Monday, March 17, 2008

Foldable, Collapsable, Morphable Goodness, Part II...

It's been a while since I posted about all-things-foldable, so it's time to revisit the world of origami gadgetry. Let's see what we have...

1. For the warrior on the go, there's the MagPul FMG9 9mm Folding Submachine Gun.

It's conveniently disguised to look like a portable radio, but transitions into a gun faster than you can turn off a Jessica Simpson song. Coincidentally, both of the aforementioned items produce equal amounts of pain.

Why anyone would ever need a gun disguised as a radio seems rather mischievous to me (to put it lightly) and I'm not quite sure what kind of good could ever come of it...

...additionally, I'm not quite sure if I understand. If you go to the trouble of beach camouflage, why not add a modern iPod scroller or make it Sirius/XM capable? The AM weather radio look is sooooooo 60's. Or why not go completely retro and pimp it out in a ghettoblaster body/50 caliber fold-out mod? Breakin' III: Electric Semi-Automatic Laser Scope Boogaloo.

2. The Nokia shape changing nano-phone, Morph, isn't exactly a transformer...but it is more than meets the eye.

This shapeshifter utilizes space-age nanotechnology to give it elasticity, literally breaking the mold of it's plastic brethren.

The concept demonstrates how future mobile devices might be stretchable and flexible, allowing the user to transform the gadget into radically different shapes.

The more drop-friendly electronics become, the less replacements my clumsy self will need to buy. Excellent. And while the concept is uber cool, I can honestly say that I won't be spending a dime until it copies newsprint with the press of a thumb.

3. Foldable Solar Panels

Winner of two 2007 Nano50 awards, this novel approach to solar harvesting is garnering a lot of interest. Not only does it have the capability to replace existing solar technology, but but it could potentially cost pennies a yard.

Idahp National Laboratory researcher Steven Novack holds a plastic sheet of nanoantenna arrays, created by embossing the antenna structure and depositing a conductive metal in the pattern. Each square contains roughly 260 million antennas. Nanotechnology R&D usually occurs on the centimeter scale, but this INL-patented manufacturing process demonstrates nano-scale features can be produced on a larger scale.

There's a slight snag in the sweater, though. They're still trying to create a way to store or transmit the electricity. The alternating frequency of the current switches at a speed 10 thousand billion times a second (seriously) and that's waaaay too fast for your average blender or refrigerator to handle.

4. The Urban's not a schooner, it's a sailboat you idiot!

Earlier this month, Yanko Design featured an amazing invention by Thomas Giger, Anita Meyer, Florian Ueker, Femke Morf and Thomas Etter.

What looks to be a normal everyday skiff is, in fact, a collapsible version of its floating friends. Initially, I thought the urban in its name applied to its proposed usage; on small ponds in big cities, where owners would have little room to store their boats when not in use. The comment section, however, provide an interesting observation/application. User Funkenstein states:

I want one of these. Living in NY, if the sh*t were to hit the fan, everybody would be flooding the bridges, tunnels and roads out of the city. If you had one of these, you could sail down the river laughing at all the land lubbers getting eaten by zombies. In fact, they should make that the name of the product: “Escape the Zombie Apocalypse Boat”

So I'm not quite sure if this should be filed under foldable boat or foldable escape hatch, but I never would have thunk it to be used for emergency purposes, regardless of its obviousness. Still awaiting a pricepoint, though. If an apocalyptic emergency response firm gets their hands on the skiff, expect the cost to increase 500%.

Want something a little more sturdy? Why not buy the collapsible Catamaran?

5. The crossbreed Foldable Bicycle Wheel

OK, I know, I many decades of foldable bicycles does it take before designers just give up already? There are numerous hurdles to jump and it seems as though every designer has, historically, come up short. Their offerings have been either awkward, inefficient, bulky, flimsy, or just plain ugly. Well, the crossbreed plans on changing all that:

The crossbreed folding wheel enables a full sized adult bicycle or wheelchair to be folded into a compact and convenient package for transportation and storage.

The project is currently being developed further in association with
InnovationRCA, an innovation incubator affiliated with the Royal college of Art, London.

See for yourself:

This is nothing to laugh at, because the world is definitely taking notice. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it.

6. Foldable Origami Shoes

Just when you thought it couldn't get more ridiculous, the fashonistas had to jump in! Yet another Yanko submission, the foldable shoe is attempting to turn the manufacturing sector around by speeding up production and nearly eliminating the cost of shipping all together. A flat-pack shoe would dramatically reduce transportation cost, given the fact that each shoe box is void of so much usable space.

Is it practical? Well, see for yourself.

It is, however, interesting. And aesthetically, it's more than I expected. And if they continue to charge $50 per extra bag on flights, expect a flat-pack travel shoe to start selling well.

7. Bobby the Foldable Electric Scooter

Seen at the 2007 Tokyo auto show, Bobby is Yamaha's answer to the commute. It doesn't collapse as much as I would like, but when sticking a scooter in your trunk, every inch can count.

As you can see, the handle bars fold down and the back wheel folds inward. Soooooo, err, what makes it different? Well, this RFID enabled scooter can be turned on and off with a FeliCa-enabled cellphone. Feel free to ooh and ahh at will.

And if the rumors that suggest the Bobby has internet access are true, feel free to file this under idiotic. You'll be the only commuter to ever get laughed at by somebody on a Segway. Otherwise, keep the prototypes coming. Somebody's bound to hit the nail on the head sooner or later.

8. The T-Shirt Television

Marketers have found that there's a decrease in home television audiences, so they're looking for newer ways to shove adverts down our gullets. Yay.

I couldn't figure out why the video quality was so bad (all over the web, not just here), but it's because the shirt is basically an LCD screen stuck in a t-shirt, not a flexible screen capable of be washed.

You want to impress me? Take Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute's flexible LCD screen and mount it to a hoodie. Waterproof it and you're golden.

Then give me a reason where and why I would ever need to wear a shirt with a screen on it.

9. The Feathercraft Foldable Kayak

Boats, in the foldable community, seem to be quite commonplace, but these Feathercraft Kayaks really stand out.

Ingenious design features have been incorporated to each model. The framework assembly of each model has similar characteristics, yet each is uniquely different. Longitudanal sections are shock-corded together like tent poles. To minimize assembly steps, chine and gunwale tubes for both the bow and stern frame sections are permanently attached to keel reinforcements plates. Deck bars are used as lever bars to extend the frame sections tightly into the skin. No additional tools are required for assembly. Because the framework is sectional, should damage occur, the individual section can easily be repaired or replaced. Crosspieces are either hand-cut from high density polyethylene, or are injected molded polycarbonate, depending on the model.

OK, so I didn't understand any of that...

But when I said that they stand out, it was actually because of the photo gallery. A pack-and-kayak retirement would be pretty friggin' awesome. There's numerous shots of people floating the waters of Venice, under and in between crevasses, along coastlines, etc.

My plans might be changing.

10. SPLAT Dish Rack

The SPLAT from Jill Davis Design is beautiful in form and function. It takes real talent to take something so commonplace and make it look interesting. And as one of the dishawasherless few, I can wholeheartedly appreciate this design.

Not to mention, the more you can hide something so typically bulky, the better. Although if my drying rack looked like this, I probably wouldn't put it away.