3-D printing custom consumer products

As new technologies make personalization of consumer products more feasible for the masses, I’m sure more companies will be cashing in on it like this company Protos:

Who wouldn’t want something customized to perfectly fit your body, preferences, and style?


Personally, I tend to have a hard time shopping for anything because I usually have such a specific idea in mind of what I’m looking for.  Then nothing in the stores measures up to what I had imagined.

Protos used a crowdfunding campaign to get their feet off the ground.  They raised their goal of $25,000 that will help them develop a web interface and sell their products in high volumes.  Their custom frames and lenses cost $399.

I remember when Levi’s first started selling custom fit jeans back in 1995.  But for whatever reason, it didn’t seem to catch on.  Maybe it was the price?  Do you the average consumer is willing to pay a significant amount more for something that fits a little bit better?


Smartwatch for kids

Yesterday, I read about a new Smartwatch for kids.  The watch, from FiLIP Technologies allows parents to:

  • Send messages to their kids
  • Determine their kids’ location
  • Call their child or get a call from them
  • Set “safe zones” around their kids (so they’ll get an alert if they wander off the playground or leave school)

green-compressedDefinitely seems well designed compared to some adult versions.  And I think kids might even wear it.  At the least, it’s a better alternative to this situation:


I have mixed feelings about it though.  Kids don’t need cell phones and it’s a great alternative if you’re in a new or crowded environment.  But I don’t think that it’s healthy for parents to have constant access to their children and vice versa.  What do you think?  Is this only for the overprotective parent or is it a necessity for safety?

The smoke detector, redesigned

Yes, what a great product improvement from Nest!  False smoke alarms happen frequently at my house and the routine is to dash around and rip them off as quickly as possible.  Which is difficult when you’re short:


It would save us so much pain to simply wave our hand to make it stop.  Nest’s detector also sends alerts and instructions to your devices:


Not to mention safer.  Because after a false alarm, you can see I’m not exactly in a rush to put them back up…

I’m also a big fan of Nest’s website design.  Clear, easy to navigate, responsive, animated, great!

Eat your veggies!

I was a picky eater as a child.  Especially in the school cafeteria, where I’d trade my regular milk for chocolate and eat nothing else.  Unless it was pizza day.


Fourth grade lunch table. We look pretty happy, so it must’ve been pizza day.

Bravo, then, to Chicago’s Greater Good Studio, who set out to redesign school lunches so kids would interact with food in a positive, healthy and fun way.

Their ethnographic research included using GoPro cameras on the kids’ heads: Skip ahead to 12m 38s

A few changes to the environment, like changing this:


…to this:


…did the trick!  Kids ate more balanced meals.  They saw what their friends were eating and felt supported when trying something new.

Access to Clean Water

One of the reasons I was motivated to apply to grad school last year was my desire to use design as an agent for social change.

During college, I traveled with a study abroad program to India and I’ll never forget hearing from the owner of the largest orphanage in Nepal about her struggle to consistently source healthy water for the children.

A photo I took in 2004 of children at the Bala Mandir orphanage.

A photo I took in 2004 of children at the Bala Mandir orphanage in India.

So I was interested to come across the article, A Water Carrier For The Developing World That Cleans As It Rolls, on the Fast Company blog.  Student Jared Schoepf of Arizona State created SafeSIPP, re-purposing containers by adding a handle and a purification system.  The SafeSIPP solves two problems: transporting large amounts of water and ridding it of dirt, bacteria and parasites.

The SafeSIPP.  Worldwide, 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 is due to water-related disease.

The SafeSIPP

Worldwide, 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 is due to water-related disease.  This also reminded me of a beautiful and poignant campaign by the nonprofit Water is Life: