Tag Archives | Design

The Gadgets We Never Heard Of

Did you know that the iPod is basically a ripoff of a German transistor radio from the 1950s? Via the Atlantic, selections from Bill Buxton’s collection of little-known gadgets (such as early touchscreen devices, the first robotic chess game, and a “mindblowing Casio watch from 1984″) which sadly are in the secret dustbin of history:

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Pepsi Unveils Plastic Bottle Made Entirely From Plants

plasticPepsi is trumpeting its creation of a plastic bottle made entirely from plant matter. Great — now we’ll be filling our landfills with plastic forever, even after we run out of oil. Via Gizmodo:

Soda’s bad for you, but plastics—especially the petroleum-based PET plastics used widely for bottles—are bad for everyone. Thankfully, after millions of dollars and years of research, Pepsi thinks it’s cracked the code on a 100% plant-based PET bottle.

It looks…just like the old bottle. “It’s indistinguishable,” says Rocco Papalia, PepsiCo’s senior vice president of advanced research. But instead of drawing from our planet’s diminishing supply of petroleum, it’s made entirely from plant waste—currently switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and eventually incorporating orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other materials leftover from its food business.

Pepsi’s going to test the bottle with a run of a few hundred thousand in 2012, and if all goes well they plan on converting all their products to the new bottles thereafter.

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Do You Know What These Objects Are?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is into historical inventions, including the revolutionary, strange, and ill-conceived — everything from primitive 45 rpm record players to radiation monitors. However, some items in their fascinating digital archives defy explanation — no one is sure where they came from or what their functions are (time travel dial? witch detector?). The government is asking for your help in identifying mystery machines:

Do you hold the key to solving some gadget mysteries from the last century of U.S. science and technology? Visitors to the site can view the items and offer clues about the history and origins of some of these important artifacts.

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Inflatable Crowds For Rent

In need of a massive crowd of people, but don’t have thousands of adoring followers at your disposal? Why not go with Inflatable Crowd? The company rents out blow-up versions of giant masses of humanity, for use in films, political rallies, or other needs. When decked out in clothing, wigs, and masks and viewed from a distance, the blow-up denizens are nearly indistinguishable from the real thing, and are far cheaper than paying large numbers of extras. Their Flickr is pretty disturbing.

The Inflatable Crowd Company was created for SEABISCUIT in 2002. Since then, our Inflatable Crowds have been seen (but not noticed) in over 80 feature films & many TV shows & commercials.


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Augment Your Body With Brainwave-Controlled Cat Ears

Completely real and available for purchase now from Japanese startup outfit Neurowear. Being a bionic cyber-feline has never looked cuter. Via Wired UK:
The ears twitch through a range of different positions, which correspond to different brain activity. So when you concentrate, the ears point upwards and when you relax the ears flop down and forwards. Mind control isn't new, but lately advances have been made to make mass market control devices at affordable prices.
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Britain’s Stylishly Mod Secret Underground City

How To Be A Retronaut has an arresting set of images of Burlington, the 35-acre “Cold War City” lying twelve stories beneath Wiltshire, England. Built during the 1950s, it was to be home to the prime minister and a few thousand others in the event of nuclear apocalypse. With record players, rotary phones, and Singer sewing machines folding out from enclosures in the walls, it makes the prospect of a post-disaster future seems quite charming:

It was equipped with the second largest telephone exchange in Britain and a BBC studio from where the prime minister could make broadcasts to what remained of the nation. 100,000 lamps that lit its streets and guided the way to a pub modeled on the Red Lion in Whitehall. The bunker’s very existence was meant to be top secret until it was decommissioned in 2004.

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Mask For Full-Head Pixelation In Public Places

Pixelhead_PublicSpace_03-ledeIf you long for privacy in a world of near-constant surveillance, take note. Finally there is an analog device for pixelating one’s face while walking the streets. Wearing this will definitely liven up your day. Via Co.Design (thanks to John K. Smith for the tip):

Martin Backes has designed some conceptual fashion headwear to assuage your paranoia. “Pixelhead” is a full-coverage mask decorated in pixelated colors, so that if you do get caught by Google Street View’s cameras, your privacy is assured.

Clearly, Mr. Backes has his tongue at least partly in-cheek with his design: as he explains on his site, that pixelated pattern is actually a “fashionable” de-rezzed image of German Secretary of the Interior Thomas de Maizière. Pixelhead is no tossed-off piece of conceptual art — created with advisement from fashion designer Liza Sander, this “media camouflage” is made from the finest stretch satin.

If you feel like your commitment to upholding personal privacy in the digital age is worth getting tackled by cops wherever you go, then you can actually order a limited-edition Pixelhead from Backes by contacting him directly.

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Clothing In The Year 2000

A video in which fashion designers circa the 1930s were asked to design clothing as they predicted it would look in the year 2000. More fun than accurate ("transparent nets to catch males", "an electric belt will adapt the belt to climatic changes", "a dress of aluminum"), although their vision of the tie-less, goateed 21st century male -- with his portable phone/radio and pockets for "keys, coins, and candy for cuties" -- is fairly prescient.
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