Now that winter’s upon us, it’s time to bust out the woolens. The cap, the hoodie, the galoshes, bomber jackets, scarves, and gloves. Winter is perhaps my favorite time of the year. I hate the cold, but I love the warm fuzzy feeling that you get from trapping body warmth between a thick blanket, or sipping on a piping hot chai. However, there’s one issue that seems to counter my love for winter. It’s the issue of the glove. I wear gloves because it’s cold… and then I promptly take them off every time I need to use my smartphone. It’s counter-productive, and honestly a drag… which is why I bought a stylus, but that’s equally painful to remember to carry… plus, I can’t pinch to zoom with a stylus. I can, however, with touchscreen-ready gloves.
Mujjo’s Thinsulate gloves are like a second skin around your palm and fingers. It protects you from the cold, with its 3M Thinsulate insulating layer that traps body heat, but more importantly, it comes with a thermally conductive surface on its outside that lets you use the touchscreen on your smartphone. Book cabs, answer calls, take pictures, browse the web, type messages, just basically use your phone the way you would with the gloves on. The thermal surface runs across all fingers, so you can use the phone with your left hand and right, making use of all your fingers to run apps, contact people, or just play PUBG (or whatever it is you people play nowadays). The gloves work with all smartphones, and bonus feature, they come with non-slip properties, so you don’t accidentally drop your phone!
I’ve been rather verbose in my appreciation of Huawei’s experimentation with smartphone aesthetics. First came the stunning metallic gradients, then came the Mate 20, with its unique square shaped 3-lens-plus-flash arrangement, and a metallic gradient that was even richer than before. Porsche Design put a spin on this particular model in Huawei’s line-up, and the Mate 20 RS was born.
The Mate 20 RS is worth talking about because it’s no secret that smartphones are looking almost eerily similar nowadays. An industry that once prided itself in some wildly designed phones that went on to become icons of their times (the Moto Razr and Nokia N.Gage come to mind) is now filled with an eerily similar suspect line-up of phones, where the user literally spends hours trying to tell apart phones and sort the good from the bad. In getting Porsche Design on board, Huawei doesn’t just push the envelope, it also shows that smartphone companies should, once in a while, look outside their hardware design teams to work on aesthetics and detailing (take Philippe Starck’s Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 for instance). Porsche Design’s reinterpretation of the Huawei Mate 20 RS involves a leather and glass construction. With leather on two sides, you’ve got a phone that is great to grip and doesn’t slip easily off your palms. The glass strip running across the center forms a canvas for reflections and highlights to give the phone its mirror-finish appeal. It also looks like a racing stripe, giving the phone a sportscar vibe. Lastly, the presence of the glass strip allows the phone to charge wirelessly (at breakneck speeds of 70% in half an hour) too.
The Mate 20 RS makes a great case for getting product and industrial design studios and professionals (with interdisciplinary experience) on board to design smartphones, possibly making them stand out again, and ushering in the second golden era of mobile phone design!
This extreme dystopia alert comes courtesy Panasonic. The blinkers you see above and below were designed by the company, allegedly to combat the distractions involved with open workspaces. Preferring a more compartmentalized office space, Panasonic’s design studio (titled Future Life Factory) partnered with Japanese designer Kunihiko Morinaga to create the Wear Space, a literal pair of blinkers to help cut out external buzz and distractions and get you to focus on your work in front of you by reducing your peripheral vision by 60%.
The idea, Panasonic says, is to allow employees to find their place of zen in an open workspace. However, the blinkers are designed to zero your vision on a screen, the very item most companies are trying to get you to look away from. The screen, be it the one in your workspace, or the one on your phone, can be an absolute attention grabber in its own right, and the open workspace was created to combat this very problem of being too absorbed by the wall of pixels in front of you. Open workspaces promote social interaction, often relieving your eyes and mind from the adverse effect of ‘too much screen time’. Panasonic believes that the users of the Wear Space will wear these blinkers of their own accord, in an attempt to focus. However, the blinkers seem like a step backward in forcing compartmentalization in the workspace (probably even defeating the purpose of allowing you to focus on your work by making you and your headgear the subject of everyone’s attention). Call me a skeptic, but I think screens are addictive enough… and if you still find yourself unable to focus, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones should definitely do the trick.
Designers: Panasonic Future Life Factory & Kunihiko Morinaga.