Last week, Bobby tweeted: “‘Remember when images didn’t move?’ – Our grandchildren.” It’s exciting to imagine such a future; one where your grandkids’ friend would reply “What?!” with bewildered astonishment that people ever lived without moving images being the norm. So what does that mean for the billions of still images lying around? Who knows. But before theirs get too dusty, National Geographic is releasing a small trove of previously unpublished still images on a Tumblr simply called Found.
Earlier this week, we talked about a bee habitat designed by Architecture students in Buffalo, and now we are bookending the week with more about bees and the design of the world’s smallest flying robot. But what do bees have to do with tiny flying robots? A team of science folk from Harvard has spent more than a decade trying to build a swarm of tiny, biomimetic robots that are inspired by the industrious insects. And if bee populations continue to decline, we may one day depend on buzzing swarms of these mechanical wonders to pollinate crops.
If you’re looking for a fun place to hang out and interact with data (and who isn’t?) try the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wyoming. The library has a new addition built by Gilday Architects. And inside the new entrance lobby, you’ll find a stunning installation created by E/B Office. The New York-based practice has filled the lobby with five miles of fiber optic cable cut into a thousand segments.
The promise of what the future will bring always makes me incredibly hopeful. I know that technology will shape our future in exciting ways that few people can imagine, but I think about this all the time. Thankfully filmmakers like Maris Curran are documenting the rise of helpful tech, showing the potential for progress and just how far we still have to go. The video above is titled A Bionic Future, a look at exo-skeletons which are helping paraplegics to walk.
Honestly while watching this video I got teary-eyed. You can instantly see the joy these people are feeling. My favorite person featured is Matt Tilford, who puts it perfectly. “I like to watch my foot, actually take a step. Because, for four and a half years, I haven’t done it.” I think few of us can imagine what that must feel like. Thinking that you’ll never be able to walk again and then given the gift once more through the help of an exo-skeleton.
It’s also worth noting that Maris Curran is nominated for GE’s Focus Forward short film contest. If you enjoy the video I’d suggest supporting her by giving her your vote.
When it comes to headphones I never used to be very particular, this coming from a guy who really loves music. The little white earbuds that Apple provided me with were just fine… that until I tried a pair of Sony MDRV150’s that Kyle had, basically studio style headphones. Instantly my life was changed. I was hearing things in songs that I never had heard before; it was like a miracle.
Since then I’ve been curious about other headphones, wondering if other might unlock even more musicsecrets. These new Harman/Kardon BT headphones are my new interest. Harman/Kardon recently decided to dip their toes into the headphone market, releasing 5 new styles. The BT model stands for Bluetooth, which means for once in my life I wouldn’t have to deal with cords. It is 2012, after all, we should have wireless everything. You can’t beat the design of these either. The combination of the metal with the black gives the headphones a classic profile while still feeling fresh. No retro design, thanks. I’ve also owned a pair of Harman/Kardon SoundSticks for about 10 years now and they’re still working great, so I know they make good products. I might just have to take a trip to an Apple store this weekend.
Tobias van Schneider has released an interesting spin on email, calling the concept .Mail. He clearly states that he’s not the first to try and reinvent email, but I think some of his ideas are really strong.
Common email clients are jam-packed with functionalities no one really uses because they don’t work with their personal flow. Your email program doesn’t have to incorporate every aspect of modern communication. It should help you check and read your mails. That’s what you’d expect it to do, right?
We’re able to produce absolutely stunning websites and mobile apps with great interaction design. Interfaces that are smooth and fun and let us understand information without even trying. But when it comes to email clients we get a bit of a boring feeling., like using an old piece of software from 10 years ago.
I think we can better. So let’s do that.
His main points are a clutter-free interface, clean typography, Actionsteps, more emphasis on attachments, as well as social/brand integration to add a bit of personality. I think his idea has boiled down the essentials of what’s really important put it in a slick wrapper that just looks great. I also love the idea of having access to all of the attachments in your email laid out in a grid, much like you would have on your desktop. As someone who dabbles in a lot of images for the site I’m sure this feature would be great. It would also be great for your mom who wants to quickly find pictures of grandkids, you know?
If you’re interested to see more you can click here to see his visual proposal. I’d certainly be interested in trying a product like this.
The guys at The Verge, who are running hands down the best tech site on the web these days, has a really great look at Google’s new Nexus 7 tablet.
I’m happy to admit that the device certainly has me curious, but I also feel weird about it. I think they’ve potentially beat the Kindle Fire from a design/hardware point of view, though they don’t have the same store appeal that Amazon does – Google Play is still so new. But it’s not quite an iPad competitor either, I mean, it looks just like a mini-iPad. So they caught up, but didn’t innovate, you know? And does Jelly Bean, the new operating system, match up to iOS? Does Google Play beat out the App Store in games and content? All of these seem like big questions that I’m sure will be answered over the next year, which I think will truly show if the Nexus can beat any of the big competitors out there.
Late last night Wired published a wonderful piece on Jack Dorsey, the man behind Twitter and Square. Oft compared to Steve Jobs (but essentially nothing like him), it was cool to see such an in-depth piece on him. He’s such an inspiring guy, I mean, he’s only 35 and look at all that he’s done. Here’s a snippet I loved.
Like Jobs, Dorsey has proclivities that have helped him build something of a cult of personality. Every Friday he indoctrinates new employees with a forced march through the streets of San Francisco, beginning at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Ferry Building, heading into the canyons of the Financial District, and emerging in the startup haven south of Market Street where Square resides. During the walk, Dorsey outlines what he calls the Four Corners of Square. “It’s something that codifies our ethic,” he says. “I really spent a lot of time on it.” But he is mum on the details of this vaguely Masonic concept. “If I told you, you’d have to work here,” he says with a tight smile.
Dorsey also boasts a Jobs-like obsession with design and detail. In early 2011 he became captivated by the idea of using a wallet metaphor in a Square app. William Henderson, a former Apple operating system specialist who now works as a software engineer at Square, says, “Jack got so excited that he came to work one day with a stack of 10 leather wallets.” For hours, Dorsey and his team deconstructed every detail. He was especially fond of the Hermè8s. (He adores the brand and pronounces its name “air-MEZH,” as if he were raised in a duty-free shop.) The team designed a digital wallet that faithfully replicated its austere majesty, down to the stitching. It even carried a monogram, extracting initials from the user’s registration information and dropping the trailing dot after the second initial, just as Hermè8s does. The credit cards, which fit into their slots at slightly asymmetrical angles, were stamped with holograms that changed color when the screen was tilted.