Quick reminder: we'll be at the Boston Hardware Workshop next week to talk about product development & prototyping
- The burgeoning (kinda) legal marijuana market in the United States is generating a lot of design, marketing and branding work to de-stigmatize the substance and shake off the "white guy with Bob Marley posters in his dorm" vibe that has dominated the associated goods for decades.
- Despite its blue-collar origins, or maybe because of it, Carharrt clothing is popular across a broad demographic swath, from dairy farmers to UX designers. As a utilitarian, anti-fashion brand, it maintains relevancy regardless of what is happening with popular apparel trends.
- McDonald's unveiled a new set of uniform designs that many have said look a bit like they're out of an authoritarian dystopia. As part of their continued efforts to move away from their image as a cartoon-character laden purveyor of cheap, unhealthy food it makes some sense. Losing the primary colors might also make their workforce feel less like cartoon characters themselves. For us, the most interesting part of this story is the very scale of the design decisions that a large corporation makes: ~850,000 people will be wearing some variant of these new uniforms. For comparison, the entire U.S. Army has about 540,000 people. We don't know yet whether or not the cyborg gray color palette is preparing customers for a more automated future of fast food.
- An interesting new method for printing medium-to-large envelope parts: injecting thermosetting resins and rubbers into a vat of goo, which acts as a continuous support structure. Like many other additive manufacturing methods, it has fairly poor surface finish, so the notion of it being used for something like office furniture (Steelcase is the corporate sponsor of the research) seems unlikely and the geometric inconsistency makes it problematic for jigs or fixtures. That said, it's early stage research and shows real promise in terms of speed over other methods.
- There's a case in Wisconsin right now that claims 1st Amendment Rights protection for Augmented Reality games after Milwaukee County introduced a permit requirement for any games that put AR locations within the county's park system. The permit scope is pretty extensive: providing on-site medical and security staff, a garbage clean up plan and liability insurance among other things. It's a complex area for public/private interests to be balanced with regulation: on one hand free-assembly is critical for free speech and democratic society, on the other, private companies painting public lands with digital billboards that lure masses of people with "rare" digital goods brings undue and unpredictable burdens for municipalities and their taxpayers. As one of the first AR cases, the outcome could have a huge impact on the nascent industry in establishing early legal precedents.
- The technologies behind accurately reconstructing an individual's voice are becoming highly capable and low cost. While great from an assistive tech perspective, it presents some huge security concerns. Imagine a loved one calls your phone saying they're stranded, asking you to wire them money only to find out later it was simple voice bot running a highly effective voice-based phishing scam. Add voice to the list of things that may appear authentic but can't be automatically trusted.
- Telepathy is probably a lot farther off than Elon Musk or Wait But Why would have you think. Here's a level-headed, quick read on the history of brain-machine / brain-computer interfaces and their likely course of development.
- "We have too many things, too many distractions, too many items offered to us..." Those were the words of Reverend Giuseppe Masseroni memorializing Emma Moreno, the world's oldest woman, who lived 117 years. The New York Times looks at the objects in her life.