What makes good design? You tell us! This pool of 20 works, ranging from popular apps to medical devices, emphasize how innovative design can make a difference in our everyday lives. Cast your vote for your favorite design before 6:00 p.m. ET on October 11. The winner will be announced live at the National Design Awards gala and here, on this site, on October 17.
The Dot Dot Dot app combines dance, music and interactive features to represent the physical flow of dance on a tablet screen. Dot Dot Dot can be viewed in three different ways, all controlled by your fingers: swipe vertically or horizontally, and your dance experience changes. Using the app from the birds-eye view, think of it as a streamlined Dance Dance Revolution, with the dancer moving as you touch the dots. From other vantage points, the dots transform into columns, breaking down the dancer’s movement. A vertical swipe takes you to another dance, seen from the corner of a stage.
“Double is the simplest, most elegant way to be somewhere else in the world without flying there,” claim the designers of Double, and they might be right. Double combines the advanced technology of robotics with something more familiar: video chatting on an iPad. Users simply connect to the platform from wherever they might be, and synch with a partner iPad attached to the Double robot. It comes “alive,” moving on its 10-inch wheels and adjusting the line of sight up or down as the user dictates. And if a user doesn’t want to move the robot remotely, Double automatically deploys a kickstand, stabilizing the device until the next time it needs to move to another place.
In a technology-driven world, being separated from your phone or device for even a minute is a crippling thought for some. The Boost Turbine 4000 may be a solution to that problem; it has a hand crank turbine that can charge your smart phone or electronic device using pure kinetic energy. Crank the turbine for one minute, and you have enough power to make a four-minute phone call or send a few emergency texts. BoostTurbine 4000 is made of tough but lightweight aluminum and is compact enough to fit in a pocket—providing the security of knowing that a powered device is only a minute of work away.
The endoscope, a tool that passes through a patient's mouth or other open cavity to look inside the body, might seem too old an invention to be an innovative design project (the device is over 150 years old). But think again—EvoCam by EvoTech has revolutionized the endoscope by taking it out of the surgery room and creating a lightweight model that can be carried in a backpack to remote clinics and far corners of the world.
By untethering the endoscope, EvoCam allows patients who wouldn’t have access to certain procedures a chance at better diagnostics and treatment. Moreover, the EvoCam was designed to be field serviceable, meaning anyone could make repairs to the machine using a few simple tools—crucial for areas where technology is limited.
Traditional ventilators are large, heavy and not very portable—which is what makes the Hamilton-T1 Ventilator so special. Designed to be able to ventilate any adult or child in any place around the world, the ventilator weights less than 15 pounds and can operate with the help of its built-in batteries for over 5 hours. The ventilator is also approved for flight environment, meaning it can provide crucial support for life-flight medics. In addition to running on batteries, the ventilator can be plugged into any power source.
The advantage of a car is the ability to bring your technology along for the ride: GPS, iPod compatibility and on-board cameras mean you don't have to sacrifice modern comfort and increased safety for mobility. The same can't be said about biking—until now. Helios can transform any bike into a smart bike with only four screws, bringing biking and technology together like never before. Cyclists can attach the Helios bar to their bike and enjoy a variety of features, including ambient lighting, turn-by-turn navigation and a visual speedometer function that changes colors based on your speed. Helios also increases cyclist safety with its LED light that is comparable to a car's headlights. And if you get distracted by all those features and get lost on your ride, Helios comes with a built-in GPS-module—linked to GoogleMaps—to help you get back on track.
Bike sharing systems are rapidly expanding all around the country: programs like Capitol BikeShare in Washington, D.C., or Citi Bike in New York City offer the freedom of a bike without the hassle of in-home storage. But most bike shares lack a crucial element: helmets. Enter HelmutHub, an innovation that seeks to make bike sharing a safer process. HelmetHub is a solar-powered machine integrated into existing bike share areas that dispenses a helmet when you pick up your ride and allows you to return the helmet when you’re done, giving you the security of safety with the freedom of mobility.
The end goal of any video game might be to make it to the final screen, but for the game Journey, it's also about the time you spend getting there: stunning graphics, innovative cooperative gameplay and a Grammy-nominated score elevate Journey to a new level of player experience. Players take on the persona of a single robed figure, moving through a sandy desert and ruined city on their way to the top of a mountain. Along the way, players encounter mysterious characters—some helpful, and some harmful--and experience temporary collaborations with other people playing the game.
In the end, however, it's up to the robed figure to make it to the top of the mountain alone.
Those who wish for a touch-screen computer similar to a smart phone or tablet need to look no further than the Leap Motion Controller, the world’s most powerful and sensitive 3D motion controller. By using their hands, users can operate a computer with the controller set in front of them with just a swipe up, down or around. As the company explains, “Leap Motion tracks the movement of both hands (all 10 fingers), with up to 1/100th mm accuracy and no visible latency” meaning that no matter what you do with your hands, your computer will follow.
The designers behind littleBits built their product with the hope of giving everyone the necessary tools to become an inventor. To help everyone realize their invention dreams, littleBits offers a huge library of modules (tiny circuit boards, each with specific functions) that snap together using magnetics—no wiring or soldering required. littleBits are to electronics what Legos are to architecture: a simple, no fuss way to get your creativity—and inner inventor—flowing.
The brains behind the innovative platforms of Twitter and Blogger have now created Medium, a new kind of writing platform. No longer restricted by the 140-character world of tweets, writers can use Medium to publish anything they want—op-eds to manifestos—straight onto Medium’s site. It is a collaborative platform: posts link easily to other posts within the site and writers can solicit the help of other users for editing. And writers never need to worry about their posts getting lost in the mix, or sent to the wrong audience—using a combination of algorithms and editorial logic, posts are automatically spread across the site, meaning even novice authors can have their posts seen by hundreds of thousands of readers.
Misfit Shine combines an elegant, fashionable aesthetic with the practical health benefits of a pedometer. The round disk can be worn anywhere: on your shirt, on your hip, even on your shoes. With a partner app, you can easily keep track of your activity throughout the day. The elegant design even lights up, as a halo of light shines through the metal device tracking your every move. A simple coin cell battery powers Shine for up to six months, no charging or pesky cables required.
In the heart of L.A.’s urban center, the Natural Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County offer visitors a chance to experience local wildlife within the city’s boundaries. Butterflies, hummingbirds and other natural life make their home among the Garden’s local plants, creating a window into the natural world inside of the city’s urban center. The Garden itself serves a multifunctional purpose, as scientists and educators use the space alongside visitors. The Nature Gardens were designed by Mia Lehrer and Associates, in collaboration with the Natural History Museum staff, CO Architects and Cordell Corporation.
According to PackH20, “More than one billion people lack access to clean water in their homes, leading to 3 million deaths annually.” PackH2O attempts to solve the global clean water crisis one backpack at a time, by giving people the power to easily transport their own water. Easier to carry than a bucket or jerry can, the backpacks are extremely lightweight and feature a removable liner than can be sanitized using only sunlight. The backpack’s outer shell is also made from puncture-resistant material, ensuring that clean water can get from source to home with relative ease.
The Rosedale Neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas, had a problem: their childhood obesity rate was 51 percent. The root of the problem came from the Rosedale Middle School cafeteria—but it wasn’t the food that was making the children obese. Instead, designers pointed to the room's layout and wall decorations, which presented the food in a bland and unappetizing way. The Protein Pods and a New Coat of Paint initiative redesigned the cafeteria to be more conducive to healthy eating. Now, the cafeteria features detailed descriptions of the healthy foods, as well as an altered flow that puts healthy foods on kids’ plates first.
Lehrer Architects transformed two Los Angeles parking lots into the Spring Street community park, creating an urban oasis among the city’s concrete structures. The park seeks to fill the need for open space in the increasingly residential community, and opens the downtown up with its use of eye-catching design innovations, including chairs that reflect light to make bamboo shaped shadows (a tilt of the hat to the lush bamboo hedge that surrounds the park’s borders).
For anyone who wants to skateboard at night, Sunset Skateboard is a critical addition to your boarding arsenal. The boards combine clear decks with self-illuminating, motion-powered LED wheels to create a board that lights up the nighttime sidewalk whenever you’re in motion. Kinetic energy powers the wheels, allowing the LED glow to follow you wherever the skateboard might take you.
Taking the idea of a sustainable house to a deeper level, Mushroom Insulation is a housing material that is grown from corn stalks and mycelium (mushroom "roots"). It performs similarly to polystyrene insulation, but uses no plastic or environmentally harmful chemicals. The walls of this Tiny House were grown with the Mushroom Insulation in order to provide a strong, tight, well-insulated envelope.
E-mail has become a clunky medium, often requiring significant time and sorting from even the most tech-savvy user. Enter Mailbox, an app that redefines what it means to organize your email. Mailbox takes the clutter out of e-mail, displaying messages in a chat-like fashion that makes scanning entire conversations easy. And for busy e-mail users, Mailbox allows users to hit “snooze” on e-mails they don’t want to see at the moment—and deal with it when they have time.
Have you ever gone on a trip, only to realize you left your cell phone charger at home? SpareOne takes that inconvenience out of the equation: it’s the only cell phone that uses a single standard AA battery for power. SpareOne offers the freedom of knowing that a fully charged cell phone is only a battery away, or that in the event of a natural disaster, you could maintain cell phone power without electricity.