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Innovative Designs and Devices 88

Patrick Griffin writes "When it comes to product design, the significance of aesthetics, the way its design looks and feels, determines the choice of the customer once the functionalities of multiple devices are more or less similar. If supported by sound user interface and a well-tested, clean implementation, innovative design solutions can drastically enhance the user experience. The article Innovative Designs and Devices presents innovative, futuristic gadgets, devices, designs and concepts which can become reality in 2008 or over the next few years." Some of the designs are real, others are stupid, and some are just dreams for the future. But some of this stuff is really cool.
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Innovative Designs and Devices

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  • by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:45AM (#21941852) Journal
    I like the concept, but, umm without the cover to protect the spinning CD (or you from it) that just seems like a HUGE design flaw.

    Also the Apple remote is neat and really pays into the popularity of the Wii-mote for interaction? So you think Sony would really place people into that mind set?
    • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:55AM (#21941934) Homepage
      Design flaw? No, it's a design advantage.

      Imagine the scene: You're walking down the street, listening to your music and a hooded yob-youth is coming towards you. He stops you and demands your music player.

      Normal response: Aw crap, he has a knife/gun and I've just got an MP3 player. I don't want to get killed over it so I'll hand it open.

      New response: "What, this thing?" *swing spinning CD up in an arc and slice hoody's face before running while he recovers*

      Now you get music and personal protection in one :)


      Note: The above scenario is not recommended ;)
      • I think they got their design inspiration from an old table saw... I don't think it would be comfortable to keep a full sized spinning CD in your pocket also it would almost inevitably get bumped and damaged with playing with carrying.
        • Imagine one of these on a plane though - whilst you're unlikely to move around, it means you can carry all your onboard luggage in your pockets (wallet/cds in one pocket, mp3/phone in the other) instead of having the hassle of a bag.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SharpFang ( 651121 )
          The way I see it, with built-in flash memory, you draw it from your pocket, it spins for 30s at high speed buffering the disk, then stops and plays from memory. No need to keep it spinning all the time.
        • I think they got their design inspiration from an old table saw

          That is the one advantage/disadvantage for my described method - if you've got a CD you don't want then work the edge of the CD with a file or similar and it is even more dangerous - either as a sharp edge or as a serrated edge

          *cackles evilly*

          It is normal for me to think of these things when seeing that, isn't it? :D

          Also, I think it is more of a fashion device that is intended to be left on a table beside the listener, or held in the hand (caref

    • by cp.tar ( 871488 )

      I like the concept, but, umm without the cover to protect the spinning CD (or you from it) that just seems like a HUGE design flaw.

      I'd guess it isn't designed for mobility, at least in the sense of listening-while-U-walk.
      Could be convenient and not too risky in an airplane, on the other hand.

      Also the Apple remote is neat and really pays into the popularity of the Wii-mote for interaction? So you think Sony would really place people into that mind set?

      I don't think so... basic operations are very easy to do with normal remotes; there is a problem with stuffing too many buttons on them, but that's a wholly different issue. Apple's remote (not Sony's Apple, but Apple's Mac remote) is simplicity itself, while still remaining a recognizable remote.

      I dislike the keyless keyboards, though. Then

      • Could be convenient and not too risky in an airplane, on the other hand.
        If the TSA wouldn't let nail clippers onto planes do you think they'll allow open spinning plastic disks that resemble a power tool for slicing wood?

        Just my $0.02
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      I think it would be cool if it could rip CDs onto itself.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cp.tar ( 871488 )

        I think it would be cool if it could rip CDs onto itself.

        It could certainly rip holes in your pockets.
        The rest is optional.

    • Would work well if it was very fast and could copy the entire disc to internal memory.
    • by duck0 ( 1073338 )

      I like the concept, but, umm without the cover to protect the spinning CD (or you from it) that just seems like a HUGE design flaw.
      I guess the guys above never watched Johnny Mnemonic []. Man that was cool back then.
    • My first CD player had a similar design in that the CD stuck out. The player was square and smaller in two dimensions (though much thicker in the third) than a CD cover.

      All that happened if you touched a spinning Cd was that it slowed down and stopped playing.
  • The Jam trousers Q? now whose idea were those, bloody silly.

    To be fair the only part of TFA that got to me were the iRing (jokes abound for the silly name) and Sony apple remote controls. They are very cool. Expect contactless recharging to be the norm in a few years - now how can I retrofit that into my antique desk?

    The concept of jigsaw mini screens seems cool (build your own supersize screen by combining unlimited numbers of smaller screen. Of course then the pricing regime follow the square law -
    • The birdbath wireless charger/indicator was pretty cool. It was functional and looked neat.

      Admittedly I'd want one that was a bit less gaudy, but I have friends who'd love that one in particular.
  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:53AM (#21941914) Journal
    The amphibious car made me think of that. Aside from that there were certainly interesting (and what-where-they-thinking!?) ideas in there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Goffee71 ( 628501 )
      Shame this guy's digital Rubik's cube (but so much more) gizmo isn't in the list: More here [] I really want one...
  • by PrescriptionWarning ( 932687 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @10:54AM (#21941922)
    That has the be the awesomest useless appliance I have seen!
  • The holographic concept of the Vaio Zoom looks pretty cool. Too bad it'll probably cost an arm and a leg to replace a broken screen.

  • by Old VMS Junkie ( 739626 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:01AM (#21941992)
    If innovative design interests you, I highly recommend "The Art of Innovation" by Tom Kelley and Henry Petroski's books "The Evolution of Useful Things" and "Small Things Considered". Kelly's book is all about innovation in the workplace and uses IDEO to illustrate his ideas. Petroski's books (and I love all of his stuff) are more of an academic view of how engineering intersects with the real world. His books should be on every geeks must read list.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      Also, everything Don Norman writes is great. (The Design of Everyday Things, Emotional Design: Why we Love (or Hate) Everyday Things, The Design of Future Things, etc.) Though I've been told by other people it was a little more academic and less "pop" than they were expecting. I guess compared to my usual reading it's pretty damn pop. Art of Innovation is definitely more pop than Norman's stuff. They're not necessarily on *innovative* design per se, but on the psychology behind why good designs work and bad
  • apple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wwmedia ( 950346 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:03AM (#21942008)
    so who is gonna sue Sony first Apple [] or Apple []
    • Presumably you named one of those for the Sony Apple Remote. If they do attempt to sue I will laugh at how stupid the world has become.
    • Re:apple (Score:5, Funny)

      by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:19AM (#21942164)
      They'll rename it the Sony Ornj shortly before release. Or will that infringe on an Ikea product?
    • Strictly speaking, they're only in trouble with Apple Records if that remote decides to set up a record label. Given the music industry's notorious, noxious racism against anthropomorphised consumer electronics, I don't think that's likely.
      • by ryanov ( 193048 )
        On a somewhat related note, I'd heard that Apple DOES want to set up a record label. If that were true, that would be a problem.
  • lego computing.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apodyopsis ( 1048476 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:07AM (#21942054)
    Actually, done a but more thought on the subject. Picture this:

    A 14"*12" flat panel touch sensitive display with bluetooth, wifi, inductive power and some clips at the back for mounting.

    Now what can this be used for?

    1. x1 a tablet PC
    2. z2 with a hinge - a laptop, program the lower one to have a keyboard and tracker pad
    3. x2 24"*12" widescreen TV/Monitor
    4. x3 computer, 1= keyb, rest = screen
    5. x4 wraparound display for conferences
    6. x8 home cinema or wall screen
    7. x1 advertisement kiosk
    8. x1 display module and brains for industrial kiosk or ATE

    the possibilities are endless.

    but what would it need to function?

    1. one seriously configurable operating system. mesh computer between linked components, mini cluster?
    2. versatile mounting clip so you could add at will - USB, floppy, SD, CF, 10baseT, hinge for laptop, support for screen, external power cable, TV tuner etc.
    3. ubiquitous standard - that would be the killer, you need a recognised standard so everybodies components would work together instead of a diversive formats war
    4. power saving, power sharing (power one on a cable, it shares to connected units), some clever self configuration.
    5. cheap enough or versatile enough to make it all worthwhile.

    and finally, and obligatory - open standards on HW and an SDK so anybody can port apps or write their own.

    well, I can dream.
    • Even better... according to the article, apparently that keyboard "allows convenient use of any language -- Cyrillic, Ancient Greek, Georgian, Arabic, Quenya, hiragana, etc. ". Technically, you don't need a keyboard for a language (as opposed to a script), but if they mean what I think, a piece of hardware that can finally push the Tengwar [] through the Unicode Consortium would be nice.

      They've been rotting there since 1989...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      2. z2 with a hinge - a laptop, program the lower one to have a keyboard and tracker pad

      Why would I want to spend $X,000 making a touch screen work as a keyboard when I can buy a real keycaps-and-springs USB keyboard for $10?

      • because I am specifying a fantasy device that has not been built or invented yet, thats why...

        Obviously for this to work it should be cheap enough that it can be made in bulk to bring the prices down, this is viable if there is demand and they are suitably versatile. After all the basic module is nothing more then a cheap touch sensitive flat screen (think sprayed OLED), a processor, and wireless. You then plug in USB, power, memory into the slots on the back (naturally a standard interface) to make a ta
        • The basic module (screen, processor and wireless) can be very cheap indeed if mass made.

          But never cheaper nor more efficient than a piece of hardware that is ONLY a display, or ONLY a keyboard, or ONLY a CPU could be.

          Is there a market for people who need the kind of configuration flexibility you propose, and is willing to compromise on price and or performance to get it? Certainly. Will that market ever be more than a niche among computer users in general? I may be making a "640K should be enough"-type p
      • I think that's a really neat idea. Modular screens. Imagine a laptop with two screens, one that you do your viewing on, one that you do your typing on, and when you want to watch movies, you "open" the laptop all the way (180 degree angle), twist it 90 degrees, and now it becomes a larger monitor for watching movies.

        It would need a hinging mechanism to allow the two screens to sit next to each other, virtually pixel against pixel, which might be tough. However, with the direction OLEDs are going, the
  • waaaaaaaaaant

    well, much of it anyway. I certainly could do without the toaster. I would love to try out that bluetooth laser keyboard.

    Anyone notice that the top was down on the amphibious car? Hope they brought their wetsuits...
    • by mrjb ( 547783 )
      I would love to try out that bluetooth laser keyboard. Me too. Depending on the strength of the laser, of course.
      • You worried about your fingers?
        Don't be, the shark to whose head your laser keyboard's attached will already have bitten them off. :)
    • I would love to try out that bluetooth laser keyboard.

      So why don't you try it out [] and report back to us on it?
    • I think those keyboards have the disadvantage that you're constantly tapping your fingers on some hard surface, which isn't very ergonomic. On the other hand, you're most likely not going to do that much typing on one. On the third hand, 140 bucks for a device that doesn't see much use is somewhat steep.

      A foldable BT keyboard might work better - if they actually made one that isn't full-sized, taking up much space even when folded.
  • I smirked at first when I saw then office pod-- I mean, who really needs such a form fitting cube? (well, form fitting for some of us). But then I saw the built in 'teleconferencing' projector: [].

    Just re-route the video-out to come from your workstation, and bam! you've got the ultimate Counter Strike gaming pod! I tell ya, these pod people are marketing in the wrong direction.
    • by sjaguar ( 763407 )
      I agree! Working in a cube is bad enough, but a bubble? Playing games though, would be cool. I remember when Quake III came out (I think it was Quake). It had support for 3 monitors. I always wanted to play some of the games with a wider field of view. I just wonder how visible it is from outside.
  • by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:18AM (#21942158) Homepage
    From another post I made, but for this topic, it's a bit more on-topic:

    There's one example of user interface elegance that has stuck with me for decades, and I use it to remind myself of what's possible, and avoiding making things more complicated than necessary:

    I've had telephone answering machines before; they typically had many buttons on them (rewind, stop, play, fast forward, erase, record) and tapes for incoming and outgoing, etc.. Quite complex, for the simple task of playing and recording a message. It really felt like working two confusingly inter-related tape decks.

    But then I bought one, which wasn't terribly expensive, that was clean and elegant looking, with *one* big visible button on the outside and one LED. On the side was a volume knob. And the amazing thing is that it was as functional as my prior more complicated machines.

    When there was a message, the link blinked. Intuitive. You'd press the big button to hear the messages. Simple. To back up while playing a message, you simply held the big button down (not completely intuitive, but easy to learn/figure out or read in the manual). After playing the messages, the LED would blink quickly for a few seconds; you could then tap the big button to keep your messages, or do nothing to have it turf the messages. (Again, not necessarily intuitive, but trivial to learn/understand and use.) You could also record memos of your own by pressing and holding the button at any time. A lot of functionality built into one button, and not hard to use at all. Very clever.

    You could stop it from answering by turning the volume knob all the way down until it clicks; fairly intuitive.

    It had one microcassette; the answering message was recorded at the start, and it would record messages after that (fast forwarding as necessary for additional messages before recording). This microcassette was under an opague door (you wouldn't even know was there) on the top of the unit. Opening the door also revealed another smaller button. The single button inside paralleled the use of the outside button to a large degree, but for handling your answering message. Press and hold it to record your message (similar to the memo record of the outside big button). Tap it once to play/check your answering message, pressing/holding it to rewind during the message. Very elegant, yet quite functional.

    The thing was a masterpiece of simplicity, elegance, understatement, functionality, and design.

    Yes, answering machines are ancient technology now, but the thought that went into that "user interface" design continues to inspire me when I create web interfaces.

    And another neat aspect to it: I'm sure the manufacturing cost of the unit was lower than others, due to fewer buttons, a single tape, and simpler design. (It likely had a bit more logic inside to handle the functionality, but overall it was likely cheaper to produce than other models.) Initial design can make such a difference to all aspects of a product's delivery.
    • by paxgaea ( 219419 )
      I remember having one of those. I think I always longed for the complexity of the other style.

      Could be that is just a commentary on how I live my life, making things too complicated.

      But thanks for the trip down Memory Lane (now what address did I live at?).
    • ::applause::

      _That's_ what I've been looking for in an answering machine at home for a while now.


    • Totally disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wurp ( 51446 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:11PM (#21942654) Homepage
      Can you explain any way that the device you're describing is more usable than one with one function per button? I'm all for rethinking design and having alternatives, and I can see that aesthetically, your device would be more appealing to some people.

      But I far prefer a rewind button, fast forward button, etc. and I find it hard to fathom how what you're describing is an improvement. Why spend time learning how to use a device that could work just like all the other media playback devices I use?
      • I've seen ones with three buttons ... these make sense

        Play (also acts as Fast forward and next)
        Back (also acts as Fast backward and previous)

        It's easy simple and there no non-obvious problems with the one button design

    • by ps236 ( 965675 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:53PM (#21943214)
      One button that does lots of things is generally considered nasty UI design. It's "pretty" and people think it's 'cool' but most people have trouble using it.

      It's generally a lot easier to use 'one button per action' UI designs. They may not be as pretty, and they're certainly more expensive to produce, but they're generally considered easier to use.

      Imagine having a bank web site with a single entry box and a single "Do something" button on it. To make a payment, you have to enter the details of the payee and click the button quickly, and then enter the amount to pay and click it for 2 seconds. To set up a regular payment you have to do the same but click it for 4 seconds. That's a 'nice, elegant' design as there's less messy controls involved, but imagine what a nightmare it would be to use.

      It might be 'trivial' to learn how to use your single button answering machine, but imagine you have to use an answering machine at work with different effects to the same actions, and then your mother has one with yet different effects for the actions.... Or, come back to yours after 6 months of not using it, without access to the instructions and see how easy it is. Wouldn't it be easier to have different buttons for the different actions with instructive text/good icons on/by them?

      • god are you right - multiple functions per button is a terrible idea
        in the biotech/laboratory instrument sector, where instruments that sell 50 - 2,000 units per year for 10 - 250+K each, the mania for one button/multiple tasks has gotten out of control; sure it saves the vendor a few bucks, cause they replace buttons and displays with some cheap logic circuit they probably had anyway, but it is a nightmare for the user to remember which tasks go with which buttons.
        I have seen instruments where physical har
  • Seashells (Score:4, Funny)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (bob_eissua)> on Monday January 07, 2008 @11:30AM (#21942262) Journal
    I still can't work out how you're supposed to use the three seashells.
    • I still can't work out how you're supposed to use the three seashells.

      In that case I recommend you stay away from C shells.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As if we thought it wouldn't get any worse than cubicles.

    Enjoy the days when you had 20 cubicles on your office floor. Now you've got 100 Eclipses crammed into that same space.
  • Cordless charging (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:19PM (#21942784) Homepage

    The cordless charging devices are a good idea. If there's a standard. If there's one bowl or pad which recharges everything, we've made real progress. If we end up with one per device, they just waste space.

    At least three small companies (SplashPower, WildCharge, and WiPower) are pushing that idea. Incompatibly. There's no one in a strong enough position to make them play together.

    • If they use induction, I believe they will recharge anything, LiIon anyway, not sure about NiCad or other types of rechargeables. I'd imagine it would work on those as well though.

      If it's some kind of proprietary wireless power transfer tech, they're shooting themselves in the foot with their incompatibility. As far as I know the current models work with anything with a battery, why would they take a step backwards to make it proprietary? Unless they can somehow offer huge gains over the current methods.
  • iRing (Score:2, Funny)

    One Ring to Rule Them All
  • I don't know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PontifexPrimus ( 576159 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:25PM (#21943582)
    I don't know, some of those gadgets seem... well, not really thought through:
    • Apple Remote: you wave left and right it to turn up or down sound. Great. How do I change channels from 7 to 33? Why are there four remotes in one basket?
    • Maximus keyboard: heard too much about it to say it's complete vaporware, but the functionality keeps being reduced every time I hear about it. Plus, compare the low-res images from the side keys with the "regular" keycaps which seem to have a much higher resolution - I don't think that's realistic.
    • Nonobject: WTF? Why, oh why would I need a camera to film what's behind it? I know what's behind my camera! Me! Because I do the photographing! What the hell were they thinking? To get at least some use out if you would have to hold this camera sort of sideways in front / beside your head, looking at the display at an angle... If I really need to photograph what's in front of me and the scenery behind me, I can turn around and take a second picture! Gods, this is stupid...
    • Duofone: well, ok, granted, pretty original - but I don't know exactly how they'll handle the seam in the middle, where two LCDs not quite touch. I imagine if this problem had been solved we'd look at much, much cheaper lcd screens comprising several seamlessly connected subunits.
    • Toast Messenger: ok, a funny novelty item. But quite useless for its intended purpose (I can't imagine you get anywhere near the resolution of "pen on paper" with "burnmarks on toast") and aside from writing "I love you, honey" I don't think there is any situation in which a message on toast is superior to a note written on paper ("Yes, Mr. Wilkinson, we got your order. Let me check my toast...").
    • Dual Music Player: ok, points for originality. But injury risks aside - I would think it pretty dangerous for the CD to be played this way. For one thing my mobile players tend to accumulate dust, fluff and grit due to being carried around in backpacks, pockets and shopping bags, and those would probably produce nice scratches(and not the radial ones that the software can erase).
    • Vaio Zoom: nice toy, probably incredibly overpriced. What's the advantage of a screen that's transparent when turned off? Look in front of you. Imagine this screen was a pane of glass. Do you prefer this view to a black rectangle? And what's with the ecstatic repetition of "holographic" (quote: "Even the mouse buttons are holographic!")??? First, I don't think this words means what you think it means. Second, I don't want mouse buttons that are glowy (presumably what they mean). Why should I? I don't have eyes in my fingers, and I don't look at the mouse when moving it, I look at the screen, where the cursor is! Stupid blingy manager toy...
    • Visual Desktop Charger: ok, nice idea. But on the other hand I don't mind creating a physical link to charge my phone or mp3 player - I would guess this thing uses inductive coupling of some kind, which is much, much less efficient than an ordinary copper cable.
    • Laser Keyboard: interesting idea, but I heard they're terrible to use - no tactile feedback, and you finger start to hurt if you hit a flat, solid surface the same way you type on a keyboard.
    • Omaura HTPC: so it's a computer case. Which is flat. And wide. Which is important because... it has to fit below a huge giant flatscreen on the wall. Because extension cables don't exist in this world. And you have to get really, really close to those giant screens, and you couldn't if you had one of those giant big tower jobs blocking you.
    • Hi-Tech Office: Eclipse Partitioning System: don't know about that one. I've worked for some time in an office with ~20 people, and cubicles see,ed to solve most of the problems just fine; plus, I really don't think I'd like to spend half of my day under a giant Cone of Silence.
    • EmTrace's PS100 Photoskin Frames: it's a tiny monitor with some storage attached. Big whoop. If I really needed something with a tiny
  • Now all these folks have to do is contact IBM
  • Anybody can render up a cool-looking-but-impossible-or-impractical-to-produce CG image. One of the first things I ever modelled in a 3D app was a fusion-powered coffeemaker. That doesn't mean it should have been treated as a serious design.
  • I like the idea of the nonobject camera. Should make those behind the scenes extras a bit more interesting (seeing the director wigging out etc). I just really hope the porn industry doesn't adopt it. Some behind the scenes footage is just not meant to be seen.....EVER!
  • The sQuba car looks pretty damn useful for illegal immigrants from Cuba. It will do much better than their last attempt [].
  • Why can't designers understand that a keyboard with painted keys can only be used for hunt-n-peck typing?
  • Some of the design concepts remind me of this []:


    "Actually, I serve traditional ice cream here. You know - in a dish or on a cone or whatever..."


  • "When it comes to product design, the significance of aesthetics, the way its design looks and feels, determines the choice of the customer once the functionalities of multiple devices are more or less similar."

    Linux developers should stick this on their monitors and say it aloud like a prayer before they sit down to do some work on a project. Linux is inevitably looking more and more like Windows. Imagine something prettier than Vista that actually works, and runs rings around it performance-wise.

  • and in the darkness bind them...

    That iRing looks interesting...
    Kind of made me think of a Golemesque Steve Jobs.. precious my precious

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun