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Posts from the ‘Design’ Category

3D printed “magic arms” makes arm movement possible for 2-year old, Emma

Little Emma Lavelle was born with a genetic disorder, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which causes stiff joints and very underdeveloped muscles – meaning Emma would never be strong enough to lift or use her arms.

Enter the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), created by Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. The device was a combination of hinged metal bars and resistance bands that together could prop up the underdeveloped arms of children like Emma. The benefit? The WREX would allow children to finally be able to hold up and move their arms independently. Playtime and feeding were now possible. As luck would have it, Emma’s mom was present at a conference where members of the research and design team were giving a presentation, demonstrating its uses. In the demonstration, a boy with underdeveloped arms was able to use his arms with the support of the WREX.

Could this be the solution they were looking for?

However, after discussing and meeting Emma and her parents, the Nemours team found that their WREX device was far too big and heavy for the small, two year old girl. It was also designed for use with a wheelchair, and Emma could walk on her own.

The solution: their Stratasys 3D printer. They normally used the printer to make prototypes of their designs, this time, the printer would be used to make the real thing. And what a success! Not only could the parts be customized for Emma’s size, but the new WREX was now light enough for Emma to walk around with and to use. Playtime and feeding became possible, and most of all, she could now hug her mom.


Fruit label turns into organic soap

Image credit: Amron Exptl.

We’ve all been there. Standing wearily at the sink, washing our beloved apples, painstakingly removing the ever-persistent fruit labels from them. First, we gently pick at and peel back the label. If we’re lucky, the process ends here. If not, we find ourselves running the apples under increasingly warm water, rubbing off the paper. Then eventually, scraping at the fruit with our fingernails in the effort to remove the sticky glue from the fruit skin, before turning, with a sigh of submission, to the knife or vegetable peeler lying on the kitchen counter.

Now, it seems, Scott Amron, an electrical engineer in training now turned designer and “engineering atelier”, has a solution that not only removes the harmful pesticides and other residues from our apples, but also the pesky fruit labels as well. The solution: Fruitwash labels. These fruit label stickers effectively dissolve into an organic fruit soap when placed under water. With this solution, gone are the chemicals and the tiresome fruit labels.

“I’ve always been discontent with fruit labels and felt they could do more than just display product info and be difficult to peel off,” Amron told Gizmag. “We buy, wash and eat fruit. So, the wash step was the next thing the label should help with.”

Unfortunately, the product is not out yet, although Amron is selling a 10% stake in the fruit label patent as an investment opportunity.

Girl Effect


The Girl Effect was created by The Nike Foundation in collaboration with partners like the United Nations Foundation and the Coalition for Adolescent Girls. Since then, there have been a number of initiatives and organizations that have taken on the movement with their own campaigns that focus on girls in combating poverty and illiteracy.

You might ask – why the focus on girls? Here’s a short explanation by USAID that I think says it best.

Assume this initial condition: A 13 year old girl stands at a crossroads with two choices before her: school or child marriage. The problem is it’s not usually a choice.Married, she is more likely to die from childbirth at an early age; she is more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases; she is more prone to become a victim of partner violence; she never receives an education; and she is unable to contribute to society in a way that has a larger social impact and helps to push the human race forward.With an education she marries later in life—to someone she chooses. She decides the timing of her children and is in a position to make decisions about her own health. She invests money in her children’s health and education, and is able to contribute to society in a meaningful way. Other people recognize her value and contributions, and begin to understand that all girls have value.Multiply that scenario by the 600 million girls in the developing world and it’s easy to comprehend how a small change in an initial condition is capable of determining the course of humanity. That is powerful.The human race cannot progress when half of the world population lives without the same rights and respect afforded to its male counterpart.

That’s a powerful message – and the brilliant design and execution of this campaign make the message even more powerful.

For more information about the girl effect and/or to contribute to the cause, go to

Baby Carrots’ junk food-esque marketing campaign

Bolthouse Farms and Crispin Porter + Bogusky have assembled a great satirical marketing campaign for baby carrots in the style of junk food ads. Entertaining and fun. And if that’s not enough, the campaign comes with its very own microsite, and iPhone app that boasts of being “the world’s first ever carrot-crunch-powered video game. Ever.”




The power of open ideation: eBay’s Green Box Bags

It never fails to inspire me when the seed of one person’s idea takes root and branches out into much more. It’s why I think it’s always so powerful to provide employees and customers the opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions on how to make status quo better in some way. There have been many examples of companies who have successfully tapped into the brain-trust of many to do this: Starbucks, Dell, and now eBay.

eBay recently held its annual Innovation Expo, which encourages all employees to contribute prototypes of ideas they have that they feel would benefit eBay’s buyers and sellers. This year over 250 employees forming almost 80 teams worked together to develop and submit their innovative product prototypes. The submissions were judged by the greater eBay employee base who were invited to show up to listen to the teams pitch their ideas, and to test the prototypes. The winning idea was called “simple green shipping”, and is now soon to be released to the market.

“Simple green shipping” is a specially designed reusable box that can be used by buyers and sellers over and over again. The idea is so simple, and perhaps that’s the beauty of it. With a service that sees many of its users playing the dual role as sellers as well as buyers, reusable packaging is a win-win solution for everyone.

Nicely done, eBay. A solution that helps your user base, reduces waste for the environment, and build employee morale around ideation and innovation.

Innovative space saving solution in a small New York studio loft

Earlier this year, a video feature on Gary Chang’s ingenious convertible home made its way around the around the interwebs.

In another example of a creative solution to a tiny space, JPDA Architects have designed a solution for a 500 squarefoot loft studio that merges both design and utility without sacrificing either. The studio includes innovative ways of working coveted storage space and shelving into the home, and arranging the “rooms” of the loft in a way that maximizes the working and living space.

The space is also featured in Freshome.

So you want to create an iPad app. Some guiding principles to consider.

On Wednesday, January 27, 2010, the tech world was abuzz. Apple had just announced their latest shiny new toy: the iPad.

At the time and for the weeks and months following, the announcement has been met with mixed reviews. In one camp, people have labeled it as being just an oversized iPhone that was not quite phone, not quite computer. In another, it has been heralded as something that can be expected to revolutionize the gadget industry and way we interact with technology in ways we’ve seen Apple products do in the past. Within Critical Mass, we also had many discussions about the potential impact of Apple’s new iPad. However, regardless of our discussions and each person’s opinion around the iPad, one thing was sure. There was a lot of excitement – especially at the prospect of designing some of the first iPad apps for our clients.

Rather than talk about the impact of the iPad on our industry and market (if you want a great read on the subject, see Neil Clemmon’s post on Experience Matters), this post discusses some of the things we’ve learned about iPad app design and development through our own experience with some of our savvy clients. Through the course of our work with iPad apps, six main guiding principles have surfaced.

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