2007 has been a year of innovation, with companies like Apple, iRobot, Boeing and Microsoft striving to release the most cutting edge product their industries have seen. Which products do you think deserve Design News' esteemed "Best Consumer Product" award? E-mail us your choices. We're leaving it up to you — vote now!
Apple’s iPhone, first made available to consumers in late June of this year, advertises itself as three amazing products in one – an ipod, phone and internet. The iPhone boasts innovative technologies including a wide-screen view on the ipod, visual listing of voicemails, built-in access to Google and Yahoo! and a map application for directions. The iPhone, offered exclusively through AT&T, stirred up enough hype to cause many cell phone owners to switch providers.
Nintendo’s Wii, released in November 2006, brought gaming stations to a whole new level. The Wii has a wireless controller, a remote with the ability to detect motion in three dimensions, and WiiConnect24, which allows it to receive internet messages and updates. Nintendo took a new approach with the Wii to outdoing its competitors, Playstation and Xbox, who relied on improved high-quality graphics to entice buyers. The Wii re-invented the way consumers play the game.
SONY email@example.com?subject=I choose the PS3
People waited in lines stretched outside stores for days to get their hands on the Playstation 3, released in November 2006 just before the Wii. Said to be the more powerful console of the three new gaming consoles, the PS3 uses IBM’s Cell Processor. More expensive units have high-definition viewing for DVDs. Games made for the console are said to better convey emotions, as well as a more realistic virtual world.
MICROSOFT firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=I choose Windows Vista Windows Vista was the first attempt to recreate the Windows operating system since Windows XP in 2001. The plans began in 2003, but were quickly deemed unworkable, delaying concrete plans until 2004. This time around, the design seemed more likely to meet the goals of Microsoft developers in creating a new graphics engine, improved desktop searching, better security and power management. In December 2006 Microsoft finally launched Vista, a more secure and user-friendly operating system.
ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD email@example.com?subject=I choose the XO laptop
Innovative on both a technological and social level, One Laptop per Child has brought worldwide education to new horizons. The XO laptop is a high power, durable and low-cost machine designed to perform in the toughest of environments. The goal of the project is to give children all over the world access to information through the laptop, which will encourage and teach them to think and learn.
iROBOT firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=I choose the Packbot iRobot’s Packbot 510, with EOD packaging, offers more reliable protection against bombs to soldiers and bomb squad technicians with more efficient IED identification and disposal. The robots have the ability to disarm roadside bombs and other explosive devices. Increased torque and speed allow the robots to work in most environments. A new hand controller allows the user to control the robot more easily and efficiently. More than 1,000 iRobots have been delivered worldwide, mostly for military use. iRobot expects to have order deliveries completed by January 2008.
iROBOT email@example.com?subject=I choose the Scooba iRobot’s Scooba has the ability to eliminate one of the everyday tasks that most people despise: cleaning floors around the office or home. The iRobot Scooba is a system that cleans in four stages: prep, wash, scrub and dry. The product uses iRobot’s AWARE intelligence system, which uses dozens of sensors for environment monitoring and robot adjustment. The entire process is activated with the push of a button.
SELF-PARKING LEXUS LS 460 L
LEXUS firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=I choose the self-parking Lexus Lexus has taken car design to new heights. The new Lexus LS 460 L has many innovative features, but arguably the best is its sensor system. Speeds lower than 12mph activate the system, which then detects cars and the space in between them. Once this space is identified, the car can park itself. The driver simply presses a button to activate Advanced Guidance Parking System mode, and then shifts to reverse, moving at 2mph or less (or parking mode will shut off) and the car takes over. The wheel turns on its own, guiding the car neatly into the spot.
BOEING email@example.com?subject=I choose the 787 Dreamliner
The suggests that large passenger jets will never be the same. This airplane, scheduled to be in service in May 2008, is lighter, boasts a smoother ride and greater fuel efficiency than its predecessors. The 787 was premiered to the public on July 8, 2007, and to date there have been 47 customers worldwide, with about 677 jets being ordered, according to Boeing’s website. These numbers make the Dreamliner the most successful airplane launch in history.
MICROSOFT firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=I choose Surface technology Microsoft Surface technology, an idea that materialized in 2001, is now a 30-inch display table with seemingly endless possibilities. The first surface computer from Microsoft, this machine will soon be available in retail venues, restaurants, hotels and entertainment locations. The system does not use a mouse or a keypad; everything is done through gesture. Multiple gestures can be read simultaneously, enhancing not interaction between a computer and multiple users at one time. Another innovative feature is the ability of the computer to recognize physical content placed on it, allowing the transfer of digital content and other responses.
SKETCHUP 3D SOFTWARE
GOOGLE email@example.com?subject=I choose Google SketchUp 3D Google SketchUp 3D is a new software program that allows its user to create and modify 3D models. The system helps the user to visually see what a remodeled kitchen, a new home, landscape or a new addition would look like before it is built. The program makes designing easier and more accessible. The software can be used at home for basic-level design, or Sketchup Pro can be used to send and communicate with other users about a design.
VUDU firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=I choose the Vudu Box Vudu Inc. has developed its Vudu box, a system that allows movies to be brought to the home through a broadband Internet connection without the need for cable satellite TV or a PC. With closed deals with multiple major motion picture studios, Vudu can bring new releases right to consumers’ televisions. Unlike similar programs that use Internet to download movies, movies offered through Vudu are made for TV viewing with a high-quality resolution.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.