Articles on this Page
- 05/10/18--08:17: _Magical German-Desi...
- 05/10/18--08:17: _Design Job: Are You...
- 05/10/18--08:17: _Breaking Down the D...
- 05/10/18--08:39: _An Example of the I...
- 05/10/18--17:38: _Nike Files Patent f...
- 05/11/18--17:39: _HobbyZone's Modular...
- 05/11/18--17:39: _Beyond Object's Ali...
- 05/11/18--17:39: _Navigate New York D...
- 05/11/18--17:39: _Reader Submitted: T...
- 05/11/18--17:39: _Hell in a Handbaske...
- 05/14/18--06:22: _What's Your Favorit...
- 05/14/18--06:22: _Brilliant Trick for...
- 05/14/18--13:42: _A Review of the Maz...
- 05/14/18--13:42: _Yo! C77 Sketch: Tip...
- 05/14/18--16:31: _3 Ways Design Profe...
- 05/15/18--13:00: _The iWalk: A Hands-...
- 05/15/18--13:00: _Ford's Experimental...
- 05/15/18--13:00: _A Review of the Maz...
- 05/16/18--13:12: _Ingenious Old-Schoo...
- 05/16/18--13:12: _Get Ready for Affor...
- 05/10/18--08:17: Magical German-Designed Micro Vacuum Attachment
- 05/10/18--08:17: Breaking Down the Design of a Mystery Object
- 05/10/18--17:38: Nike Files Patent for Miniature Treadmills Inside of Sneakers
- 05/11/18--17:39: Beyond Object's Align Pen: Fix the Form to Deploy the Tip
- 05/11/18--17:39: Navigate New York Design Week with Our NYCxDesign Map
- 05/11/18--17:39: Hell in a Handbasket: Robots That Can Run, A.I. That Sounds Human
- 05/14/18--06:22: What's Your Favorite Design for a Portable Task Light?
- 05/14/18--06:22: Brilliant Trick for Carrying Full Sheets of Plywood
- 05/14/18--13:42: A Review of the Mazda MX-5 Miata RT, Part 1
- 05/14/18--13:42: Yo! C77 Sketch: Tips for Rendering Chrome
- 05/15/18--13:00: The iWalk: A Hands-Free Crutch Alternative
- 05/15/18--13:00: Ford's Experimental Haptic Glass Helps the Blind "See"
- 05/15/18--13:00: A Review of the Mazda MX-5 Miata RT, Part 2
- 05/16/18--13:12: Ingenious Old-School Tool for Cutting Accurate, Repeatable Inlays
Is there any worse sound than when you're vacuuming, and suddenly hear the whining interrupted by that "FWUPP" noise that means you just sucked up a small object? What the eff was that? My wedding ring? A piece of crucial medication? That special screw I dropped and have been looking everywhere for? That SD card with all of my financial data on it? My good luck wizard figurine that is missing one jeweled eye yet still consistently sends the Pats to the Super Bowl?
This gizmo from Germany would prevent you from having to disassemble the vac:
I know, it has all the makings of an "As Seen on TV" gizmo that you order late at night after having a couple of Heinekens then receive a week later and say "What was I thinking." As you go to take the recycling out a pair of green Heineken bottles seem to be mocking you through the transparent bag. However, I do think it would actually be useful.
German-speakers: I am certain you guys have invented a word for the feeling that follows hearing the "FWUPP" noise. Please type it in the comments below, along with a pronunciation guide.
The Advanced Prototyping Center focuses on creating devices that help people do more and get done what they need. We are currently building Microsoft’s premium category changing devices like Surface, XBOX and HoloLens. Creating these devices involves a close partnership betweenView the full design job here
Of great frustration is that I cannot discover who designed/built the object in this image that I found floating around the internet. If you know whose work this is, please sound off, as I am desperate to examine the rest of this person's portfolio.
This object's design is all over the place, which we'll get to in a minute, but my eye was drawn to the exposed drawer runners, which are made from square dowels set at a 45-degree angle that correspond with V-grooves plowed into the drawer sides.
After studying the image, my guess is that the concept of those runners was the genesis of the object.
Here's My Breakdown:
This piece is almost certainly a one-off or an experiment. It appears to have been produced from cut-offs. Some giveaways:
- This seam (A-A) indicates the top is glued up from two pieces of what appear to be an expensive and figured wood.
- These seams (B-B and C-C) indicate the legs, too, are glue-ups.
- It's made from small pieces of three different wood species that are not entirely complementary.
There's nothing in the photo to indicate scale, but this seems to be jewelry-box-size. I'd guess the drawer handles are 1/4" or 3/8" square dowels. And with the topmost drawer at least, there is enough light to see jewelry-box-like dividers within.
What I Don't Like About the Design:
1. The routed profile on the edges of the top. It doesn't match anything else in the design. Had this piece been produced by a shopmate, I'd have suggested to them that the edge profile ought somehow reference the 45-degree-angle theme of the runners, which must look like diamonds from the front.
2. The V-grooves in the sides of the drawers have been extended across the drawer faces. This is why I say the concept of the runners is probably what the designer started with. I understand why the V-groove continues along the faces; since they opted for miter joints, there would be no way to reconcile grooves in the sides with an uninterrupted face.
To be clear, it's not the grooves in the faces per se that bother me; it's how the drawer pulls are attached to the face in a visually clumsy way. Look at the dark triangle created by attaching the flat-backed drawer pull to the face:
There's no relationship there; the connection looks ill-considered.
3. The color tones of the top and the drawers complement each other, and the drawers and the sides complement each other. But the top and the sides are neither complementary nor matching. This reinforces my belief that the object was made from cut-offs and that the designer used whatever was on hand.
What I Like About the Design:
1. The concept of the runners.
2. The construction of the handles, if not their connection points and overall aesthetic. The designer has gone with square dowels that protrude through the sides of their brackets. Through-mortises of such scale are not easy to execute with precision (at least for me) and the craftsperson has done what looks like a very good job with no egregious gaps, at least that I can make out in a photo of this resolution.
I suppose that makes me a fan of the execution of this more than the design. I really need to see this piece from a front view to see how it looks.
3. The experimental nature of the piece speaks of bravery. This is why I'm very keen to see the rest of this person's book.
So please, if any of you know who produced this, please do let us know!
This week industrial designer Eric Strebel not only shows us a new modelmaking process, but also gets into actual design, showing you how he tackles a real-world project from the get-go.
"This week's video is about following a Design Brief and how I go about the process of breaking down a concept to create a consumer product," Strebel writes. "In this case a wireless phone charger. I sketch and ideate my concepts on paper first, then quickly create a proof of concept model to test the mechanics, followed by crafting a working mock up out of 20LB urethane foam.
"I show the model building process of the prototype and how it all comes together to make a working sample that you can actually use and interact with to test the functionality of the product."
Let the below image sink in for a moment:
Yes, what you're looking at is a miniature treadmill inside of a sneaker, and yes, this is a real patent that Nike recently filed. Looks like when a bunch of employees left Nike because of that sexual harassment scandal all of them were replaced by Steven M. Johnson.
In any event, the "rotatable conveyor element" inside of the sole is not meant to help burn extra calories like some type of mechanical version of the disastrous Sketchers Shape-Ups. Instead, think of the mechanism as an electronic shoe horn that eases your foot in and out of the shoe with no effort.
The only information released from the patent so far is that the proposed shoes would feature “an upper configured to form a space between the upper and the insole," the mechanism's general goal would be to, "admit and secure a foot of a wearer,” and the conveyer belt in particular would be “configured to rotatably engage a body part of the wearer as the foot enters the space and draw the foot into the space.” It would be highly uncomfortable to walk around on a metal hunk all day, so I'm curious to see what kind of materials Nike would select or develop for this. In the image, it looks almost like there could be a layer of material between the foot and device, which is promising but still very unclear.
How do you turn the treadmill on and off, you're wondering? The shoes would be,"coupled to an activation mechanism, such as a switch or mechanism to detect the presence of a foot." I envision this component as a button carefully placed on the exterior of the shoe so that the user's foot couldn't accidentally activate it while in motion. Perhaps something on the tongue along the lines of a sleeker Reebok InstaPump Fury button?
The idea is intriguing, and I could see this being useful for people with limited dexterity who have trouble getting their shoes on and off themselves. Even people who have trouble sliding their Nike SF Air Force 1s on in the morning could benefit from this.
Whether Nike will bring these to life or not is up in the air, but I will say this: we never figured Nike's adaptive lacing technology would hit the real market at some point, so it's likely that whatever this is won't stay locked away as a patent forever. On that note, imagine a sneaker that incorporates both adaptive lacing and this conveyor belt technology, and it gets real scary real quick.
I am in awe of those who can keep a tidy workspace. Both my shop and my desk consist of clutter and chaos, the lack of organization surely reducing my productivity. So whenever I see an effective organizing system in use, maintained by end users with the discipline to obey its dictates, I gaze at it wistfully.
A Poland-based company called HobbyZone designs modular storage components for those engaged in miniature modelmaking. That sort of work requires paint, adhesives, brushes, small hand tools, bins to store small parts, et cetera; nearly everything that needs to be stored is small, with the largest item often being a roll of paper towels for cleanup. Thus HobbyZone has created a variety of small storage components--drawers, racks, shelves, compartments--that the end user can pick and choose from.
Embedded magnets mean these units can be connected, stacked and/or side-by-side, allowing the end user to create their own configurations.
That all looks fine and dandy in renderings, but how does it play out in the real world? Pretty darn well, at least judging by the user-submitted photos in HobbyZone's gallery:
I particularly like the shot below because you can get a sense of how the user operates. He's got the reference photos on the right, pulls all of the relevant paints off of the storage rack up top and places them in the arc-shaped rack on the worksurface along with a handful of brushes.
You can see more shots of the system here.
These are three of the pens roaming around my desk that I'll grab when I need to sketch something. I don't love any of them but I got them all for free.
They're all ballpoints that deploy the tip when a portion of the pen is rotated. That's a nifty and timeless feature, but London-based design firm Beyond Object has done the classic mechanism one better, adding a visual and tactile trick that gives you the satisfaction of correcting the pen's interrupted form in order to deploy the tip:
Called "Align," the $70 pen ain't cheap, but I like the thinking behind it. If only Autodesk handed these out at the conventions….
New York Design Week kicks off this weekend, and you know what that means! Our NYCxDesign Map is back to help guide you through the city that never sleeps on your quest to discover great design.View the full content here
As designers, we want to make products people love. But we also want to create technology that leaves a positive mark on the world. How can we better predict the true impact products could have on people and society, for good and for bad?
Artefact created The Tarot Cards of Tech to inspire important conversations around the true impact of technology and the products we design. The deck of cards and interactive websiteencourage creators to think about the outcomes technology can have, from unintended consequences to opportunities for positive change.
Two disturbing technological developments revealed this week. One, Boston Dynamics has taught their Atlas robot to both run (okay, jog) and jump over obstacles:
Two, Google has taught their "Duplex" A.I. assistant to do the "Ums," "mm-hmms" and up-speak to make her sound like an actual human being:
Why in God's name are you jackasses cheering? I feel like I'm watching video of a cult.
I am going to move to a faraway farm.
This is my previous-generation Festool Syslite LED work light.
I probably wouldn't have paid for one--the new one runs some $200--but I won this in a raffle six years ago at a JLC Live event in Providence.
I use this thing a lot in my shop, to augment the generally poor lighting in there. The battery lasts a long time and it provides good illumination. My only gripe is that it lacks a built-in stand, and in order to get practical use out of it I must switch it between a Manfrotto Super Clamp mounted with a tripod stud, for overhead use, and a mini-tripod, for workbench-level use (I use a marking knife for layout, and a raking light helps me see the marks much better).
If I had to buy a new task light with my own money, I'd give the Klein Tools LED Clamp Light a long look. (I'm a fan of Klein because they make the Katapult, which is a brilliant design and my favorite wire-stripping tool ever; if you're interested I'll write a review.)
Klein's work light has a built-in clamp that doubles as a base, which would allow me to stop fussing with the Super Clamp and the tripod. It's sub-$40, has a head that pivots 360 degrees, and folds up into a flashlight form factor.
One thing that gives me pause is that the Klein requires four AA batteries. (I hate dealing with batteries, which is why I made this thing.) The Syslite is rechargeable, and I got it for free, so I'll be sticking with it for now.
If you use portable lighting in a shop environment, whaddaya got, and are you happy with it? Design praise and gripes please.
Soon I'll be moving house, from city to country. Here in the city, I live 3.5 blocks from the nearest lumberyard; if I need 4x8 sheets of plywood, I make a phone call, go about my business and they'll later drop off in front of my door. But I have investigated the rural location and the nearest lumberyard is a 25-minute drive, meaning delivery is presumably prohibitively expensive. So I'd have to pick up myself, a minimum time commitment of one-hour-plus.
Which begs the question, ought I bring my considerable stash of raw materials with me on the move? Which then got me thinking, what's the best way to carry a plywood? Probably the clever Gorilla Gripper ($30) or Handle on Demand ($11), both of which we wrote about here. (Note that the HOD, however, only works on sealed sheets of plywood.)
The Gorilla Gripper seems a worthwhile purchase…unless you stumble upon this clever trick, as I just did:
That tip, which comes from This Old House, calls for a length of rope 18 to 20 feet in length. I'd say it's ergonomically inferior to the Gorilla Gripper--the rope trick requires you use your non-carrying hand to steady the sheet--but it is cheaper, particularly if you've already got rope lying around (and I do). I'll probably try both methods and report back to you.
I recently had the pleasure of logging nearly 800 miles behind the wheel of a brand-new Mazda Miata. This is Part 1 of my review, where I'll focus on the experience of driving the car. In Part 2 I'll get into the design and the UX.
Note: Mazda didn't approach me to write this review, I approached them. Another major auto manufacturer had offered me a performance car to take on a roadtrip in exchange for a review--and I was disappointed to learn that that company's entire fleet consisted of automatics, which I consider mechanical blasphemy.
When I reached out to Mazda instead, asking if they had any six-speeds available, their response was "As a company that truly believes in the driving experience, [stickshifts comprise] a majority of the MX-5 makeup that we have in our press fleet." In other words, they get it.
For the trip, Mazda set me up with a 2018 MX-5 RF, the latter designation standing for "Retractable Fastback." (That's actually a misnomer; the car has a power retractable targa top.) The Miata has a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder good for 155 horse and 148 lb-ft of torque. With four valves per cylinder it redlines at nearly 7,000 RPM, and I was eager to put it to the test.
Experience of Driving, Highway
The first leg of my trip was six hours at highway speeds on an interstate expressway. Accelerating out of a rest stop, I found that first and second gears undersell the car's potential, giving you about what you'd expect. Third, fourth and fifth gears provide a pleasantly surprising amount of torque above 3,000 RPMs; not neck-snapping turbo acceleration, but that steady, confident push on the lower back that makes you feel it was worth it to go for the 91 octane at the pump.
I spent most of this leg of the trip in 6th gear, occasionally downshifting to briefly pace a bypassing lawbreaker (for testing purposes, of course). The Miata's got no problem keeping up with the big dogs.
The road position is low, which I enjoy as a recreational driver on the open road. If you're a city or interstate driver constantly hemmed in on all sides by SUVs and delivery trucks, you may find the position intimidating.
The RF is functionally a hardtop, and though the road noise is louder than in an actual hardtop, it's quieter than any softtop convertible I've ever driven. With the stock stereo I could hear every word of a podcast, though I did have to set the volume high.
My father, an auto enthusiast who has owned a variety of different car styles over his lifetime, warned me that a multi-hour highway trip in a car this size would be uncomfortable. "You'll feel every last bump," he warned me. Thus when I approached, at speed, the first patch of missing asphalt with exposed concrete beneath, I braced like I was about to hit a wall--and was surprised at the mildness of the recoil. After six hours on the highway, during which time I racked up a proportionate amount of pothole strikes, I was none the worse for wear. I call the suspension well-balanced.
The seat position was comfortable for all six hours. There are only three adjustments possible: Forwards/backwards, seatback tilt, and seat bottom tilt.
How I Adjust My Seat
I think proper seat adjustment goes a long way towards comfort, particularly with long-distance driving. Here's the sequence I always follow in a new-to-me car:
1. Forwards/Backwards: I press my ass into the crease between seatback and seat bottom, snake my right toe beneath the brake pedal, and ensure the seat is forward enough that my foot can reach all the way to the firewall without having to straighten my leg completely. This ensures you can bottom the brakes out with plenty of force in an emergency. And of course, on a stickshift you check that the left foot can bottom out the clutch.
2. Seatback Angle: I learned a trick during a rally lesson from Rauno "The Rally Professor" Aaltonen during that Mini-sponsored trip to Finland. To correctly set the seatback angle, you take your right hand and cross it over the steering wheel to grip the 10 o'clock position, as if twisting the wheel. At this point your right shoulder should be firmly against the seatback. You do the same check with your left hand at 2 o'clock and the left shoulder.
This keeps your body firmly in position even during hard cornering. It also places you a bit closer to the steering wheel than normal. Because I am not doing any actual rally driving, I typically do Rauno's trick, then kick the seat back an additional one or two clicks. I find this provides the perfect position for me in terms of comfort and control.
3. Seat Bottom Angle: Largely a matter of personal preference, but I set mine to the steepest possible angle that does not interfere with me straightening my leg for the brake-bottoming test.
Experience of Driving, Country
For the final one-hour leg of my trip to rural country, I had to navigate a series of idyllic country two-lanes full of twists, turns and elevation changes--you could not dream up a better test track for this car.
And this is where the Miata really shines.
Due to the Retractable Fastback, the front/rear weight balance is a perfect 50/50 (the softtop convertible comes in at 53/47) and it practically handles like a mid-engined car. It's sure-footed in hard corners, sticking with you faithfully through each twist, and I didn't feel any worrisome body roll.
The acceleration and braking were obedient, instantaneous and thrilling; together the whole package confers a supremely confidence-inspiring level of control. The stickshift is fun as all hell to drive. Putting the car through its paces on a lively route is divertingly interactive without being exhaustingly demanding.
Although I could not reproduce this every time, I found that putting your foot down in third and fourth gear produced not only the desired engine growl, but occasionally a pleasing and subtle high-pitched whine that made me feel like I was accelerating in a jet. If Mazda's engineers added this as an option, I'd order it purely for the smile factor.
It's telling that after six hours on the highway, this seventh hour spent on these country roads felt too short. If you enjoy spirited driving and your daily commute or weekend jaunts are anything like this rural route, the Miata is the car for you.
This is a car for people who love to drive, and have the space to do it in. While it's small and nimble enough to navigate urban traffic well, I feel city life would be a waste of the Miata's talents, and it really shines in a rural environment with room to work your way through the gears. It's fast enough to be fun without veering into a-hole territory, it's easy to control and offers excellent road feel without wearing you out. You feel connected to the road, and when it's time to go somewhere you'll look forward to reaching for the keys.
If you're considering a Miata and are interested in Core77's brand of design minutiae, stay tuned for Part 2 of our interview, where we'll get into interior design features and the UX.
Chrome can be a tricky thing to draw. The temptation is always to over do it. In this video I'll show you a light and easy chrome technique that shows off the reflective, metallic nature of it without overdoing it.
As always, if you have any questions or comments on the techniques shown, leave them in the comments below. What other techniques would you like to see?
Yo! C77 Sketch is a video series from Core77 forum moderator and prolific designer, Michael DiTullo. In these tutorials, DiTullo walks you through step by step rapid visualization and ideation techniques to improve your everyday skills. Tired of that guy in the studio who always gets his ideas picked because of his hot sketches? Learn how to beat him at his own game, because the only thing worse than a bad idea sketched well is a great idea sketched poorly.
From design books to one-off products to the occasional full product ecosystem, we constantly find ourselves featuring independent designers that have reached success based on surpassing their Kickstarter or Indiegogo funding goals. In addition to the classic "independent-designer-turned-crowdfunding-success" model, we've also noticed that the platform has made its way to design schools across the world as a tool for professors to teach design-minded students the foundation of entrepreneurship.
To gain a better understanding of how Kickstarter is being utilized as a tool in design school classrooms, we spoke with three professors from different schools to learn more about how their crowdfunding-focused courses work. Each course has its differences, but they all have one main goal in mind—to teach students that starting your own brand is more accessible than ever before.
Craighton Berman, University of Illinois at Chicago
Craighton Berman has successfully launched and funded multiple Kickstarter campaigns, including The Manual Cocktail Collection, which we have on display here in our office (for casual mid-day binge drinking purposes, obviously). In addition to being a Kickstarter Thought Leader, Berman teaches a course at the University of Illinois at Chicago in which he uses the creation of Kickstarter campaigns to teach his students the full process of launching a product or brand.
Can you explain how your Kickstarter-related course works?
The goal of the UIC Entrepreneurial Product Development class was to expose students to entrepreneurship by having them actually DO entrepreneurship. In addition to readings, lectures, and guest design-entrepreneurs, each student developed their own product design and launched it on Kickstarter. The students were encouraged to think small—there's a lot to learn in a small Kickstarter project—and move fast. They spent about a month working on concepts, a month developing for manufacturing, getting quotes, and working on a project budget, and a month developing the campaign storytelling. When they come back from winter break they launch the campaigns, run them for a month, and then spend the last 2 months of the semester kicking off manufacturing. For many students, the project is not complete until after they graduate—thus requiring them to keep working on it outside of the confines of school. This is the ultimate real-world learning experience—they owe product to people, and they really need to deliver!
Why did you decide to use Kickstarter as an educational tool?
It's a perfect tool for experiencing all of the elements involved in entrepreneurship—beyond the fun parts of developing ideas. Students are exposed to business models through project spreadsheets. They learn how to talk to the press through writing a press release. They experience customer service through answering messages and emails from customers. They learn how to work with a manufacturer and problem solve on the fly. And finally, they come out the other side with a whole new skill set that most design schools will never provide. I have had past students get design jobs based on showing their Kickstarter process in an interview. It shows a real strength and discipline to deliver on a Kickstarter project, which is valuable even beyond the money they raise.
What skills do you hope students will walk away with after completing your course?
Beyond basic project management and manufacturing skills, I hope they walk away with a taste of how challenging-yet-accessible entrepreneurship truly is. The mainstream narrative is obsessed with valuations, unicorns, and software startups—but the reality is that designers can launch their own passion projects as side hustles and slowly build their name into a brand. It's empowering to learn that the walls are coming down, and this stuff is more accessible than you thought.
Oscar Ihermitte, Royal College of Art (RCA)
Oscar Ihermitte runs his own design studio where he works on an array of products, including Kickstarter hit, MOON. In 2012, Ihermitte started Sidekick Creatives, a company that gives extra support to people working on Kickstarter campaigns. In an effort to teach students that there's more to design than just designing a product, the Kickstarter Thought Leader started a course at the Royal College of Art using Kickstarter as a foundation to teach students about entrepreneurship. The course has since been put on pause due to a transitional phase for the college, but Ihermittehopes to return to teaching it very soon.
Core77: Can you explain how your Kickstarter-related course worked?
Oscar Ihermitte: For our Object Mediated Interactions platform at RCA, my colleague Durrell Bishop and I gave a standard brief to students where they had about two months to come up with a product. Then the second brief we gave them was to put that project on Kickstarter. The whole point was not to launch the projects on Kickstarter. Our students were doing their Master's, so it was their final project, and many of them were working with electronic components. They didn't know how to produce the products, and they wouldn't have time.
Our students needed to come up with a story for the project, write the text, make a video and figure out how to explain the product. What is really nice about Kickstarter is that when you build your project, there's a set of sections you have to fill in. If you don't fill them in, you can't submit your work for approval. It's such a good template to see if you are ready for your project. What is the name of your project? How do you define your project in one sentence? It forces you to figure out a direction, and that's what we want students to do. At the end, instead of the students presenting in front of the class, we asked them to submit to Kickstarter and go through Kickstarter's approval process.
I don't think it's that difficult to get approved by Kickstarter, but you have to fill in the whole form, so that's interesting. The students could have all launched their campaigns, but the manufacturing was, of course, not complete. For the presentations, each student had to send us the preview link to their campaign so we could watch and see the whole product without seeing any physical work.
What skills do you hope students will walk away with after completing your course?
The idea was for students to learn that designing a product is not just about designing the object—it's about thinking of all the systems around it. How do you photograph it? How do you communicate its idea? How do you write about it? The real challenge is the subtitle—simply explaining what your idea is in just one sentence. Doing that for your own work is so difficult, which is why it's much easier to ask someone else to write the text for you. That person has an additional point of view, and they can clearly identify what is interesting about your project and what is not as relevant.
I know of two or three students that are currently working on the same products that they went to Kickstart in our course. Once the course was over, they all realized that crowdfunding is an interesting and different way of thinking about products. The model really clicked.
Peter Ragonetti, Pratt Institute
Peter Ragonetti is another Kickstarter veteran who has spent years bringing his projects to life using the online crowdfunding platform. Ragonetti's Brooklyn-based studio, PTR Design, focuses on providing disruptive hypothesis, concept design and manufacturing support for entrepreneurs that are trying to launch products. At Pratt Institute, Ragonetti teaches a course that requires all of the deliverables necessary to launch a real Kickstarter campaign.
Core77: Can you explain how your Kickstarter-related course worked?
Peter Ragonetti: The course was created to help design students understand a lot more about the business of raising capital and bringing projects to market and to inspire their inner entrepreneur. A 16 week class is the perfect amount of time go through product development, market research and validation, sourcing manufacturing and building a campaign to hopefully raise between 3k-10k to bring the project to market. The goal is pretty much to make 100 of something. We have speakers that include successful crowdfunded projects founders, VC's and Angel Investors, Marketing People and Logistics experts. The final deliverables are a Prototype, Pitch Deck, Campaign Video and Campaign Page.
Why did you decide to use Kickstarter as an educational tool?
As a young designer I attended many product development meetings where I did not understand everything being discussed because in school we were never fully taught about COQ's, MOQ's and logistics of the product cycle. Over the last 15 years, I have become a expert in the full product development cycle. I started using crowdfunding for my own projects and client projects years ago, and it seemed like a no brainer to bring it to students.
What skills do you hope students will walk away with after completing your course?
Product Development, Market Validation, Customer Research, Manufacturing Sourcing, Tech Packs for production, Shipping and Logestics, Packaging, Brand Development, Launch Strategy, Online Advertising, Community Building, Customer Service Fulfillment. The full scope of napkin sketch to product or project ready to ship.
Yesterday at my photo studio, the photographer showed up with an ankle injury and on crutches. This being a product shoot requiring precise placement of the lights, it took him at least twice as long to get the set-up he desired, as he had to clutch the crutches with his armpits in order to free up his hands.
A smart, hands-free alternative to crutches is the iWalk, designed for those who have sustained an injury below the knee:
While it appears that the iWalk shifts weight to the knee, which anyone with bad knees can tell you is a terrible idea, the body's weight is actually borne along the top of the shin. "The patellar region is not in contact with the platform," the company writes, "and thus does not bear any direct weight when using the iWALK 2.0."
The company claims you can navigate stairs and even sit down with the device on, although you'll need some clearance in front of you for the latter.
The iWalk will set you back $149.
Using outside-of-the-box thinking, Ford has prototyped a "display" for the blind using a material we don't typically think of as useful to the sightless: Glass. By partnering with Aedo, an Italian research firm that uses digital technology to create interfaces for the blind, they've developed a device that can vibrate glass in specific areas, producing tactile "pixels," so to speak, that can be sensed by touch. Here's the Ford application:
Aedo plans to take the technology beyond cars with their Haptic Touch project. This involves specially outfitting tablets that would be used in schools with blind students:
Haptic Touch is a system that allows users to interact with touchscreen screens without using [sight]. An extraordinary object to explore images and photographs through haptic sensory stimuli (tactile and sound).
The project involves the installation of an app inside a tablet and the application on the screen, through a dedicated cover, of particular surfaces in relief. Thanks to a set of tactile and auditory sensory stimuli, users can independently explore the various graphic and visual digital contents.
The Haptic Touch project was designed to solve the problem of teaching braille in Italian schools. Educators are less and less able to teach tactile perception to blind children. For this reason Haptic Touch provides the school community with an extraordinary collection of tactile cards, educational games and technological methods to convert visual interactions of touch screens into tangible perceptual sensations.
Haptic Touch is an educational game especially dedicated to blind children to learn braille and all subjects that require the study of images such as geometry, geography, art history, etc.
You can learn more about Aedo here.
Design Notes: Exterior
This is subjective, of course, but to me the Miata's exterior stylists were a little too influenced by the Corvette; the original Miata was shaped like a used bar of soap. I still cling to that as the aesthetic ideal; it was the original Miata's spiritual similarity to old British roadsters that initially drew my eye.
Design Notes: Interior/UX
This is where we'll focus the majority of this article. Being a driver-oriented car, the interior of the MX-5 Miata feels like a cockpit. There's a lot to recommend about its interior design, and a few areas that could benefit from some changes. This is not necessarily specific to the Miata, but to many cars of this ilk.
First off I love how minimalist the dash is. From left to right it's just fuel gauge/temperature, tachometer, speedometer. (And although these look like analog dials, they're actually digital screens.) The fuel gauge tells you how many miles are left in the tank and has the helpful arrow next to the pump symbol letting you know which side the fuel door is on. There's also a paint/materials trick the designers have pulled off, and which I'll get into later, that for me at least, transforms the Miata's interior into art.
The center console hosts the media/nav screen. Syncing your phone is straightforward, and you can then opt for the screen to display not just the navigation, but whatever song or podcast you're listening to. It's a touchscreen, but can also be controlled by a knob elsewhere that we'll get to in a moment. To the left of the screen is the start button, as the car has an RF fob and starting it requires no key.
Someone called me while I was on the road and it automatically displayed the number/contact on the screen. I was surprised to hear the person's voice coming from behind me, and it wasn't until the next rest stop that I noticed there are speakers built into the headrest. This makes good sense given that you'll occasionally have the top down. The sound, by the way, is delivered via a nine-speaker Bose system that comes standard in the Club and Grand Touring levels of trim; the base Sport level only comes with a six-speaker system of unmentioned origin, so if you want Bose quality with the Sport you'd have to go aftermarket and pay retail.
Below the screen are the three climate control dials. I feel the designers took some time to think these through, and I dug:
- The tactility of the knurled (well, molded faux-knurled) edges.
- How the center of each dial itself is a large button (A/C on/off, recirculating, rear defroster). It's my habit whenever I drive into a tunnel to hit the recirculating button, and I liked having that big fat target.
- The orange indicator doesn't look great in the photos, but at a glance is easily discernible, particularly at night.
Overall these large dials and buttons are quick/easy to manipulate while at speed, which is exactly what you want. In some other ZipCars I've had recently there is a bit of fussing required. With the exception of the icons on the furthermost dial, which were hard for me to see at speed, (though I suppose an actual owner/everyday driver of the car would have them memorized) I feel Mazda's designers got these often-overlooked little details right. Clean, simple, functional design.
Below the climate control dials are the switch to activate the power retractable targa top, and the icons make it perfectly clear which direction is which.
To the right, controls for the heated seats. Below that, two USB ports for charging, a nice touch, and an AUX port. This would be handy if, say, your passenger wanted to quickly play you something from their device but didn't feel like syncing it (or didn't have Bluetooth).
The leather-wrapped shift knob is of course the thing you interact with the most after the steering wheel, and I'm one of those purists who feels the thing should be a sphere, like this, and not some experimental joystick shape. I'm glad Mazda's designers agree.
Aft of the stick you see this large knob and behind that, a smaller one. The large knob is to control the menu prompts on the screen; you rotate it to move left or right and press down on it to select/confirm. The good thing about this knob is that you can easily locate it with your right hand without taking your eyes off the road, and it was easy to memorize the three buttons north of it--music/podcasts, home screen, nav--to toggle between them as needed.
The bad thing about this knob is that, although I was certain my elbow was well clear of it, I accidentally activated the knob or button several times, causing the nav screen to disappear. This was a minor annoyance and easily rectified by no-look pressing the NAV button at top right to bring the screen up, but it happened enough times that I wondered if it would grow irritating over time.
Aft of the large knob is a smaller knob that can be used to control the volume, or pressed down for instant mute. This smaller knob is a bit awkward to access; while you can still get to it without looking, its rearward position means you must lift your elbow and reach backwards, whereas the larger knob is easy to grab without shifting position. It's a minor gripe but I found this motion awkward.
I hunted about on the steering wheel, certain there'd be another volume control on there, and I was right:
However, Mazda's designers need to work on this button, which is a three-way rocker switch. It might've been my lack of familiarity with the car, but often when trying to raise or lower the volume, I accidentally hit the voice command button, which then stopped the music to have the car asking me, in essence, what I wanted to tell it. And I didn't want to tell it anything.
The cupholders are another reason why I say, in addition to the fun of driving it that I mentioned in Part 1, this is a car for the driver. The only cupholder within reach of the driver while the car is moving is this one.
It intrudes a bit on the passenger legroom.
Between the two seats, towards the rear of the car, is where a small lockable glovebox can be found.
This glovebox has a second cupholder in front of it. I assume this is for the passenger, as this spot is literally impossible for the driver to reach while driving the car.
Also, placing a drink in it precludes the glovebox from being opened. This isn't a huge deal, as the location of the glovebox means the driver can't access it whilst in transit anyway, but it seemed like an odd design choice to me. In fairness to Mazda's designers, I can't think of where else the cupholders could possibly go in the cockpit.
For the life of me I couldn't figure out what this panel that looks like a CD drawer was. I pressed the button and nothing happened. In retrospect, my guess is that it retracts the rear windscreen aft of the seats when the targa top is hidden away.
The vents to either side of the steering wheel, as well as the one to the far right, are precisely the way vents should be designed: You grab the knob at the center and direct it precisely where you want it to go. I hate the kinds of vents with louvers and a dial, as you shouldn't have to interface with two things to achieve one motion.
One killer feature that I really dig is a stylistic one. The Miata's designers carried the exterior color over to the interior of the car with these metallic panels, which look like elegantly-shaped sheet metal.
They aren't actually metal, of course, but plastic, for safety reasons; but the finish on them has unbelievable fidelity. It makes you feel like you're sitting in a Spitfire and I enjoy, visually, how the designers pulled off this line-blurring between the exterior and interior of the car. It reinforces the fact that the car's roots are in those British roadsters of yore.
Something those of you considering a Miata might be wondering is: Ought I go for the RF or the softtop convertible?
With both the RF and the softtop in the closed positions, you're dealing with a driver's side blind-spot; when I instinctively glanced over my left shoulder prior to sliding into the left lane, I was met with zero visibility courtesy of the chunky C-pillar. Mazda's designers have mitigated this somewhat with a blind-spot indicator on the driver's mirror (an orange arrow illuminates when another car's in the pocket). But with the softtop, you have the option of dropping the top entirely and having unobstructed vision. Retract the targa top on the RF and the C-pillar doesn't move.
That being said, if presented with this choice, weather would probably be my main concern. If I lived in California I'd go softtop all the way. If I lived somewhere with harsh winters, I'd pick the RF, as nothing is less fun that freezing in a roof-up convertible.
Of course, what I'd really recommend you do if trying to choose is to go to a dealership and test drive them--both of them. Because if you love to drive, either of these is going to put a smile on your face, and you might as well double up!
It was once common to gussy up the handle of a knife or tool with a metal inlay, like this:
Assuming you had the brass insert already made, how would you cut the handle to precisely accept it, as below?
The obvious answer is with some sort of rotary cutter--a router, a Dremel or a CNC mill. And you probably imagine that prior to the invention of those machines, someone had to painstakingly carve these cavities out manually, using a sharp gouge.
In actuality, craftsmen in Sheffield, England were producing perfect-fit inlays like this at least as far back as the early 1800s without carving at all. Instead they used a very ingenious, purpose-built tool called a two-legged passer, parser, parsey or parsa, depending on who's telling the story.
This tool features a forked piece of metal with some funny business going on at the cutting end. Here we see the chisel-like tips and an odd notch cut into each tine.
The opposite end of the iron comes to a point. This end is wedged into a wooden spool, actually called a bobbin, and the point protrudes from the end.
The tool wielder then puts on what they call a breastplate, though it's really worn on the abdomen. This breastplate has a short section of tubing to accept the point of the iron protruding from the bobbin.
In this modern-day version we can see a bearing has been inserted into the tubing.
Templates such as these, containing the precise negative space of the item to be inlaid, would have been prepared beforehand.
The desired template is clamped to the workpiece, and the tips of the blades inserted into it.
A strip of leather attached to a stick on both ends, forming a sort of bow, has been wrapped around the bobbin. The mass of the user's body provides the bearing force of the blade on the material, and the bow is rapidly drawn back and forth, causing the tool to spin.
The rotary motion causes the blades to begin hogging out material. Because the blade is forked, i.e. sprung, the blades can compress inwards to follow the narrower portions of the template. The springiness of the blades is such that they always want to press outwards, which ensures they cut snugly against the perimeter of the template and can even get into corners. The notches in the blades serve as depth stops, hitting the outer face of the template to avoid going too far into the workpiece.
Here's what it looks like in action, as demonstrated by Roy Underhill of The Woodwright's Shop:
By the bye, the reason this tool is referred to as a "two-legged" passer is because it evolved from a tool with just one blade. That tool, the original passer, was used to drill simple holes.
Sinterit, the first manufacturer to deliver affordable desktop SLS 3D printers, is introducing a new generation of its very successful Lisa printer into the market. Lisa 2 extends the capabilities of its predecessor without losing its main goal of bringing designers, start-ups and industry manufacturers an affordable printing tool with almost unlimited creative possibilities.
Upon its invention, 3D printing revolutionized design thinking and product development by providing freedom and ease of creation to designers. However, the most usable technology, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), was still mainly reserved for prominent companies as it cost at least $100K, required 3D expertise and a large space. All this changed in 2014, when Sinterit's Lisa was announced. Sinterit started a completely new desktop SLS segment where powder-based technology was finally available for a full range of industries.
Why SLS - What's it all about?
SLS printing offers almost unlimited possibilities of creation, making it an ideal process for designers. This technology uses lasers to sinter powder material, binding it together into 3D objects. Therefore, the parts being printed can have movable elements printed in one piece—even complicated structures with internal holes. The objects are both durable and detailed (min. wall thickness 0.4mm / 0.016in; min. detail size 0.1mm / 0.004in). SLS technology allows much more possibilities of creation versus other 3D printing technologies.
"I am thrilled to be able to make high grade designs with my new sexy, affordable, high-quality, easy to use SLS machine, Lisa. She only costs $8.9k; where in the past I would have needed a $200k machine to create this kind of output." —Janne Kyttanen, 3D authority and designer that recently changed his mold production technique from FDM technology into Sinterit's SLS.
Enhancing the Possibilities
With the announcement of Lisa 2, Sinterit is pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the design process even further. Compared to its previous generation, Lisa 2 grew in size without losing its desktop character and now offers the possibility to produce bigger prints in one piece up to 31.6cm.
Lisa 2's most important new feature is the introduction of a nitrogen chamber, which allows customers to experiment with a vast number of new materials. "Customers are happy with our powders, but they were still asking for new ones. With the new nitrogen chamber, we can induce a special environment inside the printer and expand the list of potential materials," says Michal Grzymala-Moszczynski, co-founder and R&D Director of Sinterit.
Since the co-founders are ex-Google employees and therefore no strangers to straightforward design solutions, the new Sinterit Studio 2018 software used in Lisa 2 offers users maximized automation and simplicity in its UX.
Lisa 2's applications are virtually endless. With both SLS and material possibilities, designers and engineers from every industry can now 3D design and 3D print almost anything they can imagine. This ability overcomes the main barriers of other printers, which are sometimes not able to print more complex and detailed shapes.
The Sinterit Lisa 2 will cost $14,900 and the full end-to-end system just $17,400 for the US market, but compared to the price of big SLS machines costing $100,000, that is peanuts. Preorders are already available on the Sinterit website with first deliveries set for September 2018. Lisa 2 will hit US market next year, but Lisa 1 is already available.
Printing materials include strong and chemical-resistant plastics Nylon PA12 and flexa black—a TPU material for rubber-like applications. With Lisa 2, Sinterit is also introducing new Flexa Grey with better flexibility, and PA11 with superior chemical and temperature resistance. And while the R&D department is busy working on other materials, designers are always free to experiment with materials on their own.
Sinterit is the first manufacturer of desktop selective laser sintering 3D printers, with a mission to accelerate the world's development by giving access to innovative 3D printing SLS technology. It has a focus on ease of use, versatility and availability, so that tomorrow can happen today. The company, founded by former Google employees with experience in the industry since 2014, delivers reliable, high-precision printers to customers around the world. During its three years on the market, Sinterit Lisa has printed multiple 3D products. For more information visit www.sinterit.com or follow @Sinterit on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.