What if your glasses could read to you?

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I firmly believe that the spectacle holds great opportunity for wearable tech, because even if there’s just a fraction of people wearing them, these people are ALWAYS wearing them. You could forget your watch, or your fitbit, but you never forget your glasses. Taking the function of glasses, and elevating them, the Oton is a pretty damn amazing wearable.

Designed to help you see, but even better than regular glasses, the Otonmake use of AI and Machine Learning to recognize images (text in particular), and play/read them out to the wearer. Imagine not being able to read the fine print, or even more useful, not being able to read a foreign language, the Oton turn image-text into speech, pretty much giving people superpowers, if you think about it! The future of wearables looks inclusive and empowering for sure!

Designer: Keisuke Shimakage

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Blinds that capture solar power and your attention

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The Rolar Blinds do three things. They harness the energy of the sun, they cut the glare of the sun out during the day, keeping your indoors ambient, and they look absolutely gorgeous while they do the above two.

The Rolar Blinds stand at the crux between new-age photovoltaic printing techniques, a rise in demand for solar panels, and absolute graphic beauty, as they explore printing solar cells in manners that almost feel like graffiti, but with a more direct purpose, i.e., charging your devices. At the bottom of the blinds rest the cylindrical weights that come with a USB port that let you charge your devices or your power-banks by simply plugging them into the curtain and leaving them on a table nearby or the windowsill as you tap into the solar system’s largest (free) power source. The cylindrical members (battery packs) are even detachable, allowing you to carry your power with you. However, the convenience of the Rolar Blinds takes second place to its graphical beauty that bring art and technology together beautifully and seamlessly.

Designer: Nathan Webb

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Clean Water, courtesy Coca-Cola

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This past year we’ve seen some wonderful designs that have the potential to truly make an impact on a global scale – from portable newborn incubators to hard concentrate shampoo to name a few. But innovation doesn’t come with an expiry date, and Co-Life by Jan Tuomas Burakowski & Tuomas Jussila just shows that we’ll keep pushing the boundaries of innovation year after year.

Comprised of two plastic water bottles, a two-part connecting chamber, a ceramic filter and a bicycle pump – Co-Life forces dirty water through the ceramic filter from one bottle and collects the clean water in the opposite bottle. Seemingly simple, Co-Life has the ability to reach a wide user group around the world due to its low manufacturing cost and low part count. Not to mention the fact that Coca-Cola bottles remain one of the most readily available bottles on the planet. Open Happiness indeed!

Designers: Jan Tuomas Burakowski & Tuomas Jussila

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A car built with care

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If you talk with a couple raising a newborn, they’ll tell you that casual transport and journeys are a lot harder than they ever anticipated. There are a lot of nuances that only then become clear. With the future fast approaching, Anand Asinkar believes that the ownership model of vehicles will become obsolete in the future, meaning mobility will be used as a service.

In the hope of accommodating a 3-member family, Anand Asinkar has developed CARe – a retrofit vehicle that compromises the togetherness, care & separation at the same time. Complete with a removable baby stroller, CARe can be manipulated to facilitate from newborns to children aged 5. The vehicle itself has a somewhat elegant tone across the colors and materials chosen, revealing a premium service for the family that oozes quality and assurance.

Filled with sensors and some neat technology (similar to that of a Segway) the handsfree baby stroller provides a more comfortable transition from automotive vehicle to baby stroller in a seamless fashion. There is no doubt the CMF choices and tire design of the stroller are inextricably linked to the primary vehicle, and it neatly ties together but you can’t help but feel you’ll want to keep that baby stroller after the service. Reflecting the needs of the newborn and parents, CARe is a fun look into the future of autonomous service vehicles and one with a twist rarely looked into – potentially this may open the minds of other concept designers to come.

Designer: Anand Asinkar

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The keyboard of empowerment

Roya Ramezani made a rather interesting observation during her time working in Silicon Valley. While the gender imbalance was glaringly obvious, it had its effects on the way women worked in the male dominated environment. Roya noticed that women would often not speak their mind, or would do so sparingly, making use of words that were perceived as self-effacing and hesitant.

Highlighting the difference between one’s actual vocabulary and one’s spoken vocabulary, Ramezani designed the Exponent Keyboard, aimed at empowering women through text. Designed to look like Thomas Hansen’s Writing Ball Typewriter, the Exponent Keyboard allows your hands to circle around the product, making you feel in control… However, its true achievement lies in the fact that above the QWERTY layout sits a set of orange keys that allow you to add more impactful words to your sentences, making your typed pieces of text sound confident and assertive. The keyboard tracks keystrokes and uses its own server to analyze text and suggest more powerful alternatives, allowing you to input words like “Believe”, “Claim”, “Insist”, and “Disagree” into your text at the press of a button.

Empowered text helps build one’s self confidence not just behind the computer, but everywhere else too, allowing women to communicate more freely and have their thoughts and opinions heard in the powerful manner they deserve to be!

Designer: Roya Ramezani

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Like Guitar Hero for your Ukulele!

I recently tried my hand at the Ukulele, and being a guitarist myself, two things instantly came to mind. How difficult it is to wrap your head around the ukulele, especially since its string setup is different, but at the same how friendly it looks and sounds! Don’t underestimate its cuteness… the Ukulele can be a little confusing at first and there are two ways to go about it. A. Perseverance, and B. Creativity! Designers from Kaist University chose the latter and developed an attachment that reduces one’s effort to just simply pushing a button. The EasyKu won’t teach you how to play the Ukulele, but will have you performing in no time. The 3D printed contraption sits across the instrument’s fretboard, and comes with its set of buttons/keys that when pushed, press down on the Ukulele’s strings in a particular chord format.

What’s better is that the EasyKu isn’t a product more than it is an idea. Designers are encouraging people to take the CAD files and print the EasyKu for themselves, allowing you to use the Ukulele as a true accompaniment instrument without the hassle of having to learn it, so you can sing and perform your favorite music pieces without getting your fingers twisted in a knot!

Designers: Moojin Joh, Chanwook Kim, Hankyung Kim

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Kitchen fumes, begone!

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It’s no surprise the Portable Kitchen Hood made its way to the James Dyson Awards. It’s innovative, enriches lives, and looks so much like my favorite Dyson product! The Portable Kitchen Hood by Maxime Augay tackles a problem everyone with small homes has. Smelly, stuffy, dirty kitchens. Where most homes don’t have kitchen chimneys or hoods or even proper ventilation, odors tend to linger on (sometimes fumes too), making the kitchen’s air feel stuffy and unclean.

The Portable Kitchen Hood can easily be placed across a stove or induction cooker. The fan on the inside pulls all cooking air/fumes into the Kitchen Hood’s interior, which runs the air through a stainless steel, grease-trapping mesh and an activated charcoal filter, trapping microparticles of oil/fat as well as purifying the air of dust and odor. The design of the Portable Kitchen Hood is such that it can easily accommodate itself in even the tiniest of kitchens. Its design is big enough to work with the most heavy-duty cooking procedures, while small enough to not feel like a bulky appliance. Besides, it looks stellar, and something Mr. Dyson would be very proud of, so I wouldn’t think twice before putting something this good-looking and functional in my kitchen!

Designer: Maxime Augay

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