SLIBALL is a curious device designed to disinfect shopping cart handles

It was probably about time that we became acutely aware of the unseen dangers that lurked in corners and surfaces, particularly the viruses and microorganisms that lie in wait on tables, door knobs, and handles for days. Unfortunately, it’s hard to break old habits of touching things without much thought, especially when it involves something as trivial as wiping down handles and surfaces before using them. Those who do try to develop good habits, on the other hand, will discover that there isn’t that much support for making it convenient to keep surfaces clean without doing too much work. That is especially a problem in very public spaces like supermarkets, where everything is exposed to dozens of people touching almost everything. This is the reason for this odd round device’s existence, to make cleaning such surfaces, specifically shopping cart handles, as easy as inserting a coin.

Designer: Xinyu Ye

It doesn’t take too much effort to wipe something down before using it, especially if it’s something that tends to be used by multiple people. The problem and the inconvenience come from not having the right tools for the job, which is often a pack of wet wipes in your bag or pocket. Alternatively, you could just spray it with alcohol, presuming you’re carrying a bottle all the time, but the end result could be a sticky, wet, and almost gross handle that will still leave you feeling dirty in the end.

Truth be told, customers in a store shouldn’t be waging a crusade against germs on their own. While it has become customary for many businesses to provide hand sanitizer dispensers at key points in an area, those just aren’t enough for high-traffic, high-contact areas like supermarkets. It’s about time that companies and businesses also step up their sanitation game, and this device, partially inspired by a mushroom, is one gadget that could help them improve their customer safety and satisfaction.

At first glance, SLIBALL almost looks like some futuristic sci-fi device, especially thanks to its sleek shape and glossy white or black surface. It has a hole that goes through its roughly cuboid body where the handle of a shopping cart would pass through. The core idea is that the device would sanitize the shopping cart handle it’s attached to using UV-C light. And rather than forcing a shopper to take an extra step, SLIBALL can be integrated into the process of claiming a cart right from the start.

Some shopping centers and supermarkets require you to insert a coin to unlock a shopping cart, and this same coin can be used to activate SLIBALL. The device starts sterilizing the handle automatically and can even be slid across the length of the handle to cover all the spots. Once done, the “head” of the device pops up like a mushroom after the rain and returns the coin to the owner in the process. It’s actually a simple concept that few have probably considered, but given our present circumstances, it is an avenue worth investigating. It could even become a profitable business for sanitation device manufacturers, especially as more and more people go back to doing groceries in person.

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This air purifier for kids concept puts a friendly face on clean air

Air purifiers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers are slowly becoming more common in houses these days. The newly-gained awareness that the air we breathe at home may not be as clean as we thought has helped push these appliances into living rooms and bedrooms. And just like many appliances, these come in impersonal and utilitarian designs, often as large cylinders standing in the center of the room. Their presence can be a bit disconcerting or even intimidating to children, encroaching on what they consider to be safe spaces at home. Unfortunately, these machines are seldom designed with kids in mind except for safety purposes, but this air purifier design concept tries to add an emotional element that makes them a more welcome addition to family life.

Designer: Matteo Ercole

It’s almost too easy to simply put a literal face on an appliance to make it look friendlier and then call it a day. That only does the bare minimum and might just confuse kids in the long run. After all, they might expect a smiling face at home to be a new friend, only to be disappointed by the machine’s lack of response. Willy, in contrast, seems to be alive, reacting to the presence of children while it goes about its duties, purifying the air around them.

Technically, Willy doesn’t actually have a face. It has two long slots that seem to resemble eyes and relies on our brains to fill in the rest. This capability, which even kids have, has long been utilized in both product and character designs, giving things a more anthropomorphic appearance by using only the suggestion of facial features. It leaves it to the viewer’s imagination to complete the face to match their personal tastes.

Willy isn’t just a friendly face, though. Those “eyes” are actually its ears, housing microphones that can pick up sound, allowing the head to turn toward its direction. While it doesn’t exactly have any practical utility as far as cleaning the air goes, it makes it seem like the appliance is attentive to the child. It’s as if Willy was an actual robot without going in that design direction.

Of course, it also has the standard air purifier parts, including HEPA H13 filters. Willy’s actual controls are on the top of its head, safely out of small kids’ reach, and its brain, the electronics that drive its functions, are also located there, following its anthropomorphic theme. In terms of technology, the design doesn’t really present anything groundbreaking, but it does give the appliance a more human touch that kids and even some adults will be able to appreciate.

 

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This mouse concept ditches the buttons for a more tactile experience

The computer mouse hasn’t changed its basic design in ages, which also means that the ergonomic problems it had in the past still exist today. There are plenty of new designs and concepts that try to challenge the status quo, but many of these tend to have unfamiliar and sometimes very alien forms. That might be uncomfortable for some people who rely on muscle memory to get things done efficiently. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for improvement even with the more traditional shape of the mouse, and this design concept puts a slightly different twist to the user experience, focusing more on how it would feel under our fingers when you remove the keys and buttons.

Designer: Matteo Ercole

Repetitive strain from using a mouse can come from different motions, though most of the focus is on the bigger movements of the wrist. Our fingers, however, are also quite active when using a mouse, and those could also contribute to eventual injury. That might be especially true if your fingers encounter a lot more resistance from mechanical interfaces like buttons and wheels.

Named “Just another mouse” as a tongue-in-cheek joke, this design concept does away with those buttons and instead presents a device that has a more stylish body and texture. Instead of buttons, the concept utilizes pressure-sensitive areas similar to Apple’s Force Touch trackpad on MacBook. This can expand the number of actions you could use with the mouse or change the gesture completely, like using a slightly deeper press instead of double-clicking. The mouse wheel is also absent, replaced by a touch-sensitive groove that provides less resistance while also giving the finger a more nuanced tactile experience.

The mouse doesn’t have a power switch, either, and it just turns on when a proximity sensor detects a hand on top of it. The internal battery is charged on a wireless dock, similar to how you’d wirelessly charge a smartphone or smartwatch. This further reduces the number of openings and moving parts that could break down after prolonged use.

This concept design doesn’t inherently change the way the mouse looks or functions, but it does open the door for newer experiences, especially when the sense of touch is involved. Rather than typical plastic, the design could use different kinds of materials and textures that give the mouse a bit more flavor, both visually and tactilely. That, in turn, can make the mouse more than just a utilitarian computer accessory but also a beautiful desk decoration when they’re not in use.

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This reusable tissue cleaner concept offers a solution to wet wipes pollution

Since viruses and harmful microorganisms are known to stick to certain surfaces for long periods of time, some people have gotten the habit of wiping down tables, shelves, door handles, and even chairs before using them. While it is definitely a commendable hygienic practice, it has also increased the use of products such as wet wipes. Contrary to popular misconceptions, these aren’t simply “wet tissues” since real tissue paper easily breaks down when wet. Unfortunately, the synthetic materials in wet wipes turn them into environmental hazards in the long run, essentially on the same level as plastics. Rather than discourage a good habit, this concept attacks the problem from a different angle by essentially providing wet wipes that can be cleaned and reused rather than being thrown away all the time.

Designer: Yeounju Lee

Despite their appearance as thick tissues or thin pieces of cloth drenched in disinfectant like alcohol, the majority of wet wipes are actually made partly from polyester or polypropylene fibers, sometimes interwoven with organic fibers like cotton or wood pulp. This means that these wipes don’t actually break down when you flush them down toilets, and definitely not after they’ve reached sewers or other places you might not want to imagine. It can take hundreds of years for these to actually decompose, meanwhile posing a problem, not unlike typical plastics.

The problem is that, like common plastic, wet wipes are convenient. Their small packages can be slipped into bags easily, and they are like a cross between tissue paper and cloth. A wiping cloth would, of course, be more economical and more environment-friendly, but the chore of washing and sanitizing after each use is too high a cost for many people. What if we could automate that last bit almost the same way we automate washing our own clothes? Re:clean is a concept that proposes exactly that, to make single-use wet wipes into reusable wet tissues.

Re:clean is practically an appliance that cleans, disinfects, wets, and dispenses these wet tissues that curiously come in the shape of a circle with a hole in the middle, pretty much like a CD. Used pieces are loaded onto a spindle from the top, while cleaned wet tissues are collected in portable storage boxes that you just pull out and put in a bag, ready to be used at any time. The machine has controls that let the user select the amount of water content the tissues will hold or the number of tissues to be dispensed per box.

It’s definitely a creative way of solving the pollution problem of wet wipes, though some might have misgivings about reusing such materials over and over again. Then again, it’s really no different from washing rags, towels, or chamois, except everything is automated and regulated. Ideally, the wet tissues themselves can be made of more sustainable materials as well, but even if they were of the same composition as wet wipes, delaying their arrival in landfills and oceans can still have a positive impact on the environment.

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This mouse and table clock join to form a cozy egg-shaped decor for your desk

The computer mouse is one of those things that shouldn’t make sense when you think hard about it, and yet it has become a staple of the modern world. Even with laptops that carry touchpads, some people still prefer to use a mouse with a laptop, even if it’s not the most ergonomic thing to do. There have been attempts to change the mouse’s image and design, creating forms that are almost out of this world. This concept design doesn’t stray that far from the traditional shape of the computer peripheral, but it still makes some changes that give it a better aesthetic, especially when it’s paired with its table clock twin.

Designer: Juwon Lee (Dawn BYSJ)

You won’t always be using the mouse all of the time, like when you’ve already stepped away from the desk and have shut down the computer. During these “off times,” the mouse sits pretty much useless on the table, like a mound of plastic that breaks the appealing flatness of the desk’s surface. It wouldn’t be much of a problem if the mouse’s design was something you could call decorative as well, but very few mice are like that.

The SEEK concept design tries to change the identity of the computer mouse a bit by giving it another function even when it’s not in use. The upper surface of the mouse that connects with your hand is covered with a fabric-like material, not unlike those found wrapped around smart speakers. It’s questionable whether using such a material is smart, considering how much dirt and sweat are likely to accumulate there, but it’s hard to deny that it looks stylish. It’s also possible to use some antimicrobial fabric, too, or any other elegant material that looks good and feels good in the hand as well.

While the mouse already looks pretty when left on a desk as normal, its real decorative value comes from joining with its other half. SEEK’s other half is a table clock that stands upright in contrast to the mouse’s horizontal position. The back of the clock is covered with the same fabric material and color as the mouse, while its front has the same terrazzo-like surface as the bottom of the mouse. The embedded monochromatic display gives the clock a minimalist appeal, and like the mouse, it can already stand on its own as a decorative table piece.

When joined together, though, SEEK becomes this curious egg-shaped, fabric-wrapped object that could evoke metaphors on incubation, warmth, patience, and the like. Of course, it’s also a beautiful object that adds a cozy accent to your desk, something that you might want to see after a long day of work or before you start your day. Joining these two halves together could even become a ritual for ending your work day, symbolizing putting a close to the work you’ve done and letting it bear fruit and hatch on the next day.

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This humidifier concept will make you feel like you’re using a pressure cooker

Temperature isn’t the only factor that affects the comfort of a room. Oftentimes, the humidity or lack of it can either give relief or aggravate certain conditions, especially for those with skin or respiratory issues. Dry air in a room or house, for example, can cause dryness in the skin, nose, or throat and may even cause symptoms that lead to flu and colds. Humidifiers have become more common in the past years due to increased awareness of these environmental factors to our health, but their designs have mostly remained the same. Common humidifier designs are utilitarian and uninspiring, easily sticking out like a sore thumb. This design concept, on the other hand, tries to offer not only a familiar face but also a familiar mode of operation that is as simple as cooking rice.

Designer: Gahyun Kim

The typical humidifier often comes in the form of some large can that you put on top of a table, though some recent designs have gotten a bit more creative in adopting spherical or teardrop shapes. They really don’t make any effort to blend with the rest of their surroundings, though that does have the advantage of making it clear what their purpose is. More importantly, however, all of these are designed to spray humidified air in only one direction, which is usually upward. This design simply relies on natural air to spread the humidity across the room, which doesn’t always work as intended.

SOT is a humidifier that implements a directional spray in a rather curious and almost whimsical way. In a nutshell, it still sprays humidity upward, but you can rotate and turn the nozzle in a certain direction so that it will let the steam out at a certain angle. It doesn’t rotate automatically, leaving the owner free to direct the output wherever they want.

What makes SOT really special, however, is its design and the source of that design’s inspiration: a pressure cooker. Both appliances do make use of water and let out steam, though for different purposes. More than just the similarity in process, though, SOT brings a sense of familiarity and comfort in seeing a product that they already know how to operate. It isn’t by coincidence that you use this humidifier exactly like you would a rice or pressure cooker.

To get started, you simply lift the lid off the pot and then pour the desired amount of water. Instead of simply placing that lid back down again, you give it a slight twist to turn it on. It doesn’t really get simpler than that, and it’s a series of steps that many people, especially in Asia, would be familiar with.

SOT’s exterior also brings that sense of familiarity and confidence by mimicking the appearance and texture of popular household objects. Its matte surface gives a sense of warmth to the touch, while the glossy edges make it look like a ceramic pot. Rather than have an eye-catching but incongruent object in your view, this humidifier design concept brings a comforting and familiar face to your living space while also giving you more freedom in what direction you want it to spray its humidifying vapors.

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This humidifier concept will make you feel like you’re using a pressure cooker

Temperature isn’t the only factor that affects the comfort of a room. Oftentimes, the humidity or lack of it can either give relief or aggravate certain conditions, especially for those with skin or respiratory issues. Dry air in a room or house, for example, can cause dryness in the skin, nose, or throat and may even cause symptoms that lead to flu and colds. Humidifiers have become more common in the past years due to increased awareness of these environmental factors to our health, but their designs have mostly remained the same. Common humidifier designs are utilitarian and uninspiring, easily sticking out like a sore thumb. This design concept, on the other hand, tries to offer not only a familiar face but also a familiar mode of operation that is as simple as cooking rice.

Designer: Gahyun Kim

The typical humidifier often comes in the form of some large can that you put on top of a table, though some recent designs have gotten a bit more creative in adopting spherical or teardrop shapes. They really don’t make any effort to blend with the rest of their surroundings, though that does have the advantage of making it clear what their purpose is. More importantly, however, all of these are designed to spray humidified air in only one direction, which is usually upward. This design simply relies on natural air to spread the humidity across the room, which doesn’t always work as intended.

SOT is a humidifier that implements a directional spray in a rather curious and almost whimsical way. In a nutshell, it still sprays humidity upward, but you can rotate and turn the nozzle in a certain direction so that it will let the steam out at a certain angle. It doesn’t rotate automatically, leaving the owner free to direct the output wherever they want.

What makes SOT really special, however, is its design and the source of that design’s inspiration: a pressure cooker. Both appliances do make use of water and let out steam, though for different purposes. More than just the similarity in process, though, SOT brings a sense of familiarity and comfort in seeing a product that they already know how to operate. It isn’t by coincidence that you use this humidifier exactly like you would a rice or pressure cooker.

To get started, you simply lift the lid off the pot and then pour the desired amount of water. Instead of simply placing that lid back down again, you give it a slight twist to turn it on. It doesn’t really get simpler than that, and it’s a series of steps that many people, especially in Asia, would be familiar with.

SOT’s exterior also brings that sense of familiarity and confidence by mimicking the appearance and texture of popular household objects. Its matte surface gives a sense of warmth to the touch, while the glossy edges make it look like a ceramic pot. Rather than have an eye-catching but incongruent object in your view, this humidifier design concept brings a comforting and familiar face to your living space while also giving you more freedom in what direction you want it to spray its humidifying vapors.

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This handheld device concept brings printing back to its earliest days

With the growing number of digital documents, it almost seemed as if printed paper was on its way out. Of course, that’s hardly true, with even more books and documents being printed every day each year. Printing has been at the center of our civilization ever since man invented a way to put ink on paper without manually writing each letter, which was around 6,000 years ago. Of course, printing has thankfully evolved from pressing pieces of inked metal or wood on parchment, but it has also become more detached and less personal over the centuries. Of course, it was a matter of practicality and survival of the fledgling printing press business, and we can’t imagine going back to that antiquated past. That said, you might not have to go that far just to get a feel for the old days with this rather curious device that lets you print by hand, almost literally.

Designer: Joonyeol Bae

Handheld printers are actually nothing new, but they are often designed for a very specific use case. These small boxes are usually meant to print out small photos, often in the popular Polaroid format. In reality, they’re more like special-purpose portable photo printers rather than something you’d use to print documents. There are other handheld printer designs that are more like long bars that you have to hold steady as you move it down a page.

DUAL is a concept device that tries to combine the best of both worlds by offering a handheld or portable printer that you ironically don’t have to hold all the time while using it. It has rollers at the bottom that move the paper or itself along a flat surface, automating that part of the process. Of course, you can still put your hand on the device’s tent-like form to get that feeling of having a more direct interaction with printing.

DUAL’s design is quite peculiar in that it also straddles the line between typical printers as well as portable printers. It takes up less space on a desk compared to a box-type printer, but it’s also something that you can’t easily place in your bag to carry outside with you. It does have the advantage of being a lot more aesthetic than your average printer, serving as an interesting piece of decor when not in use.

The printer’s unconventional design does mean that it also requires an unconventional ink cartridge. Instead of typical blocks or long cartridges, DUAL uses a custom rounded rectangle container that holds all four colors together. Given the portability of the device, it might have been more efficient to use one of those zero-ink printing technologies, though that, in turn, would require the use of special paper instead.

DUAL’s name actually comes not from its form but from its function. It also has a scanner in the upper half of the device that can, well, scan documents or images the same way you’d use a handheld bar-type scanner. Given that feature, DUAL is actually a TRIO since you can effectively copy a document by scanning it and then printing it. It’s effectively the same way that those multi-functional printers copy documents, except you have to do the process a bit more manually, just like in the old days.

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This leather-covered chair folds flat like a folder for easy storage

Most people dream of owning eye-catching furniture, but not everyone has room for fancy yet large tables or distinctive but voluminous seats. Space becomes even more of a problem if you find yourself hosting guests once in a while, but not often enough to warrant purchasing permanent chairs in your already cramped living quarters. Foldable tables and chairs have become solutions to this dynamic space problem, but most of these sacrifice aesthetics in exchange for flexibility. Of course, there are some exceptions, especially within the realm of speculative or concept design, where form and function are both treated with equal dignity. This foldable chair, for example, clearly has a utilitarian construction, but it still manages to throw in a few design elements that give it the same stylish characteristic as leather-covered furniture and stationery.

Designer: Jeongwoo SEO

Traditional foldable chair designs come in wooden or metallic forms, with hinges and pivots that allow parts of the choir, usually the seat, to fold up or down to create a more compact shape. Although it’s a practical and simple design, it’s definitely not the only way to fold a chair. Given certain factors, it might not even be the best solution.

The Folio Chair takes a different approach to the folding puzzle, requiring no hinges or screws to implement the mechanism. Instead, it seems to take inspiration from papercraft and art such as origami, where simply pushing or pulling a single part can change the object’s shape. In this case, pulling the top of the chair upward causes the folds of the seat and the back legs to straighten up and lie flat on the middle layer that serves as the supporting structure of the chair.

The end result is a very flat but long piece that is almost reminiscent of a folder, which is probably where its name comes from. In addition to being easy to carry around, whether by the handle or under your arm, it also makes the Folio Chair easy to store away. You even have a stack of them either lying down or standing up in a closet, depending on how much space you have.

The Folio Chair also has a distinct charm with its leather surfaces and stitch marking at the edges. This calls to mind not only the leather upholstery used on more luxurious furniture but also the leather bindings on some notebooks and organizers. To some extent, it’s a design that wouldn’t look out of place in an office, even though it’s clearly meant for more casual settings.

Despite its unique proposition, the Folio Chair might still raise some concerns regarding its practicality and safety. While it might be flatter than most folding chairs, it is also a lot taller when collapsed, taking up more vertical space instead. Depending on the materials used, it might also seem a little bit unstable, simply relying on physics and folding patterns to make sure the chair doesn’t collapse under a person’s weight.

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This pendant lamp is like a heavenly body that casts a calming glow in your room

We all need light inside the house, sometimes even during the day, but not everyone’s eyes are built the same. Some people are more sensitive to the glare of bulbs of any kind, and most indoor lighting is designed to project their light directly from the bulb, whether or not there’s some diffusing material in between. This can be uncomfortable and disconcerting for these people, creating a home environment that isn’t as relaxing and welcoming as it should be. This pendant lamp concept tries to bring that positive atmosphere back into the home by taking inspiration from the moon and planets to deliver a softer light that soothes the mind as much as it illuminates the eyes.

Designer: Maro

No one looks at the sun directly and doesn’t get blinded by its scorching light. Even during a total solar eclipse, when the moon covers most of the sun, people are advised to only view the phenomenon through reflections or tinted filters. We tend to appreciate the sun indirectly through its effects and, in the case of space objects like the moon, through the light that’s reflected off them.

Space Traveler uses that same principle of reflected light to create an even softer glow than using a filter or some material to diffuse the light coming from a bulb. The source of the light, in this case, a strip of LEDs, shines the light on a brass object which then reflects the weakened light across the room. Instead of some simplistic implementation, however, this lamp also adopts a composition that pays tribute to its heavenly inspiration.

That LED strip, for example, is installed inside a ring-shaped frame and the brass ball suspended in the center takes the place of the bulb. This shape is reminiscent of the sun and a planet that orbits around it, but with the lighting roles reversed. It is also like a planet with a glowing ring around it, like Saturn, Neptune, or Uranus. Here, the size roles are also reversed, with the ring dwarfing the reflective orb.

The Space Traveler’s overall effect is both tantalizing and eerie, casting an otherworldly glow in your room. The association with familiar heavenly bodies and the softer light also evokes some feelings of comfort. And when the ring spins around the sphere, it creates an imagery of a space-faring vessel traveling space, reflecting the light of the stars and the sun during its voyage.

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