The kids are alright. This year’s Innovation By Design awards were marked by a particularly awesome set of student entries. Many of them are tantalizingly close to becoming great products; others offer a working prototype of what the future might hold. Congratulations to all, and a special thank you to our esteemed judges: Nadine Chahine, type designer at Monotype; John Edson, president of Lunar; D’Wayne Edwards, founder of the Pensole Footwear Design Academy; and Alice Twemlow, chair of the School of Visual Art’s Departments of Design and Research. Finally, a sincere thank you to everyone who entered and supported Fast Company‘s commitment to elevating the design profession.
If you’re looking for more inspiring work, don’t forget to check out the finalists in our other categories: Winners, 3D-Printing, City Solutions, Data Viz, Experience, Experimental, Fashion, Graphic Design, Health, Mobile Apps, Product Design, Smart Home, Social Good, Students, Web Design.
Creators: Philipp Schoessler, Sang-won Leigh, Krithika Jagannath, Patrick van Hoof
School: MIT Media Lab
Everyone hates cords: they’re cumbersome, quick to tangle and constantly in the way. But what if you could interact with your appliance’s cable in way that is actually useful? Cord UIs are embedded with sensors, so that tying your cord in a knot can dim a light, or placing a clamp on a cable can put a computer into sleep mode.
Creators: Alexis Hope, Kevin Hu, and Joe Goldbeck
School: MIT Media Lab
FOLD is a publishing platform that helps writers easily create interactive, exploratory experiences for their readers. The aim: To contextualize stories that mainstream media quickly forgets. Whereas most news sites use links to provide background on who is doing what where and why, FOLD–launched as an open-source codebase–incorporates background information directly into the articles, including definitions, maps, and other assets.
Creator: Ilai Ovadia
School: Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design
LINK, a music streaming service, doesn’t find the next song based on similar artists or trending hits in a genre. Rather, LINK’s algorithm chooses the next song based on artist collaborations, birthdays, celebrity gossip, interesting facts, etc.–revealing a fascinating web of previously unseen connections within your musical preferences.
Creators: Ziv Schneider
MOSA is a VR experience for Oculus Rift that takes users on a virtual museum tour of stolen artwork which otherwise would remain lost. Incorporating audio as well as visual, MOSA not only informs about missing artwork, it also links to art crime databases so players can report back if they come across the work in real life.
Creator: Tahl Swieca
School: Monash University
These three products were designed to replace some of the levers and knobs you might find on a DJ’s mixing board–such as a sampler or a pitch shifter. And while they look more like futurist topographic models than musical instruments,they all designed with the idea that by changing how we interact with music, we might change what music we make.
Creator: Arthur Chang
School: University of Texas School of Architecture
Soarigami is an ingenious solution to a universal grievance: sharing the armrest on an airplane. With a design inspired by the airmail envelope and paper plane, this is portable arm rest negates the need for passive aggressive behavior by extending the surface area on both sides so all parties can fly comfortably.
Creators:Students and faculty from RISD, Brown, and the University of Applied Science, Erfurt, Germany
The Techstyle Haus prototype has excellent green bonafides: it’s bedecked in high-tech flexible solar panels, and it’s a passive-house construction as well. But it also sports a novel construction. Rather than being made of solid brick or stucco walls, it’s actually made of stretched fabric that’s backed with a netting system, into which is tucked a dense foam insulation. Thus, the building can be extravagantly curvy but well-insulated as well.
Creators: Elizabeth Traver Kukka, Franzi Sessler, Ryan Hogan, Mina Lee, Tony Gui
School: California College of the Arts
Targeted toward millennials, Tip Yourself is meant to be a fun way to fight debt and manage your finances. Users simply tack on a percentage of a purchase towards a bill they have to pay. After buying those $100 shoes, for example, $20 in “tip” could go immediately to a cell phone bill.
Creators: Juan Pablo Garcia Sossa
School: University of the Arts Berlin
The big problem with group selfies (or “us-ies,” for those in the know) is that one person needs to be able to reach the screen in order to take the picture. Here to end the struggle once and for all is The Touch Technology, a camera technology that only works when participants touch each other, not the screen. A pixelated screen gets sharper every time people touch, forcing them to get cozy with each other.