Daily nuggets of inspiration from the good folk
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Created by Norwegian design duo Skrekkøgle, Plugg is a DAB radio that’s controlled by a cork. Out for sound, in for silence. Produced using hacking electronics, 3D printing and laser cutting, the simple device explores the loss of tangibility in our electronic equipment by focussing on the physical interaction required to use it.
Last week home felt a bit like a busman’s holiday. In my job, I have to keep up to date with all the latest trends, the stuff at the edge that eventually pops up in some form or other in everyday life. Although poking and provoking is my day-to-day, when it comes to home I’m slap bang in the mainstream. I never expect to see anything new emerge from the Taylor family household! So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered what Future Laboratory call Hacktivism is happening right under my nose.
It all began with my son’s eBay request for a special screwdriver. Apparently your average Phillips is no good for the Xbox controller. Next up, he needs masking tape and spray paints. Finally the garage needs to become a workshop complete with spaces for disassembly and reassembly, spraying and drying.
Casually, I asked what all this was about. Pimping Xbox controllers and BlackBerrys, I’m told. Through the mist of spraypaint, the reason for all this industry became clear – he’s hacking into his mates’ stuff, modifying and personalising them for them. It seems that once you’ve done a couple, word of mouth, Facebook and BBM do the rest. Fair play to him, I think, and meander back to the mainstream and think nothing of it for the rest of the weekend.
21st Century Play-Doh
Back at work Monday, I realise we’re in the anarconomy decade (you’ve got to admire some of
Future Laboratory’s Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies’ wordplay – thanks to commentor Klaus!) and that hackers are the new innovators. With my curiosity aroused, I dive deeper into the world of hacktivism and realise this is not just a teenage boy thing.
One of the most inspiring stories I find is that of Sugru, whose tagline encourages us to ‘hack things better’. Inspired by the Irish word for ‘play’, Sugru is a new class of silicone, a kind of super rubber putty that Jane ni Dhulchaointigh began prototyping back in 2003 during an MA in Product Design at the RCA, London.
Sugru can repair leaky boots, make custom grips, patch up punctures, replace zip pulls and works in extreme environments from the dishwasher to Antarctica. Check the website for all incredible things people are doing with Sugru.
ni Dhulchaointigh is not alone. Others like MIT Media Lab students Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have created the MaKey MaKey invention kit that enables users to turn any electricity-conducting object into a computer keyboard.
The MaKey MaKey comprises an interface board that connects to a computer via a USB cable, while crocodile clips connect the board to any conductor, from a banana to a beach ball.
The connected object can then communicate signals to the computer in the same way as a keyboard. Inspired by the ‘maker movement’, they explain: ‘We believe that everyone is creative, inventive, and imaginative. We believe that the whole world is a construction kit, if we choose to see it that way’.
DIY minority report
AnyTouch feels like a mash up of Sugru and MaKey MaKey, bringing touch capabilities to virtually any object.
Currently a prototype, AnyTouch uses a 3D camera, depth sensors and vision software designed by innovation start up Ayotle to bring touch capabilities to any everyday object, whatever its size or surface.
Shapes, colours, objects and user gestures can all be detected thanks to the technology. Watch the Vimeo to see how you can drive a digital car with a Lego brick!
Just goes to show the garage is great place to start stuff that will change the world, but then Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, Steve Jobs et al already knew that!
Introducing the Naturalis toolkit: a home micro-factory that bridges the gap between the cosmetics industry and DIY products.
Created for Rowenta by French industrial designers Eliumstudio, Naturalis uses helical emulsion technology (a process widely used in the cosmetics industry) to enable consumers to agitate ingredients at high speed to create cleansers, moisturisers and skin-nourishing lotions.
This is another step towards a more transparent beauty industry, as it lets consumers take control of the products they’re using. It also helps consumers to become experts, as they develop a better understanding of products and the processes used to create them.
Motomethod is a new kind of motorcycle repair shop in Vancouver, Canada, where riders come to work on their own bikes while receiving expert staff supervision. You rent out service bays fully equipped with tools, and there’s a parts ordering service plus on-call mechanics to help you repair and customise your ride. The shop’s approach redefines the repair shop model, creating a more interactive, educational customer experience.
By curating the in-store experience with advice and coaching alongside the products they sell, the traditional retail environments are transformed into an educational space – empowering customers with skills and knowledge, and also helping them feel more connected to the products they buy.
When Home Depot needed to build a social media presence, they didn’t look to corporate communications. Instead, the US home improvement chain handpicked 25 retail staff members to lead their online ‘How-To Community’.
Two days out of the week, the ‘social media associates’ manage the retailer’s online community, answering questions and creating content for use company-wide. Chosen for their knowledge and experience with the brand, the associates got to practice their tone and style on a dark site before the launch of the How-To Community.
Via PSFK: http://www.psfk.com/2011/08/store-associates-share-expertise-through-the-use-of-social-media.html#ixzz1Tsw04JvM