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Launched in 1995, Core77 serves a devoted global audience of design professionals, corporations, students, enthusiasts and fans.
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    Something that's never addressed in Japanese anime: How would those giant robots support themselves, let alone generate the energy to move around? Just one of Voltron's metal lions would be impossibly heavy; propelling it would be quite the physics challenge.

    Gets 0.000001 miles per gallon. Requires premium fuel

    Well, researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology's Suzumori Endo Lab have come up with a partial solution, even if they're focusing on industrial robots, not the villain-fighting kind. Their challenge was to create a workable robot arm 20 meters long (that's nearly 66 feet). The arm needed to be able to support itself, as well as move around.

    They came up with what they're calling the Giacometti Arm (after Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss sculptor known for shaping willowy figurines), which features a segmented body constructed of helium-containing balloons. Each is connected to the next by thin, pneumatic-driven "muscles" that can expand or contract in order to induce motion. Thanks to the helium, the entire thing weighs just 1 kg (2.2 pounds).

    The team's work "aims for practical robot designs by removing excess fat," the researchers write. "Although this robot arm is not suitable for precise positioning, rapid motion, and high load capacity, which are the aspects most conventional robots focus on, it is designed for very specific purposes, such as inspection using a small camera at its tip and is designed to be essentially safe even if it falls down or hits an object."

    Video of it in action:

    Okay, so maybe we won't have giant fighting mecha just yet. But with this latest breakthrough, we could at least make a gigantic balloon Voltron that could find work as a roof inspector. That's not kind of cool?

    "Your shingles look like shit."

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    The UI/UX Designer role at Small Planet encompasses both Interaction Design and Visual Design in the service of creating inspired mobile applications, websites, and other digital products. Our designers contribute to the entire product lifecycle, from problem validation and UX research, to UX/UI design and development, testing, and iteration. We are looking for creative and rigorous thinkers who can create elegant and intuitive interfaces that honor and engage users. We especially value communication, openness, and collaboration.

    View the full design job here

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    L.A.-based RPG enthusiast Karen Wang loved the tabletop games, but "The dice I wanted to use just…didn't exist," she writes. "If I wanted the kind of dice I was imagining, I realized I should try making them myself." Wang learned how to cast resin with the help of some local resin and plastic shops and began producing dice. Encouraged by friends, she then poured herself into it, if you'll pardon the pun.

    "This (somewhat obsessive) hobby," Wang writes, "slowly turned into what Dispel Dice has become today."

    This week Wang launched a Dispel Dice Kickstarter campaign in hopes there was a wider audience for her handcrafted resin creations. Her modest funding target was just $20,000-- but an avalanche of orders piled in, bringing her total to $1.5 million by day's end. As of this morning, she's up to $1.7 million, with 14,508 backers.

    Her dice are, as you'd expect, unlike any you've seen before:

    Every artisan set is hand poured, polished, and painted, so there may be slight imperfections or differences of color and material suspension in the dice. No part of this process is automated. Please understand that due to the nature of how they're crafted, it is impossible to ensure they're absolutely perfect or identical because each one is one of a kind.

    If you'd like to pledge, there are still 30 days left in the campaign.

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    The UK's Hope Technology and Lotus Engineering have teamed up to create an Olympic superweapon: The HB.T, a carbon fiber bike with 3D-printed titanium elements that the Great Britain Cycling Team will ride in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

    "In a nod to the iconic Olympic gold medal-winning bike ridden by Chris Boardman in 1992, British Cycling can today reveal the cutting-edge bike that Great Britain's track squad will ride at the 2020 Olympics.

    "Collaboratively developed by component manufacturer Hope Technology, and recognised automotive consultancy Lotus Engineering with the help of engineering giant Renishaw work on the new bike has been taking place in all corners of the country. This includes wind tunnel testing in Southampton, to further refinement and production of the bike in Gloucestershire, East Anglia and Lancashire.

    "British riders have just begun putting it through its paces at British Cycling's base at the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre in Manchester."

    Thus far the creators aren't releasing any numerical statistics about the bike, beyond that they know it's "quick" and "as light as those seen at the highest level."

    Another number they've left out is the price. Yes, ordinary consumers will be able to purchase this bike, at least in the UK, starting on January 1st, 2020.

    Here's a behind-the-scenes with the creators:

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  • 11/08/19--09:23: The Weekly Design Roast, #24
  • This bar clamp was designed into a "clever" bookshelf. The serrated edges of the bar will of course mar the bottom of your books; you'll get a nice divot in the cover of the outermost book/ and who doesn't want to crank/uncrank a handle every time they remove/replace a book? (Not to mention, if you want to add a book that's more than double the width of the distance from the bar to the wall, you'll have to hold the book in place while you screw the clamp down.)

    "Right over the area where you bend over to retrieve books, we placed a staggered series of sharp edges. In an effort to be inclusive, we want people of all heights to have the opportunity to catch their heads on the corners."

    True story: This 5 1/4-quart Le Creuset Cast-Iron Star Wars Han Solo Carbonite Signature Roaster costs $450. I think that's more than the actual bounty they paid Boba Fett to capture Han.

    "By making the horizontal bars protrude outwards as they go down, we hope to discourage short people from reaching the good stuff at the top."

    True story: This self-adhesive plastic film depicting a photorealistic version of pine grain costs $42 to cover a 24" x 48" area. At my local home center, you can buy the same amount of actual pine (3/4" thick) for about 16 bucks, and not have to add plastic and adhesive chemicals to your project.

    "As per law, we made sure one of the bathroom sinks was at wheelchair height. (There's nothing in the law about needing room under the sink to actually fit a wheelchair user's legs, so we stuck with our fun yellow barrel concept throughout.)"

    When you didn't start your Transportation Design project until the last minute so you repurpose a model from last semester's Footwear Design class.

    "We designed our full-length dressing room mirrors so that people can only see three sections of their body, and what those sections are, varies according to the person's height. Fun!"

    "I wanted a more new-school way to get my fingers pinched in a door."

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    As most of you know, LED bulbs use way less power than incandescent bulbs. (The U.S. Department of Energy says at least 75% less power; Consumer Reports puts the figure at 80%.) That's because incandescents wastefully transform most of the incoming energy into heat, whereas LEDs are efficient enough to transform most of that energy into light.

    That's easy for us adults to grasp, maybe not so easy for a child. Hence the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia's science museum dedicated to the fellow on our C-notes, has installed this simple demonstration machine:

    Whatever exhibition designer came up with that should be lauded. I really hate that things like this go uncredited. And speaking of credit, the video has been attributed to the Instagram account AndysTechGarage; I couldn't find it on his page (the man has over 2,000 posts) or I'd have embedded it.

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    Came across this (uncredited) video demonstrating how gravity and tension can be wielded to create an unlikely object:

    This reminded me a bit of designer Robby Cuthbert's tensegrity-based furniture designs. Which in turn made me wonder: How long until a design student attempts to integrate this trick into a furniture design project?

    By the bye, here are the best (untrue) comments from this Reddit thread explaining the phenomenon:

    - "The camera is upside down"
    - "It's in Australia"
    - "Magnets, bitch"
    - "The fucking strings are haunted"

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    Corridor Digital's video of the gunslinging "Bosstown Dynamics" robot may have been fake, but the following are all real. (And thankfully, diminutive.) First off, robots fighting with swords:

    From Japan's ROBO-ONE league.

    Secondly, a robot performing a single-leg Suplex on another:

    From Japan's Kanto Robot Heavyweight Championship

    How hilarious is it that they have a robot referee? (We'll put the full video down at the bottom, it's hilarious but also 13 minutes long.)

    Finally, here's some folks from MIT's Biomimetic Robotics Lab showing off nine of their Mini Cheetah 'bots playing soccer, among other things:

    From MIT's Biomimetic Robotics Lab

    While these are all RC (for now), you've undoubtedly noted that despite their clunkiness, they're all mechanically capable of taking to their feet after being knocked down. This is something I hoped no robot would be able to do--pushing them over is likely to be our last line of defense.

    Extended Viewing

    As mentioned above, the full wrestling video (with excited narration in Japanese) is pretty freaking funny, even if you can't understand what's being said. Sneak a peek at it while you're waiting for something to render.

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    Dolmen Design & Innovation, in Dublin, is always looking for good interns with great portfolios and a passion for design. They will want to see sketching skills and and documentation on your process and thinking. All of their internships are paid. And, as with all roles, please just apply (this is a diversity plea!). We want a good mix of men, women, nationalities etc.

    View the full design job here

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    "What are the design rules in [the] new frontier of extended reality?" asks NYU's Tandon School of Engineering. They aim to answer that with UX Design Principles for AR & VR, a certificate course created by Todd Bryant, Director of Technology at research center Rlab and Regine Gilbert, UX designer at Gilbert Consulting Group and educator at NYU.

    You'll need your own VR headset to participate, as it's online. (If you don't want to pony up $8 for a Google Cardboard set, they'll give you instructions for how to make your own.) Over the two-month course, which carries a reported workload of 2-4 hours per week, students "will learn how the UX is different with extended reality (XR) technologies like AR and VR than with a digital screen, and the key points to consider when designing UX for these new formats." Concretely, you'll get elbows-deep in human-computer interaction, learn about best UX design practices, identify opportunities in XR and learn about the tools used for prototyping XR apps.

    The course is broken down into six modules, which combine video lectures and demonstrations with discussions and hands-on projects:

    The tuition is $1,400 and it starts on December 10th. Here's the pitch video:

    If you'd like to learn more, you can download both a brochure and the syllabus here.

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    Vietnam was one of the most pristine places I'd even seen--in the 1990s. Today the country, once renowned for its pristine beaches and waterways, has suffered heavily from the plastics explosion of the past few decades. Take a look at this photo of a beach in Nam Dinh:

    Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung, via VN Express

    Or this one in Binh Thuan:

    Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung, via VN Express

    Incredibly, the plastic waste reportedly grows by 2,500 tons a day.

    Thankfully, a handful of supermarkets in Vietnam are attempting to move away from plastic. One of the most-pernicious, least-recycled/recyclable forms is the plastic film that food is often wrapped in. So supermarket chains including Lotte Mart, Saigon Co.op and Big C, following a trend taking root in neighboring Thailand according to NextShark, have started wrapping produce in banana leaves rather than plastic.

    Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

    Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

    Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

    Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

    Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

    Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

    Impressively, Lotte Mart is reportedly working on how to use the banana leaves to wrap meat as well.

    VN Express reports that the banana-leaf-wrapping is seen by the supermarkets as experimental, so there's no word if it will stick. With any luck it will take root. I'd imagine most people would rather rinse a little road dust off of a vegetable than attempt to clean one of those beaches in the future.

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    Kitesurfing takes aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding, surfing, etc. and fuses them together to create one incredible extreme sport. So, it's only appropriate for the participant to have an equally exciting helmet, right?!

    Jakob Tiefenbacher also thought this, and thus the EVO Kitesurfing Helmet was born! Made up of two layers, the form is distinctive and unique. The bottom layer provides stability as well as allowing airflow and ventilation, while also being the part that secures it to the user. The top layer is designed to break surface tension, while simultaneously adding another layer of protection.

    Designed to be replaceable, the top layer features an oversized pull-tab which releases it for quick, simple removal. The brightly colored, orange touch points stand out from the translucent pale, blue finish of the top layer, enhancing both the ease of use and extreme aesthetic.

    View the full project here

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    The cities most of us occupy today, have required the demise of countless species, and the conditions from which the sixth extinction has emerged. So what does urban development, that preserves the little we have left, look like? Designers so often like to cite their devotion to Maslowe's hierarchy of needs, but what did Maslowe ever do for the Hover-Fly? For some centuries, there's been a common and highly desctructive rumor going around that suggests we live in a reality occupied only by humans, where only human needs matter and largely, this is the reality we see design working for. Rather than fueling the redundancy of designers who are out seeking to further satiate our humanly-needs, Matilde Boelhouwer, asked, 'what does the Hover-Fly need? What does the Bumblebee need?'

    Matilde Boelhouwer, answers with her project Insectology: Food For Buzz, which places artificial flowers in the urban environment. As steel, concrete, and glass proliferates, pesticides and other chemical agents flourish, and the climate changes, plant life becomes less diverse and thus there is less plant life to support the many insects, which inevitably leads to less pollination and thus the cycle of life is stifled. Less for all. By working with scientists, Boelhouwer was able design a system that uses rainwater to create an auxiliary supply of food for insects that find themselves in the city, with no flowers to feed from.

    The petals of the flowers are laser-cut polyester, and screen printed with color designs that can attract bees from a distance. The food-container which is at the center of the flower, is 3D printed and is connected to a tube through which rainwater flows down, mixes with a sugar supply, then flows back up into the container for insects to access. Obviously different insects have different tastes, so Boelhouwer designed a range of flowers that cater to the different pallets of flying insects. For the bees and hoverflies, the flowers are equipped with Asteraceae. While the moths and butterflies prefer Fabaceae. And for the bumblebees, Lamiaceae. Like a traveler in the desert, the insects can stop by these vibrant oases in the hostile environment of concrete and glass.

    Which is precisely how it might appear to a bee or moth. Especially in European countries, like the Netherlands, but it is equally true in many regions of the US and elsewhere, land development has made rural spaces ecologically barren. Wild ecosystems, untouched by agriculture or sprawling urbanization have become few and far between. "When you would now fly over the Netherlands as a bee, it already looks like a desert even though there's still a lot of green space, because of the lack of wildflowers in those green areas" says Boelhower. As recent UN IPCC reports have detailed, land-use is one of the biggest factors in the loss of global biodiversity and inevitably urban areas will have to help facilitate ecology and develop in such a way that necessitates it. Enter designers.

    For Boelhower, the designer is well-suited to bring other species into the urban space. "As a designer you're more likely to look outside of the box than for example a scientist." Yet she notes that collaboration is key to making a project functional in the way Insectology is.

    When thinking about a project that provides natural services for other species, one must be careful not to think of this as a charitable act. What Insectology: Food for Buzz offers is an attempt to bring the ecological scales slightly back into balance. "Helping those species automatically helps other species eating those species." says Boelhower. Urban development and industrialization has robbed these insects of the capacity to exist, and thus guaranteed extinction if urban development is not reevaluated in such a way that it considers other species. Rather than thinking of this support system as an accessory of urbanization we must imminently realize that infrastructure that supports insect species is a necessity of urbanization. The sixth extinction accelerates everyday, and maybe what other species need most right now, is for us to recognize that they have needs too.

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    On the face of it, I think this may be the dumbest idea I've seen this year. Japan's Morita Miyata Corporation, which has been making firefighting equipment for over a century, has designed this set of fire extinguishers:

    So why aren't they red? Because the designers have opted for "refined monotone colors that harmonize with the interior and softly fit into your daily life." Furthermore, "That it can be placed in full view without any sense of incongruity is the most special feature of the design of this fire extinguisher."

    Isn't visual incongruity, not harmony, the entire point of a fire extinguisher's color? If there's a grease fire in the kitchen or an overburdened octopus plug bursts into flame, don't you want to be able to locate the damn thing right away? Below is one of the company's actual press photos, which resembles my vision after I first wake up: How easy do you find it to spot the extinguisher?

    And how confident are you that you could quickly locate either of these if a fire broke out?

    High visibility for this object was apparently not important to the judges of the Good Design Awards. They gave one to these extinguishers, with what I think is an idiotic evaluation: "There has been a preconceived notion that fire extinguishers must be red in order to grab visual attention," they wrote. (Yes, that's exactly why they're red.) "I feel like we have just accepted fire extinguishers to be red because that is the way they are." Right, and maybe we've also "just accepted" that firefighting foam extinguishes fires because that's what it actually does.

    The only thing that prevents me from giving this a resounding "Nay" is this consideration: The designers are attempting to make the object more stylish because "disaster preparedness continues to be removed from everyday life in Japan," according to Spoon + Tamago. In their estimation, the company "designed a minimal set of fire extinguishers to encourage people to keep one in their home."

    If the choice is between people refusing to keep fire extinguishers in their homes because they find red ugly, or keeping difficult-to-spot extinguishers in their homes, then I concede that the latter is the better option. However: Shouldn't they at least experiment with other bright colors that pop first, before going Muji monotone?

    Also, I have my doubts that the Japanese are not a disaster-prep-minded people. When I first moved there, I discovered that every apartment in my building had a prominent switch on the wall to turn off gas to the entire apartment. I was told you're meant to switch it off every time you leave, so there's no "live gas" running to your apartment in case there's an earthquake. A friend who lived nearby shut his gas off every night, even in the dead of winter, in case there was an overnight earthquake; the first time I crashed there, in the morning I observed his ritual of starting up the water heater while we froze our asses off in the well-chilled home.

    Despite that, I cannot remember if people's houses all had fire extinguishers in them or not. Any readers who live in Japan: Can you confirm whether the objects are common or not?

    Lastly, whether you live in Japan or not: Yea or Nay to these?

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    It used to be that if you wanted a tracksaw, you had to pony up for a high-priced Festool--if there was even a dealer in your area. Nowadays DeWalt, Grizzly, Kreg, Makita and more all make them, and they're sold at local big box stores.

    Are there other once-unique tools in Festool's line-up that are vulnerable to duplication? It looks as if Festool's incredibly handy and dimunitive drill/driver, the 10.8-volt CXS, now has a direct competitor.

    Festool CXS

    Milwaukee M12 Fuel

    Milwaukee is now offering the M12 FUEL Installation Drill/Driver, which features the same D-handle form factor as the CXS and the same interchangeable system of multiple heads--plus an offset-bit head that Festool only offers on their larger drills.

    Here's what the M12 can do:

    Despite their similarities, one huge difference that's bound to be noticed by the price-conscious is the differential: $300 for the CXS with all of the heads, vs. $179 for Milwaukee's offering. As a proud owner and frequent user of the CXS, I have to say, ouch.

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