Category Technology

VR company Oculus focuses branding on a perfect new logo

New Oculus Brand/Logo

This morning my digital friend and talented designer Cory Schmitz posted some new work he collaborated on with Mackey Saturday, Nicolaus Taylor, & Jon Malkemus, a rebranded logo for Oculus. For those out of the loop, Oculus is a virtual reality headset manufacturer who’ve almost single-handedly pioneered the direct to consumer market. Paired with their recent acquisition by Facebook they’re preparing to change the way we think about VR.

With such an intrepid, cutting-edge company though you can’t have a logo like the one below. I mean, it’s fine, it’s an eye and you need your eyes to see VR, blah blah. But it’s too cliché and is lacking that feeling of “this is the future strap it on your head.”

Old Oculus Logo

On the other hand the new mark screams simple futurism. The oblong O is a perfect representation of not only the brand but a visually cues into the Oculus Rift hardware itself. In a world of iconic marks it’s amazing to me that I’ve never seen a mark like this before, or at the very least, there’s no other recognizable brand out there utilizing an O shape quite like this.

I believe this branding is pretty new as I haven’t been able to dig up much more information or find any additional photos. It will be interesting to see how the overall brand scheme comes together. Excellent work to start.

Oculus Rift

Instrument surveys the current state of home automation

Instrument surveys the current state of home automation

Slowly but surely our homes are getting smarter. There’s an app for your lightbulbs, your thermostat understands your temperature preferences, and monitor every corner of your home with the touch of a button. Portland based design firm Instrument have created an impressive survey of home automation gadgets and how they fit into the lives of Gen Y, Gen X, and our beloved Baby Boomers.

You may have heard of some of the items on this list but there were many there totally new to me. Have you heard of the Dyson 360 Eye? It utilizes “complex mathematics, probability theory, geometry and trigonometry to map and navigate a room.” Pretty sweet, right? It will also be interesting to see what’s announced at Apple’s WWDC event and see how they enter the fray. Will the Apple TV start being less TV and more hub of all Wi-Fi connected devices? We’ll know soon enough.

You can read Instrument’s entire list by clicking here.

You’ve Never Seen a Clock Quite Like ‘A Million Times Project’ by Humans since 1982

A million Times Project, 2013

Per Emanuelsson and Bastian Bischoff founded their studio in 2009/2010 while they were both taking a Masters course at Gothenburg’s School of Design and Crafts. Realizing that they were both born in 1982, they chose Humans since 1982 as their name, then they found a studio to work from in Stockholm and they’ve been making work together ever since.

Perhaps their most exciting project to-date has been the ‘A Million Times Project’. Started last year, this project presents time in a way I’m sure you’ve never seen before. Graphically conceptual, their design combines engineering and mechanics to create an incredible kinetic installation that takes the arms of a traditional analogue clock and turns them into something new and exciting. Check out the video below to see what I mean.

Using 288 analogue clocks, the original work uses an iPad to create a series of wonderful visual patterns; playfully turning a collection of minimalist analogue clockfaces into a fully-functioning digital clock. Now a series, the duo have worked on a number of variations, with each piece being unique. They describe these creations as “objects unleashed from a solely pragmatic existence”. And in doing this I feel that they have discovered some wonderfully figurative qualities within their design without detracting from the clocks original function. It’s a pretty commendable achievement… and also it clearly looks amazing!

A million Times Project, 2013

A million Times Project, 2013

A million Times Project, 2013

See more projects from Humans since 1982 on their website.

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Data About Tennis Into Music

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Tennis Data Into Music

Finding the intersections between music, technology, and design are often challenging but when it’s done well it can certainly open up new worlds. A perfect example of this is the partnership between James Murphy, of LCD Soundsystem fame, and technologies company IBM who together creating “music” from tennis data supplied by the US Open. The video below does a good job of explaining how they code works and how they created an interface that was familiar to Murphy.

The outcome is quite unique, especially something on this scale. You can visit IBM’s Soundcloud page to get a taste of all the music that’s been created so far based on the data and it’s pretty staggering. It’s like an endless mix of chiptune tracks endlessly looping into one another. This Round of 16 collection is a perfect example as it runs almost 7 hours in total length, non-stop, back-to-back.

Adding to the experience is the fantastic artworks created for round by New York based artist and illustrator Karan Singh. I had been thinking about featuring Singh on the site recently though this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. His work is this mish-mash of hyper-saturated, flat colors which create the illusion of 3D shapes. I imagine this had to be a pretty fun yet exhausting project to work on. I’ve selected some of my favorite images below to give you a sense of the variety he’s created.

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Tennis Data Into Music

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Data About Tennis Into Music

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Data About Tennis Into Music

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Data About Tennis Into Music

James Murphy Teams Up With IBM To Turn Data About Tennis Into Music

You can also see more of Karan’s pieces over on his Behance page.

MUJI Lulls You to Sleep With Its Minimalistic New App


MUJI, Japan’s super successful minimalistic “brandless-brand” has recently released a new app, MUJI to Sleep. It boasts a series of natural sounds to help induce a sound slumber, anytime, anywhere. The app is aesthetically awesome, free, boasts a tight design, and last but certainly not least, aids in perpetuating MUJI’s brand values. Other brands take note: this is how you do digital.


The beginnings of MUJI date back to the early 1980’s, when it served as a generic supermarket brand. Since then the company has grown into a well-respected global name, encompassing a huge variety of goods, everything from housewares to fashion. “Muji” is short for “Mujirushi Ryohin” or “brandless quality goods.”


If you’re familiar with MUJI then you can see the irony in this; MUJI’s “brandless” has become quite the well-known brand. In recent years they’ve expanded out of Asia and into European and North American markets, having seduced design-centric crowds, their wares even sold in MoMA. MUJI to Sleep seeks to continue the brand’s successful trend of function meets natural simplicity.


In an ever-increasing digital world, it’s hard to keep electronics out of the bed, even when we know we’re not supposed to. But MUJI’s sleep app defies this logic, using the sounds of nature on your smartphone or tablet to make drifting off easier. It’s a very niche app, thus the interface and design is refreshingly simple and straightforward. You swipe through six calming sounds of nature: seaside waves, tweeting birds, kindling fire, a stream, forest, and waterfall.


Every sound was recorded on-location, in Japan, using head-shaped binaural microphones to closely duplicate the experience of actually being within the setting. This technique creates an audio frequency gap between the left and right ear that syncs with the user’s brainwave cycle to encourage sleep. Each sound can be set to a timer of 30, 60, or 90 minutes.


This app couldn’t fit any better within the MUJI family. The brand has risen to popularity precisely because of its refined products and tidy stores, which ultimately offer a bastion of calm. MUJI to Sleep reinforces this association with its minimalistic design and simple, yet functional use. The app is clearly a brand-builder, but doubles as a product-seller too.


Accompanying MUJI to Sleep is a fantastic microsite that demonstrates the app’s use when paired with one of the company’s most popular products, the Well-Fitted Neck Cushion. The app appears to have been created to supplement the cushion’s effectiveness (and that of other other MUJI products too). The two compliment each other so well that you feel like you can’t own one without the other, effectively creating need and consequently moving product off the shelves.


This isn’t MUJI’s first foray into the digital; the company has successfully released other apps that work congruent to their physical offerings. It’s an effective means of digital advertising and marketing—I don’t feel like I’m being worked over by the brand as they’re offering me functional experiences to enhance my living.

“MUJI to Sleep” is available now for both iOS and Android devices. Sweet dreams and happy snoozing.

What Art Historians and Curators Can Learn From Scientists and Engineers

Jan van Eyck

Jim Cuno, the President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, has an interesting article in The Daily Dot where he describes a change he’d like to see in art historians, curators, and professors. It’s a trait that he sees working well in fields like science and engineering. It’s the simple act of collaboration.

The history of art as practiced in museums and the academy is sluggish in its embrace of the new technology. Of course we have technology in our galleries and classrooms and information on the Web; of course we are exploiting social media to reach and grow our audiences, by tweeting about our books, our articles, including links to our career accomplishments on Facebook and chatting with our students online.

But we aren’t conducting art historical research differently. We aren’t working collaboratively and experimentally. As art historians we are still, for the most part, solo practitioners working alone in our studies and publishing in print and online as single authors and only when the work is fully baked. We are still proprietary when it comes to our knowledge. We want sole credit for what we write.

He cites the open source Closer to Van Eyck project as a good example for this thinking. Create a ton of data around a piece of art and share it to the masses.

We should also be more open to open sourcing our projects. The recent Ghent Altarpiece Web application, Closer to Van Eyck (supported by the Getty Foundation) is a case in point. The Closer to Van Eyck project documents the masterpiece in incredible detail. Each centimeter of the multi-paneled, 15th-century altarpiece was examined and photographed at extremely high resolution in both regular and infrared light. The photographs were then digitally stitched together to create large, detailed images that allow for study of the painting at unprecedented microscopic levels, with access to extreme details, macrophotography, infrared, infrared reflectography and x-radiography of the panels. The Web application contains 100 billion pixels and the images and metadata are available free of charge as “raw” data to be used by any and all researchers, amateur as well as professional.

It would be great to see more resources like this come online, and not just in the field of paintings. It makes me think of the robot that’s wandering around the Tate at night, that anyone on the planet can control. Imagine if through that experience you could get 100x the data and learn about each of the pieces in detail. There’s a lot of potential there, especially if people start working together.

The Secret Hack That Lets You Find Out What Your Uber Passenger Rating Is

The Secret Way of Finding Out Your Uber Score

The world of transportation has been fundamentally changed by start-up ride share service Uber. One feature that differentiates Uber from the traditional taxi experience is their rating system, which allows the passenger to rate their driver and vice versa. Is your driver swerving all over the road? You can leave a poor rating and a comment knowing that Uber will take care of it (they even write you an email back). But what about your own rating?

Aaron Landy has found a great hack that tells you what your score is in four easy steps. This should help answer whether or not that night you blacked out and took Uber home may have been more of a mess than you remember. I’m proud to say that after 30+ rides I’ve still got a perfect rating.

Uber Passenger Rating

If you’ve never used Uber before you’re totally missing out. Use the link to get your first ride free (and I get a free ride in return).

Copenhagen by Vifa: A Bluetooth Speaker With A Warm, Nordic Design

Copenhagen Speaker by Vifa

The world of bluetooth music accessories continues to expand, with stand-outs like Jambox and Nixon to up-and-comers like Lowdi. Entering from a design minded angle is the Copenhagen speaker from Vifa, pairing high-tech know-how with classic Nordic design.

The speaker was designed by Henrik Mathiassen in cooperation with Vifa to those who “values exclusive design just as much as authentic sound.” Each Copenhagen also features a special-woven textile by Kvadrat that lines the front which makes them feel warmer and more human. The combination of fabric and aluminum definitely sets it apart from other speakers like it.

No word on a release date yet but hopefully we see them out in the wild soon.

Copenhagen Speaker by Vifa

Copenhagen Speaker by Vifa

Copenhagen Speaker by Vifa

Copenhagen Speaker by Vifa