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Designing a Better Crime Scene Evidence Collection System


Exploratory designer Kate Strudwick currently works at the Google Creative Lab in London. But even when she was still a student studying Innovation Design Engineering at Imperial College and Royal College of Art, she formulated insights that would steer her towards work that combines pragmatism with exploration. Here are some examples of these insights, revealed to DropOutMag by Strudwick:

Don't design in a bubble.
"I sometimes think that some designers can focus on making work for other designers in the bubble of the design world - there is nothing wrong with this - but I try to avoid this by collaborating with non-designers on a regular basis."
Don't design alone.
"Collaboration is at the heart of my work, whether with other designers, engineers or potential users and I strongly believe good design cannot be done alone."
Don't silo problems.
"In the past, if there was an issue you would get a specialist in that area to solve that problem. However, as the problems get bigger and more far reaching there needs to be a different approach. The world doesn't need more stuff made for the sake of making it - it needs ways of thinking that can actually make a difference."

These insights, coupled with her fascination of true crime podcasts and Netflix detective series, led Strudwick in an unusual direction for her graduate thesis: She began talking to detectives for London's Metropolitan Police Service, a/k/a Scotland Yard, a/k/a "The Met."

What role could a designer possibly play in solving mysteries? Through chatting with detectives, Strudwick learned that problems often cropped up "in the initial collection and preservation of [crime scene] evidence."

We've all watched scenes on TV where a detective pulls on a glove, picks up an object, and drops it into a Ziploc or paper bag, which then gets whisked away to the forensics lab. But Strudwick learned that this basic system "has resulted in increasingly large windows of opportunity for potential contamination of evidence at crime scenes.

"Forensic techniques are progressing rapidly, utilising the latest technology, and they are becoming increasingly sensitive to contamination — both physically and from misinformation leading to misinterpretation. This means the methods of gathering and processing the evidence, carried out by the police, need to become more stringent but there is a current lack of time and money available to invest in improvements - that is why I thought it would be an interesting area to explore."

Through interviews, ride-alongs and testing, Strudwick found that the contamination of evidence was often linked to the paper or plastic bags commonly used as collection vessels. She thus designed an evidence-gathering system called For.Form, which is essentially user-friendly packaging design for detectives.

The toolkit itself consists of:
1. A novel form-able material, that can be moulded around the evidence, keeping it in place and providing a shell to which it can be returned to the exact same position after forensic examination. This material can also be formed into an initial dome-like shape to cover and protect the evidence at the crime scene.
2. A flexible weight, to weigh down the dome at the scene to create a sealed protective chamber.
3. A frame-like sealing system, to trap the material, display the evidence and create a standardised sized packaging for more efficient storage.
4. Embedded RFID chips to enable automatic tracking of evidence through the chain of custody. It can also track who has handled the evidence and when, where and how many times it has been opened and contain any important information about the case.

Here's how it works:

"It was fascinating to work with members of the police and forensic scientists," Strudwick says. "I felt like a spy being able to access parts of a world that not many people will ever get to see. They were so open and interested in the design process as, for many of them, they had not really collaborated in this way before.

"For them, looking at how evidence is packaged was a challenge that they had either thought about or investigated before, but with such busy schedules they had not had the chance to scrutinise it further.

"I think many of them began to see the potential of future collaborations with people from creative industries to bring an outside perspective on an issue that they had previously considered."

If you yourself are looking for an area to put your design skills to use, you can learn from Strudwick's example. Find things that interest you, and talk to people who work in those fields. I think you'll find a firefighter is happy to tell you about the lousy handles on a fire truck, a gardener can tell you what tasks ruin their knees, an elderly person can detail their ritual for transporting heavy groceries from supermarket shelves to their cupboards. They may or may not be Kickstarter smashes, but solving problems is what you're trained to do, and you'll find no shortage of things to tackle.

via DropOut Mag

A Product Design That Would Never Work in America or China: "No Stack" Shipping Pyramids


I was amused to see that companies like U-Line and others make these "No Stack" pyramids to be placed atop packages:

Image source: RatMan00

The idea is that package-senders pay extra to have one of these affixed atop their packages, and throughout the entire shipping journey, no one puts anything on top of the box and damages it.

My first thought was "That's cute--but it'd never work in America." At least, not consistently. There's are entire Reddit threads (here and here) populated by comments about these things from truckers and shippers, and I'm admittedly just assuming they're American by the comments, like:

- "Work at Home Depot, can confirm they don't stop those that aren't paid to give a shit."
- "Use to work at UPS we'd just rip them off lmao"- "I get paid to stack. Not to care or read."
- "At my current job I have never seen one of those intact! Every single one I've seen here has already been crushed because people don't care."
- "We shipped and received fragile equipment all the time, and I never saw one of those intact. Always bent, but mostly squashed."
- " I understand most people don't work in freight/warehousing but it's all about hitting numbers and being fast/efficient…. When a fork lift driver is loading a trailer out, he is taught to treat it like tetris or a puzzle. If your pallet, with or without a cone, fits his puzzle when stacked with another pallet, thats whats going to happen. Not saying its right, just saying it what happens."
- "I am a shipping manager at a company that puts these on everything! They don't prevent a damn thing. Pallet show up to my customers all the time with these crushed."
- "In my experience, it has never stopped the trucking companies from stacking our equipment."

And hilariously:

"I see this is made of cardboard, that way you don't have to deal with pyramid-shaped holes in things."

There were just a handful of comments from shippers saying they do respect these things.

I could see these pyramids being respected in a country like Japan or Germany, where folks generally stick to the rules; I just can't see these offering reliable protection in America or China, for that matter. In my experience neither of these countries are consistently interested in providing great customer service. And where workers may not always be careful, the best you could probably do is follow this guy's advice:

"Before launching a delicate electronic product, we sent out a number of weighted and instrumented boxes with Tip 'n Tells, G-meters, and these cones via different shippers then chose the one that didn't mishandle the shipments (as much)."

Crowdfunding Smash: The Shell Modern-Day Travel Backpack


Never mind that the Tropicfeel Shell "modern day backpack" has become a crowdfunding smash, with $1.3 million in funding at press time; what's notable here is not just the bag's design--which appears to be quite good--but by what is omitted in the presentation video. See if you notice what I did:

So, this is the first travel bag promo video I can think of that does not mention, nor depict, air travel. All of the travel scenarios depicted are by foot, bicycle or car. There's no mention of which configurations of the modular bag will qualify it as a carry-on.

Part of this might just be the impracticality of filming in an airport or airplane when travel is limited. But I also think people are considering a future where air travel is greatly diminished, even after things supposedly "return to normal" as projected in late 2021; and that a once-crucial standard in bag design--will this thing fit in the overhead compartment or beneath the seat in front of me--is fading as a major concern. Just a year ago, it would have been unthinkable to omit those capabilities from a bag pitch.

As for the bag's actual design: We've seen countless attempts to create the do-anything bag, one that has enough features and flexibility to be used in a wide variety of situations. From the "wardrobe" system to the modular add-ons to the location of the access points, I think the designers have done a great job here, and created something as close to the ideal as I've seen yet.

By the bye--you'll find this buried deep in the campaign page--the Shell is carry-on approved, at least in the 22L and 30L configurations. I wonder who noticed--and who still cares.

At press time the Shell had been successfully crowdfunded, with 30 days left to pledge.

The Ocean Cleanup and Yves Béhar Producing Sunglasses Made from Plastic Waste


Dutch inventor Boyan Slat was just 18 years old when he founded The Ocean Cleanup, a massive system for pulling plastic waste out of the world's waterways. By targeting both the Pacific Garbage Patch and the rivers that feed into it, Slat's specially-designed boats and garbage-collection flotation systems are aiming for plastics-free oceans by 2050. Just look at what they're doing:

The scale of what they're doing is just staggering:

The tons of plastic they've been removing still has monetary value--which Slat hopes to use to continue funding the project. Thus The Ocean Cleanup has teamed up with Yves Béhar's fuseproject to create a pair of sunglasses made from the harvested waste:

Here's a video on their process:

At $199 a pop the sunglasses aren't cheap, but 100% of the proceeds go back into funding The Ocean Cleanup's work. You can pick up a pair here.

Yea or Nay? The Bici Bike Rack System


Parking spaces for cars have a universally-accepted design: Two painted lines on the ground. Those designing bike racks have it much harder, as they're typically working within tighter space constraints and have to take anti-theft provisions into account. And I'm all for a variety of designers throwing their skills at this problem, but this new Bici design has me scratching my head:

"The architectural firm Zeller & Moye, with double base in Mexico City and Berlin, proposes a new device called Bici. The element designed is simply made of a 2.03 m long C-shaped metal profile with a opening to accommodate the front wheel of the transport vehicle. With its rail guide, it is easy to use and suitable for all types of bicycles. Bicycles can be installed indoors or outdoors, at home or in a bike parking.
"The installation, guided by drawings similar to an Ikea assembly manual, is simple and intuitive: first the head of the frame is fixed in place with the pin inserted in a hole drilled in the wall; then the foot of the frame is placed on the floor and fixed firmly with screws."

First off, for bike racks I'm not sure a "simple and intuitive" installation is the way to go; I'd want these things to be a bitch to install, so that they're a bitch to uninstall. If I'm a bike thief and I just have to pop a couple of screws to get the bike and C-channel off, I can throw that in the van in a few seconds. (In NYC at least, thieves have been known to remove bikes still attached to the railings they're shackled to. Presumably they're then whisked away to a chopshop where they can take their time freeing the bike.)

Secondly, I think asking end users of varying physicalities to push the bike up that angle, and safely get it back down afterwards, might be asking too much.

Thirdly, at least as depicted in the photos, I think I'd want a lot more space between each rack to maneuver my bike in and out.

Lastly, most bike rack designs are floor-mounted, which provides flexibility in placement. Having them rely on both a floor and a wall seems like a limitation with little benefit.

What say you, am I missing what's great about this design?

After Insurance Won't Cover It, Mechanical Engineer Builds Own Prosthetic Hand (and an Impact Driver Attachment!)


After losing four fingers on his left hand, fabricator Ian Davis learned his insurance wouldn't cover the cost of a prosthetic. "To be eligible for a prosthetic you would have to lose your palm as well," he was told, according to Interesting Engineering.

Davis then embarked on a mission to create his own prosthetic hand, adding functionality absent in off-the-shelf models. As one example, he's designed the fingers to be able to splay:

Davis has been documenting his progress on both his Instagram and YouTube channels. And intriguingly, he's now started experimenting with self-made power tool prosthetics that eliminate the "middleman" of fingers, and instead interface directly:

Davis' company is called Acme Works Fabrication, and in addition to following his social media feeds linked above, you can learn details of his builds on this Reddit thread.

He Made a Burger Fly—Now Food Photographer Steve Giralt Reveals the Magic


The name Steve Giralt may not be familiar, but undoubtedly you've seen his work. In a Brooklyn studio of custom-built rigs, high-tech robots, and next-gen slow-motion cameras called The Garage, he's exploded a medley of chips for Doritos, catapulted lava streams of chocolate for Hershey, and used innovative food photography and video work to defy the laws of gravity. Giralt calls his singular techniques "visual engineering," a fusion of mechanical physics and photography that blurs the line between art, science, and tech. Over the years, he has also created popular tutorials that offer a glimpse behind the magician's curtain: in 2016, his burger drop video rose to the top of Reddit and almost broke the internet, leading to a legion of mostly unsuccessful copycats. Recently, he launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Garage Learning, his subscription-based website and app featuring one-of-a-kind classes in filmmaking and photography, with corresponding Learning Kits filled with all the necessary tools for hands-on lessons in making stunning visual masterpieces. With courses available at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels, Giralt hopes to transform even novice students into cinematographers, whether they're shooting on a pro DSLR camera or on a basic iPhone.


A field is born

Engineering is in Giralt's blood. "My dad was an engineer, my grandfather was an engineer, my brother is a computer engineer, my uncle was an engineer—I was surrounded by it my whole life." Despite this, Giralt gravitated toward art in high school. He picked up a camera and fell in love, later attending RIT in Rochester for advertising photography and then moving to New York City, where he began taking classes at the now-defunct 3rd Ward space. There he studied filmmaking, Arduino, MIG welding, electronic circuits, and Maya. "That's what sparked what I'm doing today," Giralt says of his cross-disciplinary approach. After launching a studio focusing on creating still photography for catalogs and food editorials, he got restless and began playing with engineering building blocks.

"I came up with this concept—I wanted to deconstruct the layers of a burger, and by deconstructing all the layers, I mean show them in detail." He realized that if he could somehow attach his camera to movable pieces of robotics, he could take previously unreachable slow-motion shots, creating dynamic imagery. "I'd never touched a robot before and never used a phantom camera, which is how you shoot slow motion," he explains, crediting his "engineering mind" with the inspiration. After perfecting the process, he was able to break it down, step-by-step, eventually putting it up on Vimeo. "I shared the whole process, but it was the behind-the-scenes images that everybody was crazy about. I was surprised. It's art meets science." This idea led to Visual Engineering, Giralt's storytelling form fusing robotics, advanced camerawork, and creativity, powered by Arduino programming, Maya, light welding, and epoxies. "I felt engineering and art shouldn't be so separated. You shouldn't have to choose," he explains. "And I feel that for a lot of people around the world, this resonates with them. They want to do more creative things in engineering. They want to do more technical things in art." 


Peeking into The Garage

Launched on October 20 and available on Kickstarter until November 30, The Garage Learning is the first online school to teach these techniques. Each class will also develop the tools necessary for creating complicated mechanical and electrical systems customarily reserved for university-level art classes. "It really builds on itself," explains Giralt of the classes, "and so much of the core of what the courses are going to be about. This form of art shows how technology can make amazing images happen and that you don't always need computer graphics." He points to a recent sequence shot on a Bolt motion control robot arm, which enabled his team to re-shoot the same sequence over and over again, seamlessly. Steve and the Garage team will teach all courses, bringing the knowledge they've gathered and innovated to photographers, food stylists, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, and makers of all stripes. Beginner classes will start from scratch, going over basics like viewing angles, composition, and basic equipment needs, "all the bases I learned in art school, but also the basics of applied engineering. We want to empower everyday people who are passionate about commercial filmmaking and photography while also teaching important skills like electronic circuit design, the basics of robotics, engineering, pneumatics," Steve continues, "and more than anything, it's about encouraging the idea of people playing around without the pressure of having to make a perfect end result, and breaking down those walls of trying something new." 

There's no better time than now

With many of us preparing for a long winter, Giralt sees The Garage Learning as a way for the homebound, possibly with curious, STEM-inclined children, to entertain and educate themselves. "We've seen already, with the free content we put out during quarantine, that there are those just running with it," he explains. So far, the few released tutorial videos have sparked in their viewers a great natural curiosity. With an online community of subscribers, working together, and sharing content among themselves, Giralt is optimistic about  the future. "I'm really excited to see around the world how people share ideas."

The Garage Learning is live on Kickstarter through November 30, 2020. —Laura Feinstein

Burger King to Trial Reusable Packaging


Burger King is the world's second-largest hamburger chain, but they're aiming to beat top dog McDonald's in the area of sustainable packaging. The monarchy-themed fast-fooderie has decreed that reusable packaging shall be rolled out in the royal cities of New York, Portland and Tokyo, and here's what that packaging looks like:

I'm not sure if customers will go for this. The idea is that you order a meal and specify you want the reusable packaging, which you're then charged a deposit for. When you return it, the deposit is refunded. The packaging is then washed, though it's not clear where or how; the press release just states that this part of the process is handled by partner TerraCycle's "circular packaging service, Loop."

I admire the effort--but I'm not sure they've thought the UX through. For example, let's say I order BK takeout and ask for the reusable packaging. Later that week I return to BK with the packaging, and I order a new meal through the drive-thru window, and ask for the reusable packaging again. Do I say "but don't charge me for it, because I'm bringing back reusable packaging from last time" and they take my word for it while I'm still at the intercom?

Or do they ring up the second set of reusable packaging while I'm at the intercom, but then when I arrive at the window and produce the first set of reusable packaging, they then adjust the amount in the register?

I wonder if there will also be a gross-out factor. While the press release states that "Loop's cleaning systems have been created to sanitize food containers and cups, meaning each will be hygienically cleaned and safe before each use," I think this needs to be conveyed to customers visually; I don't think brown is a great color choice. If the packaging was white, and when I receive it I can see that it's gleamingly clean, I'd have more confidence in the system.

That being said, I wish them well with the program. It's scheduled to roll out sometime in 2021.

Pininfarina's 50-Year-Old Modulo Design Still Looks Like the Car of the Future


Check out this sketch, drawn in 1967 by designer Paolo Martin. Can you tell what it is?

It's a car. Martin worked for styling house Pininfarina, and this sketch would be realized as the Modulo, unveiled at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show to great acclaim.

If you think the shape looks radical now, just imagine what this looked like within the context of 1970. It's not obvious how you'd even fabricate such a shape. As you can see in the photo below, a wooden frame was created to form the body panels against:

Unsurprisingly, only one was ever made, and just as a show car. It sat in the Pininfarina Museum for years. Here it is in 2007.

In 2014 it was purchased by American collector James Glickenhaus--who made the car driveable by retrofitting the mechanicals from the Ferrari 512 S, including the 5-liter V-12 engine. (The Modulo sits on a 512 S chassis.)

Here's how the canopy opens, by the way:

Of particular interest to me is this crazy-looking control orb inside, that houses the starter button and ventilation controls:

And here's footage of Glickenhaus tooling around in it and describing some of the interior features:

As for why we're bringing this 50-year-old car up now, Italy's Ministry of Economic Development has decided to honor Pininfarina's 90th anniversary this year by issuing a postage stamp in their name. The image selected to grace the stamp is a rendering of the Modulo.

"Pininfarina has built 90 years of innovation", company CEO Silvio Angori said in a statement. "The symbol of this journey is the Modulo, still considered, half a century later to be an icon of motor racing due to a revolutionary design that makes it look like a car from the future. As designers we are always called on to anticipate tomorrow on the basis of our dreams and to interpret technology in an emotional way. This will continue to be our mission, even when we reach 100."

A Ridiculous Auto-Retracting Face Mask Concept


Good gosh. So this "Elon Mask" concept is essentially a publicity grab by the British car leasing company that commissioned the "design." Supposedly inspired by what a mask designed by Tesla would look like, here's how it's supposed to work:

My analysis of the features:

Heavy chin piece strengthens and tones your neck muscles.

Top headband is designed to fit well; all you have to do is shave your head.

The rear neckband apparently stays in place due to an anti-gravity insert.

It might seal at the bottom with thick enough foam, but there's no way the mask portion seals at the top, and the eyepiece is of course open at the top. But never mind that--look at the pretty lights on the neckband!

Inspired by Hermit Crabs, Desktop Mini Robots Inhabit Different "Shells" for Different Functions


A group of researchers at MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media Group developed this intriguing project: A series of mini desktop robots that, inspired in part by hermit crabs, can plug themselves into different "mechanical shells" to change their functionality.

While I can't think of a single practical reason why I'd need these on my desktop, I do think they've struck upon the basis for an engaging children's game or educational tool. It's fun to watch those little cubes buzz around and plug into different shapes, and with any luck it would engage modern-day children more than a smartphone game.

You can learn more about Project Hermits here.

Harley-Davidson Unveils Electric Bicycle


Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson has been working on an electric bicycle, and yesterday they pulled the sheet off of it:

They're calling it the Serial 1, and details on it are frustratingly light; a statement from the company blandly touts their "single focus to design and develop an eBicycle worthy of the Harley-Davidson name" and says they'll "deliver an unmatched riding experience rooted in freedom and adventure."

More confusingly, the bike's website features a timer counting down to the date of November 16th, 2020--but the press release says the bike won't hit the market until Spring 2021. Perhaps the 16th is when they'll release crucial details like range and price. Until then, there's just this teaser video:

New Study Shows Bioplastics are Just as Toxic as Conventional Plastics


A research team from Germany's Goethe University, working with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, has taken a hard look at bioplastics and come to a depressing conclusion: The stuff is just as toxic as conventional plastics.

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

The study, "Are bioplastics and plant-based materials safer than conventional plastics?" was published in Environment International. Here are some of the salient points, summarized by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology:

- "Bio-based and biodegradable plastic are not any safer than other plastics," says research lead Lisa Zimmermann from Goethe University. Zimmermann points out that products based on cellulose and starch contained the most chemicals. They also triggered stronger toxic reactions under laboratory conditions.
- "Eighty percent of the [43 bioplastic products we studied] contained more than 1,000 different chemicals. Some of them as many as 20,000 chemicals."
- "The substances [we found in bioplastics can] be directly toxic to cells in the laboratory, or they can act as hormones that in turn can disturb the body's balance."

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

And here's the research team's description of the problem in their own words:

"The term 'bioplastics' implies that they have similar favorable characteristics as their petroleum-based counterparts (e.g., cheap, lightweight, flexible) but with the positive connotation of "natural" materials. Along that line, they are marketed as more sustainable and benign than conventional plastics. However, little scientific evidence supporting such notion[s] exists. As an example, some biodegradable plastics do not degrade in industrial or natural settings (Haider et al., 2019).
"When evaluating and improving the environmental performance of bioplastics and plastic alternatives, the main focus is put either on the production stage (e.g., carbon footprint, renewable feedstocks) or at the end of life (e.g., degradability). Currently, the performance during the use phase, such as the human exposure to chemicals are often disregarded when evaluating the materials' sustainability (Ernstoff et al., 2019, Muncke et al., 2020).
"Along that line, very little is known in terms of the chemical safety of bioplastics, that is the identity of compounds present in the material and their (mixture) toxicity as well as the human exposure to these compound[s]. These gaps in our knowledge are problematic because human exposure to chemicals from bioplastics and plant-based materials will increase with their increasing application."

Read the full study here.

I already knew we were going to hell in a handbasket; I just didn't know the basket was made out of corn starch and canola oil.

A Bad-Ass Off-Road 4x4 School Bus


As we learned last year, kids in Oulu, Finland ride their bicycles to school through snow, in negative-22 degrees Fahrenheit weather.

Around the world there are schoolchildren who live in remote areas and may not have the bicycles to get them there. Turns out there's a vehicle for this application: The Praetorian off-road school bus, made by Czech-Republic-based Torsus.

The 4x4 Praetorian can carry 36 passengers, handle gnarly angles, clear obstacles 13.4 inches in height and wade through nearly three feet of water. With an off-road suspension and a diesel engine producing 290 horsepower and an absurd 848 lb-ft of torque, this thing will get the kids to school no matter how bad the roads are.

You might be wondering: What makes the Praetorian a school bus? The truth is, just the paint job, and the lack of the water cannon mounted to Torsus' Anti-Riot Praetorian.

The off-road bus was actually designed for multiple applications, of which the school bus is just one. Check out the Praetorian's range of liveries:

You can read more details about each version here.

The Design Feature That Makes GM's Super Cruise Better Than Tesla's Driving Assistance Systems


There have been multiple fatal crashes involving Teslas on Autopilot. In one, the driver was reportedly watching a Harry Potter movie; in another, earlier this year, the driver was playing a game on his smartphone. Focusing on these distractions rather than the road caused their deaths.

Autopilot software is simply not 100% ready for prime time. In fact, just today Consumer Reports ranked Tesla's Autopilot "a distant second" in a ranking of driving assistance systems. Out of 17 different DAS offerings on the market, the hands-down winner was GM's Super Cruise.

Why? "Even with new systems from many different automakers, Super Cruise still comes out on top due to the infrared camera ensuring the driver's eyes are looking toward the roadway," says Kelly Funkhouser, CR's head of connected and automated vehicle testing.

Here's how the Super Cruise Alert System keeps drivers safe:

First warning: When the camera detects that you're not paying attention, the light bar on the steering wheel flashes green.

Second warning: If you're still not paying attention, the light bar flashes red. You also hear beeping noises or, if your car is outfitted with haptic seats, the seat begins to vibrate.

Third warning accompanied by action: If you've not grabbed the wheel after the second alert, a voice prompt chimes in. If you don't immediately grab the wheel after the voice prompt, the vehicle automatically slows down (while staying in the lane) and will eventually come to a complete stop. One of GM's Onstar employees then calls into the car to see if you're okay.

This is a smart feature that shows GM's designers are thinking things through; they've taken human nature into account and determined the safest way for technology to help. Until autopilot software for cars reaches perfection, there's no reason why the driver should be allowed to watch movies or play videogames while rocketing down the road in a 5,000-pound missile.

Consumer Reports nails what GM's designers got right--and what the others got wrong:

"Cadillac's Super Cruise is the clear winner when it comes to keeping the driver engaged. Other systems require the driver to place their hands on the wheel every once in a while, but that does not necessarily mean the driver is actually looking at the road ahead.
"A good system should also make it clear when the driver needs to take over the steering. Cadillac's system not only alerts the driver clearly that it is disengaging—changing its alerts from solid green to flashing blue—but also in some situations can alert the driver well in advance that they'll need to take over. Thanks to pre-mapped road data, the Super Cruise system knows whether the driver is approaching an upcoming tricky situation, such as a lane merge or off-ramp, giving the driver necessary time to take back control. When Tesla's Autopilot system no longer has sufficient road information to operate—perhaps the lane lines have disappeared—Autopilot delivers a loud alert to notify the driver that the system is immediately shutting off.
"Almost all of the other systems we evaluated don't make any noise to indicate that the system is stopping its steering. In some cases, the systems simply make a not-very-obvious change to an icon on the instrument cluster."

It's incredible that there are designers out there who are skipping audio cues and relying on icon changes to deliver such important information!

A Guide to Helpful Resources for Packaging Designers

Design Job: Work Hard / Play Hard - Join Anker Play Products as Studio Manager in Miami


We are seeking an On Site exceptional individual who has experience working in and managing a very busy and demanding graphic design studio. Our design studio creates over a thousand new items each year and has multiple projects going on each day. A good knowledge of kids trends and what is hot in the world of kid’s fashion and toys will be a big plus but is not a necessity. You must be a strong leader, possess skills to get the most out of a team all whom have varying skill sets and experience, be able to motivate and encourage a team of 7 graphic designers as well as being able to work with other team managers throughout the business to meet daily deadlines and goals.

View the full design job here

The "Underextruding" Technique for 3D Printing Flexible Fabrics "Using an Inexpensive, Unmodified Printer"


You've probably seen the gross phenomenon where someone takes a bite out of something, and as they pull the food away from their face, a long spit-bridge is temporarily stretched between their mouth and the food.

Something like this happens in FDM 3D printing, too; let's say you're printing two separate pieces with space between them on the bed, and as the nozzle moves from one piece to the other, an unwanted string of material leaks out of the nozzle and is stretched across the bed.

Jack Forman of MIT Media Lab's Tangible Media group saw that unwanted string as an opportunity. First off, he explains how not to create that unwanted string: "In order to yield successful prints, the speed of the nozzle head, and the amount of material extruded must be carefully coordinated to yield uniform layers," he writes. "The most common parameter used to fine-tune the amount of material extruded is the extrusion multiplier (EM)."

What if you exploited the EM to purposely create the string in a carefully controlled way? Then you could do stuff like this:

What Forman is doing is printing in a form that emulates the warp and weft of fabric:

And by controlling the warp and weft, an entirely new world of 3D-printable possibilities opens up. These have to be seen to be believed:

The skirt that you print small and expand, the interactive lampshade, the deformable shuttlecock, the freaking 70-meter-long sheet printed in one go--it's amazing to think Forman could create all of these just by encoding small gaps into the print. Best of all, he did it "using an inexpensive, unmodified, 3D printer with no additional software."

Forman calls the technique "underextruding" and refers to the resultant creatiosn as "DefeXtiles." You can learn more about the technique and its possibilities here.

A Lamborghini Pickup Truck, Ferrari Station Wagon, Porsche Ute and Other Automotive Mash-Ups


Rain Prisk's Instagram is populated with over 200 fanciful car renderings. The Estonia-based designer likes to create automotive what-ifs, like station wagons/shooting brakes from Ferrari, Porsche, Chevy, and 1960s-era Ford:

A Subaru BRZ in roadster trim:

BMW's M1 with an offroad variant:

A Lamborghini Urus pickup truck:

A Porsche Panamera in ute configuration:

A Ford Focus off-roader:

An impossible effort to make the Fiat Multipla intimidating:

A Bentley Mulsanne Estate that I thought looked like a hearse…

…before seeing Prisk's Dodge Challenger Hellcat Hearse:

And finally, the most exclusive and exotic car of all: An invisible one.

Graef's High-End German-Designed Kitchen Slicing Machines are Gorgeous


In Germany, both sliced meats and industrial design are taken seriously. So I should've known that objects from the intersection of these two areas would look like they belong in the MoMA. Here are some of manufacturer Graef's line of machines, all designed and built in Germany, for slicing meat, cheese, bread, et cetera:

The Model 1920 Bistro, a compact machine for domestic kitchens and food trucks.

The larger Concept line, designed for restaurants.

Their big-daddy Master line, designed for high production.

This year, by the way, Graef celebrates their 100th anniversary. And to celebrate, they're re-releasing one of their classic products, which we'll show you next.

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