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It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.

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Pen Is Not My Friend 5:40 AM

Keyboard and Words are my friends and we often play hide-and-seek when I do my posts. They either hide behind Mr. Wrong Spellings or screen behind Ms. Metal Block’s skirt. At such moments I turn to my other pal Mr. Mouse for some help. A right click, scrolling and some serious threatening and pesto they come out of hiding! All this fun is missed when I’m forced to use pen and paper! Wait a minute IDEA tells me they gotta Dictionary Pen for me that’s equally fun…hmmm…interesting!

Spell Check and synonyms are my life on the keyboard, so how does IDEA expect me to use the old fashioned pen and have fun? Sorry did I say old-fashioned, coz they tell me that the Dictionary Pen is new age and contemporary. It comes with a display, navi-buttons, an integrated wordlist and speech recognition. This means I simply speak my word into its mic and it will relay the correct spelling and meaning to the display. Wow fantastic! Now all I need to do is get used to the notion of using a paper and pen!

Designer: IDEA

Detect The “C” Scare In Advance 5:36 AM

Ok this is a true story, my aunt who happens to be a doctor managed to detect a pip-sized (malignant) lump in her breast just coz she was a proficient doc who did this kinda stuff on a daily basis. Many of us women are neither that lucky nor skilled enuf to detect lumps of any kind! To help us out is the Luna Breast Care Device, which is a personalized intimate unit that allows us to examine ourselves in the comfort and privacy of our homes.

This handheld unit comes with intelligent biomedical technologies that can “feel for lumps on the human breast as to detect abnormalities under the surface of the skin.”

The two-part unit includes a charging interface with a screen and a soft screening pad interface made of flexible, bio-elastic materials with multiple sensors that process the info. A cumulative record of all the screenings is stored for further reference, which could come handy at the apt moment.

Designers: Agnes XUE Lishan, Wei Hangshuai & Ho Hung Yi

Luna Breast Cancer And Lumps Detection Device by Agnes XUE Lishan

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PS: This is a James Dyson Entry, so you may want to vote it up here.

Animate For Obesity? I Don’t Think I Agree 5:33 AM

One of the reasons behind developing the Animate project was to motivate the obese-TV-Video Games-addicted-generation to move their butt and get some exercise. I don’t buy that theory. My point is, if Wii Sports couldn’t get me toned and slim, then nothing can! However, besides this Animate is cool gadget that kids on the block would love. It’s got a camera, MP3 player, watch band, communication feature and videogames. When you play the spy-detective kinda game, you get the opportunity to win some cool avatar credits that that motivate you to be active and on your toes!

Designers: Hugo Kretz & Marc Haldemann

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Animate Digital Sports Video Game Player by Hugo Kretz & Marc Haldemann

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PS: This is a James Dyson Award Entry, so you may want to vote it up here.

The World Through My Eyes 5:29 AM

How would images look if we captured them on a camera that was based on the Human Eye? Taking into consideration our field of vision, optical sensory and the brain’s perception of images, George Milde has developed the Human Eye Camera. This device combines modern technology with digital postproduction. When the light hits the “eye” of the camera, it is spread via a prism onto three arrange-able sensors. And like the digitalized version, this one too offers the RAW format, which is variable in focus and focal length. The outcome of images is like a stitching or overlay of pictures. Like a panorama picture that’s been curved and distorted coz the brain did not flatten the peripheral view.

Designer: Georg Milde

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Human Eye Camera by George Milde

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This is a James Dyson Award Entry, You can vote for it here.

Mazda Nagare 5:51 AM

Under the direction of Mazda’s new global design director, Laurens van den Acker, the challenge given to the team was to invent a novel means of registering motion in vehicles whether they’re moving or still. Nagare achieves that goal while also signaling a fresh design direction for future Mazda vehicles.

Like all Mazda products, Nagare has the soul of a sports car. Its shape is sleek and aerodynamically efficient, as you’d expect of an urban cruiser for the future. Wheels are positioned at the far corners of the envelope for quick steering response and agile maneuverability. There isn’t an ounce of overhang wasted.

Access to the four-place interior is provided by two double-length doors that hinge forward and up like the wings of a butterfly. The driver is centrally located, like a single-seat sports racer, for optimum control and visibility. Since the driver is positioned under the highest portion of the roof, there’s ample headroom with a comfortably reclined backrest. Innovative seating arrangements are a Mazda specialty, as witnessed by the successful RX-8 four-passenger sports car and the clever packaging in the upcoming CX-9 three-row, seven-passenger crossover sport-utility vehicle.

Nagare’s rear compartment is a wrap-around lounge offering relaxed accommodations for three passengers. The central front seat and expansive door opening facilitate easy entry to the surprisingly roomy interior.

Recognizing that an advanced design concept needs an advanced powertrain, Nagare could conceivably be powered by a hydrogen-fueled rotary engine. Mazda’s work on this advanced driveline technology is among the most advanced in the world, with hydrogen/gasoline-fueled rotaries powering RX-8s currently in service in Japan.

Design: Mazda [ Via: The Cool Hunter ]

Ten Unusual And Creative Bicycle Designs 5:45 AM

Researching for this article I was surprised to learn that although a refined version of the cycle was available by early 1800s, it wasn’t till late 19th century that designers thought of coming up with a version suitable for women. Anyways, let’s not get into the battle of the sexes and enjoy ten amazing designs for cycles that can revolutionize the industry. After all, more than one billion worldwide use this mode of transport daily!

10) IF Mode by Mark Sanders

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Our first Podcast guest has made his mark in the design-world with this innovative simple latch system foldable bike. Although the folding concept is not new, the folding of front wheel parallel next to the rear wheel is dynamic.

9) Bam Bam Baby Trike by Andrew Grigor

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Technically this shouldn’t be in this list, but I wanted to point out how the “eco-friendly” factor has trickled down to a sector where we don’t pay much attention to. This tricycle is made entirely of sustainably harvested bamboo, giving it the coveted TAG!

8 ) A-Bike by Daka Design

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A bike that unfolds in 10 seconds flat! Lightweight, better wheels, enclosed chain system, cool looks….

7) Taurus Bike by Julia Meyer

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A fitness bike especially designed for children, the Taurus does away with seats and pedals! More of a stepper, this stationary bike focuses on keeping the right posture while working out. The back wheel hosts six condensers that store energy created from pedaling. This energy can be utilized later.

6) Tong City Bike by Nr21 Design

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The biggest danger of riding your bike after sunset is getting knocked down by some vehicle. Addressing this issue is the Tong City Bike, which includes customizable integrated light tubes that increase your visibility.

5) A2B Trike For Disabled Children by Shabtai Hirshberg

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The benefits of riding a bike are innumerable especially so for the disabled children. It improves their motor skills, muscle development, balance and gives them a sense of independence. The A2B Trike is designed in such a way that it’s easy for these special kids to mount and use it.

4) Antares Lift by Hideki Kawata

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Inspired by a tear drop and an orchid leaf, the Antares Lift is a single-speed folding bike.

3) GrassHopper by Daniel Pulvermuller

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Higher placed pedals, ergonomic seating and 60 seconds-to-fold are the key features of this cycle.

2) One by Thomas Owen

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Unlike the rest of the folding-gang, the One reclines into a compact casing that makes it truly unique. Almost cramping up into an exclusive suitcase!

1) Oryx by Harald Cramer

Ten Unusual And Creative Bicycle Designs

Boasting of a Y-frame and push of a button-removable twin wheels; the main highlight of this groovy cycle is the crank which is designed like a ring and mounted in the inside of the frame by two ball bearings. Targeted at racers who don’t like losing a second, this sexy lookin bike has plenty of features to woo them.

Cleaning Up The Wire Mess 5:43 AM

OMG, not another electrical gadget at home…where do I plug it…too many extension cords, wires, plugs, hassles! Does this thought often bog you down? It did bother designer Ashley too much, since she resides in a Victorian house where wiring and plugs haven’t been changed for more than 70 years! Instead of cribbing, she mulled and came up with the AllSocket Power Track and AllPlugs. Now she has the perfect solution for us…see her demo it for us after the break.

The Power Track integrates the electrical wiring into a skirting board or a similar wall panel. ‘AllPlugs’ replace conventional electrical plugs, then simply slot into the distribution system anywhere around the perimeter of the room, giving you access to power wherever it is required. AllPlugs are environmentally friendly, with options that allow users to turn the power off to one or several appliances at a time, by either a flick of one conveniently placed wireless wall switch, or automatically by smart plugs which detect standby states.

AllSocket Power Track System and AllPlugs is a James Dyson entry, you can vote for it here:

Designer: Ashley Kelly

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AllSocket Power Track System and AllPlugs Plug by Ashley Kelly

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Zubin Metha’s Next Assistant 5:39 AM

Apologies to Yiran and all those who play music, but many of us YD-ers may be ignorant on the nitty-gritty of music composition, play and practice. So before I launch into a full detailed explanation of the Lyra project, I must get some basics clear. Musicians often use a metronome to help them practice their sessions however this device does have its limitations. And apparently musicians also have heightened peripheral vision in comparison to us normal folks.

The Lyra offers visual feedback and provides users with tempo, dynamics and articulation information via discrete, moving patterns represented as OLED illumination that peek the peripheral vision during the playing. So basically this means that the info relayed to a musician practicing his piece, is through visual notations that are picked up by the corner of the eye.

To stay true to his explanation, I’m gonna reproduce the exact text that Yiran sent in:

Through visual feedback, Lyra offers musicians the ability to monitor his/her own musical performance in the process of skill acquisition. It will also help music students in keeping up their motivation and enthusiasm during the practice.

When there is no conductor available, group of people practice with a metronome often have difficulty following the beat. The sound of metronome is either too loud or too quiet to be heard. Headphones are used in most of times for recording soundtrack of films.

First major function of Lyra is to display tempo information. The simplest one is sequential mode, most suitable for soloing, like piano. It clearly identifies the beats inside each phrase of the music. Common 2, 3, 4, 5, beats can be selected. A very demanding functions, which is instant change of tempo is achieved by a pedal. Player can simply press the pedal to toggle between 2 pre-set tempi, rather than mess around with his or her metronomes during the performance.

Designed for ensemble or chamber music scenario, conductor mode imitates the movement of the conductor’s white baton. This mode fully exploits the peripheral vision so that the player can feel the movement at any position as long as the display is within eyesight. The bottom of the display panel is the same as the invisible plane for a baton movement. Pedal still functions here to change the tempo instantly. These movements are for conductor’s practice, mirrored versions are available to provide a view from the musicians and audience.

In Dynamics Mode, Lyra analyze incoming sound signal and provides objective dynamics information of the music being produced by the player, or from other sources. Though visual feedback, players can practice, compare or try to imitate master’s performance with more ease.

With complex Fourier transform it is able to track strong rhythmatic beat. This will be useful for certain types of instrument such as drum. The player can directly visualize the rhythm he is performing, or compare to a tempo display together to improve the skills.

It might also work with other instrument types, while more intelligent algorithm needs to be employed to get a good result.

Control of Lyra will be actualized by an upgradable software interface on touch-screen such as iPhone/iPod and devices like MID, offering quick and ease control for different functions.

The working prototype mainly shows the display panel of Lyra, it comprise 3 times 13, totally 39 units. In order to present the best result possible, 39 large bright LEDs are used for the working prototype. 2 layers high-quality diffuser are used to make the light property closer to OLED

The prototype system consists of a computer with microphone, a control box (consists of Arduino Mega board and other minor electronics), a Pedal and the Display panel. The MAX/MSP program will take control and Arduino act as a hardware interface between the software and the lighting. Two 25-way cables are used for connection between the display and the control box

The display panel uses cutting-edge glass type OLED panels; it has a resolution of 13 X 3, totally 39 white illumination sources in a single glass panel. Color and shape for each-unit is irrelevant since movement pattern is the essence of the peripheral vision

13 horizontal resolution is perfect to display 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7-beat time signatures sequentially in an even spacing, while 3 vertical resolution are used for more spatial display for dynamics and conductor-movement

Unlike LED which is directional, OLED is diffuse, subtle and soft, sometimes described as a ‘light cloud’, ideal for generate ambiance and in this case, peripheral vision With ultra-thin layer which is less than 1.8 mm and no heat emission.

At vertical mode, the front structure of Lyra is designed to be able to hang on most the music boards belongs to either music stands or grand pianos, up to a maximum thickness of 1 inch (2.54 cm). When the base is sitting on the edge of the music board, the lower structure push itself against the back of the board thanks to the horizontal gravity component resulted from the weight of the arm and display.

The software itself, along with the firmware inside Lyra, can both be upgraded to provide improvements and new functions. Lyra can be connected to a computer via mini-USB cable, or the USB-adapter for power source. The pedal will be connected to the adaptor; a wireless version could also be available.

Designer: Yiran Feng

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Lyra Musical Assistance Device by Yiran Feng

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Short Distance Solar Powered Rental Bikes 5:34 AM

Just what the title says! It’s made for you to go to the station and pop in a little cash to take it for a spin! The carrying case in the middle comes standard, with folding out sides (but just a bit!) so you can fit your stuffs in there. Lithium-based accumulator batteries store energy which are charged by plugging in to a standard socket, the energy provided ideally 100% by a solar-panel laden station roof. Ride on!

In addition to the simplistic translated nutshelled fantasy-vision I’ve provided above, the designer Tobias Bexten has a bit to say about the shape:

By an uncommonly forward leant main body that stems against the driving direction, the vehicle displays its role in a decelerated form of mobility. Additionally this formal aspect serves as a strong recognisable attribute as well.

Clean surfaces and precise edges add up to a valuable impression of the design in order to emphasise the functional elements of the vehicle and to aspire a reduced and calm style, according to the innovative and clean form of mobility this vehicle is representing.

This entire design is done in reaction to some facts dug up by Bexten, exact parameters unknown: “at an average of only 1,2 people are traveling together in one car at the same time, and the quote “50 percent of all distances covere with a car are shorter than five kilometers, 90 percent of all distances covered are shorter than 9 kilometers.”" I would not be surprised at this being true of my very place of residence: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. These vehicles would be a blessing here.

Designer: Tobias Bexten

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