It’s the third post of our critique of co.design‘s list of 32 products from 2012 that they loved. Seriously, the third post about this list. Who comes up with 32 products in a list? That’s not a list, that’s an encyclopedia. Okay, it’s not really an encyclopedia. It’s just…a long list. I’m kind of glad we broke it down into 4 posts, because can you imagine a post talking about 32 different products? Oh, you can imagine it, because co.design did it? Gotcha.
17. Formafantasma Craftica for Fendi — We say: what the f*** is this?!? Flawesome.
Furniture Created From Humble Animal Waste – Culturally, we (speaking loosely) revere certain animal products–leathers, skin, and furs–while other animal byproducts are thrown out with the trash. Tapped by Fendi to design a collection of furniture, Formafantasma used animal “waste” like bones, fish skins, and bladders to made high-design chairs and knives. “Searching underneath and above the sea, from the vegetal to the animal world, the installation offers a holistic view on leather as a material,” explained the designers.
Carl: This isn’t design, this is art. Not that there’s anything wrong with art, but let’s be real: do you really want to sit on a sea sponge strapped to the top of a stool made out of bones? These things are for display, not for use.
Zheng: If they ever made an Aquaman movie in Atlantis, this is what I expect all the furniture to look like. Along with mermen and mermaids jumping out of giant clam shells and buildings made of coral.
The World’s Most Gorgeous Scrabble Set - Scrabble is a game of tradition. So it wasn’t without some trepidation that we looked upon this redesigned version by Andrew Capener. But we were pleasantly surprised: Capener’s pared down version does away with the gaudy colors and details of the standard version, and gives us a simplified walnut board that focuses on what’s really important: linguistically shaming your opponents.
Carl: I think this falls under the not-so-useful “luxury design” category, much like this axe. I don’t see why people were head-over-heels regarding this Scrabble set. Yeah, it “celebrates typography.” That’s great. It also makes it so I can’t clearly read the game tiles. And maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that look creepy, in that “Hey, I kidnapped your girlfriend and here’s my ransom note”-kind of way? “O-N-E-M-I-L-L-I-O-N-D-O-L-L-A-R-S-O-R-S-H-E-D-I-E-S. Triple word score.”
Zheng: Reducing and simplifying has been a design philosophy that’s come in and out of favor as time rolls on. Right now, slick simple graphics means expensive rich-folk luxury goods. This might be a fun though exercise, but if you ever busted this baby out during a dinner party, everyone would think you’re a snobbish arrogant ass (unless all your friends are also snobbish arrogant asses. If so, carry on.) The typography just makes the words harder to read and form, and no color coding makes it more difficult to know where important areas are on the board. It’s the equivalent of replacing the black/white square on a chessboard with a black marble finish and white dots where the intersections are. Would it be classy? Maybe. Functional? Not so much.
19. Iva Jean cycling clothing for women — We say: Pretty Cool
Stylish Clothing For Lady Cyclists - The only worse look for a cyclist than a mud-skidmark is a ripped open shirt or pencil skirt–and let me tell you, these things happen when you’re hauling it to work. The founders of Iva Jean, a San Francisco company that makes commuting clothes for ladies, want to help. Their line of cyclist-friendly skirts and blouses incorporate incredibly simple design details to make them entirely workable by bike.
Carl: I think cycling specific clothing is great…except when you have to, you know, go to work. As someone who commuted to work and school for years via bicycle, there are usually only two options you have regarding clothing: 1) wear cycling clothing to ride, bring normal clothing with you, and change at work 2) wear normal clothes while riding. Option 2 doesn’t sound so bad, until you try it, and realize that normal clothing just doesn’t stretch or fit well when you’re riding. I was ecstatic when Betabrand released their Bike To Work Pants: casual pants with cycling clothing features such as reflective panels and reinforced areas. There was no longer a need to compromise while bike commuting. I’m glad someone thought of fulfilling this need for casual/dress bike clothing for women, because it’s not like guys are the only ones bike commuting.
Zheng: I wonder if solving an actual problem in a practical way will disqualify this from ‘design’ competitions. I mean, seriously, this is how you do it. A simple problem with an elegant and fairly inexpensive solution. Take this a step further and it’s really more of a system than a single product. On a side note, people must be going crazy over this in Portland: the city of bike hipsters.
20. Iguaneye Minimalist Shoes — We say: Meh
An Ultra-Minimal Shoe Inspired By Amazonian Runners – Minimal shoes certainly had a year! On the heels (so to speak) of the blockbuster book about runners in Mexico’s remote tribes, shoes that incorporated what we know about barefoot running became all the rage. The Kickstarter-backed Iguaneye offered runners something a bit different: a tire-like sole without any coverage on the rest of the foot. Inspired by Amazonian runners, it provides an alternative to other barefoot-inspired shoes.
Carl: It seems so many people are interested in footwear that mimics…not wearing footwear. Remember Nike Free? Those were designed to mimic barefoot running. There’s the creepy Vibram FiveFingers. And of course, who can forget mellow-pop-folk singer Jack Johnson’s own JJ Casuals? I don’t get it. I thought the main point of wearing shoes was to protect the feet, and keep us from injuring ourselves when walking on rough terrain. Personally, I don’t want barefoot-inspired, minimalist shoes, because stepping on rocks while barefoot really hurts. On the other hand, these Iguaneye shoes look great as women’s flats.
Zheng: I think the next natural evolution in this line of thinking is to either just glue some padding to the bottom of your feet or maybe spray-on shoes. I guess anyone who wears these shoes, like many of us, aren’t exactly hiking our way through the wilderness or beset by the pitfalls of construction work. Still, this isn’t particularly exciting. It’s like form-fitting flip flops. I’ve stepped on some rough stone, gravel, and other things in my life, including thumbtacks and nails so I’d give this shoe a pass.
21. Twine, a cloud-connected, wireless sensor — We say: Pretty Awesome
Twine, Your Gateway To The Internet Of Things, Finally Goes On Sale – One of the most hotly anticipated gadgets of the year, the Kickstarter-backed Twine finally went on sale this fall. For the uninitiated, Twine is a sensor that can measure temperature, moisture, position, and vibration, meaning that the savvy user can program it to send alerts and signals about specific events. For example, you can program a Twine sensor to text you when, say, someone enters your house, or any number of other prompts. It’s a real step towards the Internet of Things (aka Ubiquitous Computing) that we’ve been hearing so much about.
Carl: I’ve always wished that I could keep track of what’s happening at my home when I’m not around. Sure, I could get webcams, placed strategically around, but some things, you don’t need to see. Sometimes I think I need data. Okay, maybe I’m strange, but damn, wouldn’t it be cool if I could know the exact temperature of my refrigerator while I’m thousands of miles away, and have the temperature tweeted to me if it drops below 40 degrees? You can do that with Twine. You can gather all kinds of data with Twine, and have it notify you in a number of ways. I’m sure people are going to think of awesome ways to use this.
Zheng: I think it’s no secret of civilization that having information about the world at your finger tips can be pretty useful. That’s usually pretty hard to do. For most people, the internet and information technology is still vastly separate from most of their hardware. Sure your phone has googlemaps, but can it unlock your front door or start your oven? That day is coming and Twine is one practical albeit hacker-y step in that direction. Want to know if someone’s opened your storage closet that you rented out? Twine it. Do you actually own buildings and want to know if their basements are flooding? Twine it. I actually see this being useful as a modern ‘emergency-case’ on the cheap (I’m sure there’s plenty of excellent and potentially more reliable systems out there if you can afford it, but that’s no reason not to have a cheap backup like this).
22. Decelerator Helmet by Lorenz Potthast — We say: This is stupidly flawesome.
A Helmet That Decelerates Reality – Ever wish you could slow down time? So did Lorenz Potthast, a young German interaction design student who designed a helmet that actually makes it happen. Well, kind of. Potthast used vvvv to build a program that takes video of your surroundings and slows it down, showing you the world in slow-mo via a small screen inside the helmet. The idea is to call attention to the increasingly hectic pace of the world around us, and hopefully, help us slow down a bit even (without the help of a gigantic mirrored helmet).
Carl: I wish this was some Daft Punk costume. But it’s not. It’s some art project masquerading as design. And it’s so awkward. You really need to watch the video. Have you ever talked on a phone, and heard a delayed echo of your own voice? It’s so distracting, that you don’t know what to say. Now imagine that happening with everything you see. Like I said, watch the video. Also, anyone interacting with the display on the outside, which shows what the helmet person is seeing, will only see themselves…since they’re standing right in front of the camera, interacting with the external screen.
Zheng: I can’t imagine how disorienting it is to use something like this that has pretty much no purpose. So the thing records what you see and slows it down for you, as though it were in slow motion. You’re not moving in slow motion, just what you see. So I guess…you know what, I don’t even know what to say. I think if I wanted a dose of vertigo like that, I’d just ride a roller coaster or go bungie jumping. I just don’t know what you learn from this art project. It doesn’t change how I perceive time at all; all it illustrates is that if you show people what they see in slow motion while they’re moving, they become disoriented and move around like a fish out of water, minus the twitchy muscle spasms from anoxia.
23. KiBiSi iFlash One Bicycle Light — We say: Maybe kinda okay
A Sleek Magnetic Bike Light, Built to Danish Standards – KiBiSi have brought a certain Scandinavian charm to dozens of everyday objects over the past few years, but their iFlash is particularly neat. The magnetic bike light was designed in response to a new Danish law that standardizes the quality of bike lights, from brightness to durability. Thanks to a permanent base and super-strong magnet clasps, they’re easy to keep track of, too.
Carl: Design supergroup KiBiSi is very familiar with bicycles and accesories: one of them founded Biomega. This is their response to the new Danish bicycle light standards that have been put in place. As an avid cyclist, I think these are…okay. It’s a novel concept, having a permanently attached mounting bracket, with the actual light attaching via magnets. That makes it easy to take with you, so no one steals them. However, I have a feeling that if the light can be easily detached from the mounting bracket, it can also be easily detached when riding, especially over bumpy terrain. Magnets can be strong, but how strong are these magnets? Also, the location of the rear light on the seat post may interfere with the rider’s upper leg/thigh while pedaling, which may knock off the light. I know this because I have a Knog Frog light on my bike that gets spun around the seat post whenever I go for a ride.
Zheng: I don’t really do any cycling, so I don’t have much to comment on this one. I like the idea of having magnets to attach things, but I don’t usually see that for anything that needs to remain secure; there could be a reason for that but I honestly don’t know.
24. Re-Ply reclining cardboard chair — We say: Flawesome
A Durable, Stylish Chair Made Of Cardboard – Re-Ply, a low-slung chair Kickstarted by San Francisco architect Dan Goldstein this year, is built from cardboard collected from business around the city. With a distinctly Eamesian profile, Re-Ply reversed the preciousness of high-design furniture by making it from recycled materials.
Carl: In one of my first design classes, we had a project where we had to design a chair out of one sheet of 4 ft x 8 ft corrugated cardboard. The other constraint was that the chair must be designed to be disassembled and a stored flat. That was quite a project, especially for a first year industrial design student. Some great designs came out of that class. I think those designs had more thought than this chair. This is a reclining chair frame that has cardboard attached instead of a plastic or fabric seat. Woo. Hoo.
Zheng: I guess this is alright; it’s not terribly exciting or stands out in anyway worthy of making news. It’s just cardboard on a metal frame; that might have been a novel idea 40 years ago but I think we’ve seen enough downcycle projects that this is hardly necessary. If you were a real environmentalist, you’re better off shredding the cardboard into new paper products or something. If you’re not a real environmentalist, I think you’d get more utility out of this to start a grill. I’m talking about with fire here.
Coming up in part 4 of our review of a a review list: an electric bicycle, a bendy phone charging cable, and a sphere of ice cream…
Let’s continue with our review of Co.DESIGN’s 32 (!) favorite products of 2012. This is the second installment of our review, since we’ve broken down their 32 picks into four posts, each containing eight products. Part 1 lists products 1-8.
9. Nendo Bluetooth Headset – We say: Kinda Flawesome
Nendo Reinvents The Headset As A Pen – This year, we saw a lot of great design from Nendo, the Japanese product design company founded by Oki Sato. They may be known for their poetic treatment of furniture and homewares, but their design for a bluetooth headset is also lovely. The design is inspired by a simple ballpoint pen, and eschews flashy design details for an ultra-simple and durable exterior.
Carl: Do people still use bluetooth headsets? Well, besides assholes, I mean. This looks nice. It’s made of aluminum, and clips to a lapel pocket like a pen. But if you ever see assholes who use bluetooth headsets, you’ll know that those assholes never take off their bluetooth headsets. So, no one would ever say to them, “Hey, that’s a pretty cool pen in your pocket…oh, it’s not a pen? It’s a bluetooth headset?” Instead, all we’d hear is the guy talking on the headset. “YEAH, I DON’T KNOW, THIS GUY IS LOOKING AT ME. I’M AT TARGET. MAN, I’M HUNGRY. WHY IS THIS GUY STARING AT MY HEADSET? DID YOU SEE THAT LAST EPISODE OF NASHVILLE? DON’T SPOIL IT!”
Zheng: I don’t really understand why we need bluetooth headsets. I can’t think of a whole lot of times I need both hands free and the ability to talk to someone to distract me at the same time. Usually if you need both hands free, you need your brain free to do what you’re doing with those hands. What’s that you say? Zheng that’s just a critique of headsets you say? Exactly. I don’t care if your bluetooth headset looks like the fucking Mona Lisa. YOU, the bearer of the item, will always look like a dick.
10. Ototo’s Spaghetti Tower – We say: Flawesome
A Spaghetti Container With Built-In Portion Controls – Spaghetti, for whatever reason, is very easy to overindulge in. Maybe it’s the starch, maybe it’s your mom standing over us insisting we have seconds … But most of us are dangerously unstoppable when it comes to spaghetti. Enter the Tel Aviv design studio Ototo’s Spaghetti Tower, a $23 storage container that tells you how much pasta you should really be making.
Carl: Yes, overindulging when it comes to spaghetti is a really serious problem. If I’m only cooking for myself, how will I know how much spaghetti to make?? What if I make too much? WHAT WILL I DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS??? Oh, I guess I can just put it in the fridge, to eat the next day. I will say that red rooster adds a nice touch. Of course roosters really have nothing to do with spaghetti, but you know. It’s red.
Zheng: I like those noodles you get at Asian grocery stores that comes in a pre-wrapped per-person amount so you know just how much to eat. Beyond that, maybe you can just figure out a good amount to make, and stick to that amount. Have a friend over? Make twice that much. It can’t be that hard; people have been making noodles quite well for quite some time; I doubt over-eating home-made noodles is large a problem as fast-food and soda. Oh, here’s another free solution if you’ve made too much spaghetti: Don’t eat it.
11. Vestre Stoop multi-level seat – We say:
A Bench That Reinvents The Brownstone Stoop – Julien de Smedt–one half of the former wunderkind architecture firm Plot–took on the project of designing a multi-functional piece of seating for Vestre. Inspired by a classic Art Kane photo of Harlem jazz musicians sitting on a stoop, the team came up with the idea of a multi-level seat that can function alone, or as part of an ad-hoc meeting space.
Carl: I can see this in public spaces, like at an outdoor mall. Of course, what if someone is sitting at the first step, and you wanted to get to the upper steps? And what if that person was a dick, and wouldn’t move? Would you be able to get to the upper steps without getting into a fight with the first-step person? These are the things I think about. Little kids would like playing around on this thing.
Zheng: Sometimes when I hear multi-functional seating piece, I think, “Shit son, put a bunch of flat surfaces on there! People will use it however they want!”. Incidentally, the same could be said of boulders, except they’re not as cool. What I’m trying to say is, this is the equivalent of having people design better boulders, but it’s probably cheaper just to get a bunch of rocks.
12. Nike Fuelband – We say: Sorta Awesome
Nike Overhauls Nike+ And Launches Fuelband – The Fuelband solved many of the problems associated with other fitness-tracking products this year, giving users a real-time ambient way to track their activity during the day. Embedded with a simple accelerometer and linked to an app, a curved lithium-ion battery, and a sleek UI, the band offers a glimpse at where the gamification of fitness is heading.
Carl: I know you won’t believe this, but Zheng and I had the idea for this very product. It was a hardware and software-via-smartphone solution to aid in tracking activity of the user. What was different in our product was the way we encouraged people to be active; basically, our device was much more fun and playful. Anyway, the very morning we were discussing our product, trying to figure stuff out, Nike released the Fuelband. And it did exactly what we wanted our product to do. Okay, it still didn’t do it in the fun/playful way that we wanted, so maybe we still have a chance…
Zheng: Our product also measured other stuff! We never figured out how though. Because SCIENCE. Hey, at least we thought about it! Which is more than can be said for a lot of products we saw last year. I guess we need to step it up a notch and just implant people with fuel… chips. Wait. No I still support it. People love to gamify their lives, so this is a pretty good idea (the Fuel Band i mean, not our idea. Well our idea is still good.)
13. Izhar Gafni’s Cardboard Bike – We say: Flawesome
A $9 Cardboard Bike That Can Support Up To 485 Lbs. – A simple insight into the structural properties of paper (it gets stronger when it’s folded, as with Origami) led to the development of Izhar Gafni’s 20-pound wonder bike, which can be manufactured for as little as $9 and can hold 24 times its weight.
Carl: The main focus of this bike in the various sites that wrote about it was the price: $9. Apparently, the bike costs $9 in materials. But if you watch the video, the manufacturing of this bike is incredibly labor intensive. After performing all this labor on cardboard, you realize that he probably could have used any material, and created a decent bike, given unlimited time and labor. Many sites were also raving about how the bike can support 25 times the weight of the bike, or 425 lbs. That makes the bike about 20 lbs. The heaviest steel bikes are around 20 lbs and can probably hold a rider with a maximum weight of 250 lbs or more. I don’t know the maximum amount of weight a steel-tubed bicycle can hold, because that seems kind of meaningless; large/heavy cyclists usually need special custom bicycles built to accommodate their size and weight. Anyway, steel bicycle tubing is also relatively cheap, probably not as cheap as $9 of cardboard, but that price may be offset by the reduced labor in making steel-tubed bicycles. Another draw to this bicycle was it’s low purchase price, which would be on the order of $20. But according to this article, that price isn’t really due to the low material costs.
Mr. Elmish, who represents the Israeli high-tech incubation company ERB, says he is hoping to use various kinds of funding, including government grants and rebates for using green materials, to ultimately reduce much of the production cost and allow the bikes to be sold at retail for no more than $20.
It’s a nice looking, one-off, eye-catching bicycle. Nothing more.
Zheng: If you think the bulk of the cost of what you buy day in and day out is from the materials its made, you’re grossly misinformed. Do you know how much raw tomatoes went for on the farming circuit in 2011? $67.00 a ton. Yes, a TON. That’s around 3 and a half cents a pound. When you went to your grocery last time were they selling Tomatoes for 3 and a half cents a pound? No? That’s because of all the other things that goes into getting the tomato into you and your belly. The bike has the same problem; if the bulk materials cost $9, the production cost and more would likely shoot this project through the roof. Is $9 impressive? I dunno, I think steel tubing can go for around $0.24 a pound so you decide. This is a case of false comparisons. “That book cost $30? Pfft, I bet I could write a book for $15″. You sure could sir, you sure good.
14. F.A.T. Lab 3-D Printable Toy Compatibility Kit – We say: Definitely Awesome
F.A.T. Lab’s 3-D Printable Kit That Makes All Toys Compatible – The awesome people at F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab designed a collection of 80 toy connectors that make all brick toys–LEGO, Duplo, Fischertechnik, and so on–compatible. The collection can be downloaded for free and 3-D printed at home. Or if you’re in Holland, maybe you could send it over to Staples.
Carl: Imagine, when you were a kid, if your K’NEX, LEGO, Tinker Toys, Bristle Blocks (remember those?), and Lincoln Log parts could all work together. Imagine the things you could have built! No longer were you confined to proprietary systems!
Zheng: I can finally make a sail ship bigger than Lego allows due to their skinny hull piece. I hope you’re all ready for a 200 cannon French Man-O-War.
15. Hikaru Imamura’s Novel Hospital Toys – We say: Kinda Awesome
Elegant Toys That Explain Scary Medical Procedures To Kids – Eindhoven Academy grad Hikaru Imamura addressed an incredibly difficult scenario–explaining a scary medical procedure to a child–with a good dose of heart in these wooden toys. Ranging from a light-up ECG machine to a CT scanner, Imamura offers play as a way to communicate potentially terrifying experiences to kids who might not be able to understand adult terminology.
Carl: This is awesome. Toys that can explain complicated medical procedures. And look at that cute little bear! Everything about these toys makes learning about these procedures less scary for children, and probably leads to a better experience in the hospital, if the children are having a procedure.
Zheng: I dunno, kids can rebound from lots of things. What is that CT Scanner? Oh it’s a machine that sucks out your bones. What’s that beeping? It’s a bomb. When the beeping stops, it explodes. Hilarious right? Okay maybe not, but I suppose this could lessen the terror of the medical world (it’s still terrifying to adults. Are they going to make a grown up version?)
16. Ploom Pax E-Cigarette – We say: Flawesome
Ploom Pax, An E-Cigarette That’s Covetable By Design – The silly facsimiles offered by the e-cigarette industry spurred the Pax, a sleek little vaporizer that looks nothing like the object it’s meant to replace. Described as a “lustable gadget,” the Pax applied design and marketing ideas more closely associated with the tech world than the tobacco industry.
Carl: A while back, I worked with a guy who used an E-Cigarette. He was trying to stop smoking, and was weening himself off real cigarettes by using some weird electronic cigarette. I think that guy just went back to using regular cigarettes. Would he have continued using the E-Cigarette if it looked like this? Probably not, because you still look stupid smoking something other than an actual cigarette. Don’t lots of people get into smoking because it looks cool? Putting a oblong metal tube in your mouth will never look cool.
Zheng: On the outside, this thing looks cool, because it looks like an iPod nano. Yes, close your eyes. Imagine you’re holding it in your hand; the nice cool anodized aluminum against your skin. The rich sparkling color tones. That nice light but still noticeable weight of it. Now put it against your mouth and suck on it. Not so cool now is it? Yeah exactly. Is cigarette smoking ‘cool’? Yeah maybe. It can look pretty badass. Sucking on a piece of aluminum? Not so much.
Coming up in Part 3: a sponge strapped to a stool, ‘normal’ looking cycling clothing for women, a sensor that you can put on anything, and a stupid looking helmet that does nothing but make you look stupid.No comments
It can be a hard criticism to declare a designer’s product to be a solution looking for a problem, but the leaning rocker is just that. Fortunately this will be brief; there’s not much to the product (or idea) and there’s no need to pad out this discussion; no need to sit down for this one. Okay that’s enough cheeky quips.
Don’t worry, that’s all there is. You’re in luck because this thing has no usb powered … whatever. It’s just half a chair nailed to a wall. That’s pretty much it. But we should analyze the pros and cons of this … device versus its tried and trued competitor: The Chair.
Round 1: Mobility
Most chairs aren’t permanently affixed to the floor (exceptions being things like theatre seating), so the idea that the leaning rocker might be more versatile than a chair goes right out the window. Even if it had a quick-release backing, you’d still have to stick that backing onto the wall; somewhere where you might want to hang a picture instead. Or somewhere where you wouldn’t want to affix a permanent half-chair.
Round 2: Cost
Okay, chairs can be produced for pennies nowadays, but in theory the leaning rocker could be produced for less. This is mostly because it’s pretty much just HALF A CHAIR NAILED TO A WALL. Still …
Winner: Leaning rocker
Round 3: Space
The leaning rocker isn’t going to save you any more space than a chair. Why? Because a person standing reclining on one of these things will take up about as much space as a chair. If the tolerance for how much room you can allow in a room or hallway is dependent on the 6 or so inches you might save with one of these leaning rockers, maybe it’s time you re-approached traffic in that space. Oh, also there are things called folding chairs if you really get in a bind.
Round 4: Comfort
People get tired standing around all day, just ask any cashier at any retail store. The fatigue probably didn’t stem from lack of lumbar support while standing on your feet for 8 hours a day though. Sure, posture and so on have an effect on the amount of discomfort we feel while standing for a long time and people can have bad posture while sitting, but given the choice between this and an actual seat to sit in for minutes or hours at a time, I think there’s a clear winner in comfort.
Round 5: Utility
Alright, so this is kind of an all around category. What is the use of this thing? It basically takes the wall and makes it slightly more comfortable, in the same way that chairs take the idea of sitting on the floor and makes it less awkward (and comfortable too if you have a non crap chair). With the lean rocker though, you’re kind of done after that. It’s not a whole lot better than leaning against a wall, and it takes up a lot of space for that small offering. As mentioned earlier, it’s also immobile; presumably you’d have to space them as far apart as regular chairs so there’s no utility in that either. Also again: Folding chairs. And chairs can be used to change light bulbs. Some of them spin and have wheels. What CAN’T chairs do?
Really, this is something that belonged in someone’s sketch book and probably shouldn’t have made it further than that. Instead, it came to life but was then burdened by the unenviable tasks of having to justify its own existence. If this thing were sentient, it would face a depressing bout of existential self-doubt, followed by a maddening spiral into nihilism. In short, this idea sits at the top of flawesome products.
Via Yanko Design2 Comments
Is anyone ever really relaxed when they’re rushing to an airport terminal to catch a flight? It’s one of the most stressful situations there is in the modern world. Most likely [if you live in the US], you’ve spent what seemed like an eternity waiting for some iffy-looking TSA agent to grope you and rifle through your bags, and now you’re afraid that you won’t get to the gate on time. All that stands between you and the door being shut on your plane is miles and miles of bad looking carpet…oh, and lots of other people who are in your way…who are also probably rushing to catch their flight. You attempt to pull an OJ [the Hertz-commercial-running-in-the-airport OJ, not the possibly-kill-people-and-flee-in-a-friend's-Ford Bronco OJ], but you look like an idiot, since you’re trying to run with bags in hand, and maybe dragging a suitcase. If only you didn’t have to physically hold your luggage, you’d get to the gate with time to spare, right?
Spanish designer Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez has created a prototype of a motorized, autonomous suitcase named Hop!, that follows its owner wherever he or she goes. Let’s watch this cheerful video on how it works!
The Hop! suitcase has motors inside which run tractor treads on the bottom. Your smartphone connects with the suitcase via Bluetooth, and sensors in the luggage determine where that signal is originating, and follows it. It’s like some awkward little Bluetooth-signal-following robot…that also holds your clothes…AND MOVES INCREDIBLY SLOWLY.
Seriously, did you see the speed of that suitcase? If you think you’re going to catch a flight with your suitcase going that fast, you’re dreaming. Also, if you happen to walk faster than your bag, and the bag can’t read the signal from your phone…
If the signal is lost the user is alerted by the vibration of the phone and suitcase locks itself.
Your phone will vibrate, and this bag will just sit there. That’s not annoying at all, especially when you’ve still got 1.2 miles until you hit Concourse C, Gate 245.
I think the big question is “Why??” Why would someone create a suitcase that moves on it’s own and follows you?
If a suitcase can move by itself, besides facilitating the lives of a large number of travellers, families, disabled people, … could also spare all the elements that moves externally the baggage (conveyor belts , carts, …)
If the suitcase is autonomous, then we don’t have to carry it…okay, that works. But the way this suitcase moves in the video, I think that point is moot. Let’s face it: a suitcase that moves that slowly is eventually going to be picked up and carried. He also states that because the suitcase moves on it’s own, we will no longer have to employ devices like conveyor belts and carts to move the baggage. Okay, now you’re delusional. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the suitcase moves at a fairly brisk pace. And, as the designer states:
The bags can be programmed to follow one to another or are controlled jointly by the staff that handles the baggage at airports or stations.
Can you imagine a strange gaggle of suitcases following each other, and following an airport bag handler, who then leads them on the runway, to load up into a plane? Yeah, I can’t. Well, actually, I can, but to me, it would look more like a bunch of random suitcases in a line, with some of them probably fallen over, unable to move, as others leave them behind. That’s what happens in a caravan of suitcases. Not everyone will
survive get to the chopper plane.
As an engineering experiment, the Hop! is great. It demonstrates Bluetooth technology applied to something other than headsets and speakers. It utilizes systems to enable us to basically be lazy, and not have to carry our bag. But let’s get real: this is not even close to being practical. The suitcase is probably a lot heavier than normal suitcases, since it houses batteries, motors, and tractor tread assemblies used for mobility. That also takes up room in the suitcase, meaning it doesn’t hold as much as a non-motorized suitcase of the same size. The suitcase moves really slowly in the video, and even if it moved at double the speed of the video, it probably still wouldn’t be able to keep up with a person walking at a brisk pace through a crowded airport. Also, do you really think security would allow autonomous robotic luggage containing batteries and circuitry and tractor treads onto the concourse? And think about if the suitcase lost signal to its owner’s smartphone, and the owner didn’t notice. The Hop! would just stop where it is, and lock itself. There would essentially be a strange, locked, black, electronic-filled suitcase sitting on the concourse. That probably wouldn’t trigger any emergency situation at all.
The Hop! is a fun exercise in technology, but it’s not practical, and doesn’t really solve any problems for travelers. If you have trouble carrying your bags at the airport, you’re probably much better off not taking a bag, and instead should just wear all your clothes at once.1 Comment