences.

With the amount of computing power available on these processors, it may not require much additional cost on the BOM to be able to support machine learning. If there’s no added cost, and the marketing department is pushing for it, then leveraging machine learning might make sense simply because the hardware can support it!  

Reason #3 – It May Simplify Development

Machine learning has risen on the “buzz” charts for a reason. It has become a nearly indispensable tool for the IoT and the cloud. Machine learning can dramatically simplify software development. For example, have you ever tried to code up an application that can recognize gestures, handwriting or classify objects? These are really simple problems for a human brain to solve, but extremely difficult to write a program for. In certain program domains such as voice recognition, image classification and predictive maintenance, machine learning can dramatically simplify the development process and speed-up development.

With an ever expanding IoT and more data than one could ever hope for, it’s becoming far easier to classify large datasets and then train a model to use that information to generate the desired outcome for the system. In the past, developers may have had configuration values or acceptable operation bars that were constantly checked during runtime. These often involved lots of testing and a fair amount guessing. Through machine learning this can all be avoided by providing the data, developing a model and then deploying the inference on an embedded systems.

Reason #4 – To Expand Your Solution Toolbox

One aspect of engineering that I absolutely love is that the tools and technologies that we use to solve problems and development products is always changing. Just look at how you developed an embedded one, three and five years ago! While some of your approaches have undoubtedly stayed constant, there should have been considerable improvements and additions to your processes that have improved your efficiency and the way that you solve problems.

Leveraging machine learning is yet another tool to add to the toolbox that in time, will prove to be an indispensable tool for developing embedded systems. However, that tool will never be sharpened if developers don’t start to learn about, evaluate and use that tool. While it may not make sense to deploy a machine learning solution for a product today or even next year, understanding how it applies to your product and customers, the advantages and disadvantages can help to ensure that when the technology is more mature, that it will be easier to leverage for product development.


Real Value Will Follow the Marketing Buzz

There are a lot of reasons to start using machine learning in your next design cycle. While I believe marketing buzz is one of the biggest driving forces for “tinyML” right now, I also believe that real applications are not far behind and that developers need to start experimenting today if they are going to be successful tomorrow. While machine learning for embedded holds great promise, there are several issues that I think should strike a little bit of fear into the cautious developer such as:

  • How to test and verify their models
  • Hackers attempts to foil or trick their model
  • How to secure their application code

These are concerns for a later time though, once we’ve mastered just getting our new tool to work the way that we expect it to.

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


DesignCon: By Engineers, For Engineers

January 28-30: North America's largest chip, board, and systems event, DesignCon, returns to Silicon Valley for its 25th year! The premier educational conference and technology exhibition, this three-day event brings together the brightest minds across the high-speed communications and semiconductor industries, who are looking to engineer the technology of tomorrow. DesignCon is your rocket to the future. Ready to come aboard? Register to attend!


5 Tips to Reduce Adhesive Cycle Times

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-14 04:00

Many industrial bonding processes use slow-curing two-component adhesives (about 24 hours to final strength) or heat-curing one-component adhesives (about 0.5 to 1.5 hours to final strength, without counting the time for heating the components). When the focus is on reducing cycle times, light-curing products are primarily considered. Some of these products cure in less than one second.

In the past, at least one of the components to be joined had to be optically transparent, allowing light energy to reach the adhesive and trigger the curing mechanism. This reduced the choice of materials to a few types of plastic and glass. Today, new adhesive chemistries paired with multi-stage curing processes allow cycle times of many other bonding processes, for materials like metals and opaque plastics, to be shortened significantly.

Light Fixation for Structural Bonding

If structural bonds are exposed to greater static dynamic loads or increased temperatures, purely heat-curing epoxy resin adhesives should be used. However, such products have not been available with light-curing properties. As a result, fixing devices were frequently used to hold in position the components in the production lines and during oven curing.

Recently, light-fixable products have become available for such applications. Their two-stage light and heat-curing mechanism simplifies and accelerates the production process. The joined components are first prefixed at the adhesive fillet, which takes one to five seconds depending on the intensity of the UV light. This eliminates the need for holding devices along with time-consuming and costly assembly, disassembly and cleaning. The epoxy resin reaches its full strength with the subsequent, and still necessary, step of heat curing, which usually takes 20 minutes at 130 °C or even less at higher temperatures.

Light-fixable structural adhesives are used, for example, in the production of electric motors (Image source: DELO)

The final strength on aluminum is 60 MPa, on PA6 it is 30 MPa. 60 MPa correspond to a force of 1.2 tons on the surface of a penny. In addition, they have similarly high thermal and chemical resistance as purely heat-curing adhesives.

Using the Diversity of Dual-Curing Adhesives

When two components are bonded, it is important that all the adhesive is fully cured. If the light reaches only part of the adhesive, it will remain liquid in the so-called shadowed areas. On the one hand, no adhesion is built up in those areas. On the other hand, there is a risk of corrosion. If speed requirements suggest the use of light-curing adhesives, shadowed areas should be avoided starting from the design stage.

For the many cases where this is not possible or possible only with great difficulty, there are numerous new dual-curing adhesives that reliably build up adhesion even in shadowed areas. In addition to light, they feature a second curing mechanism that can be triggered by air humidity, exclusion of oxygen or heat. Each option meets different requirements and opens up other production processes.

Dual-curing adhesives offer the benefits of light-curing products without compromising on reliability, bond strength and processing quality. They also ensure that the adhesive in the finished product is fully cured and permit maximum bonding precision in complex modules. They offer a high degree of flexibility in production, giving users more freedom in designing assemblies and developing their production processes.

Light Curing for Black Adhesives

If light-curing products are used, it goes without saying that the adhesive itself must also be translucent, since the photoinitiators in the entire adhesive layer must decompose to start the crosslinking reaction. Therefore, light curing in combination with black encapsulants and adhesives often used for optical purposes or security reasons should, by definition, be a contradiction, because black absorbs most of the light. But it’s not.

There are black adhesives that cure very well in layer thicknesses of up to 500 µm. In addition to their light-curing component, they also contain a small humidity-curing portion, which triggers crosslinking even in shadowed areas. These products typically provide good strength. The flexibility offered by their acrylate chemistry, exhibits high elongation at tear and very good tension-equalizing properties.

Even black adhesives can be light-cured (Image source: DELO)

Preactivation: Light Curing Even for Opaque Components

If opaque materials are to be bonded and there is no fillet weld that can be reached by light, as is often the case in the automotive industry that uses decorative elements made of dark plastics or chrome, light curing alone is impossible due to the opacity. However, users may use adhesives that can be preactivated by light in order to bond non-transparent components and still benefit from rapid curing. A conventional light curing procedure includes dispensing, joining and irradiation. In contrast, when using a preactivation process, the complete adhesive is applied to one side of the two components and is irradiated with light immediately before joining the components.

The special feature of this process is that the adhesive still remains liquid after the brief exposure to light, allowing the components to be joined and adjusted during a period called “open time,” after which the adhesive cures within a few minutes without further light irradiation.

In contrast to the conventional light-curing steps of dispensing, joining, and irradiating, the order for preactivation is dispensing, irradiating, and joining (Image source: DELO)

High-Intensity LED Lamps

LED technology has continued to evolve in recent years, especially with regard to the intensities achieved. Good area curing lamps now offer values ​​of more than 1,000 mW/cm² at a distance of 2 mm. In most cases, conversion to modern, high-intensity LED lamps can significantly accelerate the light-curing process, since more energy reaches the adhesive.

This is advantageous even if the maximum intensity of the adhesive – the threshold from which higher intensity no longer leads to faster curing – is lower than the lamp's intensity. This applies to components with poor transmittance, which absorb light energy and prevent the full intensity from reaching the adhesive.

High-intensity LED curing lamps not only accelerate curing, but also provide more flexibility in production (Image source: DELO)

In addition, the use of high-intensity curing lamps allows larger exposure distances, which is useful for difficult geometries such as holes or when the joined materials are a little further from the light source due the component design or the assembly line layout. In these cases too, sufficient energy is available thanks to the lamp’s high intensity levels, and the adhesive cures within seconds.


Even when full intensity is not needed, there is an advantage: Users may reduce energization of the powerful lamps. This protects the LEDs and extends their already very long lifetime of typically 20,000 hours.

Bernd Scholl is the head of product technology at DELO.

Artificial 'Leaf' Creates Clean Gas

Design News - Thu, 2019-11-14 03:30

Researchers have found a way to create a widely-used gas currently derived from fossil fuels by using more environmentally friendly “artificial leaf” technology, they said.

A team at the University of Cambridge—led by Professor Erwin Reisner from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry--developed the technology, which uses only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create syngas, a common gas is used in fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and fertilizers.

Researchers at Cambridge University have developed “artificial leaf” technology that can produce syngas, a widely-used gas currently derived from fossil fuels and used in the production of fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and fertilizers. (Image source: Cambridge University)

Current methods to create this gas use a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide in an industrial process that emits carbon dioxide and other pollution-causing elements into the atmosphere. The new technology, then, is a far cleaner alternative to producing this gas, said Virgil Andrei, a PhD candidate at the university who worked on the project.

“Syngas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, is a crucial intermediate in the industrial synthesis of conventional fuels, alcohols, and long-chain hydrocarbons,” Andrei told Design News. “In case of our technology, we only use light, water, and CO2 to obtain syngas, which is normally produced from fossil methane.”

Nature-Mimicking Design

The device developed by the team is based on photosynthesis—the process plants use to turn carbon dioxide to food, and its design also reflects this natural simplicity, he said.

“The device … uses two light absorbers without needing additional wiring,” Andrei told Design News. “In addition, we use a selective molecular catalyst instead of expensive metals for CO2 reduction, which provides an economic advantage to other electrochemical and industrial approaches.”

While scientists already have developed other artificial-leaf technologies, typically these devices produce hydrogen, not syngas. The Oxford team said they were able to achieve the latter because of the combination of materials and catalysts they used.

The technology works like this: When the device is immersed in water, one light absorber uses a catalyst made from the abundant element cobalt to produce oxygen. The other carries out the chemical reaction that reduces carbon dioxide and water into carbon monoxide and hydrogen, forming the syngas mixture.

Potential for Clean Energy

The device potentially can “close the carbon cycle” in the development of syngas because it not only avoids emitting harmful gases, it also uses existing carbon dioxide in its process, Andrei said.

Moreover, even though the device uses sunlight, it also can work even under low levels of sunlight or on a rainy or overcast day, an unexpected bonus of the technology, researchers said. This means it can work not only in locations that generally get a lot of sun, but ones that don’t as well, they said.

The team published a paper on their work in the journal Nature Materials.


Researchers plan to continue their work in two key directions, Andrei told Design News. One is to scale the device up to roof-top prototypes. The other is to used the syngas it creates to develop sustainable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, which can replace fossil fuels in existing combustion engines, he said.

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

Hyperactive Dog vs. Parked $200,000 Porsche Does Not End Well for the Porsche

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

The internet being what it is, I was not able to track down the original source of this image; it's been Tweeted, Instagrammed and Facebooked by many.

One person said it was taken by musician Don Omar (it wasn't, unless the Redditor who posted it one year before Omar Instagrammed it has a time machine).

Another, on Facebook, claimed the picture came from a Porsche owner who also owns a Belgian Malinois--an expensive and hyperactive German-Shepherd-on-meth type of dog who should never not be chasing very fast fugitives--and that he stupidly locked the underexercised Malinois in the garage with this Porsche 911 Turbo S, which runs upwards of $200,000.

When my wife saw the photo, she declared (while openly admitting that she's paraphrasing a Hannibal Burress joke): "Looks like his money is destroying his other money."

You Won't Believe How Much Data This New Device Reports is Being Collected From Us

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

Scout is a Runner Up in the Home & Living Award category of the 2019 Core77 Design Awards.

The world is conditioned to rely on constant exchange: money, communication, and services flow between people on an instantaneous basis, from a transcontinental to a hyper-localized network and everywhere/-one in between.

Inside our homes, increasing amounts of electronic exchanges exist within a concise footprint. And the exchanges that we actively deploy – ride hails, bank payments, text messages, sharing and playing music – are rivaled if not dwarfed by the ones being deployed with our data, to "invisible" external parties.

This is the new element of the conditioning of exchange that we're necessarily privy to by inhabiting our home spaces with smart objects: With connected devices, we're constantly required to give away privacy in exchange for convenience. And as these connected devices become part of our routine home lives, we are prone to forgetting about their insensitivity to our privacy. A new product named Scout, however, has been designed to save the day(-ta).

Scout omnisciently communicates to users (via a stationary, interactive display screen) when and by which smart devices our data is being monitored, and with whom it's being shared.

"By the time we placed our [Amazon] Echo Show on our bedside table, or our daughter unwrapped her new Hello Barbie connected doll, we've already forgotten about their implications," say Michael Shorter and Leonardo Amico, creative technologists at brand design company Uniform. They created Scout (a router-like device) to reciprocally monitor what other devices are doing with our data. In real-time, Scout's screen reports on the engagement of our in-home smart products, and follows any odd exchanges, wayward data-shares, or suspected privacy encroachments with a legal request for an explanation – which the device's company is then prompted to share with the user.

"Scout is our solution to bring back trust in the smart home," the designers say. To be clear, this trust is not in place to rid our lives of behavioral reporting-upon. Instead, Scout was created to re-establish our control over our user information. That is, Scout offers us the ability to track the behaviors of the devices we bring into our homes, to solicit reasoning from the company's themselves when we want it, and to provide the option to disconnect completely if something surfaces that we're uncomfortable with.

A Samsung smart TV sends user data to about 700 different recipients every 15 minutes. The extent of that data sharing seems exorbitant, but it has become a standard and relatively inevitable byproduct of incorporating truly productive technologies into our lives and homes. Scout offers autonomy to users, so that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of the smart home without the discomfort of opaque surveillance; and forces accountability upon the companies behind the smart homes we've built for ourselves. Scout is fostering a new type of exchange with our devices, one that primes reciprocity in monitorship, and elevates consumer protection and privacy to the same tier of value as the behaviors that translate to data for the device-based services we consume.

In essence, Scout lets us keep an eye on those keeping eyes on us.

Learn more about Scout on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2019 honorees

Design Job: Glass Is Life - Work as a Concept Designer at Owens Illinois in Perrysburg, OH

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

As a Concept Designer for O-I, you will be tasked with working in a team environment to develop innovative and aesthetically pleasing concept designs supporting the specific brand positioning of our customers. The work you generate will be used to gain new business and support existing business for O-I. You will also support exciting initiatives being developed in our Packaging Technology Group focused on maintaining O-I’s leadership in glass packaging through the exploration and implementation of new technologies.

View the full design job here

Facebook App Can Secretly Turn Your iPhone's Camera On and Watch You as You Scroll Through Your Feed

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

Another reason to go Android? Web strategist Joshua Maddux discovered that when he opened the Facebook app on his iPhone and swiped down to scroll his feed, the user-facing camera turned on. The giveaway was apparently a bug in the code that showed the footage the camera was recording in a sliver of screen off to the left of his feed:

The Next Web was able to duplicate the results--as was Maddux when he tried the app on five other iPhones (all running iOS 13.2.2).

The fix is pretty simple: Go into Settings, and make sure to check off the option that allows the Facebook app access to your phone's camera. Heck, while you're there, do that for the rest of your apps.

Interestingly enough, TNW points out that Mark Zuckerberg himself covers up the camera on his phone, as does former FBI Director James Comey. What do these men know that we don't....

Festool CXS Competitor? Milwaukee's M12 is a Compact and Versatile 4-Head Drill/Driver

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

It used to be that if you wanted a tracksaw, you had to pony up for a high-priced Festool--if there was even a dealer in your area. Nowadays DeWalt, Grizzly, Kreg, Makita and more all make them, and they're sold at local big box stores.

Are there other once-unique tools in Festool's line-up that are vulnerable to duplication? It looks as if Festool's incredibly handy and dimunitive drill/driver, the 10.8-volt CXS, now has a direct competitor.

Festool CXS

Milwaukee M12 Fuel

Milwaukee is now offering the M12 FUEL Installation Drill/Driver, which features the same D-handle form factor as the CXS and the same interchangeable system of multiple heads--plus an offset-bit head that Festool only offers on their larger drills.

Here's what the M12 can do:

Despite their similarities, one huge difference that's bound to be noticed by the price-conscious is the differential: $300 for the CXS with all of the heads, vs. $179 for Milwaukee's offering. As a proud owner and frequent user of the CXS, I have to say, ouch.

Yea or Nay? Non-Red, "Stylish" Fire Extinguishers from Japan

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

On the face of it, I think this may be the dumbest idea I've seen this year. Japan's Morita Miyata Corporation, which has been making firefighting equipment for over a century, has designed this set of fire extinguishers:

So why aren't they red? Because the designers have opted for "refined monotone colors that harmonize with the interior and softly fit into your daily life." Furthermore, "That it can be placed in full view without any sense of incongruity is the most special feature of the design of this fire extinguisher."

Isn't visual incongruity, not harmony, the entire point of a fire extinguisher's color? If there's a grease fire in the kitchen or an overburdened octopus plug bursts into flame, don't you want to be able to locate the damn thing right away? Below is one of the company's actual press photos, which resembles my vision after I first wake up: How easy do you find it to spot the extinguisher?

And how confident are you that you could quickly locate either of these if a fire broke out?

High visibility for this object was apparently not important to the judges of the Good Design Awards. They gave one to these extinguishers, with what I think is an idiotic evaluation: "There has been a preconceived notion that fire extinguishers must be red in order to grab visual attention," they wrote. (Yes, that's exactly why they're red.) "I feel like we have just accepted fire extinguishers to be red because that is the way they are." Right, and maybe we've also "just accepted" that firefighting foam extinguishes fires because that's what it actually does.

The only thing that prevents me from giving this a resounding "Nay" is this consideration: The designers are attempting to make the object more stylish because "disaster preparedness continues to be removed from everyday life in Japan," according to Spoon + Tamago. In their estimation, the company "designed a minimal set of fire extinguishers to encourage people to keep one in their home."

If the choice is between people refusing to keep fire extinguishers in their homes because they find red ugly, or keeping difficult-to-spot extinguishers in their homes, then I concede that the latter is the better option. However: Shouldn't they at least experiment with other bright colors that pop first, before going Muji monotone?

Also, I have my doubts that the Japanese are not a disaster-prep-minded people. When I first moved there, I discovered that every apartment in my building had a prominent switch on the wall to turn off gas to the entire apartment. I was told you're meant to switch it off every time you leave, so there's no "live gas" running to your apartment in case there's an earthquake. A friend who lived nearby shut his gas off every night, even in the dead of winter, in case there was an overnight earthquake; the first time I crashed there, in the morning I observed his ritual of starting up the water heater while we froze our asses off in the well-chilled home.

Despite that, I cannot remember if people's houses all had fire extinguishers in them or not. Any readers who live in Japan: Can you confirm whether the objects are common or not?

Lastly, whether you live in Japan or not: Yea or Nay to these?

Hoverflies Have Needs Too, You Know

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

wildlife photography by Janneke van der Pol

The cities most of us occupy today, have required the demise of countless species, and the conditions from which the sixth extinction has emerged. So what does urban development, that preserves the little we have left, look like? Designers so often like to cite their devotion to Maslowe's hierarchy of needs, but what did Maslowe ever do for the Hover-Fly? For some centuries, there's been a common and highly desctructive rumor going around that suggests we live in a reality occupied only by humans, where only human needs matter and largely, this is the reality we see design working for. Rather than fueling the redundancy of designers who are out seeking to further satiate our humanly-needs, Matilde Boelhouwer, asked, 'what does the Hover-Fly need? What does the Bumblebee need?'

Matilde Boelhouwer, answers with her project Insectology: Food For Buzz, which places artificial flowers in the urban environment. As steel, concrete, and glass proliferates, pesticides and other chemical agents flourish, and the climate changes, plant life becomes less diverse and thus there is less plant life to support the many insects, which inevitably leads to less pollination and thus the cycle of life is stifled. Less for all. By working with scientists, Boelhouwer was able design a system that uses rainwater to create an auxiliary supply of food for insects that find themselves in the city, with no flowers to feed from.

The petals of the flowers are laser-cut polyester, and screen printed with color designs that can attract bees from a distance. The food-container which is at the center of the flower, is 3D printed and is connected to a tube through which rainwater flows down, mixes with a sugar supply, then flows back up into the container for insects to access. Obviously different insects have different tastes, so Boelhouwer designed a range of flowers that cater to the different pallets of flying insects. For the bees and hoverflies, the flowers are equipped with Asteraceae. While the moths and butterflies prefer Fabaceae. And for the bumblebees, Lamiaceae. Like a traveler in the desert, the insects can stop by these vibrant oases in the hostile environment of concrete and glass.

Which is precisely how it might appear to a bee or moth. Especially in European countries, like the Netherlands, but it is equally true in many regions of the US and elsewhere, land development has made rural spaces ecologically barren. Wild ecosystems, untouched by agriculture or sprawling urbanization have become few and far between. "When you would now fly over the Netherlands as a bee, it already looks like a desert even though there's still a lot of green space, because of the lack of wildflowers in those green areas" says Boelhower. As recent UN IPCC reports have detailed, land-use is one of the biggest factors in the loss of global biodiversity and inevitably urban areas will have to help facilitate ecology and develop in such a way that necessitates it. Enter designers.

For Boelhower, the designer is well-suited to bring other species into the urban space. "As a designer you're more likely to look outside of the box than for example a scientist." Yet she notes that collaboration is key to making a project functional in the way Insectology is.

When thinking about a project that provides natural services for other species, one must be careful not to think of this as a charitable act. What Insectology: Food for Buzz offers is an attempt to bring the ecological scales slightly back into balance. "Helping those species automatically helps other species eating those species." says Boelhower. Urban development and industrialization has robbed these insects of the capacity to exist, and thus guaranteed extinction if urban development is not reevaluated in such a way that it considers other species. Rather than thinking of this support system as an accessory of urbanization we must imminently realize that infrastructure that supports insect species is a necessity of urbanization. The sixth extinction accelerates everyday, and maybe what other species need most right now, is for us to recognize that they have needs too.

Reader Submitted: EVO - Kitesurfing helmet

Core 77 - Wed, 2019-11-13 20:23

Kitesurfing takes aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding, surfing, etc. and fuses them together to create one incredible extreme sport. So, it's only appropriate for the participant to have an equally exciting helmet, right?!

Jakob Tiefenbacher also thought this, and thus the EVO Kitesurfing Helmet was born! Made up of two layers, the form is distinctive and unique. The bottom layer provides stability as well as allowing airflow and ventilation, while also being the part that secures it to the user. The top layer is designed to break surface tension, while simultaneously adding another layer of protection.

Designed to be replaceable, the top layer features an oversized pull-tab which releases it for quick, simple removal. The brightly colored, orange touch points stand out from the translucent pale, blue finish of the top layer, enhancing both the ease of use and extreme aesthetic.

View the full project here

Chinese manufacturers ambivalent about 3D printing’s role in advanced manufacturing, survey finds

Design News - Wed, 2019-11-13 09:58

We are approaching the halfway mark of the Made in China 2025 initiative. Announced in 2015, the 10-year-plan’s goal is to turn the modern-day “workshop of the world” into an advanced manufacturing powerhouse. Do Chinese manufacturers see 3D printing as an essential enabling technology in this transition, wondered Materialise, the 3D printing technology company based in Leuven, Belgium. It conducted a survey to find out, and the results reveal some ambivalence.

Made in China 2025 “called for domestic companies to control not just Chinese markets, but also global ones,” reported the PBS show Frontline, by focusing on 10 key sectors, including automation, artificial intelligence and renewable energy. 3D printing as a complementary manufacturing technology is a key element in this transition, according to Stefaan Motte, Vice President and General Manager of the software division of Materialise. “China understands that it needs to lift the game on its manufacturing competitiveness to face increasing competition and to move away from being the world’s low-cost workshop. 3D printing plays an important role in this plan,” writes Motte in a blog post inspired by the survey.

While 30% of respondents believe that 3D printing is destined to be “as important” or “more important” than traditional manufacturing technologies, the vast majority continue to view the technology through a prototyping lens. It’s mature enough for the production of visual prototypes (63%) and even functional prototypes (34%), said respondents, but only 11% consider it to be ready for the production of end-use products.

This is a bit short-sighted, when you consider that “companies like Stryker and GE Aviation have started to 3D print high-quality, end-use products in high volumes in strictly regulated markets,” writes Motte. “Stryker has 3D printed over 300,000 medical implants, and GE Aviation has printed over 30,000 fuel nozzles.”  

While half of Chinese manufacturers surveyed said that the global adoption of 3D printing could challenge China’s position as a manufacturing leader, only 15% of them are considering adopting 3D printing technology. Moreover, 65% of respondents have never seriously considered using the technology. A lack of technical expertise was cited by 41% of respondents as a major hurdle in adoption of the technology. And that is where Motte sees an opportunity for companies like Materialise.

“The main hurdle that China will have to overcome to meet the government’s [Made in China 2025] target is getting companies to understand how to work with the technology,” writes Motte in his blog post. One means to that end is for companies to partner with 3D printing leaders to “gain the expertise needed to impact the market. We strongly believe in the process of co-creation to combine our knowledge of the technology with a company’s expertise in its field to make industry-changing innovations,” said Motte.

The infographic below provided by Materialise highlights several findings from the survey.

The survey was commissioned by Materialise and conducted by Beats Group in August 2019. Executives, technical managers and senior technical staff at Chinese manufacturing companies participated. Materialise did not release the sample size of the survey.


10 Robot Companies You Should Know Use ROS

Design News - Wed, 2019-11-13 05:00



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

The Apple Card Is the Most High-Profile Case of AI Bias Yet

Design News - Wed, 2019-11-13 04:30
The Apple Card is backed by Goldman Sachs and is meant to be used with Apple devices. It requires no security code, signature, or card number. Apple says it is more secure than any otehr physical credit card. (Image source: Apple) 

The algorithm responsible for credit decisions for the Apple Card is giving females lower credit limits than equally qualified males. Those are the allegations that began spreading as consumers took to social media with complaints about Apple's credit card designed to work with Apple Pay and on various Apple devices.

The controversy began on November 7 when entrepreneur David Heinemeier Hansson, the creator of the Ruby on Rails programming tool, posted a lengthy, and angry, thread to Twitter complaining of his wife's experience with the Apple Card.

“The @AppleCard is such a [expletive] sexist program. My wife and I filed joint tax returns, live in a community-property state, and have been married for a long time. Yet Apple’s black box algorithm thinks I deserve 20x [sic] the credit limit she does. No appeals work,” Hansson tweeted. “It gets even worse. Even when she pays off her ridiculously low limit in full, the card won’t approve any spending until the next billing period. Women apparently aren’t good credit risks even when they pay off the [expletive] balance in advance and in full.”

Hansson goes on to describe his experience dealing with Apple Card's customer support regarding the issue. He says customer service reps assured him there was no discrimination involved and that the outcomes he and his wife were seeing were due to the algorithm.

“So let’s recap here: Apple offers a credit card that bases its credit assessment on a black-box algorithm that [six] different reps across Apple and [Goldman Sachs] have no visibility into. Even several layers of management. An internal investigation. IT’S JUST THE ALGORITHM!” Hansson wrote (emphasis his). “...So nobody understands THE ALGORITHM. Nobody has the power to examine or check THE ALGORITHM. Yet everyone we’ve talked to from both Apple and [Goldman Sachs] are SO SURE that THE ALGORITHM isn’t biased and discriminating in any way. That’s some grade-A management of cognitive dissonance.”

David Heinemeier Hansson tweeted a lengthy statement outlining his frustration with Apple Card. (Tweet edited for language). 

Hansson's tweets prompted others to share similar experiences, most notably Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. The same thing happened to us,” Wozniak tweeted. “I got 10x [sic] the credit limit. We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get to a human for a correction though. It's big tech in 2019.”

Filmmaker Lexi Alexander said she and a group of her friends applied for an Apple Card to see if the allegations were true. What they found confirmed the accounts made by Hansson and Wozniak. “A bunch of us applied [for] this card today. It takes 5 sec on your iPhone [and] it doesn’t show up on your credit history (I’ve been told). Apple Card then makes you a credit limit [and] APR offer which you can accept or deny. I’m currently trying to recover from the sexist slap in my face,” Alexander tweeted. “Like it’s really really bad. Male friends with bad credit score and irregular income got way better offers than women with perfect credit and high incomes. There were 12 of us, 6 women 6 men. We just wanted to see what’s up and it was not pretty.”

As complaints about the Apple Card went viral, Goldman Sachs, the New York-based bank which backs the Apple Card, issued a statement on November 10. In the statement Goldman Sachs said the issue stems from the fact that credit decisions regarding the Apple Card are based on individual credit lines and histories, not those shared with family members.

“As with any other individual credit card, your application is evaluated independently,” the Goldman Sachs statement said. “We look at an individual’s income and an individual’s creditworthiness, which includes factors like personal credit scores, how much personal debt you have, and how that debt has been managed. Based on these factors, it is possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions...In all cases, we have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender.”

The contributing factors cited by Goldman Sachs would seem to contradict those offered by people such as Hansson and Wozniak.

CNBC reported that the discrimination allegations have spurred the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) to launch an official investigation into Goldman Sachs’ credit card practices. “DFS is troubled to learn of potential discriminatory treatment in regards to credit limit decisions reportedly made by an algorithm of Apple Card, issued by Goldman Sachs,” Linda Lacewell, superintendent for the DFS, told CNBC, “The Department will be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex.”

According to CNBC, Goldman Sachs was aware of the potential bias when the Apple Card rolled out in August. But the the bank opted to have credit decisions made on an individual basis to avoid the complexity that comes with dealing with co-signers and other shared accounts.


The Black Box Problem

While these reports of bias related to the Apple Card are surely drawing attention due to the high-profile names attached, it's far from the first case of an widely-used AI algorithm exhibiting bias. Incidents of algorithmic bias in healthcare, lending, and even criminal justice applications have been discovered in recent years. And experts at many major technology companies and research institutions are working diligently to address bias in AI.

“Part of the problem here is that, as with many AI and machine learning algorithms, the Apple Card’s is a black box; meaning, there is no framework in place to trace the algorithm’s training and decision-making,” Irina Farooq, chief product officer at data analytics company, Kinetica, told Design News in a prepared statement. “For corporations, this is a significant legal and PR risk. For society, this is even more serious. If we cede our decision-making to AI, whether for ride-sharing refunds, insurance billing, or mortgage rates, we risk subjecting ourselves to judgment with no appeal, to a monarchy of machines where all the world’s represent a data set, and all the men and women, merely data.”

Farooq echoed the statements of many concerned with bias in AI by stating that the algorithms we employ are only as fair as the data they are trained with. “The parameters of what the algorithm should take into account when analyzing a data set are still set by people. And the developers and data scientists doing this work may not be aware of the unconscious biases the parameters they’ve put in place contain,” she said. “We don’t know what the parameters were for the Apple Card’s credit determinations, but if factors included annual income without considering joint property ownership and tax filings, women, who in America still make 80.7 [cents] for every man’s dollar, would be at an inherent disadvantage.”

On November 11, following the announcement of the New York DFS investigation, Carey Halio, CEO of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, released another statement on behalf of the bank, pledging to work to ensure its algorithms are not exhibiting bias and to ask any customers who feel they may have been affected to reach out.

“We have not and never will make decisions based on factors like gender. In fact, we do not know your gender or marital status during the Apple Card application process,” Halio wrote. “We are committed to ensuring our credit decision process is fair. Together with a third party, we reviewed our credit decisioning process to guard against unintended biases and outcomes.”

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

BMW's Ultimate Electric Driving Machines Are on the Way

Design News - Wed, 2019-11-13 04:00
BMW's i8 Roadster plug-in hybrid sports car converts fans to electric drive. (Image source: BMW)

Jan Freimann is BMW's manager of connected e-mobility and Design News had the recent opportunity to ask him about BMW's electric vehicle road map as the brand migrates away from its gasoline-fueled heritage.

DN: BMW is known for building the Ultimate Driving Machine, so the company’s electrification effort might not be as well known. Can you recap BMW’s current EV efforts?

JF: To get a little bit back in the past, we started with i3 here in the US in 2014. Back in the day, we also had like pilot projects like the Mini E and the Active E on the 1-Series. But the real story started with i3; it was on the biggest scale. And the i8 of course, as a plug-in hybrid. Since 2014, when we started, we were first to market, together with Tesla, I guess, as one of the first OEMs in the market with electric cars.

Now in 2019, we have the 7-Series 745e plug-in hybrid with a six-cylinder engine combined with the third-generation BMW electric motor. We have the 530e, which has for the 5-Series plug-in hybrid combines a four-cylinder engine, the B48, with an e-machine integrated into the transmission. This one just got recently an update and battery capacity to 11 kilowatt-hours, gross capacity.

Jan Freimann, BMW manager of connected mobility. (Image source: BMW)

We have the i3 of course which our CEO just announced is continuing to be produced, with no end of production determined right now because we still think that's a very good car. There was a recent battery upgrade to 120 amp-hour batteries and the i3S which is now a more sportive dynamic version of the regular i3 with a slightly increased power to 135 kilowatts and 270 newton meters.

So the i3 is even more fun to drive now, and the i8 and the i8 roadster sports cars we have in our portfolio right now.

DN: What can you tell us about upcoming EVs from BMW?

JF:  Next year, coming in spring, in Q1 or the beginning of Q2, we have the X3 PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle). The X3 PHEV is similar to the 530e, so we have a B48 [combustion] engine SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) combined with also the 8HP75 hybrid transmission from ZF.

It has an integrated e-motor with a maximum output of 82 kilowatts and a continuous power of 50 kilowatts and we have a battery pack around 12 kilowatt-hours gross energy content. 

This car is not rated by EPA yet. In Europe it achieved a range of 46 to 41 kilometers. Its acceleration will be 6.1 second 0 to 60 mph and it has a maximum speed of 210 kilometers per hour. The four-cylinder, the B48 twin-turbo, has 135 kilowatts, and is then boosted and assisted by the 80-kilowatt e-motor, which equals into 215 kilowatts maximum power.

Then also beginning of next year, in Q1, we will have the X5 plug-in hybrid, the X545e. This car has the B58M1 six-cylinder engine with our 8HP75 hybrid transmission and a third-generation BMW e-machine. That’s a permanent synchro e-motor of 250 newton-meters additional torque and has an efficiency of 93 percent. It's an oil-cooled e-motor and the total power output of the car, combined combustion and e-machine, is 600 newton-meters torque and 290 kilowatts of power.

The 2020 BMW X5e Plug-In Hybrid. (Image source: BMW)

The car has a battery capacity of 33 amp-hours, which is provided by 12 battery modules, each containing 16 cells. That would be around 24 kilowatt-hours, gross. So, if you can imagine the first i3 had 22 kilowatt hours, in a full battery electric car. Now we integrate this into a hybrid. You see the improvement here? 

DN: What are the effects on the BMW driving experience of this electrification of the combustion models?

JF: The advantage we have with the e-machine is that we have the possibility to do regenerative braking, and boost and assist the combustion engine. What this means is we have active torque support, so while shifting, you don't feel the shifting anymore. It's very smooth.

If you have energy in your battery, it will go in hybrid driving mode to 110 kilometers per hour [on battery power alone], or in full electric driving mode, up to 135 kilometers per hour, when the combustion engine kicks in. Or of course, you can choose the Sport mode, which is a combination of combustion and e-motor right from the start. Zero-to-60 mph acceleration is 5.6 seconds and the range [on the European test cycle] is 67 to 87 kilometers.

We have the X5 electric PHEV in the spring next year and we have the X3 electric PHEV spring next year. We get a 3-Series with a four-cylinder engine and the e-machine from the 530e. So, that means next year on the PHEV side we have the 3-Series PHEV, the X3 PHEV, the X5 PHEV, the 745e PHEV, the 530e PHEV.

BMW's family of electrified vehicles. (Image source: BMW)

DN: Those are a lot of hybrids. What about pure EVs?

JF: On the full-electric side, we have the i3S of course, and i3 with 120 amp-hour battery and e-machine. It's a third-generation e-motor, 135 kilowatts. It got 120 amp-hour or 42.6 kilowatt-hour energy content in the battery. 

We have talked about also about the i4, and also a 4-Series, fully electric car. And we talked about the i20, or i-Next concept car which was shown on the Los Angeles Auto Show [in 2018] as well. That’s a full electric car able to do over 300 miles electric and with the newest generation of our electric power train, so-called fifth generation. It has fifth-generation batteries and a fifth-generation power train.

Assembling battery packs at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, S.C. (Image source: BMW)

DN: You’ve started building fourth-generation battery packs now to go in the upcoming X3 and X5 plug-in hybrids. How do they differ from the third-generation batteries that are in cars currently in showrooms?

JF:  They have higher energy density and slightly increased current limits so it means you get more power out of the same volume. 

DN: What are some of the main issues you’re working on for the future of EVs?

JF: I think one of them is that we have committed to a sustainable approach. Of course, that means the whole supply chain and gathering the materials, having supply agreements and contracts in place, long-term contracts to actually ensure that the supply chain has security. 

Not only in regards to actually gathering the materials and having the critical materials available, but also how. There was a lot of discussion in the media about like, how dirty gathering those materials is and that it does not always conform with humanity, I would say.  Not BMW!  

BMW has committed to this officially and we say, “We have standards. We treat people fairly. We have work safety in place.” That's our commitment here.

DN: How about in terms of the technology?

JF: We want to reduce complexity, and improve the packaging of our new electric power train, which in the fifth generation contains the power electronics, e-machine and the transmission all in one package, which BMW calls “HEAT,” a Highly Integrated Electrical Drivetrain, in German. 

BMW is supporting construction of crucial EV charging infrastructure in the U.S. and Europe. (Image source: BMW)

We have announced the strategy to be open to whatever demand is out there in terms of plug-in hybrids in the future, full electric cars or combustion engines, to deliver all this on the same production line. You have to have a modular and flexible approach. 

We have this flexible production approach, so on the same assembly line we can assemble, in the future, our fifth-generation cars, whether it is a plug-in hybrid, full electric car or a combustion engine. That's an advantage in our eyes, because now, whatever demand is out there, we deliver because they only want.

Making the fifth generation, decreasing the complexity now and increasing the modular approach and making it more compact, I think that's a big challenge.

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

Print-In-Place Electronics Pave Way for Electronic Tattoos, Personal Biosensors

Design News - Wed, 2019-11-13 03:30

Printable electronics are seen as the wave of the future for electronic devices, as form factors go smaller, more flexible, and even flatter.

Researchers at Duke University have made a breakthrough in this endeavor with the invention of what they said is the first simple technique for printing electronics in place, paving the way for applications such as electronic tattoos and bandages.

Two electronically active leads directly printed along the underside of Duke graduate student Nick Williams’s pinky successfully light up an LED when a voltage is applied. The process is part of a method developed by researchers there to fabricate print-in-place electronics. (Image source: Duke University)

A team led by Aaron Franklin, the a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke, developed the fully print-in-place method, which researchers said is gentle enough to work on delicate surfaces including paper and human skin.

“Most means of making electrics require many, many processing steps,” Nick Williams, a Duke PhD student of electrical and computer engineering, explained to Design News. “Even with simple, low-cost electronics fabrication process, like printed electronics, there are many further steps after deposition that are required to achieve the desired properties.”

The process the team designed, however, is far simpler, and more of a “step towards the fully printed ideal that everyone expects when we think of printed electronics,” he told Design News.

“We have developed the first recorded transistor that has been completely fabricated in a printer,” Williams told us. “The only procedure we did was a quick rinse. All of this could be automated to take humans completely out of the process, and a long-term the goal would be for a black-box fabrication of electronics where you insert your desired substrate and you can remove a fully functioning circuit.”

Solving Previous Challenges

Researchers developed a number of inks to get the desired material properties for their method and result, Williams said. They also aimed to solve a historical challenge with developing printed electronics, which is that they are unstable in air, decreasing their utility, he said.

To do this, the team ultimate used two-dimensional materials to achieve the desired materials properties at room temperature, developing a hexagonal boron nitride ink that allowed the team to print a stable dielectric material at low temperature, Williams told Design News.  

“The 2D structure of hexagonal boron nitride allows for this material to be insulating immediately after printing without any further post-processing,” he explained to us.

The team also developed a silver nanowire ink that is immediately conductive after printing, which allowed the team to print at room temperature and achieve the same levels of conductivity, Williams said.

“Almost all other inks require sintering at temperatures above 150 °C,” he told us. Researchers published papers online about their work both in the journal Nanoscale and in the journal ACS Nano.

Uses and Future Design

Researchers envision that their work can pave the way for printers that can develop print-in-place electronics and might become as ubiquitous as 3D printers are becoming today, Williams said.

“Children are raised now knowing that they can print almost any shape they want,” he told Design News. “We would like to expand that to include the intimate incorporation of electronics.”

The research also paves the way for new designs for medical applications, including customizable printed electronic tattoos used for healthcare purposes, Williams said.

“These could be used for short term, non-invasive monitoring of patient vitals and well-being,” he told Design News, adding that, “really, the possibilities [for applications] are endless.”


Researchers plan to continue to develop the technology and make improvements to its performance to “reduce the processing steps to make these devices as easy to fabricate as possible,” Williams told us. The team also aims to expand the scope of applications for their work, he said.

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

An Eco-Friendly, Plastics-Free Way for Supermarkets to Package Vegetables

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-11-12 19:57

Vietnam was one of the most pristine places I'd even seen--in the 1990s. Today the country, once renowned for its pristine beaches and waterways, has suffered heavily from the plastics explosion of the past few decades. Take a look at this photo of a beach in Nam Dinh:

Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung, via VN Express

Or this one in Binh Thuan:

Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung, via VN Express

Incredibly, the plastic waste reportedly grows by 2,500 tons a day.

Thankfully, a handful of supermarkets in Vietnam are attempting to move away from plastic. One of the most-pernicious, least-recycled/recyclable forms is the plastic film that food is often wrapped in. So supermarket chains including Lotte Mart, Saigon Co.op and Big C, following a trend taking root in neighboring Thailand according to NextShark, have started wrapping produce in banana leaves rather than plastic.

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Impressively, Lotte Mart is reportedly working on how to use the banana leaves to wrap meat as well.

VN Express reports that the banana-leaf-wrapping is seen by the supermarkets as experimental, so there's no word if it will stick. With any luck it will take root. I'd imagine most people would rather rinse a little road dust off of a vegetable than attempt to clean one of those beaches in the future.

"UX Design Principles for AR & VR:" Online Certificate Course Offered by NYU

Core 77 - Tue, 2019-11-12 19:57

"What are the design rules in [the] new frontier of extended reality?" asks NYU's Tandon School of Engineering. They aim to answer that with UX Design Principles for AR & VR, a certificate course created by Todd Bryant, Director of Technology at research center Rlab and Regine Gilbert, UX designer at Gilbert Consulting Group and educator at NYU.

You'll need your own VR headset to participate, as it's online. (If you don't want to pony up $8 for a Google Cardboard set, they'll give you instructions for how to make your own.) Over the two-month course, which carries a reported workload of 2-4 hours per week, students "will learn how the UX is different with extended reality (XR) technologies like AR and VR than with a digital screen, and the key points to consider when designing UX for these new formats." Concretely, you'll get elbows-deep in human-computer interaction, learn about best UX design practices, identify opportunities in XR and learn about the tools used for prototyping XR apps.

The course is broken down into six modules, which combine video lectures and demonstrations with discussions and hands-on projects:

The tuition is $1,400 and it starts on December 10th. Here's the pitch video:

If you'd like to learn more, you can download both a brochure and the syllabus here.