· Autonomous Cars Get Go-Ahead in California: Driverless cars aren’t new. Nor are laws (or potential laws) that would govern their use. Last week, though, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that will open his state, arguably the most important adopter of such a measure, for the driverless car business beginning in 2015. While there are still a number of legal hurdles to clear, there’s a bigger question, for us, of how these vehicles will be designed. Google, for one, will help show us the way to the future: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp9KBrH8H04.
· The Life of an iPhone: To coincide with the release of iPhone 5, CNET published a series on the human and environmental costs associated with delivering massive volumes of the device to fulfill the needs of one of Apple’s typically ambitious launches. We’ve kinda heard that before. But we haven’t heard the latest following previous examinations of the methods by which such highly desired consumer electronics are produced. As we learn, a lot of things have changed, and a lot of things have not. http://news.cnet.com/2702-33059_3-1945.html.
· China Struggles to Put Clean Cars on the Road: Before China considers how it will deal with autonomous cars, the government there is looking to solve its clean car dilemma. Namely, how can they get more EVs and hybrids on the road? Efforts to date haven’t really been successful. Scientific American has a bit of insight on why—and what could be done next in pursuit of China’s EV usage goals: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=chinas-bid-to-put-more-clean-cars-on-the-road-hits-a-wall.
· The Power of the Internet: We’re not talking about the good kind that fosters innovation and positive disruptions. This piece, from The New York Times, dives into the actual power used by the Internet and the various denizens of the tech industry. As we learn, they’re not as green as they may seem: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/technology/data-centers-waste-vast-amounts-of-energy-belying-industry-image.html?_r=0.
· Electronics that Dissolve Inside Your Body?: Yes, that is a thing now according to a new paper revealing work by researchers from Tufts, Northwestern and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technology is called transient electronics or resorbable electronics. The systems work until they are no longer needed, at which point they dissolve completely away—the dissolution triggered by ordinary water in their operating environment. You can imagine the potential. http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/breakthroughs/transient-electronics-could-dissolve-inside-your-body-13098637.
· The Origin Story of Corning’s Gorilla Glass: Decades before any smartphone maker had a need for a difficult-to-destruct screen, a Corning scientist accidentally cooked up the first synthetic glass-ceramic. It launched a business for the company that had a decent, but short run. It was hardly the game changer it would become in the 21st century. Wired has an excellent piece on the rise of gorilla glass and how it has come to rule the planet: http://blog-admin.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/09/ff-corning-gorilla-glass/.
· Behind the Scenes at Facebook: Facebook was built on the idea of putting people at the center of everything, of human-to-human interaction. According to the company’s lingua franca, the principle is called "social design." In a post for Core77, Facebook’s Director of Design, Kate Aronowitz, discusses the company’s latest goals and strategies for its design function: http://www.core77.com/blog/business/designing_delight_behind_the_scenes_at_facebook_by_kate_aronowitz_23558.asp.
· Designing an Island: Yes. This is for serious. Studio Dror led a design exploration at the behest of the Turkish government to create an island where 300,000 people could live in a comprehensively sustainable urban environment. The concept involves a billion cubic meters of dredged land, a series of Bucky Fuller’s geodesic domes, ancient geometry, a 3D grid and an elaborate mesh system. You really have to watch this 6-minute video to wrap your brain around it: http://www.studiodror.com/news/201209_havvada/index_video.html#video.
· 5 Reasons Global Firms Should Serve the Developing World: Beyond philanthropy, why should global companies invest in social impact projects in developing countries? Why’s that a good use of resources? To be perfectly blunt, why is IDEO doing it, and what do they gain from it? We didn’t actually have to ask in order for Tim Brown to answer (with an assist from Linda Tischler): http://www.fastcodesign.com/1670862/ideos-ceo-5-reasons-global-firms-should-serve-the-developing-world.
· How to Nurture Your Company’s Rebels: Every company has its share of the crazy ones. Some sit in the C-suite. Some drive change quietly from a distant corner. And some actually create more friction than anything else. As we all know, there’s an art to leveraging opposition as an integral aspect of the creative process. This week, frog has an insight-heavy piece featuring three suggested actions that could guide your company’s strategy for making your friction both creative and productive: http://designmind.frogdesign.com/blog/how-to-nurture-your-company-s-rebels-and-unlock-their-innovative-might.html.
· The Case for Abolishing Patents: Two professors at Washington University in St. Louis have authored a working paper for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that argues no patent system is a good patent system. The trouble, they say, is that a patent system—regardless of its intent or its structure—will eventually become unwieldy, thereby retarding innovation. The Atlantic unpacks this radical idea: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/the-case-for-abolishing-patents-yes-all-of-them/262913/.
· A Very Special IHA Housewares Show: Can you believe the IHA is hosting the 20th anniversary edition of its annual student design competition at this year’s Housewares Show? Since 1993, nearly 4,000 students from 70+ universities have entered. Over 100 winners have jumpstarted their careers via the competition. Who will win this year? Will you (or one of your students) land a first (or second) job following an IHA victory? You have to enter first. Deadline: Dec. 21. [P.S. Vicki Matranga, H/IDSA is planning a reunion of past winners, judges and visiting professors. Contact her if you’d like to participate.] http://www.housewares.org/show/info/sdc/.
· Believe the Hype?: As you may have inferred from reading this e-newsletter, we boarded the additive manufacturing bandwagon some time ago. So we’re inclined to believe (some of) the hype about 3D printing. But not everyone does. At least one person believes the peak of inflated expectations is in sight. Sure, the curve will always correct. But it always arrives at a productive plateau as well, no? The medical parts industry appears to be there already. And, on the heels of Makerbot releasing the Replicator 2, a new player has triumphantly entered the space: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/formlabs/form-1-an-affordable-professional-3d-printer.
· Speaking of Kickstarter...: The design community has had ample time to measure the expected impact the platform’s recent policy changes will have on Product Design projects. We liked Popular Mechanics’ take on how it felt, in part, like a hasty reaction to bad press. And we dug the spirit of Continuum’s defense of the product development process. Perhaps the best response we saw was Don Lehman’s blow-by-blow analysis and thoughtful love letter to Kickstarter: http://www.core77.com/blog/columns/regarding_kickstarter_product_design_projects_23506.asp.
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