Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

23 JULY, 2010

Paola Antonelli on Design & Innovation

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Design as a systemic solution, or what an octopus has to do with democratizing innovation.

MoMA curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli is among our biggest cultural heroes. Arguably, she has done for design in the past decade what John Szarkowski did for photography in the 1960s — create a cultural dialogue beyond aesthetic appreciation, crafting a space for design as social commentary and problem-solving rather than a fixture of form fetishism.

Last month, Antonelli spoke at the excellent Creative Mornings event series organized by our friend Swiss Miss. Among other compelling insights, she shared one particular notion that hits particularly close to home for us: Antonelli sees her intellectual life as a “curious octopus”, reaching into and grabbing from a wide spectrum of disciplines, from design to architecture to science to technology. Which resonates deeply with what we’re all about — harnessing cross-disciplinary curiosity to create a rich intellectual and creative resource that allows for the cross-pollination of ideas, in turn spurring deeper creativty and innovation.

This idea of innovation belonging to [design or technology] is so moot. Innovation demands everybody. It’s called ‘disruptive innovation’ because when it’s only in the hands of scientists and technicians, it can’t be used by people. Designers are the interface. Sometimes designers are the innovators, sometimes the innovators are artists. Innovation is much more complex than a light bulb going off.” ~ Paola Antonelli

On a final note, the Talk To Me exhibition Antonelli mentions is an absolute must-see, exploring the relationship between people and objects in a compelling way that really peels away at the social significance of what some have termed “the Internet of things.”

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20 JULY, 2010

Facadeprinter: Graffiti Meets Paintball

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Automating anti-establishment, or what street art has to do with disaster relief.

Much of street art revolves around the cult of the individual creator, creeping through the night to meticulously paint, stencil or tag a wall by hand. But can technology subvert this ethos? Facadeprinter is an inkjet printer in architectonical scale — a simple, software-controlled robot that shoots artwork from a distance of up to 12 meters, dot by dot, onto the target surface area. Think Banksy meets paintball meets ChalkBot — in other words, graffiti for geeks.

Designed by German duo Martin Fussenegger and Michael Sebastian, Facadeprinter can render artwork as large as 8 by 10 meters and, depending on the paint used, can produce permanent or temporary images. Besides the obvious uses in large-scale street art and advertising installations, the technology could have some interesting and rather useful applications in disaster relief, where the rapid printing process can enable quick and effective visual communication signaling shelter, food and water, danger zones, or medical aid.

Design is research. Driven by the desire to discover and understand. Above all a new design comes from a foreshadowing, which is looked into. Step by step this turns into an insight. If someone finally senses the result as being ‘beautiful’ or ‘new’, these are the many steps required of understanding, which produce a coherent whole. New aesthetics through new technology. Thus the Facadeprinter and the resulting rough printed appearance inseparably belong together.”

Here’s how it works: An integrated laser displays a bounding box of the artwork onto the wall, affixing its position. A paintball system converted into a printhead then shoots the color balls onto the wall, conveying the gelatine-encapsulated color balls to the marker where they are accelerated to a speed of 200km per hour. Upon contact with the wall, the balls burst, leaving dots 5 to 10 cm in diameter. The emptied out gelatine shells fall down to the ground where they can decompose naturally after rain without residue.

What makes Facadeprinter particularly interesting is that it’s an odd intersection of art and algorithm, raising questions of whether we can automate street art and preserve its message, and whether urban visual communication can serve as a design-driven humanitarian solution.

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13 MAY, 2010

The Future of First-Response Environments

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Displays for disasters, or what sensors have to do with survival.

In just a few short months this year, the world has seen more disasters than its fair share — devastating earthquakes, floods and a destructive oil spill, each requiring different strategies of emergency management. And this month, Organizing Armageddon, the excellent Wired article by Vince Beiser about lessons learned from the Haiti earthquake, exposed the many and worrisome shortcomings of disaster relief efforts. From infrastructure to technology to tactical coordination, today’s emergency management is in dire need of an upgrade.

Luckily, Precision Information, a division of Homeland Security’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, is developing ambitious new first-response cooperation environments that focus not on a single piece of technology but, rather, on a suite of interconnected tools that offer targeted access to information and sophisticated decision-making aid for emergency response.

From predictive modeling to automated recommendations to augmented reality, this concept video is designed to serve as a blueprint for research in the next decade, exploring some of the possibilities in addressing key research challenges.

For a closer look at the many emergining technologies and concepts alluded to in the video — including ubiquitous displays, crowdsourcing, pervasive sensor networks and adaptive user interfaces — be sure to see the annotated version.

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