An iPhone App That Finds Your Keys (And Just About Anything Else)

Since Henry Ford sold the first Model T, people have been losing their car keys, cursing this pocketable tool that never seems to be in one’s pocket. Many of us have been forced to abandon our cars altogether, allowing them to rot in our yard until a decade passes and, amidst vacuuming under the cushions of our couch, we discover them amongst an extra large tub’s worth of popcorn and $100 in pennies.

Now, a new Kickstarter-backed project called Hone ($49) is poised to track our keys at will. It’s an iPhone app that syncs with a Bluetooth keychain. To find your keys, you’ll simply load the app and an onscreen display will point the way in hotter/colder fashion.

“Why hasn’t anyone thought of this sooner?” you may ask. One big reason is that the Bluetooth 4.0 standard is the first to make it possible with its new energy-efficient mode, Bluetooth Low Energy. This allows a single battery to power Hone for several months. And it’s also new enough that Hone had a jumpstart on automakers that haven’t had a chance to build it into their own keys just yet.

“The fact is that it takes a long time for automakers to qualify new technology for use in their cars,” explains Hone designer Geoffrey Litwack. “Typically new parts have to be tested in prototype cars before they’re passed into production, and that process is minimum a year.”

As of now, this innovation jumpstart has allowed Hone to nearly double its $46,000 goal on Kickstarter. But for Litwack, it was the crowdsourced ideating that proved just as valuable for the future of his product.

“We have a backer who is blind, and he asked if we could add an accessibility feature to the app: having the phone vibrate as it got closer to the Hone device in addition to the visual proximity display,” Litwack explains. “He told us that if we would do that, which of course we did, he would be able to use six or seven Hones to navigate the cluster of objects he needs to keep track of as he goes through his day. We think having a Hone to find keys is great, but we never considered its use for the visually impaired.”

As a keychain dongle, Hone is stuck in the middle of major automakers who can quickly make the idea obsolete. As a find-anything-device, Hone is not only tapping into the accessibility market, it could track many small objects of value to anyone around the house–like those important storage keys you only use twice a year, or maybe that one container hiding your social security card and passport.

With a bit of crowdsourced context, it became obvious that Hone could track just about anything. Well, anything except for your smartphone running the Hone app.

Sign up here.

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Wacom’s Massive, $3,700 Tablet For Designers

Oh what I would give to play with this for a few hours let alone own this whopping 24″ screen bad boy. Alas at a nearly $4,000 price tag I will probably not get that chance unless I miraculously win the lottery.

Last week, Korean graphics tablet maker Wacom announced an addition to their superwide interactive display line, Cintiq, and yep–it’s a doozy. The 24” HD Touch is similar to the version released just a few months ago, with one crucial upgrade: multi-touch controls.

In a press release, the company’s professional products director explains the main advantage of touch–“the ability to manipulate a 3-D model or pan, zoom and rotate an image with one hand while simultaneously sculpting or sketching with the other.” The 24-inch, 1.07 billion color screen is mounted on a rotating stand that swivels easily to move from upright to tabletop, and comes with a newly upgraded battery-less pen. It’s a more immersive drawing experience, which Wacom claims will close the gap between analog and digital creativity.

Besides looking painfully fun to draw with, the Touch provokes some interesting questions regarding graphic software development. Obviously, Adobe, Autodesk, CorelPaint and other software were originally developed for hotkeys and a mouse. Swipes and multi-finger touching will open up a whole new type of control system.

Multi-touch functionality comes at a cost ($3,699) though, so you may be destined to hunch furtively over a 10” Wacom for a few more years. More likely, it’ll be your boss swiveling and swiping to their hearts content, as demonstrated by the distinguished-looking gentleman in the video above. Still, technology trickles down, and it’s exciting to see Wacom venturing into touchable territory.

More information here.

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8 Tips For Keeping Your First Design Job

Although I’m actually going back to school this coming fall, I’m always keeping in mind what I’m going to do after I graduate. The thought of job hunting  in todays world and in the competitive market of design makes me nervous. I do know that getting the job is half the battle, keeping that job is also something that has to be kept in mind. This list that I found from AIGA.org written by John Luu is very informative and points out helpful hints that I didn’t see before.

  1. Arrive Early, Stay Late: Work/life balance is a valid concern for many people in the workforce, but for your first six to twelve months as the newbie in the design shop, come in a little bit early and staying a little bit late to get a feel for the ebb and flow of studio life. The main benefit: if you’re at your desk at the start of business hours every day, everyone notices. Also, the quiet time gives you an opportunity to catch up on unread emails, plan out your day and read up on contemporary design trends and production techniques.
  2. Win Creative Pitches: If you’re working in a design firm or ad agency, for important projects chances are that multiple designers are developing separate creative solutions and comps that are then chosen by the creative director or the client. As a designer, one of your primary goals is to make a concerted effort to ensure your design solution is the one that is picked by the client and produced by the firm. These are the projects that, over time, define the body of work a firm produces, and you want to be sure that your creative ideas are the ones that get propagated.
  3. Finish Everything On Your Plate: The biggest mistake I see young designers make is letting old, unfinished projects linger on their job list and clutter up the job board. Lingering projects are not only bad feng shui, they’re also really bad for business, giving a distorted view of a firm’s revenue pipeline and impeding new opportunities. Make an effort to wrap up any projects that are still waiting on client feedback or the odd piece of content, and try to get them out the door so that you can check them off your list.
  4. Volunteer for Projects No One Else Wants: To quote architect Michael McDonough, “95 percent of any creative profession is shit work.” Creatives will always fight over a fun pro bono poster project or a letterpress holiday card, but if a project involves learning a new program, language or technology, it’s usually hard to find someone eager to step up. If you’re the person willing to learn motion graphics, mobile app development or a new print production technique, you start to align yourself with future revenue streams for your employer. Also, volunteering for high-risk projects that are outside of everyone’s comfort zone is a great way to gain new experience, responsibilities and—eventually—expertise.
  5. Become an Invaluable Asset: This is an expansion of my previous point but over time firms and agencies grow and evolve in order to compete effectively in the market place. The design firm that specialized in stationary and brochures in the 1980s expanded to branding in the 1990s and interactive in the 2000s, and they are now retooling for social and mobile in the 2010s. Design professionals must adapt and evolve with the industry or they risk becoming irrelevant as time passes. Ask to go on press checks or shadow a web developer to help you better understand the production process. Having a basic understanding of the print production process or how websites on the internet actually function can go a long way in informing your design process, allowing you to take ownership of a project at all stages of the concept, design and production process.
  6. Find a Mentor: To succeed in your career it is often helpful to have a mentor—someone with a breadth and depth of experience who can provide insights into how to achieve your goals and give objective and dispassionate advice that is in your best interest. Ideally, your mentor should be someone outside of work, or at least outside of your department, who can keep private conversations confidential and will hold you accountable for achieving your personal goals.
  7. Cultivate a Personal Network: Most people only network when they are actively looking for a new job. This approach tends to be counterproductive for a wide variety of reasons. Ideally, you should have a professional network in place before you need to take advantage of it. Although there are plenty of reasons to network, the main reasons are as follows: to stay plugged in to what’s new in your local professional community and to cultivate a network of contacts that can be of benefit at a future date. Also, keep an eye out for the up-and-coming photographer, 3D animator or iOS app developer. Good ones are very hard to come by.Finally, don’t forget to help others if the opportunity presents itself. Heard of a great opening within a corporate in-house design department that isn’t advertised anywhere? Let your professional contacts know about it. Networking is a two-way street, and you want to pay it forward.
  8. Ask Your Boss How You Can Do Your Job Better: Seems pretty direct and obvious, but most people avoid this conversation. This is a shame because having your employer personally invested in your success on the job can be a determining factor in how much you thrive at work. Employers think about their employees’ career goals and job satisfaction, on average, maybe 15 to 30 minutes a year. More often than not, they’re busy trying to run a successful business (hopefully), landing new business, improving client relations or taking care of a million other sundry things, so you really have to force the conversation. One key thing to remember: whatever feedback your employer gives you, be sure to meet all of those expectations once they’ve been laid out in the open.

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Design For (Your) Product Lifetime Student Design Challenge

Develop a compelling new “smart” product that is repairable and designed to last and you could win up to $2,500 USD in prizes!

Products like electronics have components that can fail or need to be upgraded, well before the rest of the product needs to be replaced. As a result, we throw away millions of tons of electronics worldwide each year. Disposable, non-repairable electronic products put an enormous strain on ecological systems: they create huge amounts of e-waste and require a constant stream of raw materials and energy.

No matter how easy a product is to repair, however, it’s hard to keep it from becoming obsolete as new technologies roll out. Designers can intervene by making it easy for makers, users and recyclers to extend the lifecycle. In addition to overall product lifecycle, consider design strategies such as architecture and form, materials, connections and information, for consumers and end users.

Building on our successful first invitational challenge last year, Core77 is launching the second Design For (Your) Product Lifetime Student Challenge sponsored by Autodesk and iFixit. For students and recent graduates, this challenge asks designers to present a new “smart” product that’s also smarter environmentally: repairable and designed to last, even if some of its components need to be replaced. Examples may include household appliances, electronics, lighting, toys—any and all kinds of products are ripe for a lower-impact redesign.

Eligibility

This contest is open to students age 18 or older, from anywhere in the world, currently registered in an educational institution at the college/university level. See Rules for full eligibility information.

Submission Requirements

  • Tell the story. One-page storyboard. (This can be a one-page poster/graphic or 2-minute video). Tell a story, describing your user’s experience and the problem being solved. What environmental issue are you seeking to address? How does your design solve that?
  • Solution Description. Show off your design with at least 3 product images/renderings. These can be hand drawn or computer generated/rendered with Autodesk software (see Resources) or other design software.
  • Describe the details: 200-300 word written description of solution, including environmental impact improvement (with supplementary details if you have them).
  • Format: All submissions must be in English and packaged as a single PDF document, or zipped folder with PDF documents, video files if relevant and CAD files.

Judging Criteria (100 Points possible)

  • Design Concept (50 Points)
    • User benefit—How compelling is the solution? (evaluated with storyboard/video)
    • Environmental benefit—How much potential is there for improving the environmental impact of the design (specifically end-of-life)?
  • Design Communication (50 Points)
    • How well do your illustrations and/or renderings communicate your concepts? How compelling is the product appearance? (Evaluated with images and design files, if submitted.) Those submissions that include use of Autodesk software will be more favorably judged in this section.

The challenge entries are due by Wednesday OCTOBER 10th. Check out the full challenge overview here.

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“Build” Brings Legos to the Browser

Google Chrome’s “Build” gives users a chunk of virtual property using the company’s Maps technology, and allows them to build it out with digital Legos.

Build is an experiment by Google that gives users the tools for bringing anything in their mind’s eye to digital life on the Chrome browser. Upon signing in, you’re allotted a small plot of land (or sea) on which to build a foundation with digital Legos. The bricks were made with WebGL for a 3-D effect, and the space they inhabit is located on virtual Google Map coordinates. Since the space is finite, Lego engineers are encouraged to make it count. Medieval castles have already been erected.

Google worked on this project in its Sydney offices, which explains why all the available real estate is in Australia and New Zealand. (Other countries will open up soon.) According to Google Australia’s official blog, the site has 8 trillion bricks, easily making it the largest Lego collection the world has known.

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Dieter Rams: Ten Principles For Good Design

I was looking over all of my past posts and was surprised that I hadn’t post these yet even though I personally love Dieter Rams as a designer. I love his simplistic and minimal approach to design and how all of his designs are intuitive of human behavior. I know he was very famous for his designs for Braun but he also designed for a company called Vitsoe where they have a nice page for Rams’ principles.

1. Good Design is Innovative: The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

2. Good Design Makes a Product Useful: A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional, but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasises the usefulness of a product whilst disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

3. Good Design is Aesthetic: The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products we use every day affect our person and our well-being. But only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

4. Good Design Makes a Product Understandable: It clarifies the product’s structure. Better still, it can make the product talk. At best, it is self-explanatory.

5. Good Design is Unobtrusive: Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user’s self-expression.

6. Good Design is Honest: It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept.

7. Good Design is Long Lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society.

8. Good Design is Thorough Down to the Last Detail: Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the user.

9. Good Design is Environmentally Friendly: Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

10. Good Design is as Little Design as Possible: Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials.

Back to purity, back to simplicity.

Cool Hunting Video: Dieter Rams’ Principles of Good Design from Cool Hunting on Vimeo.

The Little Printer

This Little Printer lives in your home, bringing you news, puzzles and gossip from friends. Use your smartphone to set up subscriptions and Little Printer will gather them together to create a timely, beautiful mini-newspaper.

Connected to the Web, Little Printer has wide range of sources available to check on your behalf. We call them “publications”. Subscribe to your favourites and choose when you’d like them delivered. Right on time Little Printer gathers everything it needs to prepare a neat little personalised package, printed as soon as you press the button. You can get deliveries multiple times a day, but we find once or twice works best–like your very own morning or evening newspaper.

Many of you have probably already seen pictures of this little gadget floating around the web but I felt like sharing to those who havent seen this yet. I think it is an adorable device that is simple yet does it’s intended purpose very well.

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Rest of Summer Industrial Design Reading List

From top to bottom:

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley , Jonathan Littman and Tom Peters

The Ten Faces of Innovation by Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman (I have been hounded by a few professors to read this one)

Innovation Tournaments by Christian Terwiesch

The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Engines of Innovation by Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein

Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter F. Drucker

Quite a long list I’ve accumulated, well I better get cracking if I want to finish all of these books before school starts again.

How I Feel Designing Late at Night

Source and other cartoons by Tom Preston

A Call For Submissions to The Clerestory Lounge

I was recently notified with this art and design opportunity for undergraduate students by an email and wanted to share it with as many people as I could.

A Better World By Design and Clerestory Journal of the Arts have teamed up for the Fall 2012 semester to create a juried, pop-up exhibition of student artwork, which will run in conjunction with the 2012 A Better World by Design conference (September 28-30). This collaboration will merge Clerestory’s commitment to recognize and promote the work of student artists with A Better World by Design’s mission to foster innovation and exchange in the fields of sustainable and socially-conscious design.

They are inviting all undergraduate students to submit work in any form, including but not limited to: prose, poetry, sound, performance, video, installation, sculpture, painting, photography, architecture, furniture design, and serigraphy. Submissions should consider in some way themes, principles, or discourses pertaining to the relationship between design, society, and environment. They are especially interested in submissions that are cross-disciplinary or collaborative in nature to reflect the goals of our two organizations and the spirit of their partnership.

The top three submissions will receive cash prizes of $500, $250, and $100 respectively, and three honorable mentions will be awarded with attached prizes of $50 each.

E-mail up to three submissions to isabella@abetterworldbydesign.com with the following:

      Name
      Year and major
      Title of the work(s)
      Date of production

At least one image of the work, and/or links to video or other media.
Technical information, such as medium, dimensions, and duration.
Technical requirements, if any.
A brief description of the work (no more than 150 words)

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: August 15, 2012

Applicants will be notified of decisions by September 1st. Accepted works should arrive on campus between September 19th and 22nd.

Please direct questions to isabella@abetterworldbydesign.com.

Participation in the exhibit will increase awareness of the arts and provide great exposure for the student and to the relationship between design, society, and the environment, so I encourage any and all fellow students to take part and submit something.

For a PDF of the prompt, click here.

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