Chances are, whether you’re a designer or not, you’ll have seen Theo Jansen’s massive kinetic sculptures walking across a beach in BMW’s advertisement. Titled the Strandbeest, these incredible automata gracefully walk across land using wind as their driving force, as they move, much like animals do, using large wooden legs in a graceful fashion. The Strandbeest was one of the reasons I fell in love with industrial design, and the fact that you can build your own miniature versions today is giving me major nostalgic feels!
The Heyzlass Mini Strandbeest is a miniature replication of Jansen’s large, hulking creature. Made out of plastic and built to be a spitting image of the original, the Mini Strandbeest comes with a fan at one end that catches the wind, propelling the legs to move in their cyclical fashion and have the entire toy gently sashay across a flat surface. Made from 117 separate parts that don’t need any special tools to assemble, the Mini Strandbeest can be built in just around 90 minutes, which is well worth the endless hours of joy you’ll get from observing one of the most fascinating mechanical actions of all time!
You’ve been using them for years, pretty much your entire childhood, and then something else comes along the way and your favorite game console from the 90s goes into a box in the garage. 8BitDo, the company notorious for reviving legacy gaming tech and taking us on a journey that fuses nostalgia with the future, wants to bring back those classic controllers, but tweak them for the present. Their mod kits are available for most legacy controllers, from the NES and SNES classics to the originals, to even the Sega Mega Drive. The kit involves opening up the old controllers you have lying around and simply switching the printed circuit board on the inside for 8BitDo’s redesigned circuit boards. The minute you do, you now have a new controller that is compatible with mobile platforms, Windows, MacOS, Steam, Raspberry Pi, and even the Nintendo Switch! And what’s more is, the new PCBs in your controllers turn them wireless!
The idea is that you’ve spent hours, if not days, with your hands wrapped around those controllers and your hands, even though they’ve grown over the years, recognize those familiar contours and still know their way around them. 8BitDo’s mod kits don’t just take your hands and brain on a ‘feels trip’, they also turn an obsolete product into something that you can and definitely will reuse for probably another 10 years!
The results may look childish, but what the ‘Draw This’ camera manages to do is quite smart, as it mimics what we as humans do when we practice real-life sketches.
Tapping into Google’s repository of doodles from its Quick Draw project back in 2016, the Draw This camera uses a tiny camera lens module, a Raspberry Pi computer, and a thermal printer to capture images, detect the objects within them, and doodle/print them out for you, turning the concept of the Polaroid into something that’s more quirky, fun, and can sometimes be a hilarious hit-and-miss!
“One of the fun things about this re-imagined camera is that you never get to see the original image. You point, and shoot – and out pops a cartoon; the camera’s best interpretation of what it saw. The result is always a surprise. A food selfie of a healthy salad might turn into an enormous hotdog, or a photo with friends might be photobombed by a goat.”, says creator Dan Macnish, who’s made the code for the Draw This camera public on GitHub, so tinkerers and makers can create their own versions of the camera. Would make a great addition to a game of Pictionary, wouldn’t it??
YouTuber and DIY mega-enthusiast Ivan Miranda puts together 3D printed machines all the time, but his latest project, the Sand Drawing Robot is probably one of his biggest and best endeavors. Working just the way a 2D printer would, Miranda’s robot comprises of a massive rail on which his line-making module rests and moves up and down. The rail itself moves too, covering both X and Y axes. Art is made by the line-making module as a flipper moves down, digging into the sand, creating line after line, column after column. Viewed from a height, you can read pieces of text as lines come together to make thick letters. It’s a time-consuming process, but overall fun to watch as the machine creates remarkably accurate lines, and consequently characters, and then words, by simply digging miniature trenches into the sand. The end result is simply perfect to look at, while also being extremely visible from up above, thanks to the multiple lines that come together to form a bold piece of text.
So, if you ever find yourself stranded on a desert island waiting for help and all you have with you is a stick and loads of sand, do what Ivan Miranda’s Sand Drawing Robot does. Ditch the scrawny line-based ‘help’ written in the sand for something that’s more meticulous, but much more legible.
These sure aren’t your great grandaddy’s swimming goggles! This ultramodern twist on underwater specs, called D-Mask, addresses many of the issues divers currently encounter. Secured around the forehead, jaw, and chin, the design may cover the full face, but the result feels less restrictive than traditional goggles.
While it’s usable on its own, by simply connecting the unit to an air tank, users can breathe easy and more naturally without the need of a sealed mouthpiece. It’s also equipped with an innovative bone-conduction radio system that makes it possible to enjoy tunes or communicate with other divers conversationally – something that was impossible and limited to basic sign language before. Other cool features include built-in LED headlamps, and a head-up projected display that indicates water conditions, depth, pressure and weather all on the front shield.
Can be used for snorkeling or take the oxygen bottle for scuba diving.
Whether it’s serious teams or casual players, plenty of people enjoy using public parks for their favorite sports. The only problem is lugging around tons of equipment and wasting time organizing the field. Designed with this in mind, the Adidas Sport Tower aims to take the hard work (and guesswork) out of game day so you can do more playing and less setting up.
The tower is designed to be installed on either end of a park. It contains all the necessities for playing football, badminton, volleyball and other ball sports. After checking in, the tower will dispense the appropriate equipment and ball before casting laser guides on to the field with size adjustments for different types of games. It also features an integrated net system that can be extended for volleyball. Better yet, scheduling is automated so users can check in on the Smart Tower app. The system will automatically reset when a group’s time has expired so all teams get time to play.
An infinitely fun way to make embossed prints or send embossed messages, or even carry around in your pocket to create instant, 3D business cards, the Skroll comes from Stereolab, a company devoted to 3D printers and 3D printing. Designed in-house, the Skroll is small and pocket-friendly, coming even with a hand-crank that folds inwards when not in use. Comprising two inter-changeable rollers, the Skroll lets you emboss (or deboss) patterns, images, or text onto pieces of paper, or even metal. The two rollers contain a positive and a negative of your artwork and are 3D printed, as is the Skroll’s entire assembly. Just simply insert the paper or metal (sheet metal from drinking cans work rather well) into the slot and crank the handle. The material slides into the rollers, being pressed into the shape that’s on the rollers, and finally coming out with a nice three-dimensional piece of art embossed into them. The Skroll comes along with usage instructions in a plain box with the product name embossed on it too! Clever!
Aside from teaching us designers a nifty lesson in embossing techniques, the Skroll is quite fun to use and play with. Not to mention being able to simply stamp your contact details or website/portfolio URL on random pieces of paper or even sheet metal!
Aluminum foil. Great for packaging food and for protecting your brain from being scanned by the government. Also great for repurposing into kitchenware. Youtuber Kiwami Japan looked at his roll of aluminum foil as not really a finished product but rather as a source of raw material. Doing something rather remarkable, he turned the foil back into a 4mm thick sheet of aluminum… and then carved a rather sharp and useful kitchen knife out of it.
What Kiwami does requires astronomical amounts of patience and passion and it’s no surprise that half the video runs at high speed. He first takes the roll, hammering it into a flat sheet before popping out the cardboard tube that’s inside. Then, using a stove flame, a pair of nose-pliers and a hammer, he further hammers away at the sheet, removing any air between the layers, and turns it into a flat piece of aluminum (which he taps against to show you it makes a clinking sound). The aluminum sheet is then cut into the shape of a knife, filed to perfection, and then sharpened against a whetstone. Kiwami then proceeds to add a wooden handle to it, finally finishing the product to make it a completely functional kitchen knife with a remarkably sharp blade that slices easily through cucumber. I guess it helps that the knife is food-grade because it came from food-grade aluminum foil.
Yes, you could just as easily go to the market and pick up a pretty good knife. You’d spend a dollar or two extra, and you’d get something more resilient and finished; but doing what Kiwami did displays immense amount of skill, patience, and drive… and he got a pretty nifty looking knife out of it that he can claim as a product of his own perseverance… something he has a lot of, judging from the fact that he’s made a knife out of raw pasta too.
Not a fan of knives? Japanese people are breaking the internet by polishing crumpled balls of aluminum foil into mirror-finished spheres. Check it out!
Once upon a time, Ahab sought revenge upon Moby Dick, the albino sperm whale, while sailing upon the glorious Pequod – to hear of that tale would make any man rush to the sea right? Luckily for those who feel that same longing to hit those crashing waves in their own boat, or simply…just wish to have their own boat in general, can now fulfill that dream. Rapid Whale has really alleviated the stresses and burdens of owning a boat, not even beginning to mention the fees and maintenance attached too. If anything they’ve developed a fun, full-sized mini boat, boasting a length of six foot and fully electrical – made to order and assembly.
Comprised of the Mini Boat Kit are laser-cut marine-grade plywood, 3D printer components, a steering wheel, sheeting-shift bearings, and various gaskets – unfortunately, the boat isn’t complete, having to source and purchase the motor, engine, and batteries by the owner. That’s not all too bad considering you now have a boat all to yourself. Weighing in at a staggering sixty-seven pounds and hitting a fairly breezy four miles per hour, the Rapid Whale Mini Boat is sure to itch every nautical tickle you may have.
If you’ve got a few spare balloons lying around from your NYE party, don’t let them sit in your closet until next year. Turn them into flower vases! Evan Gant’s rather nifty 3D printed support structure turns balloons into water-holding receptacles for your flowers. The balloons slip around the plastic columns and the instant you pour water in, the balloon swells up to resemble a bulbous vase shape. The water also ensures that the balloon’s base remains heavy and stays upright at all times, while the balloons themselves make rather alluring vases, especially since they come in such a wide variety of colors! Beautiful? Yes! Creative? Definitely!