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    For anyone who has experienced it firsthand, a visit to the gynecologist can easily be a dreaded one. Some purport the experience to be so awkward, they skip the opportunity to visit a doctor entirely, which can be seriously detrimental to a woman's overall health. Last week designers at frog announced Yona, a complete healthcare overhaul of the annual gynecology visit that aims to stop this vicious cycle of neglect and ask, "is there a better way to design the doctor's visit experience?" Combining extensive research with abundant prototyping, the team has developed not just a more material and form-friendly redesign of the speculum, but also an experience that is relaxing, empathetic, and even lighthearted. 

    "Our research showed us that many people with vaginas feel anxious about pelvic exams, which is no help to their health. Through Yona, we wanted to create a conversation and highlight that it is possible to balance human needs with clinical needs in the pelvic exam setting," said Hailey Stewart, the industrial designer who led the project alongside her research partner and former frog designer Sahana Kumar, with help from Mechanical Engineer Fran Wang and Visual Designer Rachel Hobart. Yona was originally a passion project the designers worked on with support from frog in between client projects and outside of work, conducting research and talking with medical professionals to learn more about the OBGYN visit experience on both sides.

    A standard speculum (left) versus the Yona speculum (right)

    The focal point of their pitch with Yona is to improve on the standard speculum, a metal instrument used to dilate the vagina and cervix invented in the mid-1800s with a controversial backstory (the inventor, James Marion Sims, apparently developed his original design based on research experiments he conducted on slave women without anesthesia). Amazingly, the design of the speculum has remained much the same since its development over 150 years ago. 

    The Yona speculum takes into account not only the ergonomics of the tool but also the material—two simple fixes that could result in a drastically more comfortable experience. Noteworthy features of the speculum include a three-vs-two "duckbill" design, which opens in a triangular shape that allows doctors a clear view while also reducing how wide the instrument must open, a silicone build, silent mechanics, and finally, a more ergonomic handle that is angled at 105 degrees as opposed to the typical 90-degree handle.  

    This redesign is not just aimed at giving more comfort to patients, as it also provides a chance for better accuracy with doctors. The currently dated design of the speculum forces doctors to open the cervix to an uncomfortable degree while also not necessarily even guaranteeing a good look into the vaginal canal. Stewart and her team prototyped different speculum designs and then put them into the hands of OB/GYN physicians to test, who noted that the improvements in ergonomics and form ultimately improved ease of use and efficiency when conducting exams. 

    On top of an upgrade of the medical instruments used in pelvic exams, the design team wanted to take it one step further by evaluating the exam experience as a whole. Before even prototyping, the designers conducted a series of in-field research sessions with patients and providers to understand the true pain points of gynecological visits in both a technical and emotional sense. "We realized that redesigning the speculum was the right place to start, but it was inseparable from the context in which it is used...There are so many moments in the exam process that are anxiety-inducing, and simple adjustments in the overall experience can go a long way in reducing that anxiety and discomfort, making for a more human exam experience. We wanted to consider the end-to-end exam by improving a few specific elements and moments and how they flow together to empower the patient and promote healthy outcomes," noted the team. 

    The first part of the Yona experience design involves an exam room app where you can set your exam procedure preferences and ask a health provider any prior questions you may have before getting started.

    A "cheeky" caption

    The team also designed products for the actual exam room that promote a more seamless and relaxed environment, like a hanger that allows you to hang your clothes as opposed to piling them in a corner as well as a playful graphic that shows you exactly where your butt should go (in an attempt, as they write it, to reduce "lots of awkward scootching and cold butts on crinkly paper") 

    The Yona experience even incorporates a special meditation app that makes time waiting for the doctor more about zoning into a calm space rather than waiting awkwardly and nervously for your exam, which in turn makes the doctor's job that much easier. 

    Although at the moment Yona is a conceptual project very much still in development, the whole team says this is just the beginning: "We will be continuing to prototype, test and refine all the concepts included in Yona...eventually, we want to branch out to other aspects of the pelvic exam, like the stirrups and the exam table, and even other exams entirely." 

    The women who designed Yona are hoping to eventually partner with the right organization to bring this to life, but for now, they say it's about refining their concept to get the details just right—the most important part of the process is dreaming up a more human healthcare experience. 

    Learn more about the Yona project here

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    The Älmhult, Sweden–based creative director answers our Core77 Questionnaire.

    View the full content here

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    We all know there's no good reason to build cylindrical beer coolers that silently appear out of the ground in your backyard. But that hasn't stopped a bunch of German guys, engineers we assume, from building their own and posting the videos to YouTube.

    Here's Ralf Göldner's:

    Timo Hänsel's is illuminated:

    Ready to build your own? Andreas Klassen has made the plans for his publicly available: "The Beerlift is controlled with Arduino Nano and operated with a Handy app. Drawing, unwinding, photos, wiring schematic, Arduino Program, Handy App (Android) .... free to download."

    Will wonders never cease?

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    A Concept Engineer at Milwaukee Tool is part of the leading edge of discovery and new product invention within the organization. A Concept Engineer is an inventor, a dreamer, and has an unparalleled passion to create new and interesting solutions to address user needs. A Concept Engineer has a hands-on, creative spirit, can see past perceived barriers and false paradigms, and uses that mentality to uncover new ways of thinking to solve challenging user needs and technical hurdles.

    View the full design job here

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    This Saturday I will be teaching a free class called "Introduction to Hand Tools" for the first time. The class is in response to the many people over the years who have come to our showroom, for themselves or looking for a gift, who are trying to wrap their heads around the idea of using hand tools. They sincerely want to expand their horizons. Sometimes they are familiar only with what Home Depot stocks and hand held power tools. This applies to professionals and amateurs alike. Many are perplexed by the idea what you can actually build anything by hand. Of course, misconception about hand tools are formed by never seeing the tools in efficient operation. You can drill a hole with an electric drill even if the bit is dull and the drill is noisy. But it isn't patently obvious how to work a brace or a bit so it's fun. We have a reputation and a lot of showroom and warehouse space devoted to hand tools, so the curiosity is natural.

    What can I do to give people what they've come to discover? I have to get and hold people's attention. I have to make hand tool skill look like obtainable. I have to show the distinction between cheap knockoff tools that don't work well and quality hand tools. And - particularly for the amateurs - I have to show that the basic operations of woodworking by hand, operations that can be performed in a small apartment or shop, don't have to be painful, and can result in good results.

    I try to be practical, not (just) philosophical.

    I should teach how to measure accurately, but I am afraid it isn't sexy enough to keep a class engaged. People want to see sawdust!

    I think I want to teach people how to start a cut with a handsaw. That's a big problem people have. They try cutting something and since they can't start the saw they never get to the joyous moment when they can advance easily through the wood.

    I think I want to teach people how to set a hinge because that gives me a chance to demonstrate marking out and chiseling to a line. And it's easier than setting up a router.

    I think I want to show people how to clamp their work. It's not very sexy but it's pretty useful. I know some tricks with a few clamps that let you set up anywhere, even at the kitchen table.

    I will have to plane something - wood shavings are sexy. And if I rub the shavings on the wood I can show a wonderful burnished surface.

    And of course I plan to drill a big hole with a brace and bit, showing how to not splinter out at the end, and also how a ratchet brace really helps with those large holes. We've all seen a power drill noisily produce a hole, but it isn't patently obvious how to work a brace or a bit, so seeing it in operation (and doing it) is fun.

    I think that's all I can do in a couple of hours. My main goal, of course, is to inspire. I hope that at least a few of the attendees will look at what I am doing, try it themselves and then go home, take the plunge and start building stuff.

    If you are in the area this Saturday, you're invited to the class! For more details click here.


    This "Tools & Craft" section is provided courtesy of Joel Moskowitz, founder of Tools for Working Wood, the Brooklyn-based catalog retailer of everything from hand tools to Festool; check out their online shop here. Joel also founded Gramercy Tools, the award-winning boutique manufacturer of hand tools made the old-fashioned way: Built to work and built to last.

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    File this under Why the heck have I never heard of this before?

    The History Channel used to have a documentary series called "Ancient Discoveries," and in this episode they focus on some crazy Chinese naval technologies from centuries and even millennia ago.

    I know that you readers are at work and can't watch the entire 45-minute show, but I've isolated this short clip that I'm hoping you can sneak a glance at. It's about how way back in 289 A.D., the Chinese built this massive 600-foot by 600-foot-square warship, a veritable floating fortress, and sent it down a river to conquer a neighboring country:

    I highly recommend you at least bookmark the video and maybe check it out when you get home. The documentarians get experts to recreate a lot of neat experiments demonstrating old-school Chinese naval technology, some of which is quite unbelievable. As one example, they recreate a design for an underwater mine described in an old Chinese text. The freaking thing is made from gunpowder, an incense stick, animal intestines to keep the fuse dry underwater, and rocks to sink the explosive charge beneath the surface of the water. Just mind-boggling stuff.

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    Here's another "transferring the design language of X onto Y" series of fanciful renderings. The anonymous designer behind these took the venerable Vespa scooter and attempted to graft it with classical motorcycle archetypes.

    1. Chopper

    2. Sport Bike

    3. Touring Bike

    4. Dirt Bike

    5. Café Racer

    6. Tron Light Cycle

    Obviously this is just a gag, but I can't help but be distracted by how it would be virtually impossible to maintain any kind of torsional rigidity with that U-shaped form factor. Then again, this is the same dude or gal who turned classic videogame consoles into cars, so perhaps I should lighten up a bit.

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    Cync is a patented, functional laptop stand that doesn't compromise body posture. We often use laptops in the wrong position at school or during work. If we continue this habit for a long time, it leads to different types of body pain. Cync aims to combat and solve this common problem.

    View the full project here

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    Core77 isn't an architecture blog by nature, but certain structures do catch our eye. So is the case with LEGO house, a 21,500+ sq ft building inspired by—you guessed it—everything LEGO. The center resides in Billund, Denmark and was was designed in partnership by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and COWI. 

    Image Credit: Iwan Baan

    From the outside, the building is inconspicuously modern. However—exactly like a mullet hairstyle—it's all business in the front and party on the roof: 

    Overhead view. Image Credit: Kim Christensen
    Rooftop play areas. Image Credit: Iwan Baan

    Inside, the first and second floors feature four public play zones color coded to represent a different aspect of a child's learning development—red is creative, yellow is emotional, green is social and blue is cognitive. In these spaces, guests of all ages are welcome to an immersive experience and encouraged to interact with other builders from around the world.

    Image Credit: Iwan Baan
    Image Credit: Iwan Baan
    "LEGO house is a literal manifestation of the infinite possibilities of the LEGO brick. Through systematic creativity, children of all ages are empowered with the tools to create their own worlds and to inhabit them through play. At its finest—that is what architecture—and LEGO play —is all about: enabling people to imagine new worlds that are more exciting and expressive than the status quo, and to provide them with the skills to make them reality. This is what children do every day with LEGO bricks—and this is what we have done today at LEGO House with actual bricks, taking Billund a step closer towards becoming the Capital for Children." —Bjarke Ingels, Founding Partner, BIG.
    Image Credit: Iwan Baan
    Image Credit: Iwan Baan

    The building also includes the Masterpiece Gallery, which displays impressive fan creations that play tribute to LEGO's diverse community of builders.

    Image Credit: Iwan Baan

    Inside The Vault, visitors are treated to a glance at the first edition of almost every LEGO set ever manufactured, which includes a new replica of the LEGO house itself. 

    Image Credit: Iwan Baan
    Image Credit: Iwan Baan

    Yes, this building is straight up eye candy, but its mission to bring a community of builders together under one roof makes it so much more. 

    Also, something I learned from this is that AFoL is the acronym for Adult Fans of LEGO. If you're an AFoL, we'd love to see the coolest thing you've built so far in the comments section.

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    Established NYC is seeking incredibly talented industrial designers to work on makeup and fragrance projects for international fashion brands like Marc Jacobs and Rihanna. If you have a keen eye for design and fashion, and have a good sense of humor, please read below:

    View the full design job here

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    Imagine if you had to design a driving interface for an end user with no arms. How would they steer? Obviously the mechanism must either be mouth- or foot-operated, but what would the physical action be?

    Check out how Richie Parker, who was born with no arms, solved the problem with his sweet '64 Impala Super Sport:

    Parker is an engineer for Hendricks Motorsports, an automotive engineering company that fields no less than four NASCAR teams and has five championships to their credit. In the video below, you'll see how Parker is able to do CAD work. Also, check out the ingenious contrivance that he's rigged up that allows him to eat with silverware:

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    Is there any domestic chore worse than ironing? It takes forever, the design of most irons suck and there seems to be little correlation between the shape of my clothes and the shape of the board.

    I so desperately need this automatic clothes ironing machine, called the Effie:

    They'll be taking preorders for it in early 2018.

    Only problem is, the darn thing rings in at £699 (USD $926).

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    Today's tip is a simple, often overlooked block plane technique. Just because its a straight blade doesn't mean you can't cut a roundover:


    This "Hand Tool School" series is provided courtesy of Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker. Rogers is founder of The Hand Tool School, which provides members with an online apprenticeship that teaches them how to use hand tools and to build furniture with traditional methods.

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    As someone with a messy desk, I so want this feature added to it:

    This desk was designed and built by Rob Day and Jeremy Kehoe, whose firm was called Carroll Street Woodworkers. They also designed this nifty bureau with push-button functionality (and I have zero idea how the mechanism works):

    It's really the first feature that I want though, as I'm always casting about searching for my favorite pen.

    By the bye, I say their firm "was called" because, sadly, after making a splash at the 2011 Interior Design Show in Toronto, they appear to have fallen off the face of the earth. Their website no longer exists and it appears the company has shut down. If Day and Kehoe are still designing furniture, either together or independently, I can't find them.

    So…would it be stealing an idea if the firm that came up with it no longer exists?

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    BeamCNC is a CNC mill originally developed for making a construction system called Grid Beam, but it can also perform custom tasks via gcode files. BeamCNC is the easiest way to produce Grid Beam—the eco friendly modular construction system that you can use to build many things. BeamCNC can make Grid Beam of different sizes from 20x20mm to 50x50mm of any length, parts can be reused and projects are highly customizable.

    View the full project here

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    The thing that dictates the precise size of every laptop is the screen. Pixels are relayed to us through a static piece of glass, and we carry this rectangle around with us.

    But I had a thought after seeing the following on Instagram: What if the screen wasn't a rectangle at all, but a thin rod and a hub? This type of display technology already exists:

    The boys brought back some cool toys from their last China trip! This is one strip of LEDs working like a fan. Keep watching towards the end for the full 3D graphics ??????

    A post shared by Big Screen Video (@bigscreenvideo_au) on

    Sure, the resolution is primitive, but conventional monitors once had the same problem. (Also note that in person you would not see the rotating bands of darkness; that's an aftereffect from the shutter of the camera recording the video.) It would be interesting to see a "laptop" design that consisted of a spinning LED bar for a screen, and some equally compact form of input device, like one of those laser-based virtual keyboards.

    Admittedly a circular screen might take some getting used to, but I'd be very curious to see what talented UI/UX designers might come up with to make a round screen advantageous to use.

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    Here's a fascinating trick a professional, old-school film photographer once told me:

    In the days before digital retouching, he said, a photographer's personal repertoire of lighting techniques were closely guarded secrets. The types of lighting modifiers they used, and where they placed them, was each photographer's secret sauce.

    Pro photographers would often study the eyeballs of models in competitors' photographs, because occasionally they could see elements of their competitors' lighting set-ups reflected in the eyes, and could then reverse-engineer them.

    Here are some examples of this by photographer Robert Hare:

    Image by Robert Hare via Creative Live
    1. Silver Umbrella
    2. Umbrella Softbox
    3. 24×32 Softbox
    4. Octabox
    5. Silver Parabolic Umbrella
    6. 36×48 Softbox
    7. Speedatron Beauty Dish
    Image by Robert Hare
    Image by Robert Hare
    Image by Robert Hare
    Image by Robert Hare
    Image by Robert Hare
    Image by Robert Hare

    You can deduce not only the shape of the modifier, but also the placement relative to the model's face, since we human beings happen to have these telltale reflectors shaped like perfect spheres in our eye sockets.

    After Photoshop came out, the old-school shooter told me, some photographers started using it to retouch their lighting set-ups out of the models' eyeballs, to maintain their secrecy.

    Nowadays, however, it seems to me that most shooters don't bother. Next time you see some artfully-lit photograph of a model, look closely at his or her eyes, and chances are you'll see some part of their set-up.

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    Constructing a nuclear missile requires access to precision manufacturing techniques. Isolated North Korea, saddled as it is with poverty, starvation and maniacal leadership, is not known as a manufacturing powerhouse. But as it turns out, they started building their own CNC machines in the early '90s, according to Reuters. The working theory is that they got their hands on some Russian machines, reverse-engineered them and started building their own.

    The article doesn't say what kind of CNC machines, but they're reportedly being used to build everything from missile parts to aluminum tubes that "could be used for nuclear centrifuges."

    "It's cool if I smoke near this thing, right?"
    Kim Jong-Un's reaction after being told that his fifth steak of the day is ready and waiting.
    "My forearms looked like ham hocks in that last photo, so now I'm going to keep them behind my back."
    "By around 2010, it seemed they were capable of manufacturing various types of CNC machines," said Kim Heung-gwang, a North Korean defector who taught at Pyongyang's Hamhung Computer Technology University before defecting to South Korea.
    …Now, Kim Heung-gwang estimates, North Korea has about 15,000 CNC machines. He bases this on North Korean state media reports and photos as well as interviews with more than a dozen defectors who were scientists, professors or factory workers.

    The article also reports that, despite trade sanctions, North Korea has managed to smuggle additional Chinese- and Swiss-made CNC machines into the country.

    I find the story interesting because it mirrors something going on here in the 'States: The ongoing debate about 3D-printed firearms. In both instances, you have one group of people that want to be able to create their own weapons, and another group of people that don't want them to.

    I'm referring to Defense Distributed, a Texas-based outfit whose mission is to enable folks to produce their own firearm parts using digital fabrication. They've got quite the following; when they publicly shared the 3D print files for printing their single-shot "Liberator" handgun, the files were downloaded 100,000 times in two days.

    In any case, we're now seeing the true power of digital fabrication technology, perhaps not in a way that its creators intended.

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    While the French government has decreed that retouched photos must be labeled as such, in hopes of reducing eating disorders, Casio is going in the opposite direction.

    Now that every phone has a camera, compact cameras should be dead, right? Not to Casio they're not. The company has cleverly capitalized on human vanity, specifically the kind that has created a worldwide scourge of selfies, and designed the perfect standalone selfie camera:

    The Casio Elixim EX-TR80 has reportedly been selling like hotcakes in Asia for $900 each. (It's not available in the 'States; instead we've got the EX-TR70, which runs about $530.)

    What makes the camera so desirable to its target market is a combination of physical and digital features. On the physical side, it's got two flashes, one on either side of the lens, to make your face look more evenly-lit. There's also a kickstand so you can, I dunno, set the thing down and have it take photos of you while you eat salad with no dressing. On the digital side, the camera features myriad lighting options the consumer can dial in to feed their narcissism and distort their self-view.

    Some examples:

    You probably don't want people to see what your real skin looks like, but with the help of software you can make it look like nice, smooth polypropylene:

    Want to appear darker or lighter than you actually are? No problem:

    Got bags under your eyes, or do you feel your face is too fat? We all know that neither you nor society can accept that, so let's take care of that:

    Following up on the success of the EX-TR80, Casio has now designed the TR Mini, which has the form factor of a makeup compact:

    It also features the adjustable settings, but the innovation here is providing eight LEDs arrayed in a circle around the lens, providing ring-flash-like lighting:

    It even has a freaking Mole Remover setting. I'm not kidding:

    Hell in a handbasket, folks.

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