The company behind Windows has manufactured a glimpse into a future “where technology extends and highlights our productive capabilities.” The concept video, embedded above for your wonderment, includes ideas for products that take advantage of current technology (speech recognition, data visualization, etc.) and magical things that have yet to be invented like glasses that translate speech in real time and transparent refrigerator doors with data overlays. Microsoft “see[s] technology moving from a passive tool to a more active assistant, helping us get things done, and strengthening our interactions with one another.” Tap play and journey into Microsoft’s vision of the future. Spoiler: so many screens. It’s good to know that physical QWERTY keyboards will still exist in the future, right? Right?
At an event dubbed Photoshop World 2011, an Adobe exec demonstrated the future of Photoshop…on an iPad! You might think Photoshop Express in the App Store is a useful tool to edit photos on a mobile device, but you ain’t seen nothing yet. Resizing, manipulating, and applying filters to images is a smooth experience on this conceptual, futuristic version of Ps for iPad. The coolest feature, though, is the ability to add layers and view all applied layers in a 3D animation mode that reveals how exactly they are organized in relation to one another. But alas–this tease of an insanely cool iPad app is but a concept and no release date was shared with the event’s crowd in awe.
“Ring” is a futuristic lamp created by Italian designer Loris Bottello and obviously inspired by the world of Tron. It’s lit by bioluminescent polymers and its intensity can be adjusted by rotating the disc. By design, the energy is transferred by brush contacts on the outer copper ring. Aesthetics and functionality aid each other in this bold concept that I want by my bedside stat.
Lady Gaga takes over Polaroid, shows off instant digital camera, mobile printer, and futuristic camera glasses
If you didn’t know, Lady Gaga was appointed the Creative Director of Polaroid. You know, the company famous for inventing the chunky camera that almost instantly spits out pictures onto film sheets. In 2008 Polaroid announced the discontinuation of its self-developing film, but now they’re back and with the help of Gaga they hope to reinvigorate the nostalgia of the aged Polaroid camera and their overall brand with three new products. The “Polaroid Grey Label” includes the GL30 Instant Digital Camera, GL10 Instant Mobile Printer, and the GL20 Camera Glasses. The GL30 is reminiscent of Polaroid cameras of the past and uses ZINK Zero Ink Technology for instant printing. Users can select from a number of filters and borders before the image pops out of the portable, sleek digital camera. The GL10 is a portable printer that also uses the ZINK technology and images are instantly printed on smudge-proof, water-resistant film that resembles white photo paper. The GL20 glasses has to be the coolest product of the bunch, and they’re something only Lady Gaga could think of to invent. The fashionably loud and futuristic glasses double as a digital camera. You can instantly capture or upload pictures with it and then display the images on the glasses’ LCD screens for others to see. Sounds strange at first but the idea is quite novel. It’s just another way to express yourself.
All three products were shown off in purely conceptual form at CES 2011, but Polaroid is confident they will ship the printer in May 2011 for $149.99 and the camera and glasses “later this year” at undisclosed prices. Look at the pics below and PR is after the break.
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This is one slick concept machine. Razer, the maker of high-end precision gaming products, revealed a concept mobile PC designed for gamers on the go. The Razer Switchblade is based on the Intel Atom processor and packs an ultra-sensitive, 7-inch capacitive multitouch touchscreen (1024 x 600) and a dynamic tactile keyboard. The keyboard is the most intriguing part of the design; key layout and configuration can be changed on-the-fly based on game content and user requirements. For example, it can serve as a standard QWERTY keyboard as you’re browsing a website inside a browser and the next minute it can morph into a keyboard made specifically to play a game like World of Warcraft where the keys become quick access points for magical potions and spells. So how does it all work? Easy; just like the top half of the device, the keyboard is actually a large LCD screen in disguise with physical keys layered on top of it. Inside the custom Razer OS skin the user can tweak the keyboard to make the keys function however they want. Customization is left up to the user’s imagination. Sure, you can make the keys display video playback controls such as play, pause, fast-forward, etc.; but Razer is a gaming company at heart and they are hoping that gamers will find the customization options to be helpful in optimizing the way they play games on the go when a full keyboard and mouse combo are not present.
As awesome as that keyboard hopes to be, keep in mind that the Switchblade is still a portable notebook. Razer’s custom skin can be hidden to reveal a standard copy of Windows 7. There are also USB ports (so a mouse can theoretically be connected), a mini HDMI port, and a webcam. Bluetooth and WiFi are also inside. The company is still determining whether or not to pack 3G capability with it. That’s right–this concept notebook unveiled at CES 2011 is actually coming to market in the near future. Razer is mum on exact release date and price, but you can expect to see this portable gaming machine attempt its transformation of the mouse/keyboard paradigm sometime within the next year or so. Full PR after the break.(Click here for more…)
From a melancholic loss to a tangible idea the C60 Redux was made.
In the book I Miss My Pencil, co-authors Martin Bone and Kara Johnson of design firm IDEO conceived twelve design experiments through collaboration, sketching, and prototyping. One of these concept designs is called the C60 Redux and it begs the question, “Does the mix tape still exist in a digital world?” Bone shares his thoughts: “I feel strangely melancholic that in this shift from analog to digital we somehow lost something; we traded connection for convenience.” And he gloomily concludes: “Ultimately this experiment won’t change anything; technology marches on, teenagers in love today play out their courtship online in their Facebook pages, not browsing record stacks. But I feel much better for having done it.”
This particular experiment inspired a group at IDEO to make a real working model of the C60 Redux and their efforts are revealed in the video above. Something was “somehow lost” in the technological shift from analog to digital, thought Bone. That something is physicality, and so the designers marched on to create a working model with this question in mind: “What if we could touch our music again?” Using Arduino Pro Mini boards and RFID tags the concept came to life. The designers constructed a small box that takes design cues from a record player, and built inside are Arduino boards that can read RFID (or radio-frequency identification) cards. Embedded inside custom-made cards are two RFID tags, each tag representing a song. When you place a card on top of the box, the circuitry inside the box instantly reads the RFID tag and plays the song stored on it. Flip a card over to play Side B. Place multiple cards on the surface to create a playlist (the cards are read in a clockwise order).
And just like that a mere concept born out of a need to bring back the physicality of music was made into a real product. Beyond the final product, what’s important to glean from this story is the tale of technology and how it can bring exciting advances and at the same time disregard staples of the past. In the move from vinyl to cassette tapes to CDs to MP3s, the convenience of throwing a couple hundred songs on an iPod has managed to make most forget about the materiality of music and what that brought with it. The days of collecting piles of vinyl and what Bone calls the “joy and love” of creating personal mix tapes are way behind us, but something like the C60 Redux might just have the power to bring it all back to our digital world.
The Mercedes-Benz BIOME symbiosis vehicle is made from an ultralight material called BioFibre and tips the scales at just 875.5 lbs (around 394 kg). This material is significantly lighter than metal or plastic, yet more robust than steel. BioFibre is grown from proprietary DNA in the Mercedes-Benz nursery, where it collects energy from the sun and stores it in a liquid chemical bond called BioNectar4534. As part of this process, the vehicle is created from two seeds: The interior of the BIOME grows from the DNA in the Mercedes star on the front of the vehicle, while the exterior grows from the star on the rear. To accommodate specific customer requirements, the Mercedes star is genetically engineered in each case, and the vehicle “grows” when the genetic code is combined with the seed capsule. The wheels are grown from four separate seeds.
If you haven’t deduced this by now, the BIOME is an eco-friendly hybrid “vehicle of the future” that can be grown in a lab. While it’s in use it produces oxygen, like plants, thereby contributing to improving air quality. And when the car has reached the end of its lifecycle, it can be fully composted or used as building material. But don’t hold your breath; a concept car like the BIOME won’t become a reality for quite some time simply because its fantastical feature set is downright impossible to implent today. But one can dream, no? Read more about Mercedes’ crazy ideas for the future after the break, and look in the gallery below to view the BIOME from various angles.
The fact that this concept took this long to come up with is a bit sad. And the other fact that it hasn’t been installed in busy roads is even worse. Try to wrap your head around the Sand Glass traffic light designed by Thanva Tivawong. Its design is inspired by the hour glass, the physical object and the famous Windows “wait” mouse icon. Implementing the hour glass concept into the traffic light is genius, really. Brightly lit LED pixels change color (red, yellow, green) to designate wait, ready, and go, respectively–we’re used to that already. When it acts like an hour glass, drivers can get a more precise sense of almost exactly when the traffic light will change states. The designer also included a countdown timer; the yellow state will read “3, 2, 1″ when its about to change color to green and prompt the driver to “go” or change to red and prompt “stop”. This is a concept that needs to become a reality! We like having a sense of progress status, don’t we? Look in the gallery below for more conceptual visuals.
Check out these “social network sneakers” designed by Gerry Mckay for Adidas. These are purely conceptual sneaker designs for now. If people start demanding these be produced for consumption, Adidas can give the go ahead to make it happen. Though various blogs are hatin’ on the very idea of a sneaker based on a social networking website, I happen to find the designs extremely attractive.
Mckay’s idea is to merge the classic Adidas Superstar sneaker (which celebrated 35 years in 2006) with Twitter and Facebook branding. The Twitter Superstar features the recognizable light blue color scheme and Twitter ‘bird’ logo as a “visual element.” The Facebook Superstar is inspired by Facebook’s dark blue on white color scheme and it features the Facebook type logo at the heel of the shoe and on the tongue beneath the Adidas logo. On the inside wall of the shoe two Facebook slogans read: Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you” & “Making the world open and connected”.
Take a closer look at the Superstar sneaker designs in the gallery below. Sure, socially-inclined sneakers sound lame but these designs are simple, smart, and definitely appealing.
The BendDesk, a research projected created by members of the Media Computing Group, is an attempt to converge digital and physical workspaces into one desk. The concept desk features a curved multitouch display and supports up to ten touch points. The display can bring up digital content like documents, photos, or videos. And thanks to its ergonomically impressive design, the digital desk doubles as a physical desk; it can easily support a laptop, paperwork, pens and pencils on the horizontal surface. For now the BendDesk is merely an in-house concept project, so don’t expect to see something like finding a place in your room any time soon. The best we can do is watch it in all its futuristic glory in video demonstration form above.
Journey to a distant future with me, will you? This is the Mozilla Seabird imagined by concept designer Billy May. The smartphone’s specifications will make your eyes pop out. Dual pico projectors can project images on virtually any surface. When laid down on a flat surface or placed in a dock, the projectors can illuminate a QWERTY keyboard to provide content and interface simultaneously. The embedded Bluetooth dongle doubles as a Bluetooth earpiece and IR pointer (with 1:1 IR tracking and haptic clicking) for manipulation of on-screen items in 3D space. And isn’t the curved, ergonomic design to die for?
Now don’t get too excited there, partner. Mozilla (yes, the company behind Firefox) has no plans to develop the Seabird, or any smartphone for that matter. Billy May conceptualized the Seabird in this 3D rendering to support the Mozilla Labs Concept Series, a Mozilla-backed project that fosters the brainstorming of new ideas that “push the boundaries of the Web and the browser.” The Seabird is May’s second attempt at an “open web concept phone.” Since early 2009 he’s been listening to community feedback, and what you see in the 3D rendering above is the final result. Salivating yet?
Gregory Kaufman, a student at Kansas City Art Institute, imagined and implemented “DJ touch screen interface and gesture interaction concepts” for his senior degree project. Though it’s not quite as visually stunning as the rear projection setup we spied earlier this week, it does bring a new kind of functionality to the up-and-coming DJ multitouch game–the ability to replicate a standard DJ turntable-mixer setup using a touch-based interface. Check out the video embedded above to hear all about from Kaufman and see a demonstration of the concept tech.
Check out this crazy amazing homemade DJ setup called Token Concept. Sure it uses rear projection video on glass for the cool visual effect, but the multitouch implementation is far out. Into the future. It’s running off a Traktor Pro controller called Emulator.
Peep this glorious couch inspired by the classic video game Space Invaders. Designer Igor Chak has outdone himself with this latest creation. The couch is all leather, features two glass surfaces, and is lined with memory foamed. The black-on-white color scheme and the wild shapes and spaces are excellent design choices if you ask me. I wish this were a real couch and not a mere concept…because I would have already ordered one by now. Check out more images in the gallery below.
…they make you grow! These here are “Play Condoms” designed by Ben Marsh. They’re condoms packaged inside plastic Game Boy cartridges. But why?
The packaging aims create a desire to purchase the product for aesthetic reasons, rather than the necessity of condoms. Simply by owning the product, safe sex is promoted.
OK, then. But with titles like Donkey Shlong and Sextris, how could you refuse?! Look in the gallery below for additional shots of the packaging.
Stethedphone, designed by Antrepo Design Industry.
They’re headphones in the shape of a stethoscope! They come with a remote and mic and features include listening to music, making/receiving phone calls, and accessing voice control. They’re “made from ultra light and flexible plastic” and comes in an assortment of colors and sizes. “Stethedphone” is a concept design, one that I can’t believe I didn’t come up with.
The Page, designed by Jae Kim.
With all the buzz surrounding iPad this and iPad that, it’s nice to see someone else thinking outide the box when it comes to reinventing the way we read newspapers and other print media. Designer Jae Kim has conceptualized The Page, a foldable display that features a semi-transparent E-Ink screen that displays text and images. Screens that can bend into various shapes and sizes have been conceptually implemented in the past, so this certainly isn’t the first player to the game. However, it does feature a number of interesting UI enhancements, including automatic column formatting depending on its shape and interactive page navigation on a flat surface. Check it out in all its concept-y glory in the video above. There’s some stills waiting below, too.
Industrial designers Rahul Mahtani & Yofred Moik have imagined a new way to go about emailing. This is all conceptual thinking, mind you, but take a knee and listen here. Google Mail Envelopes is designed to be built into the Gmail service. When you’re ready to send off an email, you’ll be given two options: send email (as usual) or “send envelope.” When you click the new button, Google representatives are notified and they print out your email, package it into a Google Maps decorated envelope, and send it off to its destination via the United States Postal Service for a small fee. The envelope design is neat; the return address and destination labels are placed inside Maps bubbles and they each point to their respective locations on the map. The two locations are connected by a line, the same line that’s formed when you look for directions online at Google Maps. In other words, the mail’s exact route is labled on the map on the envelope. Although this concept is one that will likely never make it into reality (privacy concerns, Google employing letter senders), the idea is quite fascinating. Turning electronic mail into a physical letter is an option some people might find useful. It’d be a faster, more efficient way to send a letter–it would eliminate the need to shop for stamps, for one thing.
A bunch of bright minds at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany have been working on this research project they call “multi-toe interaction.” Basically it’s a multitouch floor that can recognize a person based on their shoe pattern. But I’ll let the masterminds explain:
The key factor of the shown design is that it is based on frustrated total internal reflection sensing. FTIR allows it to identify and track users based on their sole patterns. The floor recognizes foot postures, distinguishes users who interact from people walking by, and enables high-precision interaction. In addition, the floor can approximate users’ head positions based on the pressure profile in the soles and it extracts enough details from soles to allow users to play first person shooters by balancing their feet.
So precise! Not so sure if this can ever be practically implemented, but it’s always good to see unique implementations of a multitouch interface. Even if it involves stinky feet.
The stainless steel Instant Trend concept watch receives Facebook and Twitter notifications by hooking up to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Buttons on the side of the watch let you scan through the messages. And if you think that’s neat, listen to how bizarre reading the actual time is: the pixelated bars you see in the image above represent the time in hours, minutes, and 10-minute blocks. “Reading the time is simple, just add the blocks; 12 blocks for hours, 5 blocks for groups of 10 minutes and single minutes 1-9.” Did I mention this is a concept device?