Martin Miklica’s Le Petit Prince

The Electrolux Design Lab is an annual, global design competition open to undergraduate and graduate industrial design students who are invited to present innovative ideas for household appliances of the future.

This year’s theme is ‘Designs For The Next 90 Years’. Awesomeness.

Czech designer Martin Miklica is my favourite finalist this year with ‘Le Petit Prince’, a robotic greenhouse destined for Mars. This little robot has been designed “to facilitate the future exploration and population of Mars”:

Le Petit Prince by Martin Miklica

Electrolux says:

“Le Petit Prince takes care of a plant it carries inside its glass case, which is mounted on top of its four-legged pod. In search of nutrients to care for the plant, the robot is programmed to intuitively learn the optimal method to find what it needs. It also reports its movements and progress to its fellow greenhouse robots via wireless communication so that they can learn from each other.”

A neat little explanatory video:

Martin has ideas about how we will relate to machines in 90 years time:

At that time, we won’t think of machines as dumb boxes with buttons, but more as partners that obey our commands, but still have their own minds. They will be more autonomous and think and make decisions on their own.

I’d love to agree, and wish him luck in the awards. Winners are being announced today, via live webcast. If you’re interested, here’s the link that you should visit in time for the award ceremony at 4.45pm GMT.

Nearness: RFID in the Flow

Just a quickie: here’s an implementation of RFID tags that I thought was cool:


Nearness from timo on Vimeo.

Not bad, eh? Oddly satisfying. I love the little ‘click’ noises too.

The filmmaker Timo Arnall has done some other really nice videos that feature RFID as part of everyday life, including Skål and Sniff, as well as other pieces of interest in the ‘craft meets technology’ space. You might like to see his portfolio.

In the video, an Oyster card triggers the sequence. I found one designer’s cool idea for personalised images that appear when you pass through a gate:

Face Design
1. Design an image
Oyster Scan
2. Scan your card
Oyster Face
3. See your image

This idea came from Lee Washington, and I’m right behind you, Lee.
RFID has so much potential yet to be explored, this being one small example of how Near-Field Communication can add in some way to our lives.

I’m planning another piece on RFID tags and their future which will be ready soon, so look out for it!

Colour Picker by Jinsun Park

Colour Picker is an innovative design of a concept pen that can scan colours from anything around and instantly use the colour for drawing:

After placing the pen against an object, the user just presses the scan button. The colour is being detected by the colour sensor and the RGB cartridge of the pen mixes the required inks to create the target colour:

This superb device will help people to observe the changing colours of nature. With colour picker, all range of artists will be able to create a more sensorial and visual insight of their surrounding nature’s colours:

via Colour Picker by Jinsun Park | Future Technology.

The Conversation Prism

Cool new representational artwork by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas:

The Conversation Prism shows all social media services and how they interrelate. Though very simple in it’s approach they’ve managed to classify near-all types of platform and their constitient IPs.

Not sure how the centre of the prism is used, but damn, don’t it look pretty?
Think I’ll be ordering one for the wall in the new MBA division.

Emotional Search in Web 3.0

I urge you to go and check out We Feel Fine, a flash applet that scours the Interwebs  not for keywords you’ve chosen, but from a huge array of predefined emotions.

The result is a staggering visualisation of current states-of-mind across various social media sources, from feeling ‘angsty’ to ‘fine’ (of course) and through to ‘zealous’. Seriously, one cannot underplay the significance I feel this holds, as the way it comes across in its black and #ff005d imagery places monumental power behind the little dots and abstract shapes, each representing a different feeling, and crucially a different person. Allow me to elucidate…

Logging on you’ll start in an ocean of multicoloured shapes and colours. Mousing over will freeze the surrounding area allowing you to pick out a certain point  – a label appears signifying the attached emotion. A click on that point shows the sentence or image that the target emotion is connected to. A further click takes you away to that content’s permalink somewhere on the web. Immediately, at least to me, the significance of web browsing via emotional state is felt for the first time.

Jonathan Harris, digital artist behind WeFeelFine along with information architect Sep Kamvar,  has set upon a series of projects intended to exploit our increasing hyperconnectivity, and present back to us the visual representation of our online ongoings. Check out this video from coolhunting on the etymology of the project below:

As a member of the ad industry, I am excited by the potential to target users by their emotional state via WeFeelFine, or by Adrian Veidt-style trendspotting via Universe.

Conversely, as a member of the Open Web culture I know that this is art and should remain so. Let’s not sully this by exploiting human weakness, rather use it as a reminder of those core abilities the web and our hyperconnectivity to it can show us, and what we can learn from it.

That’s the true definition of good art, in my opinion.