Posts for Current undergraduate students

What is a gimmick?

Posts in this blog sometimes relate to a some design and pose the question, "Is this a gimmick?"  A recent example concerned a speaker-battery combination pack for electric bikes.

GMO agriculture 2.0?

I was interested to read in a recent Nature Genetics editorial that maybe the public could participate directly in pursuit of the genetic editing of agricultural crops.

This statement, in particular, is striking:

Eyeglasses are not just for seeing

One of the most famous dictums associated with Modernist design is that "Form follows function."  Typically, what modernists mean by this expression is that the design of a product should be dictated by the job it is to perform for users—and nothing else!

However, Modernists tended to take a narrow view of what a function is.  In their view, this was limited to physical services that a product might perform for its users. 

Should the Indian flag be a Canadian doormat?

Amazon Canada got into some trouble recently when it was found that a vendor was using its web service to sell doormats decorated with the Indian flag.  India's external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was alerted to the matter by vigilant Twitter users, who consider this usage an insult to their national flag.

Should a fitness tracker look like a ring?

For our first posting of 2017, consider a new fitness tracking device in the form of a finger ring.  The Motiv Ring tracks sleep patterns, heart rate, steps and other activities, all while looking chic.  It will officially debut at this year's Consumer Electronics Show and is priced at $199 (USD).

The Ring contains some technological innovations, including optical heart rate tracking and impressive miniaturization. 

In the mobile age, does it still matter where you are?

One of the predicted consequences of the global village was the fading importance of place.  After all, if everyone can talk to and look in on everyone else regardless of location, through the miracle of telephones and TV and Internet, then location would become irrelevant.

We do not yet live in that world.  Many people continue to commute to work, for example, to be in the same building with their colleagues.

Facebook, misinformation and censorship

Three recent New York Times articles illustrate some issues facing information providers like Facebook when it comes to dealing with potentially harmful content being shared through its service.

A tale of two robots

Today brings another pair of interesting news items to compare.  The first concerns an automated vehicle that delivers hot food.  The second concerns an automated vehicle that delivers hot lead.  (Some lines just write themselves!)

AI, discovery, and censorship

My news feed put up an interesting pair of articles about applications of AI to what might be called knowledge discovery.

The first was an article by Adrienne Lafrance about the search for another Antikythera mechanism.  The Antikythera mechanism is an astronomical computer made in Hellenistic Greek times and found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera in 1901.

Speaker-battery combo for electric bike

Emma Tucker at Dezeen writes about a new feature of the "Angel" electric bicycle by Noordung.  The Angel is a high-end electric bike clearly meant to appeal to an exclusive market, at the exclusive price of €9,760 each.

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