Touch & go


We use Instagram, and realize that a lot of other people do as well – but a new image aggregator makes it interestingly apparent just how many people globally upload photos to the app consistently. The site is simple – it aggregates all the images being taken in large global cities – Stockholm, New York, Sao Paulo – and updates a rolling feed to show what Instagrammers are snapping right at that moment. It’s an eye-opening glimpse of the depth of users, and an interesting collection of what they are seeing and sharing in their city.

When in Versailles…

For those Marie Antoinette fans who can’t visit Versailles itself, the famed palace will soon be viewable at home. Chaos to Perfection is a Chrome-based 3D digital tour of the Grand Canal, the Hall of Mirrors, the Orangerie and the Collonage Grove – providing a guided history experience. The program is a collaboration of Google Cultural Institute and the Palace of Versailles, developed to demo 3DWebGL. Users can “walk” through the grounds, viewing and zooming in on the buildings from top to bottom.

Accessorize for Health

Accessories for your perfectly minimal iPhone? What if they could help you measure radiation in the air, or if your food is organic? These small, well-designed wood and ivory tools will be available in December, and each has a special ability. One measures and displays radiation levels in your vicinity, noting when to be alarmed. Another detects nitrates and synthetic fertilizers in food, letting you know if its organic or not. And one measures EMF in your environment, while the other senses humidity levels. All show in visible form these invisible concerns.

Technological Toys

Designing toys is serious business. Technological advancements, including the touchscreen, are re-defining how children play and interact with toys – making this exciting and challenging time for designers. New innovative products utilising these breakthroughs include Drawdio (a pen that draws with sound) and Sifteo cubes (tiny touch screen cubes that interact with each other). Design criticism graduate Amna Siddiqui undertook a study of the social and cognitive effects of these new products and presented her findings in May.

Education Through Design

In 2007, a group of game designers in New York City founded Institute of Play, a not-for-profit design studio with the aims of pioneering new models of learning and engagement. 2 years later, the studio opened Quest to Learn, a public school organized around principles of game design and play. The school immerses students in challenge-based contexts and acknowledges design, collaboration, and systems thinking as key literacies of the 21st century, and scored an impressive ninety seven percentile for student engagement.

Memorializing Nature

Architect Maya Lin, most well-known for her winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, will complete what she calls her final memorial – entitled “What is Missing?”. The project is a multi-disciplinary installation, encompassing scultptures like the Listening Cone at the California Academy of Sciences, over 150 videos, and individual stories collected through the website. The combination of these media seeks to educate on the former diversity and life of earth, showing the effects of habitat destruction.

Female Tech

The great disparity in male to female players in the tech game is being addressed by some interesting stakeholders. Online craft marketplace Etsy started “Hacker Grants,” giving money to women to bring them into engineering and programming jobs. And Girls Who Code is a new organization dedicated to computer science education for girls.

Underwater Activity

A student design concept addresses the major global issue of waste accumulation in our oceans. Veolia is a marine drone that, when deployed on the ocean floor, collects waste (and simultaneously detracting lifeforms from collection by emitting a persistent sound). The concept could become a reality, especially if those using OpenROV – a kit of parts assembled into an underwater robot – see the amount of trash on the ocean floor themselves. Veolia would obviously require more mechanics and funding, but OpenROV is an open-source, DIY project, allowing users to explore the sea while controlling the robot from a computer.

Health Tech

Digital health is booming with some exciting tech addressing needs in new ways. DocBookMD, a new app developed by two doctors, allows doctors to communicate with others via their phone or tablet, sending X-Rays, lab results, and comments on patients. In Singapore, Rapid Rescue is an app which helps first aid responders locate who needs assistance in their vicinity. And apps like these and other great healthcare start-ups now have a Kickstarter dedicated to funding healthcare innovation, with MedStartr. The new crowdfunding site hopes to help fledgling health companies get the start they need, addressing issues like diabetes, fitness, and patient empowerment.

Visualizing for Good

Even with a great mission for a relevant cause, many nonprofits would benefit from a little help communicating their purpose. Sparkwise is a new system aiming to help nonprofits and activists do just that – communicate better, via data visualization and outreach. The platform is well-designed, open-source and free. It includes tools for translating organization’s information, history, and spreadsheets of data into beautiful visualized presentations, making it easy for nonprofits to better tell their stories.


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