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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

How Accurately Can People Draw Famous Logos From Memory?

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

Here's a fun game for designers: Quick, can you draw the Target logo from memory? How about Starbucks' logo, Apple's or Adidas'?

Signs.com gave markers to 156 Americans and asked them to draw ten famous logos from memory. They then compiled the results, and they're pretty neat to see:

It looks like young people are better at this game:

And here's how people did overall:

At the next Core77 event, we so totally need to do an industrial design version of this. How many of these could you draw without having to look them up?

- Eames Lounge Chair
- Coca-Cola glass bottle
- Michael Graves tea kettle
- "We Are Happy to Serve You" paper coffee cup
- The first Nike Air Jordans
- Jaguar E-type
- The first iPod
- Dieter Rams' Phonosuper for Braun
- Angelpoise lamp
- The first Polaroid camera

Yea or Nay, Part 2: Modular Desk Design Makes a Comeback

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

[This post has been edited to reflect that Deskbloks and Modulos are two different entities.]

Last year we looked at Deskbloks, a design for modular desks that was a disaster on IndieGogo (just €27--not €27,000, just €27--raised on €30,000 goal). This year another design team has learned from those mistakes and come up with a similar-but-different system called Modulos:

They've gotten rid of the steel mending plates used in the previous design, sensibly moved all of the ports to the edges of the blocks rather than the undersides and added a quarter-round module. Here's a complete list of the system's features:

Basic module - a simple flat surface basic module
Rounded module - a module used when you want to create a rounded edge on your Modulos desk
Cabling hole module - a module with a cabling hole that enables you to handle that mess of cables that go through to the top of your work surface
Pencil holder module - a module with neat grooves that prevents your pencils from rolling off your work surface
iPad/iPhone dock - this module enables you to dock your tablet or mobile phone. It has a groove that fits your device and three strategically placed holes that lead your charger cable from below the desk
Rotary iPad/iPhone dock - this module has a groove that fits your devices with a center hole for cabling and allows you to rotate your device. This works great when you're using your iPad as a second screen or want to keep an eye on your phone screen at all times. It is available as an upgrade over standard modules available for +$49 per module.
"Twist" power outlet module - a module that has a very stylish, high-quality and super-functional metal add-on in the middle, that holds two power sockets! It is available as an upgrade over standard modules available for +$79 per module.
USB Hub module - a module with an integrated USB hub. We have designed and produced a prototype that includes a quality Sabrent USB 3.0 hub. This module will be available shortly in production as well. We need to test out some more options regarding the best USB hubs to integrate. We would love to hear your opinions about it!
Wireless charger module - a module with an integrated wireless charging pad neatly engraved into the surface. The prototype is done with a standard IKEA charger. We are looking into better options and better charger models to integrate.

Even with all of these features, I still cannot see the enduring benefit of having a desk built in this way. Kickstarter backers, however, disagree with me; at press time the Modulos had been successfully funded, with $34,164 pledge on a $30,000 goal. Kudos to the designers for learning from the  mistakes of the previous iteration.

What say you? Do you see any merits in the design, and would you buy one of these?

Jaguar's Special Vehicle Operations Designers Create Insane Kitchen-on-Wheels SUV for Jamie Oliver

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

This looks so much like one of Steven M. Johnson's Bizarre Inventions that we can't believe it's real.

Jaguar Land Rover has a Special Vehicle Operations team, composed of 200 specialists who create bespoke "high-specification vehicles." For British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the SVO folks turned a Land Rover Discovery into a veritable kitchen on wheels, then showed us how they did it in three parts.

First off, the teaser video:

Then Part 1, where we see the manic Oliver barraging two hapless designers with a free-flowing brainstorming session:

While Oliver is clearly joking around in Part 1, the SVO designers turned an insane amount of his blue-sky ideas into reality, as we see in Part 2:

In Part 3 Oliver actually uses the car to prepare what looks to be a delicious feast:

Design Job: "Get Every Butt on a Bike" as Quality Bicycle Products' Senior ID'er in Bloomington, MN

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

Are you ready to join a passionate team of designers working to get Every Butt on a Bike? Quality Bicycle Products is looking at add a Senior Industrial Designer to our growing team. Voted one of the top 50 work places by Outdoor Magazine multiple years in a row, QBP is based in Bloomington, MN, and respected as one of the best businesses in the cycling industry. QBP’s product development team designs and develops innovative products and experiences for our portfolio of 15+ Brands with the likes of Surly, Salsa Cycles, 45Nrth, and many more.?

View the full design job here

Tutorial: How to Create Tough, Lightweight and Waterproof Gear Bags From Dyneema and Tyvek

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

In this tutorial, I'll show you how to make a variety of useful zippered gear bags that are incredibly tough, lightweight and waterproof.

This tutorial is intended for someone like me: familiar with rapid prototyping tools like 3d printers and laser cutters, reasonably competent with hand tools, but pretty clueless about sewing and sewing machines beyond emergency repairs and hemming the odd pair of pants.

I promise that after less than an hour of trial and error on a sewing machine, you'll be able to create out an endless variety of useful stuff. Making clothes on a sewing machine is HARD. Banging out awesome gear on a sewing machine is EASY.

If like me you come from working with additive or subtractive rapid prototyping processes, you will discover that fabric has all kinds of mind-bending topological properties, meaning you can fold, scrunch and invert it in ways that allow you to conceal your sewing ineptitude.

We use some fancy gear—including an electric hotknife and a heavy-duty industrial sewing machine—but mostly to save time and labor. With a little persistence and creativity, you will be able to reproduce almost all of our steps with even the most basic sewing machines. If you want to have a bag right this instant, we are also offering some as rewards for supporting our Kickstarter campaign.

NOTE this tutorial is a draft! Help us make it better by putting your suggestions in the comments!

Step 1: Three Basic Gear Bag Designs

There's little novelty in basic bag design—once you understand the archetypes, you'll see them everywhere (and after you make a couple yourself, you'll be shocked by the prices). After some experimentation, we've identified our three favorite bags.

The flat top-zipper case is useful as a pencil case, for wrangling snarls of USB charge cables and for protecting a passport and plane ticket from sweaty pockets and tropical downpours.

The flat front-zipper case works as a document holder, a case for chunky gear and as a waterproof/bugproof sleeve for travel-size laptops.

The duffel bag is perfect for keeping work clothes dry on your bike commute, as an overnight bag on short trips and as a bug-out bag for doomsday fantasies.

In general, I avoid projects that require lots of sewing skill because I have none. I've found that size and detail are the key variables: a small wallet with lots of little pockets is a nightmare. A giant set of drapes can be a hassle to feed through the machine unless you have an equally gigantic work surface. Our three favorite bags offer high utility and low fabrication complexity. I find the flat front-zipper case to be the easiest to build, and the duffel bag the most complex.

Step 2: MaterialsFABRIC

We make all of our field research gear bags out of Dyneema (brand name of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, aka UHMWPE or UHMW, also sold as Spectra and cuben fiber). Dyneema is a composite material that is roughly twice as strong as Kevlar at half the weight. William Gibson described Dyneema as "sort of like if NASA made waxed paper." Popular with both high-performance sailmakers, ultralight hikers and the military, Dyneema is UV-resistant, tear-resistant and 100% waterproof. I bought a cuben fiber wallet in Hong Kong five years ago and after loads of abuse it still shows hardly any wear.

For the exterior of all the bags, we use a single layer of composite fabric, with a shiny inner lining of 48 g/m^2 Dyneema bonded to a matte outer layer of 50 dernier polyester. We've only found this material in grey and black. As far as fabric goes, Dyneema isn't cheap but a home-made bag will cost a fraction of a similar factory-made bag from Your Favorite Outdoor Company.

For the middle layer of the duffel bag, we use 62 g/m^2 Tyvek, the same material used in your home's vapor barrier, in tear-proof envelopes and in a million DIY wallet and kite projects. Tyvek is stiff and folds like paper, so helps the duffel bag keep its shape. Tyvek is hard to rip and relatively puncture-resistant, but it will pill up and get tatty over time if it gets a lot of wear.

For the duffel, we sandwich the Tyvek between the outer layer of Dyneema composite, and an inner layer of thin and nearly transparent 34 g/m^2 Dyneema. The thin Dyneema lets you see the Tyvek logo, which is useful for hipster cred, and in general makes for a bright bag interior that makes it easier to find stuff. We've recently started experimenting with replacing the inner Dyneema layer with mustard-yellow Robic XL ripstop nylon.


- We assemble the bags on our industrial sewing machine using bonded polyester outdoor thread that is resistant to UV, heat, abrasion, salt water and mildew.

- We use YKK Aquaguard water-repellent zippers, #3 zippers on the small bags and #5 zippers on the duffel.

- We give the bags additional waterproofing by sealing all of the internal seams with single-sided Dyneema seam tape.

- For handles on the duffel bag, we use 2" nylon webbing. Many vendors sell really coarse webbing that's tough to fold and sew. The softest webbing we've found is Sailrite's 1800# nylon.

- For the duffel bag strap, we use bright red 3/4" tubular nylon.

- For the zipper pulls, we use fluorescent yellow 1.2mm Dyneema line.

- We use 3/4" and 1" binding tape (grosgrain ribbon) to create zipper stops and loops

- The key to speedy assembly is "basting tape", a kind of heavy-duty double-sided tape that's used in making sails and awnings. We use the basting tape to attach things together before we sew them, for example the zippers and the Dyneema, and the fabric layers of the duffel bag. Everyone who actually knows how to sew seems to think that basting tape is tool of profligate degenerates. I like not stabbing myself with pins.


- Zpacks and Ripstop by the Roll fabric and some of our zippers

- Sailrite for polyester thread, basting tape and other zippers


- grease marking pencil (for marking cut lines)

- tailor-style fabric tape measure

- two- to three-foot straight-edge for tracing lines

- OPTIONAL: a 24" quilting ruler (much easier to make measurements off the edge of fabric, as the transparent ruler smushes the fabric flat)

- electric hotknife and a glass or metal plate (heat resistant cutting surface)

- OR rotary cutter, a self-healing cutting mat and cut-safe gloves

- OPTIONAL: an electric rope cutter (useful but not necessary for cutting and automatically fusing zipper tape and nylon ribbon)

Having blunted a whole collection of rotary cutters on Dyneema panels, we looked for alternatives. We did some experiments cutting Dyneema sheets on our laser-cutter, but given the simple designs of these bags and the hassle of fabric flapping around in breeze generated by the laser ventilation, it seemed like overkill.

We now prefer to cut the material with an electric hotknife. If you are going to cut Dyneema with a rotary cutter or something like a box-cutter or an Xacto blade, I strongly recommend you get a pair of cut-safe gloves.

We invested in an electric rope-cutter a few years ago for cutting and instantly fusing the ends of paracord, nylon webbing and dyneema line. For such a weird specialized gadget, it gets a surprising amount of use in the studio.


- a needle threader (who knew you didn't have to fish around trying to thread the needle for ages)

- a chopstick (for pulling thread from the lower bobbin, and gently poking out corners when you invert your bag)

- thread snips (worth having; more convenient than scissors and you'll be cutting lots of dangling threads)

- a seam ripper (for unwinding mistakes)

- basting tape (we prefer Seamstick 1/4" Basting Tape For Sailmaking & Vinyl)

We use a Sailrite LSZ-1 sewing machine. We really only need the walking foot, the powerful needle and the zigzag stitch when we're sewing the handles for the duffel bag. It should be possible to build the two smaller bags on any sewing machine.

Step 4: Cutting the MaterialCONSIDER STOCK DIMENSIONS

The vendors we use carry 54" wide rolls of Dyneema, and they sell it by yard. That means you get 54" wide by 36" sections (or longer in three-foot increments). Tyvek comes in 108" wide rolls and they sell it by the foot. The Robic XL nylon comes in 68" rolls and they sell it by the yard. All of our vendors send the material folded up in a box rather than wound around a roll.

Our first step in bag design is to set the dimensions to minimize waste. As the most expensive material, the Dyneema roll dimensions determine our bag dimensions. In the beginning, I tried all these fancy formulas for dimensions, setting target internal dimensions for the bag and then working backwards to include seam allowance and other factors—but I'm too sloppy at cutting and sewing and this isn't press-fit cabinetry.

Now, I simply divide the 54" roll width as follows for each bag:

pencil/passport case

- Goal is to cut panels that are 9" wide by 10" tall

- Cut a 10" tall strip off the roll,

- Cut that strip into six 9" x 10" sections

- Creates a flat case that is roughly 9" wide by 4.25" tall.

document/laptop case:

- Goal is to cut panels that are 18" wide by 21" tall.

- Cut a 21" wide strip off the roll

- Cut that strip into three 18" x 21" sections.

- Creates a flat case that is roughly 16" wide by 10" tall.

duffel bag:

- Goal is to cut panels that are 27" wide by 36" tall.

- Cut the 54" wide by 36" stock section in half to create two 27" x 36" sections.

- Creates a bag that is roughly 10" wide by 18" long by 7" tall.


Our favorite way to cut with the hotknife is to use the large flat metal engraving bed that came with our laser cutter. We pin the dyneema sheet down on top of the metal plate with magnets (magnetic pin backs from conference badges) and then quickly zip the hotknife along the marked line. For a heat-safe cutting surface, you can also use a big pane of glass.

After I've cut the exterior Dyneema panel for the duffel bag, I cut the Tyvek middle layer and and the interior panel of Dyneema or nylon slightly big. I find the most square edge of the outer Dyneema panel, and attach it to the most square edges of the Tyvek and inner material layers with double-sided basting tape. I lay the composite panel flat on the metal engraving bed and trim away the excess with the electric hotknife.

Step 5: Prepare the Panels and Attach the ZippersADD PATCHES

Starting with the blank panels, consider whether you want to add any patches or nametags—as it gets much harder to do once you attach the zippers.

For example, I found dozens of vendors selling inexpensive military "name tapes", a narrow embroidered fabric name tag that can typically fit a dozen letters or so. They come in all kinds of colors, from the most stealthy camouflage patterns to ninja black-on-black to color patterns that are easy to read from far away. We went with the white letters on navy blue ripstop nylon.

Another relatively inexpensive way to personalize your gear is to invest in a custom woven labels. I designed the label in Adobe Illustrator in the "center fold woven label" style so it would have our logo on the front and a short message on the reverse. I saved the file as an EPS. Wunderlabel charged US$100 for 300 labels (one hundred labels would have been just a few dollars cheaper) and delivered the labels in a couple weeks. I didn't have time to do much price-shopping so there may be cheaper service. Anyways, it's amazing how a little tag turns a home-made bag into an official Real Thing.

Embroidered tagMilitary-style nametapes

The steps for attaching the zippers are as follows:

1. Mount the zipper slider on the zipper tape. This can be tricky, especially with the tiny #3 zippers. See the video for a quick HOWTO.

2. Cut the zipper tape to length with a half-inch margin on either end

3. Create stops on either end of the zipper by sewing folded pieces of binding tape across each zipper end. Make sure the opening of the fold faces the outer edge of the zipper. 4. Attach one edge of the zipper to the panel with basting tape using an inside-out fold. 5. Zipper sewn in place.  Note that the shiny side in the inside surface of the bag. 6. Flip over and fold the Dyneema fabric down.  Now you see the outside of the zipper and the outside of the bag.7. Place a strip of basting tape on the outside of the zipper.  Note that this shows the paper backing on the basting tape.  Remove the paper backing (duh)!8. Fold the bottom of the Dyneema up onto the basting tape.9. Add your embroided label between the Dyneema and the zipper before you sew. 10. Sew across the attach the zipper.  Now you have an open-ended tube of Dyneema with a zipper on top.11. Showing the other side.12.  Side view of the inside-out bag with the zippers attached.Step 6: Sew the Sides to Complete the Flat Top-Zipper Case!

Attaching the zipper is the hardest part of the basic gear bag. Now you simply need to cut some loops out of binding tape for the side of the bag, and stuff them inside the fold along the unsewn edge of the bag (see video). Then you run a stitch down each side of the bag.

Inside-out bag, showing the zipper tab sewn in place.The finished bag!

Flip the bag inside out. Create a zipper pull—we use bright yellow thread. You're finished!

For extra credit, you can tape the seams on the inside of the bag with single-sided Dyneema tape to make the bag waterproof!

Step 7: Stay Tuned!

Next, I'll add instructions for the flat front-face zipper bag, and the duffel bag.  Check for updates here on Core77 or on DtM's Instructables project page.


This "Design Experience that Matters" series is provided courtesy of Timothy Prestero and the team at Design that Matters (DtM). As a nonprofit, DtM collaborates with leading social entrepreneurs and hundreds of volunteers to design new medical technologies for the poor in developing countries. DtM's Firefly infant phototherapy device is treating thousands of newborns in 21 counties from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In 2012, DtM was named the winner of the National Design Award.

Dyson's Transportation Design Experiment, IKEA's Vending Machine and Aston Martin's $4M Submarine 

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

The Core77 team spends time combing through the news so you don't have to. Here's a weekly roundup of our favorite finds from the World Wide Web:

3D print models straight from NASA's archives!

Google hardware is no longer a hobby.

IKEA's new kitchen product vending machine.

Taco Bell used to have a machine that made 900 tacos per hour.

What would flying from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes feel like?

Dyson is working on an electric car.

Benetti Superyacht Concept. Just renderings, but man that is a hell of a boat!

Famous logos re-done with less ink

Would you stay in this traveling hotel?

The stocking machine at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. 

History of design in West Hollywood.

"Today in Technology: Raising a Ladder to the Moon, Under the Sea"

Great images of past winning entries from the World of Wearable Art competition. A competition for burning man attendees.

Sweet images of Aston Martin's $4 Million submarine.

How Canadians rid their yards of bears. Hot Tip: Discover more blazin' hot Internet finds on our Twitter and Instagram pages.

Design Experience That Matters: Equipping A Local Social Enterprise to Communicate Ideas Using Prototypes

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

Rapid prototyping is a core human-centered design skill. Design that Matters uses prototypes to better communicate with stakeholders across languages and cultures, quickly testing assumptions to efficiently converge on a final solution. This essay includes six examples of insights we gained using prototypes and how we taught these methods to our social enterprise partner, MTTS.

1. Avoiding Overheating in the Pursuit of Cozy Babies

2. Getting the Size Just Right

3. Avoiding Bumps and Bruises

4. Many Settings, or No Settings?

5. Finding Firefly's Home

6. Bringing Mom and Baby Together

"Fail early to succeed sooner" is a common mantra in the product design world. When you are creating something new and innovative, you take risks. Risks that people won't like it. Risks that new technology may not work. Risks that nobody will buy it. It's important to test your riskiest assumptions early and often to avoid expensive failures. The human-centered design process (HCD) encourages inexpensive failures early in the process to avoid changes later when it becomes too expensive. One of the central tools in the HCD process is the prototype. Prototyping is a great tool for communicating ideas early to get critical feedback from end-users. In designing Firefly, prototypes bridged the narrative gap between ourselves and our users. We shared ideas early and often- this helped us work with users of a different culture and language, as well as working in a medical context with which we had little personal experience.

During the innovation process, the cost of changes only increases as the development process progresses.

During the Firefly Newborn Phototherapy design process, Design that Matters used a series of prototypes to get critical feedback from end-users while also teaching the prototyping mindset and skillset to our Vietnamese manufacturing partner, Medical Technology Transfer and Services (MTTS). We did many activities together, including a tour of Boston organizations who are leaders in prototyping, a workshop about prototyping and manufacturing techniques, and providing prototyping references. Most importantly, our manufacturing and implementation partners hosted us for field research in Vietnam. During the research, they could see firsthand how prototypes generate key insight about the real behaviors of doctors, nurses, technicians, and parents using Firefly before the design was finalized. The Firefly design experience has changed the way our manufacturer approaches design for all of their products, including their current project creating a CPAP device for infant respiratory distress.

After gaining concept feedback from our manufacturing and implementation partners as well as eighty-eight doctors and nurses at East Meets West Foundation's Jaundice Conference in Central Vietnam, we created an alpha prototype. This prototype had "looks-like" aspects of our chosen design: a small and thin top light to provide phototherapy while still allowing good patient visibility, a large base light and a removable clear baby bed, called the bassinet, which would hold the baby right over the light. For lighting, we worked with a noble DtM volunteer who quickly wired together some generic blue LED lights and some white lights to three buttons. Separately, we created a series of concept button graphics and button configurations that could control the lights in different ways. We also brought along a life-size newborn doll for people to simulate use with the prototype. The insights we gained by showing the Firefly alpha prototype to doctors, nurses, technicians, parents and babies at seven hospitals in Vietnam were key to designing the final product which is currently in-use in seven countries.

Left: A nurse uses our alpha prototype to show how she would drape Firefly to keep the light from bothering bystanders, and to keep the baby warmer. Right: The resulting top light is made of thick metal to ensure heat can escape even when draped. 1. Avoiding Overheating in the Pursuit of Cozy Babies

At many hospitals we visited, nurses indicated that they would want to drape a sheet over Firefly's top light to minimize air flow over the baby and keep the baby warmer. Other doctors and nurses we met commonly draped overhead phototherapy devices to keep the light from bothering bystanders' eyes. What they didn't know is that draping any of these devices impairs the device's ability to cool the electronics. This can lead to a variety of ill effects including reducing light bulb life, dim ineffective phototherapy, overheating the baby, or even fire in very extreme cases.

Result: We designed the top light out of thick aluminum and mounted the electronics and lights directly onto it, drawing the heat from the electronics up and away and keeping it cool even when covered by a sheet or blanket.

2. Getting the Size Just RightWe were lucky to meet a tall mom and her above average baby early in the process so we could discover that our bassinet was too small.

We asked healthcare providers whether they thought the bassinet would be cozy for a small newborn, but still comfortably fit a large newborn. Luckily, one of the tallest women in Vietnam was at one of the hospitals the day we visited. She consented to put her big, healthy baby briefly into the bassinet. Sure enough, it was a very tight fit. Other healthcare providers commented that the walls seemed to be too low for comfort and too steep to easily access the baby for procedures like a blood draw.

Result:We went back to the drawing board, gathering statistics on typical newborn sizes, and resizing the bassinet and the entire device to fit a 90th percentile baby.

3. Avoiding Bumps and BruisesLeft: A mother bumps the baby doll's head while lifting it out of the alpha prototype. Right: A mother safely and comfortably lifts her baby in and out of the final Firefly device with raised top light.

We asked doctors, nurses, and parents to try taking a doll in and out of the Firefly alpha prototype to see how they would do it. Even though the bassinet was removable, most preferred to take the baby directly in and out of the device while keeping the bassinet in place. They explained there isn't a lot of space in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, especially not tabletop space where they could put the bassinet. However, the top light was so low that our baby doll was getting a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.

Result: We used a tape measure to simulate different light heights and had a variety of healthcare providers put the baby in and out until we had consensus on the right height. We adjusted the height of the top light higher in the final design.

4. Many settings, or No Settings?Left: Healthcare providers in Vietnam consider an array of different button option on paper. Right: The resulting simple, one-button Firefly control panel.

We asked healthcare providers at each hospital to consider a variety of different lighting control options. The main question: did most healthcare providers want multiple levels of brightness, and separate control of the top and bottom lights, or just one button that could turn both lights on and off with a single brightness? The various buttons and icons led to a discussion about the settings they used on their current overhead phototherapy devices. Most existing devices offered either two or three different brightness levels. Through these interviews, we discovered even staff at the same hospital had different approaches to which brightness setting they would choose. Some would always leave the phototherapy on low because they wanted the bulbs to last longer; others would occasionally put it on high for patients with severe jaundice; and still others had never realized there were multiple settings to choose from. In multiple hospitals, we noticed newborns laying under white lights and looked closer to find the device included an option for a white observation light. At one hospital, I asked the nearest nurse if she knew the child was not receiving treatment. She explained to me that this was a white light phototherapy unit. Unfortunately, the overwhelmed staff had never discovered that they were not providing any phototherapy because the device had always been in patient observation mode.

Result: Given that there is no known way to overdose on phototherapy, we wanted to give every baby the best chance at a successful treatment. We decided to provide one button and one power setting with both lights providing intensive phototherapy. We also excluded the white patient observation light.

5. Finding Firefly's HomeLeft: Nurses in Vietnam discover the Firefly alpha prototype is too long after attempting to put it on their typical infant cot. Right: The final Firefly design fits neatly within the typical-sized cot in Vietnam.

Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) in low resource hospitals are busy places. At National OBGYN Hospital in Hanoi, where the first baby was treated with Firefly, there were 9 rooms and 150 newborns. At all the hospitals we visited across many countries, one of the scarcest resources was counter space. When we asked nurses to show us where they would keep Firefly in the NICU, she picked it up and tried placing it in one of the standard infant cots. Unfortunately, the device was just a couple inches too long to fit inside the rails! The experience repeated itself at hospital after hospital. There was a standard-sized infant cot, so the team took measurements before we left.

Result: We ensured the final design would not be so long, and that it would leave extra room to hold onto the device while lifting it in and out of a typical infant cot.

6. Bringing Mom and Baby TogetherLeft: A mother provides positive feedback while lying next to the Firefly alpha prototype in bed with the light turned on. Right: In the Philippines, the first mother and baby benefit from treatment in mom's room.

One of our hopes was for the new design to be used in the room with mom, bringing mom and baby together for breastfeeding, bonding, and to better watch over the baby. Luckily an intrepid mom was willing to give it a try. We placed the device next to her on the bed and she lay next to it with the lights on. She reported that she could lie comfortably next to it and it wasn't too bright for her eyes. She also indicated that she loved the idea of having her baby close during treatment.

Result: We maintained a similar device configuration to enable it to fit on mom's bed.

Vietnamese Social Enterprise, MTTS, Uses Rapid Prototyping to Design CPAP

After experiencing the process side by side with Design that Matters, our Firefly manufacturing partner, MTTS, is now using rapid prototyping to design a radically new version of their Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine to help newborns with respiratory distress.

MTTS and East Meets West staff interview healthcare providers in Vietnam about CPAP using rapidly-created form models and paper print-outs of buttons. Images courtesy MTTS.

MTTS is using user interface rapid prototypes during interviews with doctors and other stakeholders to design the new machine. MTTS used rapid prototyping materials to make a variety of different form factors for feedback around aesthetics and ergonomics. Paper printouts stand in for displays and controls.

Multiple concepts for the new CPAP form and interface. Images courtesy MTTS.

To gather stakeholder feedback from experts across the world, MTTS developed a survey highlighting various options for displays and controls. Domain experts including East Meets West partner doctors responded to the questionnaire, the results are being used to inform the design.

Left: The MTTS CPAP before. Right: The new MTTS CPAP in-development. Images courtesy MTTS.

The contrasts between the original CPAP and the new design concepts are striking! The redesign is made possible by newly-developed internal resources and capacity at MTTS, built with help from Design that Matters during the Firefly project. The result is an organization that now approaches each new device through a human-centered design lens, and is better-positioned to create world class designs that will save many newborns across the globe.

Pet Products Designed for Easy Training and Treat Distribution 

Core 77 - Tue, 2017-10-10 15:15

The creative team at Mixer has been inventing innovative Starmark pet products for more than 10 years. Each year we find new materials and playful methods to grow the market for Starmark’s brand. These highly researched toys tug at the leash, the heart and at consumer’s pocketbooks.

View the full content here