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YOU know driverless cars are the next big thing when two such cars have been given the Best of the Best accolade at this year's Red Dot Award: Design Concept 2016 competition. The two are Google's Self-Driving Car and Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion. The former also won the award's top prize, the Luminary.
The annual Red Dot Award: Design Concept focuses only on uncovering high and exceptional professional-level design concepts. It is open to both students and professional designers, and entries are judged not only on creativity but also its marketability. Out of 4,698 entries submitted this year, 245 concepts were awarded the globally coveted Red Dot award by an international panel of jurors. Another 42 concepts were honoured Red Dot: Best of the Best for their exceptional design excellence and 53 concepts were credited with an Honourable Mention.
Ken Koo, president of Red Dot Asia, says: "Only 6 per cent of all entries were awarded a Red Dot this year, making each awarded concept an outstanding feat of accomplishment. The Red Dot award also seeks to open doors for designers, giving them more opportunities to bring realisation to their own work."
Google Self-Driving Car
Red Dot: Luminary
Designer: Google Inc
WITH the push of a button, anyone can drive themselves from point A to point B in Google's cute looking Self-Driving Car.
Google has developed a software that allows a computer to see and interpret the world that surrounds it, then safely navigate a vehicle through it. The Google Self-Driving Car is designed to test out Google's newest software and hardware, in order to find out what it would really take to bring these technologies to the world.
Team leader YooJoonh Ahn explains that the self-driving cars have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects up to two football fields in distance in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections.
"We've completely re-examined the interior experience. The design was optimised for passengers and pedestrians, instead of being optimised for the driver," says Ms Ahn.
When no one is driving, there is no need for a steering wheel or pedals. The cabin is entirely symmetrical, spacious, and illuminated by panoramic windows that draw passengers' attention to the outside world.
The car comes with two seats with attached seat belt, a space for passengers' belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route.
For its efforts, the Google Self-Driving Car is this year's Red Dot: Luminary award winner, the highest achievement at this competition.
On winning the Luminary award, Ms Ahn says it is encouraging to see Red Dot recognise a brand new technology and design concept. "Good design is a crucial part of integrating self-driving vehicles into the world. Our top priority is to make sure people feel comfortable and safe in our vehicle," she adds.
Red Dot: Best of Best
Designer: Aisin Seiki
ILY-I functions like a wheelchair, but looks nothing like one. Designed by Aisin Seiki, a Japanese firm that manufactures automobile parts, it is marketed as an intelligent armchair.
The company decided to design a mobile furniture after noticing that electric wheelchairs that are on the market today may not match the user's interior spaces and often limit people with disabilities.
Their objective is to create a personal, furniture-like mobility solution that everyone, regardless of age and gender, will want to use, even those who may be hesitant about using nursing care and welfare equipment.
Powered by batteries, a controller, designed to be part of the arm rest directs its course and sensors regulate the speed, and the wheels are neatly concealed. ILY-I can easily move around tight spaces, and is also equipped with sensors that alert users of approaching obstacles. Sensors activate the interactive lights from the inside so that the chair glows when users are passing by or approaching each other.
Papier - Machine
Red Dot: Best of the Best
Designer: ENSCI - Les Ateliers
PAPIER - Machine is supposedly a book, but not one that can be read. Instead, it is a book of 12 electronic toys made of paper - all meant to be cut, drawn, folded, built and destroyed.
Each toy demonstrates one or several electronic principles. All the toys are working prototypes, and they are printed on paper with silver, carbon, cadmium and thermo-chromic ink.
The book is "published" by ENSCI - Les Ateliers, the only French state-funded advanced education institute specialising in industrial design.
One of the toys in the book is Pinball, where the objective is to make the opponent's colour disappear. Steel marbles are thrown to close the correct circuit. When the circuit is closed, the thermo-chromic ink disappears. The game is over when one of the colours has completely disappeared.
Papier - Machine is the result of a quest to make all existing electronic components out of paper and specific inks. Its objective is to show the chemical and physical principles of electronic components as something beyond "magical".
F 015 Luxury in Motion
Red Dot: Best of the Best
Designer: Mercedes-Benz Design Team
THE F 015 Luxury in Motion demonstrates the future of autonomous driving and the transformation of a car as a form of transport into a private retreat.
Its high-tech interior takes in-car comfort to a new level, while the car maintains a continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and the outside world.
The F 015 Luxury in Motion identifies its owner via a smartphone or wearable device. Once authenticated, the saloon-type doors open automatically and the seats swivel into an easy-entry position. Inside, six display screens are smoothly integrated into the dashboard, the rear and the side panels. Passengers can interact intuitively with the connected vehicle through gestures, eye-tracking or by touching the high-resolution screens. Route planning, music selection, images, contacts and many other functions can be operated via touch control and displayed along the sides and rear.
Equipped with an "Extended Sense" sensor system, the F 015 keeps a constant eye on its surroundings, interprets what it sees and takes action at any time.
Anja Weinert, spokesman for the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development team, says that at today's level of automation, people who do a lot of driving will probably feel the biggest benefit of autonomous driving. "As automation increases, people will experience the benefits first hand until even those who cannot drive themselves will be able to benefit from this type of mobility."
Designer: Edmund Liew
SINGAPOREAN freelancer designer Edmund Liew believes that road traffic safety can be improved and he wants to do that with FIK Light, his version of traffic lights.
Conventional traffic lights simply change from red to green, green to amber and then amber to red, sometimes abruptly. Some countries have taken the initiative to instal a countdown LED light beside the red and green lights, with the intention to inform the drivers or road users. "But countdown numbers unconsciously have a psychological impact on the drivers, causing nervousness or frustration, especially if they are in a rush," says Mr Liew.
The FIK Light also comes with green, amber and red lights, but Mr Liew has designed the lights to appear as strips, giving them a more modern look.
He says that by introducing the strip lighting count down system, individual strips denote the time left for each individual light element. "The remaining number of strips that appear tell drivers how much time is left in each of the lights, be it red, amber or green. The light system in each module can be catered to different traffic intersection time duration," says Mr Liew.
Designer: Ronald Tan
RONALD Tan, a final year undergraduate design student at Lasalle College of the Arts was inspired by his mum when he designed Swash, a mini clothes washer.
"My mum still hand washes clothes," says Mr Tan. "I also noticed that there are individuals who have no need or space for a full sized washing machine, hence Swash was created."
Swash replaces the strenuous act of hand washing clothes by incorporating the washing process of a washing machine, delivering a similar result within a unit that is compact and portable. It makes use of the many pails or containers that most households have. The two components of Swash - the washing unit and the washing basket - can be detached to facilitate storage. The washing process mimics the washing machine and begins with the basket holding the dirty laundry. The process is streamlined as the basket is directly attached to the washing unit mounted on a pail. Three spring-loaded clamps secure and centralise the unit in place.
The control interface's simple and approachable design consists of only four buttons; start, stop, timer up, and timer down. Once washing commences, the basket moves in rotational motion. Once washing completes, the pail is emptied and Swash transforms into a dry spinner. The activation button located on Swash's handle indicates the hand position required to grab the unit in order to begin. The basket keeps the clothes in and filters the water out into the pail and with that, the process is complete.
Piperine and Crystalline
Designer: Jonathan Saphiro Salim
JONATHAN Saphiro Salim, an undergraduate at the Lasalle College of the Arts, is on a mission to make your kitchen countertop more exciting with his version of the salt and pepper grinders. Piperine and Crystalline come equipped with a cylindrical weight at the end of their spinning shaft. With this weight, the grinding process can be performed with only one hand. As the grinding process uses centripetal force, less effort is required from the user compared to conventional mills. The user only needs to move the shaft in a circular motion, and this causes the weight attached to the end of the metal frame to spin, activating the grinder. The refilling process is done simply by sliding out the semi-circular cylinder container. When not in use, the grinders can be neatly kept away in a specially constructed dock.
Designer: WY-TO and Pod Structures
WHAT happens after a natural disaster strikes? Often, those affected find themselves without any shelter.
Singapore-based design firm WY-TO hopes to provide a solution to those affected by natural disasters. Its co-founder Yann Folian says: "We decided to use our skills to create a shelter solution designed specifically for the climate, geography, and cultural habits of South-east Asia." Nearly 43 per cent of natural disasters happen in the Asia-Pacific region.
His team created the Living Shelter, an affordable flat-pack capsule, designed to be easily shipped and assembled in any kind of tropical environment.
Inspired by the kampong house, Living Shelter has openings that ensure natural ventilation, roof eaves to protect from sun and rainwater, and legs to elevate the liveable area from the ground. The engineering system provides sturdiness and adaptability to hot and humid weather conditions.
All components and systems can be easily dismantled and reused separately in an entire new building on a more durable term. The Living Shelter offers privacy and security, as well as basic needs such as electricity, water and furniture. It includes a water bag for water collection; a built-in solar panel on the roof to charge electronic devices and provide light; and built-in foldable furniture such as bed, hammocks, shelves and portable furniture. These are all conveniently flat-packed. A custom-made folding mechanism was also created to ensure that the overall structure works correctly without the need for tools or special training for installation.
A prototype of Living Shelter is now on display at the Architecture Venice Biennale 2016, where visitors can experience it for themselves.
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