Security or stalker? Amazon’s Ring drone flies around your house to ward off uninvited guests

This can only play out one of two ways. A. It works exactly as intended… warding off thieves and keeping your house safe, and B. It overperforms, ending up stalking you, misidentifying family members with masks, and giving Amazon MUCH MORE information about your house than it already deserves. The Ring Drone was unveiled at Amazon’s hardware event today, and it feels dystopic right off the bat. Watch the video above and then join me in the next paragraph, will you?

The Always Home Cam (as it’s called) expands on Ring’s home security line-up, giving you a camera that sits INSIDE your house rather than at the entrance of it, like the Ring’s more popular video doorbells. When it detects a break-in, the flying camera un-docks from its station and travels to the intruder, capturing their face on video, which is beamed to the owner’s phone (and possibly even the police, considering Ring’s partnerships with local police forces). It’s designed to activate only when the owners aren’t at home, and comes with a completely enclosed propeller system so that it doesn’t harm anyone or any pets as it flies around the house to surveil intrusions. When docked, the camera’s station completely encloses the drone’s stem, which contains the lens, preventing it from being able to ‘spy’ on its owners.

However, that’s just the “exactly as intended” part of the Always Home Cam. If the idea of a flying camera in your house, operated by Amazon, doesn’t already send chills down your spine, do allow me to tell you what I believe the Ring could just as easily do. No technology system is perfect, and Amazon’s own Echo lineup shares that distinction (remember when the Echo would randomly begin laughing for no reason?) Ring’s most ubiquitous product has always been its video doorbell, which allowed people to see who was at the door without physically looking through the peephole. The doorbell could give you a video feed of your porch, alerting you of visitors, delivery personnel, and even intruders… but the Always Home Cam doesn’t operate on your porch… it actively sits inside your house, just like the Echo smart speaker which has already demonstrated its ability to spy on you by listening to you at all times. The Always Home Cam now gives Amazon a pair of eyes inside your home… and considering the fact that Amazon claims the drone only operates when you’re not at home, it means Amazon’s catalog of smart devices know exactly when you’re at home and when you’re not… tell me if that sounds worrisome yet. Moreover, unlike any of Ring’s indoor or outdoor cameras, the drone has the ability to NAVIGATE through your house, allowing it to literally scan your interiors and make a floor-plan of your home (something static cameras can’t do as efficiently). That’s much more data than a smart-speaker can capture either.

The flying camera’s prime objective is to identify break-ins and capture a video of the intruder, while playing alarming noises that Ring hopes will shock/frighten them… unless of course these intruders jump at the opportunity of also grabbing a free drone for themselves while they rob you blind. It’s an impressive product no less, and I don’t doubt Ring’s abilities when it comes to home-security… however, call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather avoid sharing my personal data with Amazon and just own a guard dog instead.

Designer: Ring (An Amazon Company)

This moon-inspired desk lamp brings tranquility to your sleep routine!

While the moon might not provide so strong a brightness in contrast to the sun, the Moon has a way of reintroducing us to tranquility, the concept behind the new desk lamp – Moon Light. The delicate, folding desk lamp softly illuminates any room it’s in with a dual-tone light reminiscent of the Moon’s glow. The lamp is as functional as it is artful; folded, the lamp might evoke images of the Moon hanging just above a tree. Speaking to the desk lamp’s practicality and artfulness, the lamp effuses each room with the mellow, but illuminating glow we so often seek from the Moon.

Based in Hangzhou, China, Wenjie Zheng conceptualized the lamp by marrying technology with poetry. Upon first glance, the lamp is attractively uncomplicated and, simply, gets the job done. While pragmatism and application matter, Moon Light has so much to offer that exceeds its simplistic appearance. The lamp is essentially made of up three main parts: two long flutes and a toroidal ring. A closer look reveals that the linear flute hinges at the lamp’s ring, its focal point. The linear flute functions as the lamp’s primary source of light and can stretch out to a maximum of 145 degrees from the lamp’s center. The lamp’s design prioritizes optical prism lighting, which means that the glass is cut in such a way that naturally reflects and bends light, which exemplifies Zheng’s dedication to reproducing the feeling and illumination that’s generally associated with moonlight.

Moon Light’s main appeal is the toroidal ring that represents the lunar satellite and centerpiece of the design. The ring light offers auxiliary light, akin to the kind the Moon offers, which is ideal for younger children to use as a night light. Auxiliary and optical prism lighting distinctly enhances this design as its purpose is not to provide bright light, similar to that which comes from the sun, but to instead reproduce the tranquil glow of the Moon whether for yourself and that book you bring to bed or for a younger child who always seems to sleeps a bit better whenever the Moon gets to hang around. Best of all, this night light brings you the tranquility needed to clear your brain and get you that good night’s sleep.

Designer: Wenjie Zheng

Uncle Iroh approves of this bamboo-inspired tea set!

You already know Uncle Iroh would 100% approve of this simple bamboo tea set, he would probably give you a wise lesson on being like bamboo as he brews his tea! I can already hear his voice saying “Zuko be like bamboo, resilient, flexible, and versatile.”

This tea set will appeal to any minimalist looking to add zen to their kitchen and their life. Designed for a luxury hotel brand located in southern China’s natural treasure—Jintan District, it is a nod to the scenery and bamboo fields. Jintan is known to have some of the best bamboos and high-grade green tea, both these natural gems are blended into this one tea set. “We perfectly interpreted and integrated the bamboo shape with the tea set for tea ceremony. The minimal bamboo-shaped tea set showcases the elegant contour of the product and the features of the tea set as well,” explains the team. It includes a teacup, a teapot, and a tea spoon that can all be stacked on top of each other to create your own bamboo. The little leaf/green shot is a thoughtful detail turned into a spoon that highlights the elegance of bamboo.

The stacking is symbolic of the layers of different steps of a traditional tea brewing process. It gives you a chance to enjoy the gradual progress and appreciate it – as Uncle Iroh would say, the tea is the reward.

Designer: RONG Design

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This AI-enabled tiny home increases the usable area by 15% compared to a traditional house!

I have said it before and I will say it again – tiny houses are the future of urban living. It is not a cute trend, it is a movement that will allow millennials and future generations to become homeowners as they battle the second economic crisis and a climate crisis – all before they are 30! Owning homes should not be a luxury or take up a whole paycheck and that is exactly what tiny homes like Nestron’s Cube Two allow you to do. You don’t have to sacrifice good design if you are already compromising on space.

Cube Two is a 263-square-foot home that is designed for the future and smart living. This modern compact home is a prefabricated structure that already comes fitted with the latest home appliances that can all be controlled by an AI assistant named Canny. The exterior has smooth curved corners that give it a friendly vibe and the interior offers enough space for a family of four to live comfortably with two bedrooms and an open living area. To make it feel roomier, there is a skylight that runs across the ceiling and floods the space with natural light and also provides a wonderful frame of the night sky. “The open concept increases the usable area by 15%, compared to a traditional house and is perfect for medium-sized households,” says the team.

The minimal interiors will resonate with all the modern homes you’ve seen with an elegant black and white theme. Tiny homes usually have cramped kitchens but the one in Cube Two really changes that with thoughtful design details, especially the bar counter! The sleek setup is completely ready for you to move in the day your house arrives, just unpack and plug in! Take their virtual 360° tour here. Tiny prefab homes also let you build communities anywhere eg. it can help mitigate issues that arise when climate change causes dislocation, provide refugees with better camps, or even set up housing for researchers who have to stay in remote locations. Small house, big potential!

Designer: Nestron

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This water bottle and pillbox hybrid was designed to restore young cancer patients’ confidence!

Pengu was born out of empathy for those diagnosed with cancer. It is heartbreaking and life-changing at any age, but more so when you are a teenager or young adult (TYA) because it takes away from their chance at having a normal developmental trajectory during a phase of life that is crucial for social, cognitive, and emotional development. Pengu was designed to improve the quality of life for TYA cancer patients on hospital leave or in remission by helping them feel and live a little more independently.

At this age, usually, a TYA patient would be moving out for school, getting their own space, experimenting with career options, and more but it all comes to a giant pause as their life suddenly revolves around health appointments. The constant monitoring and check-ups are bound to make anyone feel like they don’t have control over their life, and especially with a disease like cancer, so Pengu – a water bottle and pill holder hybrid – is a small product that can make a big impact by giving them a little control back. It helps to smoothly facilitate two critical things for the patient – taking their medication on time and hydrating enough. These two tasks are things the best of us forget all the time, but it is something vital for a patient’s recovery and therefore can’t be missed. With Pengu, the user will not have to feel conscious about having a big pillbox and the medicines will be easier to access compared to being in their bags. When the user starts to streamline their own basic needs of taking medication and drinking water, it starts to slowly build back their confidence about being able to leave home and readjust to life outside cancer. Besides, Pengu is sleek, minimal, and stylish so it takes away the feeling of “people are watching me when I have my pills.”

The name might hint on the fact that the form was inspired by the emperor penguin and their chick. “The subtle ribbed touch points on each side represent the flippers, whilst the shut line of the lid represents the beak. The pill holder slots into the base of the bottle, similarly to how the penguin would shield its chick from the cold,” explains Spence. Even the CMF was thoughtfully picked out to mimic the water-resistant feathers of the penguin. The jet black color is bold yet minimal and the bottle is powder-coated in stainless steel for sturdiness and insulation. Since it is still a concept, it would be fun to see if there was a digital element to it like subtle reminders to hydrate or take pills. The penguin is a symbol of resilience – no matter how harsh the storm, they must keep moving forward to survive and it is a beautiful reminder to those fighting cancer every day.

Designer: Shane Spence

This Porsche 411 concept reimagines the classic 911 with autonomous driving and futuristic design

The hypercars are one of the most fascinating parts of writing about automotive design – it is an imaginary drive into a future that I only ever saw in Jetsons (the 3D renderings are far superior to the 2D cartoons!). Designers Hussain Almossawi and Marin Myftiu have reimagined the 911 Spyder for NCS Company, an Italian prototyping and development company, calling it the 411. 

The iconic 911 Spyder is something of an automotive unicorn that hasn’t been replicated, the designers accurately call it a dreamlike beast. The 411 is a design project that aims at leveling up the design game for Porsche’s hypercar by blending the best of their timeless elements from the ‘50s – ’60s with the future. The headlights are aligned with the front wheels with a smoothly wrapped bodywork as a nod to the Porsche heritage. Distinctive design details like no body cut along the front and having all the air ducts are exposed actively play a role in the performance of the car. What sets the 411 apart from the existing hypercars is that it is designed with the goal of being a luxury highway cruiser, the driver should be able to enjoy the 400 kmph speed (well, if the rules allow it) outside the runway too when they invest in a Porsche. The sleek aerodynamic body with a geometric approach gives the electric car the same muscular feel of the real machine.

“The concept envisions a not-so-distant future where, with the perfection of autonomous driving, some highways will allow higher speed limits in this mode. Removing the human error from the equation will allow safe cruising at speeds of 200, 300 or even 400+ Km/h, giving business people and the likes a viable alternative to flight as well as a real reason for boasting about that exotic car,” explains Almossawi who has formerly designed crazy concepts for Adidas too. The concept as interesting as the future it is designed for –  a world where a car’s fast speeds would be achievable with on-the-go inductive charging thanks to advanced tech and in-built inductive charging stripes underneath the roads. It is a concept but not impossible as automakers work to make the electric batteries smaller which would help with the driving dynamics. Elon, if you are reading this can you tweet at Porsche and do a collab that can give us hope for the future?

Designers: Hussain Almossawi and Marin Myftiu for NCS Company

This treehouse’s window is a giant live picture frame of a french castle!

The live photos technology on our phones is cool but what if I told you you can dive into the live picture frame and have real-time views? That is basically what this conceptual treehouse does! Guests of the Château-Scope are living inside a luxurious picture frame that shows them a framed live view of the French castle Château de La Mothe Chandeniers.

The treehouse is nestled in the castle’s circumference – this placement has been inspired by the relationship between the sun (in this case, the castle) and the moon (the treehouse in this context). The distinguishing feature of this treehouse is the slanted roof screen that creates a temporal veil to make guests curious. To ensure that everyone is able to view the full landscape, there are arch openings created in the slated roof based on the analysis of an average person’s sightline. When one looks through the module arches, Château de La Mothe Chandeniers is transformed into a whimsical vision of a historical castle in a snow globe!

“This proposal seeks to generate a new dynamic between site and experience with the introduction of treehouse modules. The shift in perspective offered by the tree houses will allow for a renewed understanding of Château de La Mothe Chandeniers,” explains the LMTLS team. The team has created two modules – one with minimal required programs and another with additional volume. Interior design elements like folding glass doors and curtains can be added to maximize the connection with the natural surroundings. The main window will always be facing the castle and having the two contrasting architectural designs on one site is a poetic way of bringing the old and the new together to be enjoyed simultaneously.

Designer: Daeho Lee, Beomki Lee, and Jaeyual Lee of LMTLS

This DIY tiny wooden cabin comes with a Scandinavian aesthetic and a flatpack design!

 

Do you love DIYs? Me too! But let’s think big. Okay, a little bigger but not more than a tiny house. Now, what if I told you that you can build your own tiny cabin DIY style? Perfect 2020 project! A Hungarian company called Hello Wood has designed a tiny minimalist cabin that you can assemble yourself for creative space solutions or just an escape from your living room.

The prefabricated cabins start at $10,200 and have been crafted in a way that anyone can put it together, it is truly the ultimate DIY project. With the tiny home market ‘growing’ rapidly, the Kabinka cabin is positioned to be like IKEA furniture – easy to assemble with an aesthetic that is loved by most. The Kabinka cabin comes in four sizes that range between 129 and 215 square feet. It is a tiny cabin but it has high ceilings – over 12 feet high actually – that bring a sense of spaciousness and luxury to the otherwise simple structure. The ceiling space is well optimized to give the cabin a loft-like setup that can be used as storage space or a cozy reading nook.

Another cool thing about Kabinka is that it is a flatpack design! You can also customize it to suit your needs – it can be a private backyard workstation or a mini weekend holiday home without the heavy price tag (since you assemble it, it brings down the costs!). The assembly can take between 1-3 days and the designers say all you need is “a good bunch of helpers, basic tools and enthusiasm” to build Kabinka. The basic layout can easily fit a couch, a tea kitchen, and a stove but Hello Wood allows you to add any of these extras – landscaping, loft bed, bathroom, extra windows, glass wall, furniture, and more. While the base model isn’t suited to year-round living, with the right additions it can be easily transformed into a permanent tiny home.

“Our design-build projects are developed with people in mind. We work primarily with wood to create installations that invite participation, benefit local causes, and best serve our clients’ needs. Creating a quality space was the focus of the design process. Spatial quality isn’t necessarily characterized by big size, rather deliberate complexity. Each and every millimeter counts but we believe that for those who share this level of consciousness it is not a challenge but joy to spend their time in a minimalist home.” says the team. In my opinion, we all need to flee this urban lifestyle and get our own tiny homes so we can WFH with views for days!

Designer: Hello Wood

Sorry Post-it notes, we are moving onto digital sticky notes!

Yes, we all have notes on our phones but has that phased out the use of paper and pen at our work desks? Nope, in fact, most people still prefer to write down their to-do lists because checking it off is gratifying. As a reflex, we always tend to frantically search for a notepad to jot down a number, address, meeting feedback, last-minute lists, or notes during a class. To integrate this existing behavior with the technology we already use, designer Jeong Woo Kim created Ouverture – a conceptual keyboard accessory that is a number pad + a digital notepad when you flip the cover. It has a typing mode which is the number pad and a memo mode which is the writing pad. “The leather cover acts as a number pad on a conventional keyboard. Current from the fingertips passes through the special conductive fiber to the touchpad inside the leather cover,” explains Kim.

A quick survey showed that 98% of people take notes when they are working on computers and 70% of them said it is uncomfortable and 34% complained that their desk tends to get messy or notes tend to get lost. With a device like Ouverture, your notes are saved as image files and your desk remains clutter-free. But it would be interesting if technology also lets you convert it into text for easier transfer of information. Another important point to consider if this goes into production is to make sure it is modular so that the left-handed demographic can also be included – we all deserve to have a chance at being more efficient! Ouverture comes with a magnetic pen on the side so that you don’t need to look for pen or paper anymore – it retains the tactile experience and incorporates it with our digital lifestyle without us having to learn any new behaviors. No more messy desks, paper waste, or lost memos!

Designer: Jeong Woo Kim

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This 3-in-1 dishwasher was designed to fit in your sink – a 2020 kitchen essential!

 

Safe to say that the most hated chores are either doing laundry or doing the dishes. There is something about warm, dryer sheet scented laundry that kind of makes it worth it, so doing dishes is the most annoying household task in my list. I also feel like dishwashers are so awkwardly located, you have to bend too often and that can be a problem if you have a physical disability or if you are over the age of 26 because you have spent a good amount of time slouching over your devices. To make life easier for us all, Fotile has designed a 3-in-1 dishwasher that actually fits in your sink! Yes, that is correct – your sink is now a place for dirty as well as clean dishes.

This clever design hides your dishwasher and dryer elegantly by welding it to your stainless steel sink. The dishwasher has a larget fillet that facilitates accelerated rotation of water flow to improve the efficiency of wash cycles. Another great perk of it being fitted in your sink is that it reduces the hassle of cleaning inside the appliance. It also has a flat embedded ‘lid’ which makes it easy for you to keep your countertop clean while not sacrificing surface space. Apart from killing 99.99% of bacteria from the dishes, it also doubles up as a fruit and vegetable purifier. Using ultrasonic technology and a turbulent spray, it removes 90% of pesticide residue from your produce. This dishwasher claims to have no blind spots – 360-degree cleaning and drying!

The Fotile dishwasher is perfect for any home but especially urban homes because they don’t come with appliances (trust me, I had to apartment hunt in Manhattan which meant I chose dishwasher over having a living room), even more so when they are traditional bulky washers. Not just small apartments, but any home could benefit from space optimization with this in-sink dishwasher. It is also uses resources more efficiently and cuts the time + energy taken by existing dishwashers into half! Clean, convenient, and (very) cool.

Designer: Fotile