Innovative Objects of 2016
INNOVATION IN PRODUCT design is all about balance. Push too hard and you will alienate people. Play it safe, and you risk being outmaneuvered by your competitors. The items in this list, all of which debuted this year. Reside in that perfect little Goldilocks Zone of product design. Not too cautions, these designs get forward-thinking just right.
Nike HyperAdapt 1.0
HyperAdapt 1.0 had been developed for 28 years by Nike. It is self-lacing, Back to the Future-inspired shoe. It is a serious feat of engineering. The shoe is stuffed with advanced technology. But you wouldn’t know that from looking at it. A lace engine in the sole attaches to proprietary Flyknit filaments which surround the foot. When the wearer steps into the shoe, a sensor alerts the engine that cinches the filaments around the foot in search of the perfect fit. The result has perfectly tightened a set of laces that you never have to touch.
Xiaomi Mi Mix
The most stunning phone of the year didn’t come from Google or Apple. It came from Xiaomi ‘Chinese company whose Mi Mix is an impressive piece of industrial design. The phone’s 6.4-inch screen extends to the edge of the phone. It gives it the appearance of a glass infinity pool. The screen is so big. The phone is essentially bezel-less, which meant the selfie camera had to be pushed to the bottom of the phone. The fingerprint sensor to the backside. With the speakers, Xiaomi made similar concessions of which there is only one. The Sound from the phone comes from a piezoelectric actuator that converts vibrations into sound. The Mi Mix is only available in China. On concord, don’t be surprised if similar full-screen phones start showing up in the US.
Autodesk’s Elbo Chair
Autodesk’s Elbo Chair is the result of an uncommon partnership. Designers in the company’s generative design lab harnessed the power of algorithms to make the organic wooden seat. The designers fed a 3-D model of a chair inspired by Hans Wegner’s iconic Round Chair and Berkeley Mills Lambda Chair into Dreamweaver, Autodesk’s generative design software. Next, they stipulated that the seat is 18 inches off the ground and capable of supporting 300 pounds. Then they let the algorithm do its thing. The humans would pick one of the algorithm’s designs. The software would propagate a new lineage based on their selection. A skeletal creation that points toward a future in which designers collaborate with algorithms on new ideas. This result was the chair you see here.
Apple iPhone 7
At first glance, the iPhone 7 isn’t all that different from the 6 and 6s. Sure, It’s blacker, but it still has those softly rounded corners and that big, glassy screen. The distinguishes of the iPhone 7 is missing. Without the headphone jack, this phone is the first. That means you’re either buying dongles for upgrading to a wireless pair or your existing cans. It doesn’t matter whether you love it or hate it. If other companies follow Apple’s lead and they probably will. The company will have set yet another precedent for how you’ll interact with gadgets in the future.
Impossible Project I-1
The I-1 is both an homage to the past and nod to the future is the Impossible Project’s first camera. The Berlin-based company, which has been making the instant film since 2008 worked with Swedish studio Teenage Engineering to blend the best design elements of old Polaroid cameras with modern trappings. The camera’s form is still boxy just like the original. On concord, it’s also more compact. Clever technological touches just like the LED-ring flash and a Bluetooth-connected app. Help you dial in on the vintage look.
The FADE Task Lamp
San Francisco studio Box designers clever wanted to create something with the versatility of a spring-balanced lamp in a dramatically simpler package. They released the stunning FADE Task Light, two years, one spinoff studio and untold hours of prototyping later. Hidden magnets let the arm articulate smoothly when you want it to, and keep it in place when you don’t. That versatility extends even to the lamp’s base. Where an X-Y controller lets you control the temperature and intensity of the light emanating from the lamp’s LED array. It’s a whole lot of light in a deceptively simple package.
Most thermometers are invasive. They require being stuck into an orifice. That may be your mouth, or something else. Withings new Thermo looks like a chunky marker. It utilizes an entirely different gesture. Touch the Thermo to your temple and 16 infrared sensors in its tip collect around 4,000 temperature readings in two seconds. Due to the temperature readings work best when the sensors are two centimeters from the heat source. Withings added a raised edge to the end of the thermometer. This means users will always position the Thermo just right. Even hen they are delirious from a fever.
PlayStation VR Headset
Compared to the understated aesthetics of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive,, the PlayStation VR looks decidedly futuristic. On concord its killer feature beside plugging into a game console that 40 million people already own isn’t its looks, it’s comfort. That’s in spite of its heft. It’s significantly heavier than the Rift (495 grams) and Vive(555 grams). On concord PSVR’s designers shifted the headset’s pressure points from the cheeks, eyes, and nose to padded band that rests against the forehead. They also uncoupled the headset’s eye box from the headband. This allows users to dial in the perfect fit. The result is the most comfortable high-end VR headset on the market.
Aesthetically speaking, the Pax 3 bears a close resemblance to the two generations of vaporizers that preceded it. But its guts were redesigned to make the taking experience easier and more enjoyable. With the press of a button, it heats up in 10-15 seconds. Shake it, and the LEDs display how much battery is left. It accepts both concentrates and dry herb, and even pairs wirelessly to an app. So that it gives you precise control over settings such as temperature. Low-key toker appreciates the new haptic feedback. The Pax now pulses in your hand when it’s ready. So you can keep it out of sight till you’re ready to smoke.
Dyson’s Cu-Beam Duo
Probably, your office lighting sucks. Often it’s a too-bright, one-size-fits-all overhead solution. Jake Dyson is the son of James Dyson has a better way. He is calling it the Cu-Beam Duo. A LED fixture that suspends from the ceiling and directs customizable parcels of light where and how you need it. The crux of the system is its driver. It lets you adjust the ratio of light beaming upwards and downwards. Dyson is betting such as his father did before him with hand dryers, hair dryers, and vacuums. That a hyper-sophisticated version of an everyday object will be worth the premium you pay for it.
Microsoft Surface Studio
Microsoft Surface Studio isn’t for everyone. The $3,000 desktop computer is aimed squarely at the creative set. With a hinge system and its massive 28-inch monitor. That allows the display to become a tabletop touch-screen. It’s easy to see why. The Surface Studio is more interactive drafting table than it is a computer. And proof that Microsoft is thinking seriously about what the future of desktop computing should look like.
The new Oculus Touch controllers make VR more immersive than ever. Capacitive sensors track which fingers are on the Touch and translate their positions into in-game hand gestures. It’s the closest anyone’s come to reproducing a player’s hands in VR. A sign of the steps designers ar taking to make virtual reality feel ever-more real.
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