- “Young people don’t own houses, they don’t have 401(k)s, and they don’t have health insurance. There is anxiety about what the future holds, so having this cute, adorable anthropomorphic furniture in our homes gives us a sense of comfort. In times of economic and political turmoil, people turn to cute": the trend in furniture and home furnishings toward thick, almost cartoonishly constructed objects. This aesthetic seems to be a different form of the same escapism-via-materialism of IKEA's recent vaguely spiritual line we've discussed in the past. In both cases, the objects are an indication of a desire to regress or retreat away from the troubling, terrifying events going on in the world beyond the constructed realities of our domestic spaces.
- During World War II, U.S. consumer classes were in the depths of rationing, focused on basic survival rather than social signaling. Following the war, advertisers sought to capitalize on pent up demand, not just for goods, but for a better, peaceful, high-tech future. Many of the visual tropes and promises of a better tomorrow through consumption that are still with us today have their origins in those more jubilant decades.
Feeding the Future:
- TechCrunch has a typically glowingly write-up about a startup called Creator (formerly Momentum Machines) that makes an automated burger machine where each burger can be custom configured and made to order. If Creator's equipment works as claimed, it represents a significant increase in complexity and capabilities beyond other automated food startups like Spyce, which we have written about in the past. From appearances Creator's burger machine goes beyond simple assembly of ingredients, with a nontrivial amount of prep work being done by the device (slicing, metering of ingredients, mixing, etc.). Among the value propositions claimed by the company, is that such a system allows for more affordable meals made with superior ingredients, in light of the labor savings.
- A great long read on the development of surgical techniques behind the first successful transplants of wombs. For now, practitioners are focused on replacing organs that were either missing at birth or removed for medical reasons, but there is interest in extending the procedure to transgender patients as well.
- Other than Pokémon GO, Snapchat appears to be the largest, most frequent exposure users have to augmented reality. The company says that over 50% of their users in the age range 13-34 are using their AR 'lenses' every week, and they are investing heavily in increasing AR functionality by building an internal team of animators and designers. It seems likely that the company is hoping to have their hardware and AR software technologies converge at some point in the not-distant future, where their Snap Spectacles enable a more real-time method of deploying and consuming AR experiences.