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Colored Pencil Sketch Shootout: Which are Better, Prismacolor Scholars or Prismacolor Premiers?

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

Wax hardness, pigment payout, sharpenability; these are things that concern the sketch-happy pencil geeks among you. Graphic designer, illustrator and art teacher Mark Campbell knows this.

Campbell has his students use Prismacolor Scholars, rather than the more expensive Prismacolor Premiers. Here he tests them out side-by-side, and drops more pencil knowledge than any of my professors ever did. (Ignore the click-baity title of the video, which I'll address in a minute.)

I checked my local Blick and could not find the sharp price distinction Campbell mentions; and on Amazon I see a 60-pack of the Scholars going for about $20, with a 72-pack of the Premiers going for $25

Campbell's video is fairly recent--did Prismacolor recently slash prices?

Categories: art & design

Hands-On with Unreal Studio

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

Epic Games is in the process of rolling out an exciting new design visualization tool based on their popular game engine Unreal 4. Currently in open beta, Unreal Studio is intended to bring real time rendering to design visualization and provide industrial designers and architects tools to create fast, stunningly beautiful animations, walk-throughs, renderings and interactive product demonstrations. The technology is already in use by some major companies as Epic is betting on a recent trend toward real-time rendering as it seeks to position Unreal as a go-to tool for real time rendering for industrial design.

The real time aspect of Unreal piqued my interest because, let's face it, no one enjoys the monotony of waiting for for a scene to render only to realize there are changes to be made. Epic's recent collaboration in real-time ray tracing with NVIDIA and ILM-xLAB featured at GDC 2018 is a beautiful preview of where this technology is headed. It is also convincing evidence that Epic is not playing around as they strive to deliver higher levels of visual quality while pushing real-time rendering into the workflows of the industrial design and architecture industries.

Before getting started with Unreal I had a chance to chat with Chris Murray, Epic's Technical Marketing Manager for Enterprise. Chris filled me in on the concept behind Unreal Studio and the vision behind it at Epic. The goal is to introduce Unreal Studio to the design visualization space to give industrial, product, environmental, and architectural designers tools to use real-time rendering as part of the design visualization workflow. The studio offering will also include industry specific support for designers and the like.

According to Chris the advantage of this approach is to shave hours, days and maybe weeks off the process of visualization with real-time tools that allow designers to make changes to everything from scene assets, materials, colors, finishes, and lighting more quickly. Because Unreal is a game engine it is ready to present these real time rendered visualizations through interactive web, VR and AR experiences. Currently, and through November of this year, Unreal Studio is available as a free open beta to anyone who signs up.

Unreal Studio is closely integrated into Unreal Engine 4 as it layers on new tools to the existing game engine. New templates and blueprints (which are simply pre-packaged code for specific applications) create new starting points that are geared toward design applications. The Unreal Studio download includes these features:

Datasmith - Direct import tools to move models into Unreal Studio
3DS Max Datasmith Exporter - designed to export existing 3DS Max projects into Unreal Studio
Unreal Studio templates and blueprints - specifically designed for design visualization
Epic Enterprise learning materials and support - geared toward enterprise, non-game oriented, users
100 included Materials - from Substance by Allegorithmic
Access - to Unreal's massive marketplace of existing assets, materials, and other goodies

The Datasmith tools and learning resources are the cornerstones of Epic Enterprise's effort to create Unreal Studio. To give industrial designers a "frictionless" path to move CAD resources into Unreal, Datasmith includes a set of importers to bring models directly into Unreal Studio for realtime rendering. The importers include support for industry favorites like SolidWorks and AutoDesk Inventor file formats as well as Catia, Pro/E and many standard formats like IGES and STEP files. The 3DS Max Exporter plugin provides the ability to export 3DS Max scenes to a Datasmith file format ready to import into Unreal with standard materials and lighting intact.

Many standard CAD file types can be imported into Unreal Studio

The exporter will capture pretty much everything in a 3DS Max scene including standard materials, lighting, and geometry and package it for easy import into Unreal. I tried the importers on some of my own Inventor models and assemblies and they worked well with only a few basic tweaks necessary for orienting the models correctly in a scene. The importer also automatically handled UV mapping of the now triangulated surfaces well enough to dive right into applying materials and shining lights on the models.

An imported model from a previous project

As a total novice in Unreal most of my test drive centered around the second cornerstone: new learning resources for Epic Enterprise. These consist of demonstration scene assets and online video tutorials available from Epic. This was helpful as an overview of the interface and also offered deep dives into specific capabilities and processes in Unreal Studio. Chris Murray, from Epic, said these new learning resources will expand in the coming months and will continue to offer designers basic through expert level information about all aspects of the Unreal Engine.

Through the learning resources I quickly became comfortable with the interface and dove into explorations of scene structures, materials and lighting. The demonstration assets served as good examples of the engine's capabilities and provided a solid structure on which to learn the software's basics. The interface is fully customizable and centered around a familiar viewport with game-like controls. At first I noticed a few of the nomenclature choices were unfamiliar. Like when I opened a demonstration project to find it blank and realized that I need to load a "level" in order to see any of my "actors" and manipulate any scene assets. The interface includes a separate, tabbed editor window that allows for a fast and responsive multi-monitor setup. The editor window is home to material editing, scripting, as well as UV and mesh tools.

What the real-time rendering viewport looks like

The Unreal still needs standalone solutions for asset creation making it an addition to most existing workflows. A teaching colleague familiar with Unreal, Filip Kostic, laid out his preferred workflow like this: Maya/C4D (modeling, UV Mapping), Photoshop (traditional texture painting), Mudbox or Substance Painter(Direct model painting), and final materials and shaders always built via Unreal Engine 4 visual script shader building tool.

The material/shader system in Unreal is a familiar node-based visual scripting tool that makes understanding complex materials with many inputs and outputs fairly easy. While there are hundreds of different expressions and functions built in there are a handful of key expressions that do most of the work to control everything from color, metallic reflection, specular and roughness to normals and ambient occlusion. What is most remarkable about the system is how easy it is to convert nodes to parameters to create dynamic material instances allowing for fast on-the-fly material tweaking without recompiling.

The material editor in Unreal Studio

Each of the demonstration projects I worked with showed off the visual quality of Unreal's real time rendering engine and some of the visual still felt game-like as opposed to photo-real. However, the ability to dynamically light scenes, change materials, move fluidly in a scene, and also visualize the scenes in VR offer a unique and compelling trade-off. This test drive with Unreal has not led me to think of real-time rendering as a replacement for traditional ray-traced rendering techniques but rather a new compliment to familiar visualization techniques. The price point supports this view: when the open beta ends in November the Studio will cost $50 per month to license. At that price it seems to me an enticing new tool to create immersive, interactive visualizations for my projects. 

Overall Unreal Studio a solid value proposition to add to the visualization workflow. If you are curious about real time rendering or you've been thinking about applying VR to a project, now is an excellent time to test the waters with Unreal Studio.

Categories: art & design

On the Floor with Core: Student and Independent Projects from SaloneSatellite 2018

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

This year's SaloneSatellite showcased a wide variety of projects, many of which extended beyond traditional furniture design. Throughout Milan Design Week in general, we noticed three material trends—inflatables, foam and adjustable ratchet straps—all of which be seen scattered throughout this recap. Our favorite projects from the rather extensive exhibition within Salone pushed the boundaries of traditional design in ways we hadn't seen before. For example, has anyone reading this used glue sticks as a primary material for furniture before? Didn't think so.

Studio LorierWe featured Studio Lorier's transforming Hybrid Chair awhile back, but that didn't take away from the joy it brought us in person.Studio LorierWe also didn't realize these guys had such a thing for transforming furniture. This ottoman that accompanies the chair flips around to double as a small table.Studio LorierThis three section table folds into one.Studio LorierAnd this cabinet... well, head to our Instagram to see what this bad boy is capable of.kenko Sport EquipmentIf you're someone that makes a point to purchase only well-designed objects, this wooden and metal workout equipment is for you. Learn more here.kenko Sport Equipmentkenko Sport Equipmentkenko Sport EquipmentThis one's a massager!But YetChinese furniture company But Yet designs clever furniture made for cats and humans to share.But YetTheir booth featured electronic cat tails that meowed every few seconds.View the full gallery here
Categories: art & design

An Object to Prevent Rust Rings Left From Cans, Yea or Nay?

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

The constant struggle for product designers is (or should be): Am I creating something of true utility, or just bringing more stuff into the world?

I do get annoyed at how bottles/cans in bathrooms/kitchens get wet, collect water at the bottom and leave a ring on surfaces. But I cannot countenance the thought of buying rubberized coasters for them.

GRIPPONZ snaps on to the bottom of the can and stays on to prevent damage to the surface. When you are done with that can, just remove GRIPPONZ, wash it with warm soapy water, and use it again.

Clean freaks who hate rust marks might find them desirable:

What say you? Valid "problem" and worthwhile product, or no?

Categories: art & design

The Success of the Forktula Should Inspire You to Design Something and Kickstart It

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

Like the Bath Buddy from yesterday, I'll put this in the silly-but-useful category. The Forktula is simply a small piece of silicone with two holes on it, and it goes over two fork tines like a sleeve.

That allows you to do this:

As someone who hates to waste food, this appeals to me. But the primary reason I bring up objects like this, and the Bath Buddy, is in hopes of inspiring the would-be design entrepreneurs among you to look around and identify something you struggle with, no matter how small.

These are relatively simple products to source and manufacture, and both were successfully Kickstarted. I know that some of you readers have got ideas, too, and I hope you get cracking on them.

Categories: art & design

Design Job: Get a Grip on Your Career

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

PopSockets LLC, based in Boulder, Colorado, designs, manufactures and sells innovative lifestyle products. Our flagship product, the PopSockets grip, was invented by philosophy professor David Barnett, with the first grip sold on PopSockets.com in 2014. Our product is a collapsible grip and stand that provides secure

View the full design job here
Categories: art & design

Standards Manual's New Book Graphically Explains the History of the Emoji

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

At its core, Emoji is a supplement language designed to accompany our own languages to give the appearance of human emotion during digital conversations. Weird, right? When MoMA announced that they had acquired the original set of emojis from Japan, people were confused for understandable reasons. Its often difficult for people operating outside of the design world to think of graphic systems we use on a daily basis as design. Are emojis design? Where did they come from? Why are they here? What have they become? With their new book, Emoji, Standards Manual aims to explore those valid questions through graphic design and extensive research.

What we find particularly fascinating about this book is that learning about the history of Emoji is nothing like reading about hieroglyphics or other image-based languages from thousands of years ago. Emoji is more like studying our own personal language behavior, which is difficult to do objectively. To learn more about the peculiar topic of emojis and why they chose to address it from a design standpoint, we sat down for a chat with Hamish Smyth and Jesse Reed of Standards Manual:

Core77: Can you give us a base level "History of Emoji 101" lesson?

Hamish Smyth: In the 90's, Japan was very much ahead in terms of mobile phone technology. Mobile phone were invented in the United States, but they really leap-frogged in Japan, and they had a really sophisticated network in the 90's. They had data transfer before anyone else really had a reliable system for that, which means they had a primitive mobile email system on phones in the 90's. They also had beepers at this point, but their beepers included this thing that DOCOMO, the AT&T of Japan, called i-mode. i-mode was this primitive email and data transfer system, and one of the features of i-mode was that you could, on your beeper, write a little message and then press a button and put a little pixelated heart on the end of a message. Essentially it was an emoji heart, but you could only do a heart, just one thing. 

People really liked it, but then for some reason, they updated i-mode, I think around '98, and they took the heart away. Apparently people hated that. They were like, "bring back the heart! We love it." And so they said, "okay, give us a second." They went away, they figured out how to bring the heart back, but they also designed a whole suite of these little graphics. And that's what the first emoji set was—it was this set of 176 little graphics that you could attach to phone messages or emails using DOCOMO phones. They were designed by Shigetaka Kurita.

DOCOMO was ahead of everyone else with this, so it was a great marketing tool for them. It eventually became so popular that all of the other phone carriers adopted the same system in Japan. Everyone in Japan was using emoji since '99, 2000 and the early-2000's, but we didn't have anything like that in the West until Apple and Google adopted the Unicode standards for emoji in 2011. I think they were working on it from around 2009-2010, but 2011 is when it was released. Of course, by then, screen technology was way, way better, so the emojis were different-looking. But they used the same principles as the original ones, and the original ones are the ancestors of the ones we have today. If you sent a heart back in 1999, that's the same heart that we use today.

Jesse Reed: Emoji was invented to enhance the complexity of digital communication. When you're not face-to-face this is the replacement of us looking each other in the eye. It adds an extra layer. If you text someone "Thanks", and there's no exclamation mark or period, it's either "Thanks!" or "Thanks." Are you being sarcastic? Give me a little bit more emotion.

What made you decide to compile this information into a book?

Jesse: We know the emojis in our phones very well. They're all silly, but the history of them hasn't been told at great length yet. As with most things, it appeared and people think it came out of thin air. We're trying to tell the story of why they were created, where they came from and who designed them a little bit more.

What are some interesting, unexpected design details within the emoji system?

Jesse: One interesting thing is that nothing can be centered. The grid is symmetrical, but that means there can't be this middle stem in any of the images. So everything ends up being somewhat asymmetric because you can't center anything within the grid. We learned little things like that from interviewing Shigetaka and talking about his process. 

In graphic design these days, the underlying grid is a feature that people add to logos and identities, but a lot of the time it's just bullshit. The do it after the fact and are like, "look at the structure that we created." But with emoji, it was truly an architecture that had to be followed no matter what. You couldn't cut corners. You couldn't add anything. You couldn't even make diagonally cut pixels. You had to make these recognizable images appear out of a 12x12 pixel grid. It's the right way to use an angular end grid, and it's important for people to see that process.

Each individual emoji has so much information behind it. How did you decide to put all of this information together in your book?

Jesse: Most of the book is one spread per emoji. Every spread has an enlarged emoji with the grid kind of overlapping it and then a one-to-one scale in the very top on the left-hand page. Then on the top of the righthand page is all of the technical data like the unit code, the hex color, the number it was assigned and everything like that. It's interesting seeing them so blown up because they become abstract when they're small, so when you see them at full size they become more clear.

"Various things influenced emoji. One was the pictogram. Pictograms are used as signs in many places in Japan like stations and public places. The second was the Japanese art of Manga, which uses graphics to express emotion. Lastly, it was Japanese magazines. All of these things that organize and communicate information came together to influence the creation of emoji." —Shigetaka Kurita, designer of emoji

This exercise in distilling a complex object down to a form like this is really hard. Shigetaka doesn't even consider himself a designer. He's not a trained graphic designer, in fact, her's a game designer now. But this is such a graphic design challenge—it's not a normal thing that we deal with. Even when designing a corporate identity, the goal is to have some sort of complex form and distill it down to the bare essentials of productive design. I don't think people equate emoji with that practice because what we see now are really like photographs.

You ended up taking a research trip to Japan for this project. What were your main objectives while on this trip?

Jesse: There were many reasons why it was important to go there, obviously to meet Shigetaka and the team at DOCOMO, but you'll see in the video that we shot a lot of B-roll of Japanese life because all of the emojis are based on Japanese culture. The initial set were just everyday objects that people encountered in Japanese life that aren't necessarily the same in the US or in Europe or anywhere else in the world. It's very interesting to see their environment and what they pulled from. One example is that the emoji for mail is the logo of the mail service in Japan. It doesn't look like a mailbox, it's just a logo that's a Japanese character that only they would equate with mail. If you saw it you would have no idea. 

Can you talk about the book's unique cover design?

Jesse: Oh yeah, It's awesome. A black print of the emoji is on a board below this bright green vinyl so you can see the graphics through the vinyl. The different layers and the way the book lights up from the green vinyl is supposed to look like an old flip phone screen. 

The cover graphics are a crop of the full set of original emoji sketches. Shigetaka scanned this particular page and gave it to us. Not all of them ended up being made. We didn't even know the sketches existed, but when we interviewed him, I think we just asked, "do you have any sketches?" and he was like, "Oh yeah, I have this sheet that I did all my ideas on" And then he just photocopied it for us. I don't even think MoMA had it on display or included it anywhere. He acted very nonchalant about it. He's very humble, and when we interviewed him he talked about how no one at DOCOMO ever intended this to be a global phenomenon. It was just a very one step at a time transition from i-mode. 

There's also a keyboard component to this project. Can you explain what that will be like?

Jesse: It's going to be a keyboard extension with the original set of emojis so that you can use them on your own phone, more or less like stickers. That was kind of the impetus of the project. They wanted to make a keyboard extension in the States, and we got involved and said, "that's cool, but we don't really do that. We make books. Could you get us some original sketches?" So they did, and now we're doing the whole package deal. The keyboard will be included for free during the Kickstarter campaign, and then it will be sold afterwards. 

What do you think the principal of emoji and the system's history says about each respective culture?

Jesse: Emoji is highly organized information that is just so thoughtful, and it has to be. From the selection of objects to the way that they're designed to the way that they were deployed is kind of just like Japanese culture. That type of organization is normal. Looking at the Apple emojis, they're so complicated and overdecorated, which probably says something about our culture. 

Hamish: In the mid-2000's, Japan moved on from emoji even before the West had adopted it. They had stickers, and they invented all these way more complex ways to express emotion. We're so far behind.


Emoji is available now on Kickstarter here.
Categories: art & design

How Does This Pop-Up Bicycle Work?

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

You have to see this thing in action, it beggars belief:

Sadly I could find no information on the bike and its inventor. Watching the video, I can't even discern how the heck he makes it go up and down. If any of you have any inkling, let's hear it!

Categories: art & design

Design Job: Are You Obsessed with the Craft of Industrial Design?

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

Ziba believes in creating experiences that are deeply and powerfully right for the brands they represent and the consumer lives they touch. We believe in beautifully crafting each and

View the full design job here
Categories: art & design

Simple, Clever Object That Makes Washing Dogs Easy

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

The sequence of my thought process when seeing this object:

1. This seems silly
2. Oh wait a sec, this would be very useful

The Bath Buddy is a simple, inexpensive object designed to make bathing your dog easy. (I don't know about you and your pooches, but washing mine is like losing a jiujitsu match to a dog while someone sprays you with a hose.)

While that's a Kickstarter vid, the campaign is closed as it's already been successfully crowdfunded. My hat's off to inventors Megan and Rob Hoover, who have perfectly harnessed the properties of silicone to create a useful object.

They're selling them here.

Categories: art & design

Upcoming Documentary on NASA Concept Artists

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

Remember our awesome* series on Space Colony Form Factors? To refresh your memory, in the 1970s NASA was working out how to create gravity in space. It was decided that something enormous and circular in at least one axis, so it could spin, would be required. A host of concept artists were then used to render what these fanciful floating cities and farms could look like.

Now Don Davis and Rick Guidice, two of the concept artists who created those renderings, are finally getting their due: "Artist Depiction" is a forthcoming documentary where they get to share their experiences of working on the project, as well as show us their previously-unseen sketches.

"These oral histories will be lost to time without a series like this," says filmmaker Brett Ryan Bonowicz, who was motivated to put the doc together when he realized their stories hadn't been told. "I was amazed when I couldn't find interviews about these works."

ADIndiegogo from Clindar on Vimeo.

"Artist Depiction" has been successfully crowdfunded on IndieGogo and should premiere in October of this year. There's still 14 days left to contribute, and those that do can gain an early look at the film.

See Also:Space Colony Form Factors, Part 1: Bernal SpheresSpace Colony Form Factors, Part 2: O'Neill CylindersSpace Colony Form Factors, Part 3: The Stanford Torus and Beyond

*Yes it was awesome. No you shut up.

Categories: art & design

BYTON VP of Design, Benoît Jacob, on Designing a Timeless Electric SUV for Modern Consumers

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago
Benoît Jacob

During last week's Milan Design Week festivities, China, Munich and California-based electric vehicle start-up BYTON unveiled their electric concept SUV in Europe for the first time at a quiet, tucked away location in the Brera Design District. The concept was previously unveiled at CES and a few other locations, but for the European unveiling, BYTON created an installation around the vehicle and put together a miniature design studio on the lower level of their venue.

The electric concept SUV features a large 49 x 9.8 inch display screen that self-adjusts its brightness according to changes in light, along with a human vehicle interaction system that utilizes voice recognition through Alexa Voice, touch control and Air Touch gesture control (yes, this means the car will respond to specific hand movements). After using face recognition to unlock your BYTON vehicle, the lack of a center console makes the space feel less like a car and more like a lounge. In terms of holding a charge, drivers are able to go around 323 miles on one single charge. During Milan Design Week, BYTON also unveiled the concept for their first brand store, which will open later this year in Shanghai.

Amongst the list of industry veterans leading BYTON's team is VP of Design, Benoît Jacob, who is the former VP of Design at BMW. During his time at BMW, Jacob was the head of various projects, including both the i3 and i8 electric vehicles. Now, at BYTON, Jacob is responsible for building a concept vehicle from the ground up with the help of his design team. We were curious to learn more about the design process behind BYTON's electric concept SUV, so we had an in-depth conversation with the self-taught (crazy, right?) car designer to get the inside scoop:

Core77: What makes BYTON's design process unique from other car companies?

Benoît Jacob: I must say that we really had the chance to have a standout design process where we were could truly focus on innovation. A good design process means you have to have time. With startups, you have a lot less time, so we decided to do the explorative, creative phase much quicker. We went wild and looked at many possible directions, but we came to our decision relatively soon in such a way that we were not compromising the whole development process because there's nothing you can compress in the development process. You can fly from Milan to Los Angeles in about nine hours, maybe eight hours if you go quick. What you cannot do is fly that distance in five hours.

The way we run our design process starts with strategic research, context, benchmarking, and all these things, and then after we simply work digitally and physically on models. Our design center in Munich has all the tools and methods to conduct this. So we have the possibility to create clay models even from our studio, which is very rare for a start-up. Normally people will outsource, but from the beginning we set up the structure to do all of these things ourself. 

"I think the ability to update software, functionality and things like that will be on a day-to-day basis. And this is, of course, something we have to integrate as a technology into the car."

We have a fairly big design team now of about 70-80 people. We are not only working on one show car. We also work on the production car, and we're already working on future development. This is a platform, so we need to make sure we have that next thing ready. We not only need designers to do all of this but also data managers, engineers and people programming the milling machines. We have about 15 different jobs, and I think around 15 different nationalities. It's a fantastically international team.

We have a very strong visualization team, and we work a lot with virtual reality. We invested quite a bit into VR tools. Visualization helps you see basically, on any day, exactly how the final car will look before it's ever built. We are now at a competency level where we can do highly realistic renderings, and in a way it helps with speed. If you have the highest possible level of objectivity while you develop your car, you are able to react quickly if something goes wrong. In the old process, you would work for months on the clay model, then get it finished, get it outside, look at it 200 meters away and say, "Oh shit! That part is not even," or something. A detail that you'd never see on the plate while you work on the car magically comes to light. Now, we do it differently. If something goes, wrong, I can see it basically the next day—even at an early stage.

We also have a global footprint. Our design center is based in Munich, but now we also have a design center in Shanghai because I want most of our ideas to be born in China. China is where our market is, and you have to get your ideation or your research where your market is. Then in Germany we have the advantage of bringing quality to this whole process.

Who would you say is BYTON's particular target market is at this time?

The people that we're looking at are a group that typically buys premium product—like the young, successful entrepreneur. I would not say millennials because they are probably a little bit too young, but definitely Gen-X.

You've worked on a few interesting engineering projects with this car, including a larger than usual display screen and motion sensor technology. I'm curious to learn about how those considerations played into your design process.

The car industry has gone through a transformation, and the main challenge for us designers is to combine cars with new digital product that has a very different lifecycle. On one side you have the car, which is still capital intensive and, of course, a huge investment. So, the car itself will still have more or less the lifecycle that we know today—you know, six, seven, eight years. But digital products have a totally different lifecycle.

"Typically car designers and engineers say they know everything right from the beginning. But from start of production until the end of cycle, I'm saying I probably don't know everything, and this is a good thing."The large display screen runs almost the whole width of the carThe interior features two large display screens in the back in addition to the main display.Motion sensor

Figuring out how to update a car within the traditional lifecycle is a challenge. The way you update a car today is essentially based on the mid-lifecycle impulse—"Okay, lets go from new wheels, new bumpers and maybe new color," and you're done. I do not believe the future will be like that. I think the ability to update software, functionality, etc. will be on a day-to-day basis. And this is, of course, is something we have to integrate as a technology into the car. We need to consider the systems that receive this information, like for example antennae systems and modems, and we need to have a design or concept that accommodates them. We have this relatively large screen inside of the car, and it's not because we find it fancy. The idea behind the large screen is instead to say, "This is a canvas". We already know some of the use cases for the display now, but we're leaving room for the many use cases that we don't know at this point in time.

"We are not trying to innovate for the sake of innovating, but instead we're trying to innovate where it really makes sense."

It's okay to say that we don't know everything. Typically car designers and engineers say they know everything right from the beginning. But from start of production until the end of cycle, I'm saying I probably don't know everything, and this is a good thing. This is a future-proof sort of attitude. So that is the idea, but of course integrating this technology was, from a design standpoint, a challenge for us. Learning these new skills and integrating a large thing like that is not an easy task. For example, safety standards and regulations can change at any time, and we're designing this car for a global market, so it has to fulfill different, various regulations worldwide at the same time. We've gotten to a point where we fulfill all of them to the highest possible standard.

I'm glad you touched on the unknown future of the car industry because my next question is: How, as a car designer, do you design something for the future and know that it's still going to be relevant when it finally comes to fruition? 

We are not trying to innovate for the sake of innovating, but instead we're trying to innovate where it really makes sense. I can give you this example: At the very beginning, our CEO Carsten Breitfeld asked me if I would consider a specific special door concept. Funny enough, when a CEO gives the head of design permission to do fancy doors or something like that, I would say most of the time, the designer automatically says yes. But I actually told Carsten that this concept wasn't necessary or relevant. We'd rather invest our energy, time and money into something that is more relevant or meaningful as an innovation rather than there just being a story about getting in and out of the car.

It's interesting how alien some concept cars look and feel, especially in a time where design needs to be accessible and approachable. They're almost futuristic to a point where people can't quite relate yet.

You have to have a balanced approach towards innovation, and that's what I really try to instill as the spirit of BYTON as a brand. Yes, there is a strive for innovation and things that we will only do to compete with our competitors, but you can combine those elements with very bulletproof solutions. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, especially when it hasn't been proven that some of these new ideas are much better than the ones they're supposed to replace.


BYTON's concept vehicle will be available in China towards the end of 2019 and in the US and Europe in 2020 with a price starting at $45,000. Learn more about BYTON's electric concept SUV here.

Categories: art & design

China's Growing Electric Bus Fleet is So Massive It's Impacting the Oil Industry

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

In a bid to improve the horrible air quality in their cities, the Chinese government has been adding electric buses at the staggering pace of 9,500 new ones every five weeks. If these buses were rolling out one by one, the rate breaks down to roughly 271 new electric buses every day, or one bus every 5.3 minutes, spread out over a number of cities. Bloomberg reports that this fleet of e-buses has reduced China's demand for fuel by 279,000 barrels a day.

[Chinese electric bus manufacturer] BYD estimates its buses have logged 17 billion kilometers (10 billion miles) and saved 6.8 billion liters (1.8 billion gallons) of fuel since they started ferrying passengers around the world's busiest cities. That, according to [Managing Director Isbrand] Ho, adds up to 18 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution avoided, which is about as much as 3.8 million cars produce in each year.

In other words, by using electric buses it's as if China made nearly 4 million cars simply vanish, in terms of environmental effects. At least in the cities, where the air quality is now improved.

I say "at least in the cities" because while there are a host of articles on China's e-bus miracle, the thing none of them bring up is where the country's electricity comes from. While China has invested heavily in dams and generates an impressive 20% (roughly) of its electricity through hydropower , the next largest source of juice is coal, at around 65%. (These are based on 2016 statistics.) So the pollution has essentially been shifted away from the city streets and over to the smokestacks of powerplants.

Chart from Wikipedia, stats based on those provided by China Energy Portal

With any luck China will continue expanding its usage of wind (just 4%) and solar (just 1%) as energy sources. In the meantime, the greatest impact of their e-fleet may not be on the environment but on the oil companies. It will be interesting to see what the butterfly effect will be.

Categories: art & design

Design/Build Competition: Make Something Out of One Bag of Quikrete

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

For the third year in a row Quikrete is running their One Bag Wonder Competition, where entrants design and build something using one bag of their product.

First prize is $2,500. Second prize is $1,500. Third prize is $500. Fourth prize is a big bag of nothing.

Here's a look at some of the entries from last year's competition:

And I don't want to malign the winner, but a big reason I'm posting this entry is because I'm certain a talented Core77 reader will have a good chance of winning, based on the entry that won last year:

Competition details are here.

Categories: art & design

Making Time for Bio-Plastics: Mondaine Experiments with a Castor-Oil-Based Watch

core77 - 1 hour 58 min ago

From bans on plastic straws and bags to concerns about the ever-growing Pacific Garbage Patch (which is now three times the size of France), there is a movement towards plastic reduction that we all need to support. Obviously this can't happen overnight, but can be viable if thousands of companies start taking even baby steps towards alternatives to plastics.

For their part, Swiss timepiece company Mondaine is experimenting with bioplastics in their Essence collection of watches. 

While they're not yet able to ditch plastics entirely, they've begun incorporating the following surprising ingredient:

"Essence is the first and only watch made with a castor oil casing," the company writes. "Sustainability extends to its packaging as well, which is made from recycled PET plastic bottles and can be reused as a sunglasses or phone case."

We sent them some questions about the material, and they returned the following answers:

What does the production process entail, i.e. how is castor oil transformed into bio-plastic?

The Ricinus (castor) oil is extracted from the castor seeds by a mechanical pressing process. The oil that is obtained is further processed in a granulate form and then processed into a bio-plastic in the case of the essence.

In terms of bio-plastics, what makes Ricinus desirable over other alternatives (corn-based bio-plastics, etc.)?

Ricinus can be preferred over other bio-plastics such as corn-based because the seeds from the Castor Bean plant are inedible. The castor bean comes from Wonder Trees, which are fast growing, up to 10 feet high.

Are there other products on the market that feature Ricinus?

No other watch brands have used this. However it is well known in the cosmetic industry, i.e. for makeup, lipsticks etc. In [the] pharma industry it is well known for hundreds of years as a [digestive aid] for humans. Chairs are also made out of this material, and tests with parts for cars are being conducted.

What structural considerations led the designers to the 41% castor oil, 27% fossil plastic and 30% glass powder ratio?

BASF first suggested to use 70% Wonder Tree oil, but this material would not have been strong enough for a watch case which has to resist against shocks, changes in temperatures, and foremost water resistance over time. For this reason we have tested the BASF material by gradually adding glass powder (glass is a natural material), until we found the best compound – 30% glass, making the case stiff, long lasting, shock and water resistant.

What are the performance characteristics of Ricinus versus a typical plastic, or bio-plastic?

They include high-thermal stability, dynamic strength, and impact resistance. BASF who we work with for the material also uses [it] in automotive applications such as engines, gears, radiator systems, fuel supply systems, and electrical systems. For the watches, it has [the] same characteristics as normally used fossil compounds – so Mondaine was able to replace that compound to a large degree with renewable material. A first and important step in the right direction for our environment.

Assuming this is the first step in an evolution for Mondaine, what is the next step?

The next running change in the production is to replace the stainless steel backs and buckles, and its next launch will include the back of the casing and buckles with the castor oil material.


You can take a closer look at the Essence here.

Categories: art & design

This mind-reading hearing aid knows who you’re listening to

New Scientist Headlines - 2 hours 6 min ago
An ear mounted device with a battery of brain-scanning electrodes knows which sounds you're paying attention to – it might also help you get a good night's sleep
Categories: science

Breast scan error 'shortened up to 270 lives' - Hunt

Education News - 2 hours 8 min ago
Up to 270 women in England may have died prematurely after failing to receive breast scan invitations.
Categories: world news

Breast scan error 'shortened up to 270 lives' - Hunt

World News - 2 hours 8 min ago
Up to 270 women in England may have died prematurely after failing to receive breast scan invitations.
Categories: world news

House of Fraser to close stores in reorganisation

World News - 2 hours 16 min ago
Department store chain announces turnaround plan and a new Chinese owner.
Categories: world news

Biohacker Aaron Traywick found dead in a spa

World News - 2 hours 16 min ago
Aaron Traywick had made headlines for promoting unlicensed drugs to sick members of the public.
Categories: world news
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