Category Technology

A refreshing Windows UI concept design by Sputnik8

A refreshing Windows UI concept design by Sputnik8

A refreshing Windows UI concept design by Sputnik8

A refreshing Windows UI concept design by Sputnik8

Microsoft has been doing some really interesting things with UI design lately, especially with the Windows Mobile UI in their new phones. So far though, they haven’t quite hit a home-run with their desktop experience, even though it may not be around for much longer. When I came across this UI concept from Sputnik8 I thought it was a really great idea and pretty nicely executed.

I haven’t soaked in all the details and minutia of the design yet, but from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, I think he’s right on point. The Windows Mobile design is nice and flat with big chunks of text, and Sputnik8 has done a great job of carrying this theme over to a desktop experience. It’s also nice to see that the UI is rather tap-able, so perhaps the UI could even be used for a touchable desktop experience, a path that technology is certainly heading down.

You should really go visit the Forum page he created over on The Verge where he’s received a ton of amazing and well deserved feedback.

Found through iA

Tricycle Caligraphy by Jonah Kessel

Tricycle Caligraphy by Jonah Kessel

Tricycle Caligraphy by Jonah Kessel

Tricycle Caligraphy by Jonah Kessel

Nicholas Hanna seems like he gets bored easily. With a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from McGill University and a Master of Architecture from Yale, the guy has the knowledge and curiosity to make some really cool stuff, like the Water Calligraphy Device. Water calligraphy is a thing in China, where old guys chill out in parks with brushes on poles, writing beautiful marks onto the ground.

Nicholas has created the modern day equivalent. Rigging up a trike with a computer and some water jets, he rolls around the city writing bits of propaganda like, “Civilization comes from every individual, to contribute from every little thing.” It’s a really amazing idea, and it’s cool to see how people react as he passes them by. Although, I feel like if this sort of concept was brought to America it would be abused and used for evil purposes like Burger King advertisements.

To see the rest of the messages he writes, click here.

A House Made from Fiber-Reinforced Polymer by atelier FCJZ

atelier FCJZ: FRP house

atelier FCJZ: FRP house

atelier FCJZ: FRP house

What’s great about the design of this house, called the FRP House after its fiber-reinforced polymer structure, is the experimental nature of the material. And by experimental, I don’t mean just different like an experimental hairstyle or the kind of experimenting that happens during college; instead, I appreciate that Atelier FCJZ, based in Beijing, is conducting tests and collecting data about an unusual structural system. By testing the compressive, tensile and bending strength of their design, the building mock-ups are approaching building reality. Someone had to be the the first to try reinforcing concrete with steel, right? Someone had to be the first to try braided hair.

atelier FCJZ: FRP house

The first person who braided his/her hair must have looked alien to folks who had never seen braided hair before. “What is… this… headropes?” But the design of this house is simple and modern in a way that doesn’t look so jarring. I can easily find articles published about fiber reinforced polymers in buildings systems from over a decade ago, and as this experimental material moves toward reality, it will confront new challenges (like how the enclosure system will work in this configuration). Still it’s nice to see architects experiment and to be reminded that building science didn’t stop progressing when we started using concrete and steel. Our future is an infinite series of new materials, the structures they enable, and the hairstyles we will wear inside them.

Kinetic toys from Marta Bakowski

Kinetic toys from Marta Bakowski

Kinetic toys from Marta Bakowski

Kinetic toys from Marta Bakowski

I stumbled upon Marta Bakowski’s work after she randomly tweeted at me, so of course, in my true Internet stalker style, I checked out her work and found a beautiful gem. She started this amazing self-initiated project to create toys with emotion. These toys are simple, made of simple materials and basic colors, but they’re absolutely charming and I’d love to own an entire set of these. Here’s what she had to say about the project:

Employing inherently playful materials such as springs, feathers, motors and gears, I created a series of small abstract, often geometrical constructions that I animated with a distinct rhythm and endearing characteristics, almost bringing each ‘creature’ to life.

This series of experiments resulted in a collection of colorful mechanical wooden toys, desirable to children and adults alike, which prove that fantasy is not necessarily a “stage one grows out of”.

You can check out some of her early prototypes in the video below, which gives you a great idea of exactly how fun these would be.

The MacHook, a place to hang your headphones

The MacHook, a place to hang your headphones

The MacHook, a place to hang your headphones

It’s only been recently that I’ve decided to opt for a nice pair of headphones, after trying out Kyle’s Sony MDR-V150’s.True audiophiles may balk, but consider this: I’ve used iPod headphones my entire life. The one thing I’ve noticed though is that there’s never really a great place to put my headphones, they’re just large enough to awkward. So when I spotted this MacHook by Workerman, I realized it was a perfect and elegant solution.

The MacHook is made in the USA from Baltic Birch, sealed with an all natural wax finish, and sticks to your computer with “nano-suction technology”, which sounds made up to me, but I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt. Major props to Adam Brackney for creating a really smart solution.

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Designer Holiday Lights by Ilmex

Although it’s not officially winter yet (December 22, for those who are curious), we can all agree that it gets dark too early in the winter (apologies to any nocturnal species reading.) The sun doesn’t rise as high in the sky durring the winter months, and as low as the sun rises, it doesn’t stay around as long. Maybe this starts to explain why our cities redress themselves for the winter holidays using electric accessories?

Take for instance Madrid, which might have some of the most interesting holiday lighting projects I’ve come across. All of the photos above are taken from the website of Ilmex, which recently released a design edition of holiday lighting featuring designers like Luis Urculo (you might remember him). If you had giant, illuminated eyeballs with eyelashes floating over your streets, would you complain about the extra hours of darkness?

Alex

The sleeker, simpler new Twitter

The sleeker, simpler new Twitter

Yesterday morning, Twitter unveiled a totally redesigned UI for the iPhone and Android which in turn unlocked a new UI for the web. I had no idea that Twitter was gearing up for any kind of redesign, so I was pretty excited to see what they had done. In my opinion, they’ve completely upped their design game.

The entire idea of Twitter has been simplified down to it’s essential pieces. You’re not presented with three main options: Home, Connect and Discover. The home is still where your feed of friends are, the Connect section shows your @ mentions as well as interactions, such as retweeting and favoriting of things you’ve tweeted. Clearly Discovery is a place to discover, and to my surprise the topics have been pretty much in line with things I’d enjoy, so good on Twitter.

Purely from a design point of view I love what they’ve done. They’ve taken out a lot of the heritage design elements and slimmed things down even more, which I didn’t realize was possible. The UI on the iPhone is stunning, I’d say nearly perfect. There are some new behaviors though, like flicking up on the Me tab to see your DM’s, which I found interesting. People don’t like change remember, so this will be hated at first. The web app itself is nice and about as minimal as it gets, just some modules on a background. I don’t use the web interface often, but I’ve been popping on there more since the redesign, and in turn neglecting Twitter for Mac.

There seems to be some differing opinions on the redesign so far. Dan Frommer seems to really like it, while John Gruber really isn’t a fan of it. It’s funny though, because John Gruber also really likes Tweetbot, which I thought was clunky and hated using after a week. Either way, I’m really enjoying the change and applaude Twitter for really going for it.

Bobby

Flying Robots that Build Things

Quadrotors (flying robots) stack styrofoam bricks

The future is happening, and soon. That’s because in the near future a small swarm of flying robots (or maybe just two) will stack polystyrene bricks at the FRAC center into a small structure. The stack’s height might be modest, but this wavy and wonky wall will feature the computational complexity typical of Gramazio and Kohler. The Swiss team has partnered with Raffaello D’Andrea (if you haven’t seen his Robotic Chair, do yourself a favor and click here) to realize this installation that resembles a marriage of architecture and science fiction. The exhibition Flight Assembled Architecture, and the future, start tomorrow.

Alex

Why Instagram is so popular – I couldn’t say it better

Why Instagram is so popular - I couldn't say it better

Why Instagram is so popular - I couldn't say it better

I’ve been wanting to write a post about Instagram for a while, as it’s probably the one app I use most. For a long time there were a number of people talking about how iPhone photos, and Instagram photos in turn, weren’t “real”, basically that they held no value. I say bullshit. Instagram has opened up a new world of art and community that couldn’t have existed without the iPhone or app culture.

When I read this article by Nate Bolt over on Techcrunch it was basically all of my thoughts wrapped up into one, concise article. Nate does a great job of outlining what makes Instagram special: Quality, Audience, Access, Immediacy and Constraints. The final point, Constraint, is exactly why Instagram works, here’s what Nate has to say:

It might seem trivial, but showing one photo at a time is a design decision that creates more value for each image, and enhances your viewing experience. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have the images trapped inside a beautiful iPhone screen. It almost doesn’t matter who you follow—their photos probably look better one at a time. From a UX perspective, we keep learning that interfaces with constraints are successful, and it seems like such a straight-forward principle (140 characters, ahem), but it’s kind of worthless on it’s own. Obviously you can’t introduce constraints without other elements, which is why this is the last point. There’s something enticing about knowing that most Instagram photos are created on the iPhone, since it introduces a NASCAR-like equality. That makes it fun to see what other people can create with the same technical constraints you have. Photography has always been all about the equipment, and not at all about the equipment. Knowing millions of people are creating with roughly the same camera and app as you makes it exciting creatively. So constraints, combined with quality and an audience are what makes Instagram so addictive.

Above is a photo I took of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Reservoir. If you look in the back you can see a thin white line, which is actually the Pacific Ocean. The camera is on the iPhone 4 is amazing, and the social aspect of Instagram allows me to share this amazing site with my friends. Be sure to read Nate’s article, it’s a winner, and if you’re not on Instagram, what are you waiting for?

Bobby