for what it’s worth

stories and stimulus from a consumer insight consultant

Floating Beds- The Space-Saving Future?

floating bedDutch architect Janjaap Ruijssennaar’s floating bed defies gravity. Kept in a permanent state of suspension by magnets built into both the bed and the floor, it doesn’t require any other form of energy to keep it afloat, and according to the designer, it can hold the weight of a sumo wrestling team!

Questioning the ways in which gravity determines the image of architecture, Ruijssennaar wanted to design a product that used something other than gravity as its dictating force.”In contrast to conventional furniture which falls towards the earth, Floating Bed falls towards the sky.”

The designer was inspired by the 1968 movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, which explains the reason for the overall design- “the monolith, as Stanley Kubrick and science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke suggest, must have been made by other powers than those responsable for the usually circular planetary bodies and other more liberal forms, such as organisms. The rectangle as a metaphor for the existence of intelligent life.”

Requiring only thin steel cables to keep it in position it’s a great product for those with limited space… and €1.2 million to spare!!

discover more about the Floating Bed

Filed under: creative ideas, Luxury, visions of the future

Intelligent Clothing- The Wearable Instrument Shirt

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the invention of the Wearable Instrument Shirt created by scientists at the CSIRO’s Textile and Fibre Technology division in Geelong. Electric sensors woven into a t-shirt enable it to be played liked a real (air) guitar- the wearer acts out playing the instrument and  their arm movements are mapped and beamed by radio to a computer which interprets them and turns them into musical notes.

“The left arm chooses a note and the right arm plays it,” said
Richard Helmer, a CSIRO chemical engineer who led the project- although the arrangement can be reversed for left-handed musicians. “It’s an easy-to-use, virtual instrument that allows real-time music making even by players without significant musical or computing skills”

There is no date as yet for when the WIS would go into production, but the CSIRO has already taken out patents. Dr Helmer believes the market for such intelligent clothing could be enormous, with applications going beyond music and gaming into the medical and teaching professions.

see the guitar shirt in action here or watch a tambourine version

Filed under: technology, visions of the future,

Designs for Hyper Space

Hyper_space_couture_designPink Tentacle reports on a
spacewear fashion show held at the University of Tokyo yesterday, featuring fashion ideas for space tourism.

“The show was held by Rocketplane Kistler — a US company that plans to begin offering space tours in two years — and a group of Japanese fashion designers, as part of the Hyper Space Couture Design Contest. Winners of the contest, which is organized by Tokyo-based fashion designer Eri Matsui with the support of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and many others, will help design the clothes for use on Rocketplane’s space tourism flights set to begin in 2008.

The 11 garments appearing in the show were selected from over 880 designs submitted by college students. Some of the designs feature ruffles and sleeves that expand and change shape under zero gravity.”

Yet another industry using the consumer-designed route- the
multi-part competition has been underway for several months, trying to stir up interest for the space tourism industry through creative input. Let’s hope the submitted designs manage to combine creativity with the functionality and safety aspects needed- as fun as the competition may be, space travel is one area probably best left to the professionals!

Filed under: creative ideas, visions of the future

Invisibility Cloaks?!

The LA Times reports on a new ‘invisibility cloak’ technology being
created by researchers at Duke University. The device works by bending
electromagnetic waves so that they flow around the object and hide it- Because none of the waves are reflected back at the observer, the object seems invisible.

Still in very early stages, the device currently only works in two
dimensions and with microwave radiation not visible light waves, so far
being able to cloak a copper cylinder about 0.4 inch tall. The
team is now building a version that will cloak an object the size of a
toaster in all three dimensions.

Although the cloaking effect may not work on a large scale, or may
require the user/ product to be painted all one colour, and despite
many other limitations, experts envision a variety of uses for the
technology. It could be used in communications, for example, to bend a wireless transmission around a building. It could also be used for focusing solar energy onto solar cells, and to protect sensitive devices from electromagnetic radiation.

read full article

Filed under: visions of the future


Advanced Imaging have a great article on new electronics and computer science technologies in fabrics that are enabling the creation of smart clothes.

“You get a cell phone call and your sleeve answers it. You want to know
how far you jogged and your pants tell you. Smart clothes are the
latest trend to come down the runway. breeding the latest in wearable computers like pants that detect movement and let a computer know your
every move. A loom helps sew the wires and fabric together. Then sensors
embedded in the fabric measure the speed, rotation and flexibility of
the pants with every movement. Wireless signals are sent from the pants
to a computer to display the activity.”

Amazing innovations, but kinda scary at the same time- as if CCTV on every corner wasn’t enough it sounds like soon our clothes will be monitoring and recording our lives too. Big Brother really is watching!

read the full article

Filed under: visions of the future,


There’s a really interesting article from this weekend’s Financial Times by Richard Tomkins which talks about ideas for the future of purchasing. It looks at how traditionally price altering prevented certain products being available to the masses, but now the problem is not the material possessions but dwindling natural resources and environmental issues, and offers a possible solution…

“How, I wonder, would people respond if the cost of motoring were pushed up to the point where only the very wealthy could afford to drive their cars and everyone else had to use public transport? Or if the cost of air travel were raised to the point where only the super-rich could afford to fly?”

“With just a little adjustment, it [rationing] could be updated to our more market-orientated times. We could each be given an annual quota of environmental credits, or e-credits, to spend as we wished on goods or services to which access was restricted on environmental grounds.”

  • bring back rationing
  • Filed under: visions of the future, ,


    Saw this Invisible University poster on a newsagent’s wall on Clerkenwell Rd

    Filed under: visions of the future