If you had to give an award for the year's most breakthrough piece of consumer tech, there's a good chance it would go to Lytro, a camera company which recently unveiled its first product. Unlike other cameras, you never need to focus it. Rather, the images it takes are interactive—you can change their focus later, meaning that you can take pictures of a fleeting moment without having to check whether the right thing was in the picture. And because the camera never needs focusing or adjustments, it never has any shutter lag. It is truly just a point and shoot.
Nearly two decades ago, Francis Fukuyama announced the "end of history," the triumph of liberal democracy, and the end of clashes between political ideologies. He got it wrong: Since then, we’ve had our fair share of "history." Similarly, a few weeks ago, no one would have predicted that the Obama administration would be engaged in three wars in the Middle East, or succeed in killing Osama bin Laden.
In the world of service providers, the last few years have been defined by a struggle to capture the home triple play: Selling consumers internet, phone, and TV services in one package, with Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast all offering deals to buy all three services.
Meanwhile, Apple has worked diligently to define a new triple play of its own. Apple is now closer than ever to offering a unique combination of home computing, back-end web support, and entertainment services.
Much has been written about Apple and its Brand. I think it's the strongest brand ever created. However, per conventional branding thinking, I am quite wrong: P&G, Mobil, BP, Coca-Cola, and others are all bigger, older brands whose purported worth is far greater. (Apple is a measly 17th.) That seems ridiculous. So I propose a new test for a brand's mass, the Tangible Brand test.
Here at Co.Design, we pride ourselves on being a house of many mansions. To that end, we’ve spent the past several months sharing the perspectives of some of the finest experts working in design, from Bruce Nussbaum on the dangers of design imperialism to Gadi Amit on what’s wrong with American design schools (hint: everything). We might not agree with all the opinions, but we’re totally convinced that the dialogue about design is richer because of them. What follows is a collection of the most popular — and occasionally controversial — columns of 2010.
As head of a major Silicon Valley industrial design studio, I review hundreds or even thousands of portfolios every year. It is an essential part of my job as I look for the best people to join our growing team. Because the right mix of talent is so crucial to our success, I make it a principle to review every portfolio sent to us myself.
[This is the second in a two-part series, read the first part here. — Eds]
When designers create machines, they need to make sure that the visceral parts of the product have an internal logic – that the hardware, software, user-interface, and so on work together seamlessly and efficiently. But designers also strive for an external logic –- a machine language that tells a story of the makeup of the object, the right use of material, process, form, and detail. The goal is to create the right harmony between the object’s inner logic and its external one.
Every so often I have the weird feeling that even design insiders don’t really know what industrial designers do. I’m not surprised that the public thinks of us as stylists, dealing with the veneer of an object, but I’m surprised to hear it from members of academia, design media, and the product-development community. So I wanted to pull back the curtain a bit on what life is really like for those of us who spend our days in the trenches, designing electronics.