AppSeed – Turn Your Sketches Into Apps

AppSeed lets you take your sketches and make them into functioning prototypes, bridging the gap between pen/paper and digital, through computer vision.   It allows you to sketch your designs as you normally would and then manipulate your sketches directly on your phone. Unlike similiar products, the use of computer vision speeds up the process and understands your sketches. AppSeed can identify an enclosed space in your sketch, allowing you to make it into a button, input text, map, or another UI element. Making your sketch into a functioning prototype running on your phone.

What makes AppSeed so remarkable is that, by and large, the toolkit knows how to interpret the various boxes and buttons a designer might draw into distinct UI elements automatically.

AppSeed finds enclosed spaces such as boxes and decides what to do with them. Once an element is isolated, there is very little that you can’t do with it.

Right now, AppSeed is just a prototype, but the creators, Leon and Goralski are hard at work getting it out of beta and shipping to Kickstarter supporters by January. You can preorder the app now for just $8 here.

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Intel Turns Water Into Electricity

On Thursday, September 12th, Intel showed off a low-power communications research project at the firm’s Intel Developer Forum (IDF), which uses wine to charge mobile devices.

The project was demonstrated by Dr Genevieve Bell, Intel’s forward thinking anthropologist executive who has been studying ways to solve the chipmaker’s mobile computing problems.

“Some people turn water into wine, here at Intel we’re turning wine into electricity,” – Bell

Demonstrating what is probably the perfect solution for energy conscious winos out there, an Intel Labs researcher talked through the project on stage alongside Bell, showing off a low-power processor and an accelerometer that were powered by a glass of wine.

“Here’s a peek inside the Intel Labs that might redefine what you think low power really is. Here I have a low-power communications solution, a low-power processing solution and an accelerometer,”

“When I talk about low-power you might think low-power as in one watt or two watt solutions you find in a phone. Today I’m not here to talk about Watts, or milli-Watts, but I’m here to talk about micro-Watts.”

The researcher – we didn’t catch his full name – boasted that the computing solutions being worked on in Intel Labs are so low in power that in the future we’ll be able to “power them by the heat of our skin, or the ambient light in the room”, or “something a little more entertaining”, he added, pointing at the wine glass hooked up to the accelerometer.

Referring to the old school lemon copper trick, the Intel Labs staffer took a big red bottle, poured some wine into the glass, attached some copper and some zinc, and performed an experiment that was not dissimilar to what most of us probably did in high school with lemons and copper electrodes.

Doing this showed the accelerometer data being transferred from the processor and sent to a computer, with a flower rendering on the computer, demonstrating the concept of powering a computing operation with what was left over from last night’s dinner.

According to Intel, the experiment showed that “low-power doesn’t actually mean low performance”.

“It’s possible to start to imagine a world of incredibly low power but also with high performance, which will help unburden us, help us do things that are remarkable and gives the ability to power things like constant sensing, communication, and computing – all of which are necessary for our mobile future,”

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The Future of Design – New Way to Interact With 3D Models

SpaceX is exploring methods for engineers to accelerate their workflow by designing more directly in 3D. We are integrating breakthroughs in sensor and visualization technologies to view and modify designs more naturally and efficiently than we could using purely 2D tools. We are just beginning, but eventually hope to build the fastest route between the idea of a rocket and the reality of the factory floor. Special thanks to Leap Motion, Siemens and Oculus VR, as well as NVIDIA, Projection Design, Provision, and to everyone enabling and challenging the world to interact with technology in exciting new ways.

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Microfactory – A Machine Shop in a Box

The Microfactory is an all-in-one machine that 3D-prints, etches, and mills. It was conceived and built to be a self-contained prototyping and machining system for product development, not for end production. It is one that’s easy to use, portable, quiet, and leaves no mess behind. Its creators, four members of an independent maker space, formed Mebotics and funded the first five versions of their machine-shop-in-a-box before offering it on Kickstarter.

Hopefully they will reach their goal, but they do have a long way to go. If they do meet the funding goal, the company expects to start shipping about a year from now. A simplified version that prints one color or material and is equipped with an upgraded 650 W milling spindle will ship first for a minimum pledge of $4,495. The full version with four print heads and a 300 W spindle is available for a minimum pledge of $4,995.

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Stronger by Stress Plastics

A new type of plastic developed at Duke University that actually gets stronger when it is stressed.

“The carefully designed molecular structure of the material is what gives it this unusual property. Like all plastics, this one has a backbone composed mostly of carbon. However, the carbon atoms are arranged in a series of triangles extending down in long chains with two bromine atoms at one point.
The researchers included a molecule called a carboxylate in this plastic to utilize those bonding sites. This cross-links multiple chains and increases the material’s strength at the site of damage. Because this material reacts to mechanical force instead of light, heat, or chemical exposure, it is called a mechanophore.”

This could be implemented into phones, to make more durable medical implants or even stronger prosthetics that resist wear and tear.

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The World of an Unemployed Designer by Sara Habecker

The World of an Unemployed Designer

by sarhabs.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

Why Being an Industrial Designer is Awesome

The National Endowment for the Arts released a report taking an in-depth look into the health of the United States’ industrial design sectors.

Taking an expanded view of industrial design and including designers who aren’t just working on commercial products, but using design thinking to design user experiences, systems and processes, the 55-page report is a treasure trove of fantastic facts about the role that industrial design is playing in shaping the modern United States.

Here are some of the most interesting takeaways:

  • Right now, there are more than 40,000 industrial designers working in the United States.
  • Most salaried industrial designers work in either manufacturing (11,730 workers) or in professional, scientific or technical services (7,570 workers).
  • Industrial designers have higher salaries than graphic designers or interior designers. The annual median wage of an industrial designer in 2012 was $59,610.
  • There are 1,579 industrial design establishments in the United States, paying out approximately $1.4 billion in annual payroll.
  • Michigan, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Indiana and Pennsylvania have the highest concentration of industrial designers in the workforce.
  • Two states employ more than 3,000 industrial designers apiece: California and Michigan.
  • Industrial design is at an all-time high, and U.S. design patents have reached a 25-year peak.
  • 54% of design patents awarded since 1998 were awarded in the following product categories: furnishings, recording and communication, tools and hardware, packaging, food service equipment, transportation, environmental heating and cooling, and games, toys and sports.
  • Industrial designers are often inventors, but inventors aren’t often industrial designers. Between 1975 and 2010, 40 percent of people named on design patents were also named on utility patents; comparatively, only two percent of people names on utility patents were also included on the design patent.
  • Over the next few years, the NEA expects employment for industrial designers in the professional services sector (e.g. engineering firms and specialized design firms) to jump 29%.
  • Overall employment for industrial designers is expected to grow 10.5% from 2010 to 2012, slightly lower than for all occupations as a whole, where a 14.3% growth rate is anticipated.
  • The four largest industrial design firms earn 11 percent of the industry’s total revenue. The fifty largest earn almost half at 45%. Compare this to the top 50 firms in the professional services sector as a whole, which generates only 18% of the sector’s total revenue.
  • In 2012, 7 industrial design patents were awarded for every 100,000 people in the United States.
  • 45% of all design patents are awarded to U.S. companies, and 32% to foreign firms. The rest are awarded mostly to individuals.
  • The top ten U.S. companies ranked by number of industrial design patents are: Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Nike, Goodyear, Black & Decker, Wolverine World Wide, Kohler Company, Apple, 3M, and Ford.
  • Internationally, the top ten foreign companies ranked by number of industrial design patents are: Samsung, Sony, Foxconn, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Honda, Nokia, Toyota, Toshiba and Canon.
  • The top 10 states ranked by industrial design patents awarded by capita are: Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, Rhode Island, California, Minnesota/Ohio (tie), Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan.

In short? America is putting its money where it’s mouth is when it comes to the importance of design, and the ripples of that are being felt in every economic stratum and across every economic sector. It has just never been a better time to be an American industrial designer.

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Flip Wallet – Acre Supply Co.

Okay so I am a sucker for minimalistic, thin wallets, but you have to admit the Flip Wallet from Acre Supply Co. is an elegant alternative to the ordinary, traditional bulky wallets. It is suitable for everyone from commuting business men and women, to adventure and style lovers.  Made from quality elastic, the Flip Wallet grips your cards, key, notes and more all day long. What makes this wallet unique from a lot of other minimal elastic wallets is that it still opens and flips like traditional fold wallets, which makes so that not all of your cards are bunched together.

Their Kickstarter has gotten lots of support, and you can help out the designer Elizabeth Drew there as well. You can also go here for updates, photos and press releases of the project.