3D Printing Is a Big Help for Little Guys

26. November 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , , ,   //   Comments

As we get older, we tend to accept that there are some things in life that are out of our control; the best we can do is try to be prepared for them. Although we can't be prepared for every injury, we can learn from those we've already had and try to help those who are unable to help themselves.

Fortunately, the ways we can help others are being greatly improved by advances in technology. Conditions thought to be permanent just a few years ago can now be mended in a variety of ways. The following stories are about little ones who got big help from advances in 3D printing.

Puppy Love

From the moment Tumbles was born, his life wasn't easy. This adorable pup was born without his two front legs, and could not be nursed by his mother along with the rest of his litter. Hopes weren't very high for Tumbles when he was brought to an animal shelter in Athens, OH. But when a photo of the puppy went viral, his chances for a better life improved.

puppy in wheelchair
Image via IFLScience.

When the Ohio University Innovation Center learned about Tumbles, they saw a way they could help. Within fourteen hours, the Innovation Center designed and 3D-printed a special wheelchair-style apparatus for him. Tumbles is still getting used to being so mobile, but everybody is impressed by how quickly he's adapted. As shelter president Angela Marx put it, "He's a little sweetheart and doesn't act as if he has any limitations."

Hands Together

Before John Shull joined the Rochester Institute of Technology, he was put off by how prohibitive it was to procure prosthetics, especially for children. With the average attachment costing upwards of forty thousand dollars, many never received the help necessary to simplify their daily lives.

prosthetics and a laptop computer
Image via PBS.

At the Rochester Institute of Technology in Upstate New York, Shull and his associates have dedicated themselves to creating free, fully functional 3D-printed prosthetics for children. Although the materials used aren't as high-grade as those used in expensive, top-of-the-line models, Shull says that they're more adaptable to children who are still growing. "It doesn't make sense to spend $40,000 on something they're going to outgrow in a year."

It's important to Shull that the children receiving the prosthetics not be solely defined by them. The bespectacled inventor says, "If I didn't have glasses in a world in which there's lots of fine print, I would be disabled. As it is, I'm just a guy who wears glasses."

Little Things Matter Most

Youths adapt to their environment and circumstances far more quickly than adults, and it's that sort of adaptation that inspires people of all ages to achieve more. Although unforeseen factors can inhibit one's abilities, they can also inspire the very innovations that enable us to overcome those conditions.

The Science Behind Logo Design

19. November 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Business News  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments

It's easy to say that design has a lasting effect, but most people don't take time to think about what that means. Logos with a lasting effect are the result of careful research into human reactions to colors, shapes, and patterns.

With the some of the world's biggest companies making changes to their interfaces in order to become more visually appealing, the complexity behind such changes is worth appreciating.

The Eyes Have It

The letter-based vision test has become a staple of waiting rooms the world over. Whether you're visiting the optometrist, getting your annual physical, or renewing your driver's license, you've probably had to stare long and hard at the shrinking cascade of letters on the white board. Unpleasant though it can be, the test is known for having prevented countless maladies. What isn't well known is the long and complex history behind the test.

letter-based vision test board
Image via Gizmodo.

In a recent article for Gizmodo, graphic designer Lorrie Frear traces the history of the contemporary eye chart. Beginning with the first chart, designed in 1836 by Heinrich Küchler, Frear describes how the test has been refined over the last 179 years. The refinements have taken into account physical factors like font design and viewer distance, along with psychological factors, such as the viewer's ability to describe the letters or words on the chart.

Color Me Sold

As you walk down the grocery aisle to pick up your favorite cereal, you probably put more thought into the taste of the cereal than the color of the box or the lettering of the logo. Still, why is it that you are drawn to one box more than all the others?

poster on the psychology of logo design
Image via Inc.

The design of the brands you see every day is the result of countless hours of research. The above infographic is a quick primer on the most common factors used in the design of some of the world's most recognizable brands. You may believe your choice is based solely on taste, but that nice-looking box has an influence on your wallet that you might not even be conscious of.

Added Benefits

Perhaps the most intriguing factor in the psychology of consumer brands is the fact that the average person is taking part in an experiment that never ends. Just as the right to vote gives people an active role in the mechanics of their government, so the purchases consumers make give them an active role in their economy. That's why those who want consumers' hard-earned money invest so much time and energy into influencing their decisions.

Child's Play: New Printing and Design Tools

Scientists the world over agree that encouraging the creative tendencies of children is not only helpful to their overall intelligence, but crucial to their mental development. There’s also a lot of fun to be had in playtime activities such as assembling blocks, drawing pictures, and playing on jungle gyms.

While such playtime activities are encouraged during childhood, they're generally expected to be given up by adulthood. But if childhood games can stimulate the brain of a young person, who’s to say they wouldn't work on people who’ve become set in their ways? Several of the world’s most prominent behavioral therapists have asked that very question.

Fine Line

Coloring books have been a staple of children’s playtime for over a century, and their popularity shows no signs of waning. A typical volume consists of vector-like black-and-white images, with color added by the user. Recently, this “childish” past time has seen an increase in popularity among adults as a calming activity for their increasingly stressful lives.

adult coloring book design
Image via The Atlantic.

In a recent piece for The Atlantic, writer Julie Beck argues that, although this appears to fall into the recent trend of adults' recreating childhood activities, coloring is in fact a form of art therapy. “There's something satisfying about seeing your thought and effort create a tangible, pretty thing at a reasonable, predictable pace,” says Beck. “This rarely happens in life.” Beck reports that the technique has proved useful for her in dealing with the pressures of everyday life, and believes it could for many others.

Baby’s First Design Kit

In an increasingly digitized world, it’s easy for both children and parents to look at modern technology as nothing more than an easy distraction for the little ones so that parents can steal a few moments for themselves. But this hasn’t stopped many innovators from using technological tools to teach children practical skills.

can-do children's products
Image via Mental Floss.

Khandu (pronounced “Can Do”) is a forthcoming game created by the Spanish design agency Seven Thinkers. The goal of the card game is to teach children how to think like designers, getting them to come up with and implement ideas. Although the game is currently only available through Seven Thinkers’ Kickstarter campaign, the creators are hoping to have it accepted as part of Pope Francis’s Scholas Occurentas program.

Repeating Patterns

No matter what one’s age, it’s important to have a creative outlet in one's life. The stories above show that age need not decide how one's creativity is expressed. Whether you're an eight-year-old or an eighty-year-old, you should feel free to take a little time out of each day to color the world your own way.

Signs of the Times

5. November 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Business News  //  Tags: , , , , , ,   //   Comments

For regular readers of this blog, it should come as no surprise that we appreciate the importance of a good logo. A lifetime of training and precision can go into creating pieces of brand recognition. Though logos may be seen only momentarily, they generally leave a lasting impact on the people who see them.

This is just as true for independent business and creators as it is for corporations on Madison Avenue. The "little guys" might not have the financial backing of their larger counterparts, but what they lack in financing they can make up for in creativity. Once designers make a connection with their intended audience, they can inspire a sense of loyalty bordering on the religious.

Rock & Rule

The basement or garage may not seem like the most auspicious place to begin a successful career, but many of the world's most memorable innovators started their careers right there. From Hewlett/Packard to Apple computers, the garage has proved to be a breeding ground for creative mavericks.

Perhaps no industry has benefited more from "garage innovation" than rock music. Metal music in particular has always stood on the fringes of the musical mainstream. It's no wonder that logos created for many metal bands reflect that same outsider status.

heavy metal band logo
Image via Wired.

A typical metal logo wouldn't look out of place on a horror-film poster, and that's not an accident. The logos lend visualizations to the dark and aggressive music. In designer Mark Riddick's new book Logos from Hell, he collects and comments on 600 logos from metal acts over the past 30 years. "The genre kind of commands a particular style of logo that the listener can identify with," says Riddick. "I want people to recognize this as much more than a high schooler scribbling in his notebook and calling it art. This is legitimate serious talent. It's a subculture that's create a whole look and feel unlike any other. That's a powerful thing."

Bunny Hop

For more than 60 years, Playboy magazine has been the industry standard for showcasing some of the world's most beautiful women. The magazine's first issue featured a then-unknown Marilyn Monroe and has since gone on to feature award-winning actresses and renowned supermodels, often wearing nothing more than a smile.

That tradition is about to change, in light of the recent announcement that the magazine will no longer feature nude pictorials. It's a bold move, to be sure, but it raises the question whether Playboy's photo spread's were ever as important as its famous logo.

Playboy bunny logo
Image via Wired.

The Playboy bunny logo was reportedly created in just half an hour by Chicago artist Art Paul. Founder Hugh Hefner commissioned a design that, like the magazine he was assembling, would be "a projection of the wonderful world I dig." After the recent announcement, WIRED magazine design columnist Magaret Rhodes argued that the company's award-winning writing and legendary icon were more important than its infamous photos. "Losing the nudes shouldn't pose a big threat," writes Rhodes. "If you're looking for pornography in 2015, you're not likely to pick up a print edition of Playboy. For a lifestyle brand that once claimed to prize Picasso, Nietzsche, and sex equally, that can only be a good thing."

Medium Cool

Since its creation in 2012, Medium has quickly become one of the Web's premier platforms for longform writing. The layout is intentionally simple so that focus is kept on the written essays rather than on flashy design. But that hasn't stopped the site from making noticeable design changes, the most recent of which was the introduction of its new logo.

Medium logo
Image via Medium.

Although the original "Stag M" logo—which consisted of a white "M" against a black background, or vice versa, proudly represented the site's simple design, the creators felt it was time for a change to something less monochromatic. "This simple geometric interpretation of the M felt fun, like a delightful game or a deeply satisfying puzzle," said Medium reps Erich Nagler and Karen Jaimes. "We couldn't stop ourselves from playing with all the different treatments, mutations, and color combinations it was practically begging for."

Although there were no announcements about expanding the design to other parts of the site, the reps maintained that they were happy with the design, which does not distract from the essays for which the site is still known.

Same Name

People remember a logo even when they don't remember what a company actually does. That said, making brand recognition the sole focus risks making the services purely superficial; failing to evolve the brand itself risks making it obsolete. In the end, a beautiful design will catch people's attention, but adherence to high quality will keep them coming back.

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