Sensor fail


September 22, Lausanne (Switzerland). I guess sensor-based soap dispensers have been designed in order to provide a touch-free system that is supposedly more hygienic for its users. However, almost everytime I run across such device, there's a little bit of soap under it. It's the messiness versus elegance that always happen when one think technology would be an easy solution for a simple problem.

Invisible technology: rock speakers


I've always been fascinated by "rock speakers", i.e. audio speakers hidden in faux-rocks. Quite a weird object category, very ironic actually. There are some available on Amazon (see this one) and it's quite intriguing to read the technical features as well as the reviews by buyers. I can see that as an example of Invisible technology, perhaps in a different way than Mark Weiser's definition of Ubiquitous Computing.

What does it mean? What's the need to hide technology in a crappy plastic stone?

Zelda game wristwatch 1989


The "Legend of Zelda" watch is a multi-purpose device made by Nelsonic Industries, who obtained the Nintendo license back at the end of the 1980s. According to the Wikipedia, 12 million copies were sold, which is quite impressive and perhaps better than recent watch computers.

Is that a smartwatch? That's maybe not the main point here, but it's intriguing to think about the fact that there's already a lot of examples (like this) of showing how computation can help triggering a playful user experience on a wrist-based tiny device.

Beyond the functionalities, I'm also curious of the gestural behavior of the user here. The manipulation of the buttons is tricky but doable, although it's way different than the NES version of Zelda.

Five Advantages of The Concept of "Design"

((Via Unhappy Hipsters. The photo caption is: It was far more satisfying to relive their romance via iPhoto slideshow.))

The Unhappy Hipster site has the tag line “It’s Lonely In The Modern World” dryly shifting design toward self-mocking irony. Perhaps a kind of denaturing of the sublime intoxication home/interior/architectural design was once able to effect. Seasoning this with Latour, we might wonder if there ever was a modern world and if there were not — have we ever been lonely?))

I read — closely, but not obsessively — this essay by Bruno Latour that was delivered as a keynote at the Networks of Design meeting of the Design History Society in 2008. I pretty much read whatever Latour writes, and listen to whatever he discusses in lectures where available. Mostly because he can be insightful while also being funny, and there aren’t too many philosophers who can make that claim. But also because I find his work mostly relevant, or I make it relevant to this ongoing project of understanding design and comprehend how design is a way to circulate and create knowledge through the materialization of ideas. ((The bedrock of this project is a bit of science-technology studies, which is how I came across Latour some decade or so ago, a hobbled appreciation of actor-network theory, and my infantile understanding of the questions surrounding this “object-oriented ontology” thing.))

So, when Latour has an essay that proposes *a few steps toward a philosophy of design, I figure I should give it a look-see.

Continue reading Five Advantages of The Concept of "Design"