Category Archives: Design

The strange, hypnotic beauty of an underwater wheelchair

A few months back my three-year-old nephew Austin, whose hip joints prevent him from walking, was approved to receive an electric wheelchair thanks to his mom’s tireless efforts. The machine has been a real game-changer for him, and the whole fam is delighted to see how he now zips around, getting involved in board games & other activities that had previously been out of reach.

In a similar vein, artist Sue Austin finds a new kind of freedom under the waves thanks to her winged, motorized wheelchair:

Kottke writes,

It’s a tiny bit surreal to see how freely she moves around in something that many of us associate with an absence of a particular type of movement. But as Austin explains in her 2013 TED Talk, she thinks of her wheelchair in terms of freedom of movement, which is highlighted for others by the underwater video.

If this is of any interest, I’d strongly recommend checking out the excellent 99% Invisible article on the history of curb cuts & the fight for greater accessibility. Give it a listen & I think you’ll be hooked:

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[YouTube 1 & 2]

New open-source Google AI experiments help people make art

One’s differing physical abilities shouldn’t stand in the way of drawing & making music. Body-tracking tech from my teammates George & Tyler (see previous) is just one of the new Web-based experiments in Creatability. Check it out:

Creatability is a set of experiments made in collaboration with creators and allies in the accessibility community. They explore how creative tools – drawing, music, and more – can be made more accessible using web and AI technology. They’re just a start. We’re sharing open-source code and tutorials for others to make their own projects.

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[YouTube]

Lego + kids = a design for autonomous construction vehicles

What started out as a fun, informal team-building event has evolved into both a Lego Technic kit and a full-fledged autonomous concept wheel loader design:

The Volvo team writes,

Together with LEGO® Technic designers and a bunch of amazing kids, we’ve developed the Concept Wheel Loader ZEUX packed with some truly spectacular features.

The result is not only a sneak peak into the future of electro mobility, but also the introduction of a brand new LEGO Technic building kit (available in stores in August).

[YouTube]

Get fishy with Lego Forma

Hmm—from the look of the skinned models to the project hosting on Indiegogo, I wouldn’t have expected this from Lego—but I can dig it:

LEGO FORMA is a premium LEGO experience designed for adults looking for a fun, engaging way to reconnect with their creative side. LEGO FORMA mechanical models are cleverly designed but simple to assemble. Sturdy rods and parts combine with customizable skins to create a joyful creative challenge. Taking design cues from nature, LEGO FORMA incorporates life-like movement, colors, and patterns. The result is an elegant conversation piece that’s a tasteful addition to any room.

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via GIPHY

[YouTube] [Via Tony Scott]

“Please Feed The Lions”: AI-driven collective poetry writing in Trafalgar Square

Google collaborated with artist Es Devlin to help London passerby contribute to an ever-evolving poem projected on Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square.

Cast in 1867, the four monumental lions in Trafalgar Square have been sitting as silent British icons at the base of Nelson’s Column for the past 150 years. Overnight on Monday 17 September, a fifth fluorescent red lion will join the pride. This new lion will roar poetry, and the words it roars will be chosen by the public. Everyone is invited to “feed the lion”, but this lion only eats words.

Go behind the scenes or just check out this 60-second overview:

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[YouTube]