Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Modular Arkiv Field Backpack

link courtesy of Tatiana Garcia
Geek Lovers here is your backpack!
It has all the things you want, including a Multitude of options for creating your own custom layout.

You've already spent $200.00, why not $9more. Starting at $209.00

Choose yours here

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Creative Priority : Putting Innovation to Work in Your Business by Jerry Hirshberg

How does your company define creativity? Or does creativity define your company? In this remarkable book, Jerry Hirshberg, founder and president of Nissan Design International (NDI), distills his experience as leader of the world's hotbed of automotive innovation and reveals his strategy for designing an organization around creativity.
In The Creative Priority Hirshberg weaves together enlightening real-world anecdotes with the story of NDI's genesis to illustrate eleven interlocking strategies that came to define NDI's creative priority. Richly illustrated with NDI's elegant designs and sketched, The Creative Priority is at once a compelling narrative, a rich store of hands-on experience, and a grab bag of breakthrough insights that can help your business perform its most vital function.  -Amazon
Do yourself a favor: go out and buy a copy of The Creative Priority: Driving Innovative Business in the Real World, by Jerry Hirshberg (HarperBusiness, 1998). Read it through once, and then go back and read it again.

Don't confuse this exercise with homework. The Creative Priority is a beautifully written and gripping organizational detective story. The drama begins in 1979, when Hirshberg, a young hotshot car designer working for General Motors, receives a call from a recruiter for Nissan Motor Corp., which wants him to create a world-class design facility in the United States. Thinking it over, Hirshberg realizes this is not just another job offer. It's the chance to build from scratch a radically different type of business.

Since the early days of the Industrial Revolution, after all, businesses have been organized to maximize efficiency. Although they may recognize the value of creativity, they tend to treat it as an ancillary activity--something to be encouraged away from work, in retreatlike settings. But what would happen, Hirshberg wonders, if creativity itself were to become the organizing principle of a business? Could you enhance performance in the traditional areas of concern--quality, productivity, sales--by organizing all of a business's resources around the goal of sustained creativity and innovation?

Hirshberg thinks so. He accepts the offer and launches Nissan Design International (NDI), which becomes a kind of organizational laboratory that explores the author's theories, while turning out an impressive body of design work. (Among other things, NDI goes on to produce the design for the original Pathfinder.)

Along the way, Hirshberg and his colleagues discover 11 key strategies for fostering and sustaining what he calls the creative priority. They include concepts like creative abrasion (using internal friction as a source of creative energy) and hiring in divergent pairs (recruiting with a focus on the character of the group being formed, rather than trying to find the best person for the job). The strategies are both fascinating and immensely practical for those who work in idea-intensive environments--and who doesn't these days?

And yet, in the end, what makes The Creative Priority so compelling is not so much its insights into the nature of organizations as its implications for the people who run them. In an era when intellectual capital is the only source of sustainable competitive advantage, the leader's role is to create a work environment that can attract and keep the most creative and knowledgeable employees and consistently draw out the best in them. The 15-year odyssey chronicled in Hirshberg's book suggests that the person at the top can have the greatest impact not by managing, coaching, selling, strategizing, or deal making, but through design--the design of work itself.  -INC.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Randa 360

Randa Magic Booth in 360 Panorama

Randa Bots

Here come the inflate-a-bots: iRobot's AIR blow-up bot prototypes

Randa Bots: Inflatable handles for luggage, backpacks, messenger bags?  How about inflatable cushioning for belts or wallets?  - DJK

DARPA-funded systems are part of quest for cheaper, lighter, more capable bots.

by  - Aug 22, 2012 8:50 pm UTC

A DARPA-funded research project at Massachusetts-based iRobot has developed a series of prototype robots with inflatable parts. The robots, developed with researchers from Carnegie-Mellon University and inflatable engineering company ILC Dover, are part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's program to create more mobile, more capable, and less expensive robots for the battlefield.

In an interview with Ars, Chris Jones, director for research advancement at iRobot, said that the Advanced Inflatable Robotics (AIR) research prototypes—which include a modified PackBot with an inflatable manipulator arm and a fully inflatable "hexabot" that walks on six legs—were developed as part of one of several research initiatives at the company funded by DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation (M3) Program, an effort launched in March of 2011. The program has resulted in a number of other recent robotics advances, including flexible robots that can change color and the Boston Dynamics land speed record-holding Cheetah bot.

The military has been using small robots from iRobot, such as the PackBot, for years, purchasing hundreds of the bots for dealing with improvised explosive devices and checking out potentially dangerous areas. The M3 program is a broad research initiative to develop technologies that will make small robots even more capable. Inflatable robotic systems are of particular interest because of their decreased weight and because of how cheaply they can be manufactured.

"A lot of what we do is centered around making very capable but small robots," Jones said. For small, untethered robots—whether they're on the battlefield, cleaning your kitchen floor, or helping tend to patients in hospitals, "weight is at a premium," he said, because of its impact on the robot's battery life and mobility. Inflatable parts can drastically reduce the weight of a robot, while still having a comparable level of functionality. The manipulator arm on the current iRobot PackBot, for example, weighs over 15 pounds; the "AIRarm" weighs under half a pound, and can lift as much as five pounds, depending on its level of inflation.
The AIRarm inflatable manipulator in action on a modified iRobot PackBot.

Another plus for inflatable robotics is the amount of space that an uninflated component can be packed into. The AIRarm can be "crammed into a ball" inside the PackBot, Jones said. Since the arm inflates on demand, it's not taking up valuable real estate on the body of the robot that can be used for other sensors or functions—especially since a manipulator arm may not be used that frequently in some cases.

And then there's the "soft touch" capability of inflatables. An inflatable robotic arm can adjust its "compliance," Jones said—it can make the arm more or less rigid, depending on the situation.

"Whenever you're talking about a robot with an arm making contact with its environment—opening doors, touching a person—you have to be sensitive to that contact," he explained. "You need to have a soft touch, but still have some strength. With an inflatable arm, you can change its compliance so you can change the arm's ability to deform. If it's driven into a wall and an arm isn't inflatable, it will drive through the wall or break the arm." But with an inflatable arm, if the pressure in the arm is decreased, it will just buckle or fold over when it hits a wall.

And that variable compliance also allows inflatable arms to reach into places mechanical arms can't reach by following the contours of confined places. "You can imagine an inflatable arm being able to push itself into an opening and follow a wall." Jones said. "And you may have opportunities to inflate and deflate different parts of the arm to get access through a small opening, and then get a large arm on the other side."

In addition to the AIRarm, which IEEE Spectrum’s Automaton blog wrote about after a visit to iRobot, the company has also developed a small prototype robot that is entirely inflatable and walks on six string-actuated legs. While the hexapod was developed purely as a research prototype with no specific application in mind, "there are a wide variety of uses that this technology could be tailored to," Jones said.

A six-legged inflatable robot revealed by iRobot to IEEE Spectrum during a site visit.

DARPA just awarded iRobot an additional $650,000 contract to continue its work on inflatable manipulators under the program. The company also has other initiatives underway that are funded by the M3 program, including the Advanced Suspension for Improved Mobility (ASIM), a stabilized suspension system that makes it easier for small robots to traverse rough terrain and handle debris. Jones said that additional projects were in development for the program, but weren't at a stage where the government would allow him to discuss them.

A demonstration of the ASIM robotic suspension system.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pelican Brief

A Product With Devotees Tries to Widen Its Niche

THE Pelican brand of protective cases for electronics is well known, but only among users in fields like the oil industry, the military and aerospace. For years, the company’s primary form of marketing consisted of expos and trade publications.
When the company decided it was time to expand its product line to reach a broader consumer base, executives realized they would have to overhaul their strategy.
Part of the challenge was to draw customers to the new line, called Pelican ProGear, without alienating the company’s core consumer base, which had been loyal for years.
“We’re not moving away at all from our traditional markets,” Lyndon Faulkner, the company’s president and chief executive, said. “We are building on top of that new muscles for the consumer market.”
Those muscles include some firsts for the company, like magazine ads, television commercials and endorsements. But those endorsements did not come from Hollywood celebrities or famous athletes. To keep the campaign authentic, Pelican hired three experts in their fields: Jeb Corliss, a sky diver and BASE jumper; Alexandra Cousteau, an environmental advocate and granddaughter of the famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau; and Craig Sawyer, a combat instructor and former member of the Navy SEALs.
“If we were to have more of a showy personality, the authenticity just wouldn’t be there,” said Nathan B. Winstanley, president of Winstanley Partners, an ad agency in Lenox, Mass., that Pelican hired for the campaign. “When you see Jeb Corliss climbing a cliff with a backpack on, that’s real. That’s what he does.”
It was important for the ProGear line, which includes backpacks and cases for laptops and smartphones, to stay true to the Pelican brand’s reputation for quality and for the ad campaign to reflect that, Mr. Faulkner said. “We are not bringing out fashion statement products,” he said. “There is no Louis Vuitton or Hello Kitty version.”
Social networking is central to the campaign, so the company built a presence on Facebook and YouTube, said Sharon Ward, director of public and media relations at Pelican. “We are talking up the ProGear line, hosting contests, asking for feedback, posting photos,” she said.
The company also hired Jagged Peak, a Web firm in Tampa, Fla., to develop an e-commerce Web site for the ProGear products, which Pelican uses as a communication nexus for blogging and tweeting about the line. When the three adventurers use the products while exploring in real life, the hope is that it will send consumers to the Web site to learn more.
Pelican spent about $5 million on the campaign, far exceeding its typical $1.5 million annual ad budget. The company widened its digital and print presence to include popular magazines like Men’s Journal, Wired and Field & Stream, and commercials are being broadcast on Discovery, Travel and History, among other channels.
“We have tried to surround the brand with as many touch points as possible,” Mr. Winstanley said. “It’s really a great combination of traditional media and digital media that allows the brand to become quickly known and quickly successful.”
Pelican products were already sold at specialty stores like REI, and to gain more retail partners, Pelican also bulked up its presence with in-store racks to display the products. But more important, Mr. Winstanley said, was letting retailers know how extensive the marketing campaign would be, which meant less work for store owners in educating potential buyers.
“When you support this type of brand with media surround, retailers are much more willing to take a chance with a brand they have not seen before,” he said.
With the expanded Web presence, Pelican executives will be able to have quicker assess to results from the ad campaign. In the past, they would have to wait months to get feedback from sales representatives about whether a campaign was working. Now, each time a commercial is broadcast on TV, traffic at the ProGear Web site increases significantly.
“It is interesting to watch the spike in activity” corresponding with the advertisements, Mr. Faulkner said, adding that the commercials were “definitely driving people to the Web site.”
With the feedback, the company can tell what works and what doesn’t work. It intends to use the information when it begins similar campaigns in other countries, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France and Germany.
“It’s gratifying because you get this instantaneous feedback,” he added. “That’s the power of the Internet and television.”

Hard on Impact: Pliant at Rest

These are rate-dependent materials, they harden on impact but are pliant when treated gently.   Randa applications? Security wallets, hard shell cases, belt buckles, tie bars, footwear toe caps, other? DJK

A Polymer to Protect Phones From Impact

The super-shock-absorbent material called non-Newtonian polymer inspires a lot of don’t-try-this-at-home stunts, like getting whacked in the head with a shovel through a layer of the stuff.
But these materials are also used in protective clothing for skiers and motorcyclists, and – no surprise here – cases for phones.
A company called Tech21 from Britain has been producing protective cases using the polymer D30 for T-Mobile, but in May it spun off its own line.
These materials, also know generically as “rate-dependent materials,” work by having their molecules freeze in place when struck hard, but are pliant when moved gently — just like water, which is a rate-dependent material of a sort. If you lower yourself into a bath there is little resistance. But slap the water hard with the flat of your hand and it will leave your palm stinging.
Tech21 has put D30 in cases for a variety of phones including those from Apple, HTC, Samsung and RIM as well as some tablets and e-readers.
Most of the cases are like the bumpers you see on iPhones, a protective strip of material that surrounds the outer edges. The D30 shows as an orange stripe on the part of the case where the company says a phone is most likely to take a jolt. An upcoming case will also have a D30 pad in the back.
The phone cases range in price from $30 for the Impact Band to $136 for the underwater Submariner case.
When it comes to product stunts, though, you have to hand it to a company called G-Form, which also uses rate-dependent polymers in its products. It recently had B.A.S.E. jumpersdrop an iPhone from 1,000 feet to demonstrate the effectiveness of its padding.

Personal Trunk Show

Wall Street Journal:

It's Not Book of the Month: It's Men's Fashion

New Services Offer Subscribers Items Chosen for Them
By SARAH E. NEEDLEMAN – Wall Street Journal

Fashion-savvy entrepreneurs are putting a new twist on personal shopping: Let the luxury come directly to buyers' doors.

A new crop of retail start-ups is offering home delivery of designer goods -- from clothing and jewelry to make up and home décor -- all hand-selected by style experts or celebrities. Sarah Needleman has details on The News Hub. Photo: Brian Kelly for The Wall Street Journal.

A growing crop of retail start-ups is offering home delivery of clothing, jewelry and home décor—all selected by style experts or celebrities like actress Kate Bosworth and comedian Nick Cannon, with customers' individual tastes in mind.

Reminiscent of book-of-the-month clubs, the subscription services charge customers anywhere from $29.99 a month to $500 or more, a few times a year, with the option to pause or cancel at any time.

Trunk Club Inc. mails subscribers "trunks" filled with blazers, dress shoes, ties and other menswear from popular brands including Jack Spade and Jeremy Argyle. Style experts at the Chicago-based company pick out the items according to customers' preferences and measurements.

Other start-ups, like BeachMint Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif., and 12Society Inc. of West Hollywood, Calif., have actors, athletes and musicians curate goods in categories such as home décor, jewelry and electronics.

In some cases, the specially selected products are priced below retail, but in general the services pitch convenience to consumers seeking expert-recommended goods that align with their personal style.

Two-year-old Trunk Club is targeting affluent male professionals who care about how they look but dislike shopping. "Guys have this visceral negative reaction to the process of shopping," said Brian Spaly, founder of the 110-employee start-up.

Trunk Club and BeachMint have yet to turn a profit, and some retail experts say the subscription model isn't surefire. David Wolfe, creative director and trend forecaster for consulting firm Doneger Group in New York, said he expects demand for regular deliveries of hand-selected high-end goods to be limited, even though he sees the appeal of not having to wade through merchandise at stores. "It will lend itself to only certain kinds of merchandise and certain kinds of customers that have enough money and faith to allow someone else to do their thinking."

George Belch, chair of the marketing department at San Diego State University, added that acquiring and retaining customers will likely be the biggest challenge for a start-up using the subscription model. "It could end up spending a lot of money replacing potential defectors," he said.

Trunk Club customers sign up online and fill out a brief questionnaire to describe the kind of items they want, in what size and how often they'd like to receive shipments. They are assigned a stylist who selects 15 to 20 items from the company's 50 wholesale partners—menswear brands such as Eton, Gant Rugger and Bonobos. (Mr. Spaly co-founded Bonobos Inc., but left in 2009 to launch Trunk Club.)

Trunk Club customers can discuss specifics with their stylists by phone, email or live chat, such as if they prefer mostly dark colors or a preppy look. Once they receive a trunk, they can return any items they don't want and pay only for what they keep. Prepaid return labels come in the package.

Most Trunk Club subscribers stick with about $500 of the trunk's roughly $1,500 of clothing and accessories, and they prefer deliveries once every two months, according to Mr. Spaly, 35 years old. While there is no discount, he says subscribers don't pay for shipping and they get their stylist's personal attention free.

So far, two-year-old Trunk Club, with some 15,000 subscribers, has raised $11 million from venture-capital firms including Anthos Capital LP and Greycroft Partners. But it isn't making any money. The company charges retail prices for goods it buys at wholesale, with a 1.8 to 2.2 times mark-up. Fixed operating costs include talent, technology, shipping and other expenses.

"We've got a start-up team here that's expensive," including 11 engineers, Mr. Spaly said, "We hope to achieve profitability in the not-too-distant future by reaching a much larger audience and growing our top line."

BeachMint is made up of six brands, including JewelMint, a site where members choose from 15 to 20 exclusive pieces of jewelry designed by Ms. Bosworth and stylist Cher Coulter. The selections factor in information members provide about their personal style. Subscribers pay a minimum of $29.99 a month for one piece of jewelry and have the option to spend more on additional items. BeachMint's other brands, such as BeautyMint and ShoeMint, charge different rates. Customers can skip a month anytime they don't see items they like. Shipping is free.

BeachMint, founded in 2010, has raised $80 million in venture capital while doubling its revenue every two quarters, said 42-year-old Josh Berman, co-founder of the 140-employee start-up, and a founding member of the social-networking site Myspace. Still, the company isn't profitable and is currently focused on growth. It makes most of its own items, which are priced anywhere from 20% to 80% above the cost of production.

Celebrity endorsement plays a bigger role at 12Society, which debuted in June. Subscribers pay $39 a month and receive four to six consumer products valued at about $125 total. The goods are selected by the company's six male celebrity co-founders, including rap artist Nasir Jones and football player Michael Strahan, but there are variations to account for customers' tastes. Preferences are determined by a survey that includes questions asking whether your style is more like Ryan Gosling, Johnny Depp or Mark Zuckerberg, and what kind of phone you own. Last month, the company sent out a pair of Creative Recreation sneakers, a Mangroomer electric razor, Munitio headphones, Sheets energy strips and the Electronic Arts Inc. videogame app FIFA 12.

With 5,000 subscribers, the start-up is profitable, according to Sameer Mehta, co-founder. It pays about just 10% of the total cost of each package or less, as it gets most of its merchandise below cost or free since marketers see value in the celebrity endorsements, he said. The company's celebrity curators receive undisclosed royalties and have equity stakes. It has raised about $1 million from angel and venture-capital investors, he added.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LED Belt

LED BELT, click here.

HALO is a multipurpose LED safety belt that can be used on a daily basis. Make everyday safety just a click away. Be Seen, Be Safe.

HALO is a San Francisco based company, started by two designers, with a goal of merging safety, fashion, and culture into an essential everyday product. HALO is the "World's First LED Safety Belt".  

Click Above for VIDEO...

Little Printer (really little)

Little Printer lives in your home, bringing you news, puzzles and gossip from friends. Use your smartphone to set up subscriptions and Little Printer will gather them together to create a timely, beautiful miniature newspaper.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Bloomfield Video

Mosaics From MetroCards

Mosaics From Discarded MetroCards

It’s the perfect example of the time worn phrase: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Ever since artist Nina Boesch stumbled upon the idea in 2001, she has been creating these Big Apple themed mosaics out of discarded plastic MetroCards. As an exchange student living in New Jersey, she found herself wanting to make an inexpensive gift for her host family, but the only thing she had available was her used MetroCards.
“So I made them a map of the United States,” she says. “My host family liked it so much, they kind of motivated me to go on.”
It’s a good thing she did, because now the 33-year old artist has made hundreds of the mosaics from over 30,000 cards – and has sold them for anywhere between $200 and $2500. Not bad for art made from materials you can simply pick up off the floor of the metro.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Power2 the People

Timbuk2 sees the need for portable power, and has answered with  The Joey T1 ($199) able to provide about two full mobile charges.  Launches in October.