Transform: A Shape Changing Desk

You may have seen videos of this adaptive tech straight out of MIT earlier, showing it manipulating a ball. Check out this video latest video for Transform, utilizing the same tech in an adaptive shape changing desk.

‘I think there’s a lot of space for designers to expand beyond the producer/client model and become knowledge makers, cultural disruptors and gatekeepers between pure economic gain and the well-being of humanity,’

says graduate student and researcher at MIT Media Lab Viirj Kan.

Taking the idea behind inFORM one step further, the MIT team has created a responsive table containing three highly inventive dynamic shape displays.  The arrangement consists of more than a thousand mobile pins that are sensitive to changes in kinetic energy of the surroundings.

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Typewriter Inspired Keyboard

Ugnh I need this. Qwerkytoys has made this typewriter inspired mechanical keyboard called the Qwerkywriter. It’s wireless and has its own macro return bar.

At the moment you can preorder it through their site, though the price is nothing to sneeze at, being $329. The Qwerkywriter will ship November 2015.

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Seaboard’s Rise: MIDI Controller Keyboard Hybrid

I haven’t posted in a really long while so this gadget is for those electronic music lovers and makers. Seaboard’s Roli brought some genuine innovation to electronic keyboards (not just another Rick Astley remix demo mode) with soft touch-sensitive keys giving musicians new ways to play. And now there’s a compact version called the Rise.

The Rise plays just like a piano does, but those touch-sensitive keys also respond to finger gestures. Sliding a finger up and down each key can increase or decrease its volume, while wiggling a finger back and forth while pressed can let a musician bend or modulate notes. And how those gestures work is completely configurable.

The Rise comes with a software synthesizer, Equator, that wirelessly interfaces with the keyboard using MIDI over Bluetooth, and its rechargeable with a built-in battery so there’s no cables to deal with whatsoever. Priced at $800, the Rise is now available for pre-order and is expected to ship sometime in October for musicians who love to jam, but don’t have room to jam another instrument into their tiny studio.

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Loopwheels by Sam Pearce

Pearce is an inventor and design consultant. He’s worked on non-invasive surgery equipment, early handheld PCs of the Palm Pilot era, 3-D folding mechanisms, and motorbikes. It’s always something new, and in 2007, it was baby strollers. Around that time Pearce was sitting in an airport in the Netherlands, waiting for his flight. He noticed a woman pushing a stroller. “As the woman got to a curb, she didn’t lift the front wheels and the baby was shot forward,” he says. “If the wheel hits the curb at the wrong angle it’s useless. So I just wondered, why can’t you put the suspension into the wheel?”

Baby strollers make for a great case study in how wheels interact with impact, which is to say, not very well at all. A stroller has shock absorbers underneath the seat, which helps reduce bounciness, but it doesn’t keep the wheels from bouncing backwards when they hit a curb head on. In a matter of about five seconds, Pearce had a new idea. He began envisioning a system that incorporated shock absorption directly into the wheels, making them capable of flexibly rolling over bumps instead of just rebounding. He drew a sketch, and then put it aside for two years. At the time, “it wasn’t relevant,” he says. “I couldn’t really see how I could make one, but I have lots of ideas, and this one kept coming back to me.”

After some 70 iterations, Pearce and the team of bow-makers hit on the right recipe. It’s proprietary, but Pearce describes it as a “carbon composite construction.” Loopwheels first debuted on bikes—mountain bikes are next—before a wheelchair manufacturer caught wind of the new wheels and started sourcing them from Pearce. “We say it’s triple-smooth,” Pearce says. The suspension in the wheels smooths out any traveling over bumps, and “gets rid of all the road buzz.” That’s crucial to wheelchair users, whose bodies are in full contact with the vehicle, meaning they often absorb road shock right along with the chair. Equally important to users? Cost. Pearce says he more or less arrived at an ideal design two years ago, but has since worked on refining manufacturing techniques, in part by adopting processes from the auto industry, to get the price down from $2,000 a wheel, to a few hundred dollars (depending on the model). “There’s only so much people will pay for new technology,” Pearce says. That’s true for wheelchairs, and it’s true for mountain bikes, which Pearce says is next in line for Loopwheels.

Their Kickstarter just recently succeeded to fund with over £20,000

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KonneKt Now on Kickstarter!

 

Children playing 1

Earlier this year I did a blog post about KonneKt, an award winning toy for isolated children to play with other children using the window between their hospital rooms and the hallway, designed by Job Jansweijer. It’s been a few months but now it is on Kickstarter!

The game KonneKt transforms the window between the isolated child and the non-isolated child into a canvas
for play. The game consists of foam shapes that can be attached to the window between the room of the
isolated child and the hallway using suction cups and magnets. By combining the shapes in different ways,
children can play games such as tic tac toe, connect four, or build together to make a fantasy world with a
dragon and a castle, or a jungle. Because the game can be used in so many ways, it is interesting for both boys
and girls of different ages.

Children playing 4 (Credit photographer Frans van Beek)

 

The goal of the Kickstarter campaign is to give a KonneKt game to 100 hospitals. People who want to support
KonneKt can choose for a ‘Buy one+Give one’ option: they buy one game, and donate the same game to one of
the participating hospitals. They can also choose to buy one game, which they can either keep themselves, or
give to a hospital. The aim is to collect the needed €30,000 euro in 40 days. The pledged amount will only be
charged if the aim of the Kickstarter campaign is met.

Portrait Job Jansweijer 1 (Credit photographer  Hans Stakelbeek)

 

So go support a cool product and awesome designer on the Kickstarter!

Thermal Power: Use Your Body Heat to Power Wearable Tech

There’ll soon be no need to ever take off wearable technology as your body heat will be able to run a generator to keep it powered-up.

Thanks to a new invention by scientists in Korea heat that escapes the body can be converted into energy using the generator that can be curved along with the shape of the body.

The researchers developed the glass fabric-based thermoelectric generator to be light and flexible which could help to further commercialise wearable technology.

Byung Kin Cho, who led the team in creating the generator, said that with more development the technology could be used on a large-scale to stop heat energy not being used.

At present wearable technology, such as the activity tracking Fitbit Flex wrist band, is developed with long-lasting battery life – the Flex has a battery life which can last up to five days.

However the latest technology would remove the need to ever take wearable technology off, which can cause some users to stop using their gadgets.

It also comes with the benefit that using thermal energy to power and recharge wearables would not need to use any energy created by non-renewable forms.

The small generator was created and tested on small bracelet and it is said it can be able to provide power in a stable and reliable way.

Cho further described how the generator could be used, he said: “Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator.

We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted.

So far only two types of thermal energy generators have been developed, these have been based on either organic or inorganic materials.

Until now the organic generators have been able to work with human skin but have not been able to generate enough power to be put to practical use.

While those made of inorganic materials have been able to generate enough power but have been too bulky to be able to be used with wearable technology.

Cho came up with the a concept and design technique to build a flexible TE generator that minimizes thermal energy loss but maximizes power output.

The new concept uses liquid like pastes of thermal electronic materials printed on to a glass fabric.

When using the generator, with a size of 10cm by 10cm, for a wearable wristband device, it will produce around 40 mW electric power based on the temperature difference of 31 °F between human skin and the surrounding air.

Images 2 and 3 courtesy of KAIST

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Heifer Heist – A Cow Abduction Boardgame

Board Close-Up

I haven’t been posting recently because I have been working on this boardgame called, Heifer Heist! In a nutshell,

Heifer Heist is a classic story about aliens, cows, and a great escape. The players are aliens who have crash landed on a planet and “borrow” cows to power their motherships to return to space. During their cownapping quest, they must dodge the angry farmer, who’s got beef with them!

If you like this game it would be awesome to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and sign up to be notified when our Kickstarter launches!

Heifer Heist

Characters

Cards Close-Up

This is possibly my favorite project that I have worked on with my friend, Jess. We entered it into the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization’s (CUDO) boardgame competition and won the award for Best Visual Design and Most Marketable.

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We have had the awesome opportunity to show and play our game with several designers at Deep Silver Volition, and now in the process of creating a Kickstarter for it!

2014-03-10 15.28.37 2014-03-10 15.30.48

 

Check out the design process!

KonneKt: A Social Game For Isolated Children In The Hospital

Opportunity

During their treatment, many child cancer patients are isolated for medical reasons. During this period, they often feel quite well, and are very willing to play and to make contact with peers, but because they are not allowed to leave their rooms, they have no way to do so. Direct contact and play with peers is crucial for normal social development, but in some cases, isolation can take up to 4 months, which roughly disrupts this normal social development.

The goal of this project was to support normal social development of isolated children by empowering them to connect with their peers in the hospital in a very direct (face to face) way.

Impact

Multiple iterations of KonneKt were tested at child hospitals to analyze the impact and effect of KonneKt. I could tell you that KonneKt works very well, but everybody says that about his/her project, so I prefer to show you. For that, I would like to refer to the added movie (at 1m14s). In the movie you see two girls engaging in social play in a situation where that would not be possible (or probable) without KonneKt. KonneKt transforms the glass from a barrier into a medium for interaction. During the tests, children between 2 years old and 15 years old played with KonneKt.

In the observations, I learned that individual play with KonneKt attracts other children to play, so when isolated children are building something on their window on their own, their play can easily transform into social play when children join on the other side of the glass. The ambiguous, modular and open character of KonneKt makes it interesting for different kinds of children. The two girls in the movie are using KonneKt for ‘adventurous’ play, and the boy on the background is tinkering!

Because the production costs of KonneKt are low, realization of KonneKt is very feasible.

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9 Handy Kitchen Tools Inside a Wine Bottle Sized Container

For those of us with small kitchens and big dreams, the Akebono All-in-One Kitchen Tool Set is pure serendipity. The set boasts nine handy tools including a funnel, flower vase, lemon squeezer, spice grater, boiled egg dicer, cheese grater, lid opener, egg separator and a 420 ml measuring cup, leaving a footprint no larger than a wine bottle. The set is part of the MoMA Design Store’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

images via Deputi-Japan

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Playing With Senses: Perceptible chess game

 

What makes a toy a good toy? Room for sensory discovery, imagination and creativity. Research that Makiko Shinoda has done on the relationship between children and their toys shows that these elements are not found as often in plastic toys or computer games in which form and function are standardized. But there is a different way. A universal toy set that evolves over time and with a child’s age. While toddlers can use the set as building blocks, older children can play chess with it. A game of chess as a metaphor in which generations, cultures, ethnicities can meet. The pieces in the game do not look like chess pieces; they vary in weight, smell, material, form and texture and this allows the players to mould the game in whichever way they choose. A toy for a lifetime.