“Display Centric World” – A horrifying vision of the future from Samsung

Display Centric World by Samsung

This new video from Samsung is literally one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. I wanted to post it because it’s a great example of blue sky thinking gone way too far. Titled “Display Centric World,” you’re invited to a reality where literally EVERYTHING is a display. It could be the window in your small town cafe, the cutting board you chop vegetables on, or even the closet doors where your dad can electronically walk in uninvited. EVERYTHING.

I’ll start out by saying that I like how the video is trying to focus on humans. Their concepts seem to want to connect us better to one another and to augment our day-to-day lives for the better. Hell, the tagline for the video is “Technology Begins with a Love for You”… barf. Unfortunately, they didn’t do a lot of thinking around why you’d need to have all these screens all over the place. Do you really need to see what the weather is outside on a piece of glass that let’s you see outside? Does your alarm clock need to fold in half? Do you need to play rainbow Jenga with a kid from another country?

It’s funny that the last portion of the video falls into the cliché of “boardroom presentations,” as if they’ll ever be a day without Powerpoint presentations. Watching their crazy car meeting, all I could imagine was the stress of having to design a presentation for a gigantic glass panel (Do I have large enough assets?!) which can then shift into six independent panels that display all new kinds of data (I’m still waiting on final copy!!). I’d quit instantly.

To me, products like those big ass “smart watches” fall into the same category as this: they may be great ideas in theory…but how are people actually benefitting from them?! Why do people actually need these products? It’s interesting to note that there are no “smart glasses” in their vision, a la Google Glass. Does Samsung not believe that Glass is a viable product for the future? Did they not want to seem like they were ripping Google? Or perhaps they’ve already started on their crappy version which will be on a shelf near you very soon?

This is product design masturbation, a bunch of needless ideas that make Samsung seem like they understand where technology is going without actually thinking about what the future really needs.

January 3, 2014 / By

An Interview with Kai Brach of Offscreen Magazine

Kai Brach 1

Print-only publications are a rarity nowadays. And one guy running it? Unheard of. Yet that’s the story of Kai Brach and his self-described “old-fashioned” magazine, Offscreen. Exploring a more human side of tech, Offscreen is a beautifully designed publication with quality only possible in print.

The next issue is due out at the start of next year. And with Kai’s Christmas Wishlist giveaway having just begun, it’s a good time to check Offscreen out.

We spoke with Kai about what it means to run a print publication today: the challenges, process, and vision Kai has for what makes Offscreen different.

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December 11, 2013 / By

The UX Archive observes where design has been and where it’s going

uxa 1

Try explaining UX design to someone who’s unfamiliar. It’s tough. Unlike the typography or colors that make up an application’s aesthetic, user experience is invisible when done well. That’s why for mobile app makers and designers good UX can be a tough thing to nail down. How do you implement design ideas when the best ones are fundamentally unnoticeable?

For designers Arthur Bodolec, Chris Polk, and Nathan Barraille, the answer is in observation. Observing how others have tackled user actions, and making note of what’s worked and what hasn’t. To do this, they created the UX Archive – a site meant for logging examples of popular apps and identifying how their design goes about certain challenges.

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October 16, 2013 / By

Clear, the App with Timeless Design

clear 4

Back in the iOS 6 days (man, remember those days?, there were a few apps that might foreshadow what was to come in the fabled “flat” iOS 7 redesign. One of the most prevalent was a to-do list app called Clear. It was gorgeous – simple color gradients, bold typography, and dead obvious gestures that made the app a delight to use. In the context of the rest of the OS’s awkward linen textures and embossed buttons, Clear stood out as the indisputable way of the future.

So now that we’ve arrived at this less-skeumorphic landscape, how does Clear hold up? Better than ever. In fact, it didn’t take much to return the app to its lead among other iOS 7 redesigns. With the just released Clear+, the typography was lightened, a few UI elements were added, and iCloud syncing was introduced to support a new iPad version.

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September 30, 2013 / By

Phonebloks: The Phone Design Dream

phonebloks 1

As Apple released its iPhone 5C last week, buyers had the opportunity to personalize their phone unlike never before. Five color variations as opposed to the standard two? Man, the choices.

Color variations aren’t much of a customization feature – in the end, your phone does the same things, has the same features, and even falls short in the same areas as everyone else’s. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens, however, has come up with a concept that would truly make your phone customizable.

It’s called Phonebloks – a name that might remind you of Megabloks or Legos. And thinking along those lines would be right on. The Phonebloks concept takes phone design to users as Legos do for architecture. Every functional component of a phone is contained in its own individualized block. The battery, for instance, would be one block; while the camera would be an other. Combine all the right blocks, and soon you have a working phone.

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September 23, 2013 / By

Orée Touch Slab Trackpad

Orée Touch Slab Trackpad

As a person who’s quite interested in wabi-sabi, the idea of the beauty that exists in things that have aged naturally, the Orée Touch Slab is quite intriguing. Despite it’s wooden frame this is actually a sophisticated, Bluetooth equipped trackpad. What I think is really neat is how the wood would start to wear as a person uses it, the subtle gestures of their fingers wearing familiar grooves into it’s surface. It’s kind of nice to think of our technology aging gracefully, hopefully we start to see more thoughtful designs like this in the near future.

September 19, 2013 / By

Twinkind, a 3D-printed life-like photo figurine

Twinkind, a 3D-printed life-like photo figurine

The image above is a nice photo of a man standing on a street corner, except something is off, like his features are too flat, it’s hard to tell, but something isn’t right. That’s because what you’re looking at is a miniature, 3D printed model of a man which is only about 6 inches tall. That’s the crazy innovation coming from Twinkind, a Hamburg, Germany based company which can make a mini-me of you for only $300.

All you have to do is book an appointment, get scanned by their “custom-engineered photogrammetry 3D scanner” (which they liken to the technology that was used in The Matrix), then they touch it up in post-production, print it, and ship it. It’s pretty amazing that they can get the colors so perfect, that seems like some black magic to me, but based on all of the examples I’ve seen it looks totally legit.

You can read more about Twinkind and their process in this Wired article.

Twinkind, a 3D-printed life-like photo figurine

August 13, 2013 / By

Review: Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H6 Headphones

Since 1925, Danish innovators Bang & Olufsen have been creating well-designed products that have filled a void in the drab world of consumer electronics. I remember the first time I came across B&O in the pages of Dwell magazine, and the first time I visited their physical store at Union Square in San Francisco. This was in the early 2000’s, and all I could think was, “Why aren’t all electronics built this well?”

Recently, Bang & Olufsen released the BeoPlay H6, a stunning pair of headphones which unites the classic form with cutting edge design features.

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August 7, 2013 / By