This electric autonomous ferry is the future of emission-free public water transportation!

Mobility and transportation are rapidly changing to become greener in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. From electric cars to sustainable yachts, talented teams are working in every transport category to provide a better alternative. One such project is the CAPTN Vaiaro which proposes two autonomous electric ferry concepts that offer a glimpse into the future of the industry. The team of designers developed CAPTN under the coordination of Kiel University in Germany because the concept was designed keeping the port city of Kiel in mind.

The city of Kiel is quickly turning into a bustling hub which is posing a challenge for city planners who want to make the public transportation network more efficient while still being aligned with the city’s climate goals. They are anticipating a spike in the ferry traffic between the west and east shores of Kiel Fjord and therefore need a solution that can keep up with the growth while also running on clean energy. Those two conditions are fulfilled by CAPTN Vaiaro, which stands for Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network, as it is specifically designed to integrate the ferry crossing into the city’s clean mobility network. The two different elements – the ‘floating platform’ and the ‘passage’ – allow for rapid carriage of buses and cyclists/pedestrians across the Fjord.

Using electric propulsion, the ferries make public transportation quiet and emission-free with electricity from renewable sources. The autonomous operation also will increase the frequency of service significantly. The ferry is designed to be available on-demand at all times, and operation is possible around the clock, every day, with integrated smart tech. The design addresses the entire mobility chain, specifically connections between bus and ferry services, to increase efficiency.

CAPTN’s team goes beyond the designers and includes several scientists and working groups from Kiel University, Kiel University of Applied Sciences, Muthesius University of Fine Arts & Design, as well as representatives from politics, administration, and industry. It also was one of the winners of the iF Design Talent Award 2020 and the jury described this project as one that takes a highly creative and innovative approach to public transport, imagining how a car-free city can nonetheless span two sides of a major waterway. CAPTN’s motto is ‘making innovations visible,’ and it shows!

Designer: Simeon Ortmüller, Vincent Steinhart-Besser, Yigang Shen, Jingyue Chen, and Tobias Gehrke

This sustainable storage container + shopping bag reduces your consumption emissions and food waste!

Open your refrigerator – how many plastic containers do you see? Now open that cabinet where you store your shopping bags – do you really need that many plastic bags? We often store in our takeout boxes/plastic containers and keep those plastic bags in hopes to reuse someday because we forget to carry our cloth bags to the store. Most of these little habits are formed because it is convenient and cheap but we do them without thinking about the effects of its continued use on our environment. To solve both problems with one design, Gabriel Steinmann created P0 (pronounced pio like the letter and number) which stands for ‘project zero’  – a storage and shopping solution for food that aims to reduce consumption emissions.

P0 helps us to switch to and maintain a plant-based diet and reduce the amount of food waste. The design blends organic and sustainable materials with an earthy aesthetic to invoke warmth and a more personal relationship with the items we use. Its ceramic body and textile lining help encourage a deeper appreciation for the food we consume and make us more aware of how much food we actually need to minimize wasting it. It is also a practical and attractive utensil in your kitchen – “a symbol of change, of becoming a little bit more human,” as rightly described by Steinmann.

The jury at iF Design Awards gave PO the ‘iF Design Talent Award 2020’ because it raises awareness and facilitates sustainable food consumption using a very beautifully designed functional product. “The design will appeal to early adopters who will become ambassadors for this product. The whole process is well thought-out and the combination of the different materials is aesthetically pleasing and endorses the entire concept. The possibility of customization makes it even more personal and inspires others to change their food consumption habits,” added the jury.

This self-sufficient, parametric, adaptable storage-and shopping solution is something I would really love to see taking over the world and make that sustainable switch in our lifestyle convenient enough to ditch the plastic containers and shopping bags.

Designer: Gabriel Steinmann

This fully automated bionic coffee maker is just like a robot straight from The Jetsons!

If you sometimes feel like a robot before your first cup of coffee, you’re in good company. Without even fully opening my eyes, I get my first cup of coffee going for the morning, and while it brews I get myself ready. On good days, I turn my stove off on time, and on other days, I gulp down a burnt cup of coffee. Coffee is a necessary part of the day for a lot of us and having that perfect cup in the morning might be all we need to get our day off on the right foot. To save us from those ‘other days,’ Beijing’s Orion Star Technology Co. Ltd. recently designed a robotic coffeemaking system, the Zhi Ka Master that was shortlisted at 2021’s iF Design Awards.

Zhi Ka Master is a coffee-making system that employs the use of twin-arm robotics to perform traditional coffee and tea brewing for hand-poured, automated cups of coffee. The entire system comprises a twin-arm, six-axis robot and accompanying work table. Twin-arm robotic systems are typically chosen for their efficient and automated execution of more involved assembly operations. Through bi-manual manipulation, twin-arm robots can perform complicated tasks in a human-like manner. The incorporation of twin-arm robotics for Zhi Ka Master and a bionic profile design equips the robot with enough know-how to stimulate masterful coffee or tea-making methods with the push of a button. A pre-sized and programmed worktable is used to keep all the machines and tools necessary to make any drink on a typical coffee menu.

You’re like me if your coffee order comes with some conditions: an extra shot of espresso please and not too much ice. Rest assured, Zhi Ka Master knows how to receive special input for specific coffee orders that veer from the menu. Through integrated software, Zhi Ka Master can make coffee and tea drinks for specific tastes all without human intervention. So maybe, don’t push that button.

Designer: Orion Star Technology Co. Ltd.

Zhi Ka Master is a six-axis, twin-arm robot coffeemaker.

Integrated software adjusts the robot’s mechanical grip to fit whatever item it grasps.

Through a built-in RGB camera, the robot performs duties and responds to feedback in real-time to ensure safe operation.

Equipped with an emergency stop button, Zhi Ka Master prioritizes safety even before coffee.

Zhi Ka Master occupies a total of only three square meters.

Samsung’s Dual Oven gets an upgrade with matte aesthetics, new UI & seemingly invisible glass!

This year Samsung has been moving in the direction of bespoke and customized appliances. In 2020, we all spent more time at home, and therefore the interaction with appliances significantly increased (remember the banana bread phase?) which led to many of us wanting to upgrade the otherwise ignored mundane products – ovens being one of them. They are traditionally bulky but Samsung changed that with its dual cook oven which gave it a sleek makeover. Now the brand has teamed up with Relvāokellermann to take it one step further and seamlessly integrate it into your surroundings to a point that they make the glass “disappear”!  Called the Infinite Line Dual Cook,  this design will be a part of the brand’s new mainline built-in oven.

The Infinite Line Dual Cook is designed for better integration within the furniture while simultaneously offering an exceptional user experience. The designers believed in the need to find new ways of innovation, not only centered in technology but more towards culture and behavioral changes in society which echoes the sentiments of JaeSeung Lee (President & Head of Samsung Electronics’ Digital Appliances Division) who said, “Consumers, especially millennials, are spending more time at home and demanding products that enhance their everyday lives with customized features. Great, reliable performance is now a basic expectation. The standard for a better, smarter home experience is now decided by how closely appliances can be ‘fit’ to various customer lifestyles,” and that is where form can upgrade the functionality of tech.

Kitchen and living room boundaries are increasingly disappearing due to mass urbanization and the lack of space in big cities – so how do ovens fit in the new, modern, interior architecture set up? To address this contemporary issue, the Infinite Line Dual Cook oven was created to blend harmoniously into the living environment. It showcases advances in materials and finishings, takes into account that appliances have become more haptic, and the popularity of matte surfaces due to their aesthetic. The best part? The perfectly clear glass’s reflection was made to disappear by the design team. “By reducing the size of the window without compromising the view of the consumer while cooking and adding a satin finish to the door’s surface, it was possible to design an oven that performs exceptionally while in use but merges with surrounding when not needed,” explained Kellermann and Ana Relvao.

Interaction with the appliance was the next priority. Nothing is more frustrating than a complicated digital interface when all you need to do is bake the banana bread at 350°F – the interaction should be very intuitive since appliances are fundamental tools. The protruded knob is the center for all the action and is supported by a matte touch screen where simple instructions can be followed. All interaction points are aligned into a control panel, almost like a cockpit, underlining the area from which a user controls the appliance. Think of how simple it is to use a microwave, the same simplicity is being applied to ovens so you are able to operate them without looking as if you are solving a math problem.

Samsung’s Infinite Line Dual Cook oven has been awarded the iF Award 2020 and the IDEA Award 2020 in Bronze.

Designers: Gerhardt Kellermann and Ana Relvao

This Award-Winning Breathing Assistive Stone expands and contracts to guide your meditation

Prana, according to ancient yoga practice, is known to be the universal life energy, in which breathing helps flow through each of us and every other living thing; it keeps us alive. When energy channels are even partially blocked, this disrupts the flow of prana, which can lead to heightened feelings of stress or anxiety. Ayama means to extend, draw out, or regulate. Pranayama is the practice of breath control, which essentially helps clear out any blockages in energy channels that prevent our breathing from bringing us calm.

The makers behind Ayama, Wenxi Qi, and Hengbo Zhang received the iF Design Talent Award in 2019 for their breathing assistive device that helps those of us with anxiety reach a point of self-induced meditation. Ayama, which resembles a smooth, grey garden stone, is really a rhythmic breathing guide that, thanks to fully-integrated motors that run off an electric charge, expands and contracts according to pranayama breathing techniques. When we focus on our breathing and let it guide our peace of mind, then our parasympathetic nervous system is supported, which means our heart rate assumes a more natural-feeling rhythm and our otherwise tense muscles tend to relax in response. This is called a “relaxation response” and provides the purpose for this design.

With an intuitive interface, Ayama is self-explanatory and easy to follow. By pressing the main button on the grey stone, users can adjust the different modes of pranayama: ujjayi, sitali, kapalabhati, and nadhi sodhana. These varying breathing techniques help to quell different stressors, including body temperature and lack of concentration by helping the user achieve a generally calm state of mind. Additionally, Ayama comes with a wireless charger that mimics a miniature zen garden, which works as a friendly reminder that by just checking in with our emotional headspaces, we can practice pranayama anywhere, anytime. Without the help of physical aid, it can be difficult to incorporate healthful breathing techniques in public life. So, Ayama brings a sense of calm when considering how insurmountable battling anxiety can sometimes feel – all you have to do is press a button and breathe.

Designers: Wenxi Qi and Hengbo Zhang

This sleek, accessible Braille Computer is like a MacBook for the visually impaired!

Designed to make technology accessible but also desirable, the iF Design Award-winning Braille Computer from Hangzhou DesignDo Innovation brings the sleek design language of modern consumer technology products and introduces it to special-needs design. The computer works like any standard desktop or laptop and supports regular desktop and mobile operating systems and programs like note-taking software, mail software, e-book readers, and even internet browsers. The all-in-one computer comes with a keyboard for input on the top, and a dynamic braille display at the bottom that lets users read what’s on their screen, one line at a time. Joysticks on the left and right let users navigate through their computer too, allowing them to switch between apps, open files, and even scroll across documents and pages!

The Braille Computer’s design noticeably deviates from the design DNA of other computers for the visually impaired. Designed for functionality but also made to look and ‘feel’ desirable, the computer is small, portable, sleek, and features a satin-finish metallic body that looks and feels great to the touch, combined with concave-capped keys that make typing on the Braille Computer an absolute breeze! Designed with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in, the computer can even connect to other peripherals, bridging the gap between consumer tech and special-needs tech!

The Braille Computer is a winner of the iF Design Award for the year 2020.

Designer: Hangzhou DesignDo Innovation

These innovative jelly encased medicines let you swallow pills without drinking water!

Let’s be honest, it would be a lot more fun to take medicines if they were wrapped in Haribo gummy bears. While it is mainly a problem to get children to swallow tablets, I know many adults too who will go to any lengths to swap their tablets with syrup. This water-free medicine jelly is a life savior for many!

Not only does this medicine design make swallowing easier, but it also addresses the larger problem of access to clean water in poorer countries. Since drinking water is a problem, even if medicines are available, it is harmful to people to be taking them with contaminated water. This innovative jelly medicine is created to be water-free so people don’t have to pick between curing themselves or adding on to existing health risks. The jelly is the same size as a sip of water so the patient wont need to drink anything when taking the medicine. “Poor hygiene and poor water quality are causes of many diseases, including cholera and typhoid fever. When taking medicine in such conditions, there is a risk of acquiring additional illness if the medication is taken with unsanitary water. Jelly medicine eliminates this hygienic problem because it can be easily swallowed without water,” says the designer.

Jelly medicine is individually packaged to minimize air contact and to prevent almost oxidation of nutrients from the moment it comes into contact with oxygen. It also provides customized medicines by individually tailoring the packaging. You can order medicines for specific diseases and age groups instead of having all tablets coming separately and wasting resources. The aim of this water-free jelly medicine is to ensure that people in developing countries do not needlessly suffer from diseases caused by contaminated water.

This design was awarded the iF Talent Design Award and certified as an internationally beneficial design.

Designer: Jeongho Oh, Dongho Choi, and Ryangtak Oh

Animal psychology governs the design of this smart pet water dispenser

Have you ever walked into someone’s house or office and they have this cool showpiece with a water fountain? I am talking about those mini zen gardens or crazy shapes that have constant flowing water – it always catches your attention if you see it. That same behavior works for pets too actually, they are more attracted to flowing water than a stagnant water bowl and this award-winning smart pet water dispenser does exactly that!

The PetX smart pet water dispenser designed by Beijing Kitten&Puppy Technology Co. was one of the iF Design Awards 2020 winners and rightfully so – they used the simplest animal behavioral psychology pattern and applied it to a product that worked for pets. Instead of a regular water bowl, this smart water dispenser provides clean running water for pets anytime. Flowing water is better for your pet’s health as still water has a higher chance of becoming contaminated and leading to things like urinary tract infections. Your pets are likely to drink more water due to the innovative and inviting mechanism.

The brand has a patented water flow structure designed for keeping the water clean by filtering impurities and keeping the volume below 30dB. The form of the product has a 7° slope which works universally i.e. pets with different face shapes will be able to comfortably drink water and you won’t have to buy separate bowls for multiple pets. The PetX water dispenser offers access to the IoT and has a voice control feature as well. The water frequency can be automatically switched for day and nighttime use and in case of a power failure, the water tray will still store 100 ml so your pets can remain hydrated. You’ve reached the end of this article and this is a reminder for you and your pet to drink some water.

The PetX smart water dispenser is a winner of the iF Design Award for the year 2020.

Designer: Beijing Kitten&Puppy Technology Co.

This 3D-printed protector lets you shift your plants between nurseries without damaging the roots

I assume the word ‘transplant’ had something to do with plants to begin with, which makes it a pretty fitting word to describe what the Roots Protector does… it helps with transplanting. Printed using PLA bio-filament, the Roots Protector is a tiny sapling-container that helps plants grow into the soil but prepares them for being uprooted and replanted. The protector, which acts as a cage that the plant’s roots grow through, helps gardeners uproot plants safely, by letting you directly lift them off in a way that doesn’t damage the plant’s base. The protector comes with an upper lip that one can hold while pulling up, and a mesh base that safeguards the plant’s primary roots from damage. Once transplanted, the PLA polymer begins biodegrading in a matter of 2-3 months as the plant grows older. By the time the plant’s completely grown, the protector will have completely broken down and decomposed into natural matter.

The Roots Protector is a winner of the iF Design Award for the year 2020.

Designer: icamp Product Design

A simple design-upgrade to the staircase handrail allows elders to take a break while climbing

One of my favorite things in the world is stumbling across a design that’s both creative yet so painfully obvious, it makes me wonder why nobody thought of it before. A staircase handrail serves two important purposes. It A. acts as a barrier between flights of stairs, so you don’t accidentally fall over and hurt yourself, and B. more importantly, it gives you a resting platform for your hands, allowing you to take support as you climb down. Here’s my question. What if you could reinterpret the word ‘support’ as something that’s more encompassing and isn’t limited to one’s hands?

The Rest For A While staircase turns portions of the handrail into a resting zone for people who get tired of climbing flights of stairs. At the landing of every flight of stairs, the handrail extends downward into a makeshift seat with a backrest, allowing senior citizens or people with disabilities to take a short break from climbing long flights of stairs. It’s a simple solution that, in the absence of elevators, gives people a well-deserved moment of respite to regather energy for the next flight of stairs.

The ‘Rest For A While’ Staircase Handrail is a winner of the iF Design Award for the year 2020.

Designer: Shenzhen Jinwei Innovation Design Company