MIT $100 Laptop
Design Continuum, a firm of mechanical engineers and industrial designers, submitted the $100 laptop concept with the MIT Media Lab as its client. Debate ensued: Was the project overexposed, and overrated? The initiative to distribute millions of cheap, rugged, crank generator laptops to children all over the world was good—but old—news. (The research was launched in early 2005.) “It’s been all over,” said Zolli, who added, “as much as I love computers, I’m skeptical about the ‘everybody needs a computer to survive’ way of thinking.” Globus countered: “This is the kind of concept we should be considering. It’s about addressing needs.” Zolli conceded an overlooked educational benefit of the MIT laptop hype: simplicity. The commercial laptop market is subject to the “death spiral,” as he called it; with each new machine, “people want more features, everything has to be upgraded, the slower they become and the more power they need,” he said. “Companies are not set up to make the simple, basic thing.”
DESIGN Design Continuum (West Newton, MA): Kevin Young, director, ID Group; Kenneth Jewell, senior envisioner; Gaurav Rohatgi, principal mechanical engineer; Jung Tak, Michel Alvarez, Michael Tracz, industrial designers; Pat McDermott, senior mechanical engineer; Maiya Shur, mechanical engineer
CLIENT MIT Media Lab (Cambridge, MA)
It’s a bird, it’s a fish no, it’s a gigantic futuristic car carrier called the E/S Orcelle (E/S means environmentally sound; orcelle is French for an endangered type of dolphin). The Stockholm shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines each year transports about 2 million cars and trucks around the world, on some of the largest ships in the industry. By 2025, it wants to launch its biggest conveyance yet: a 10,000-car, zero-emissions carrier using sea, solar, and wind power for propulsion and on-board systems. To this end, the company asked Stockholm industrial design firm No Picnic to shape the concept vessel. The jurors admired the enormity of the task: a big company commissioning a massive, complex green machine for public/private good. Hunt praised the hull design for its dolphin-like agility: “It’s biomimetic.” The pantamaran hull—five hulls working as one—changes position to translate the ocean’s shifting wave action into forward propulsion. And the huge dorsal fins atop the carrier not only hold photovoltaic cells but can actually shift angles, like sails, to harness the wind. The ship “reveals the scale of an industrial problem,” said Zolli, who also liked the way the E/S Orcelle proposed to use many green technologies simultaneously. “And, I have to say, it’s actually not ugly,” he added.
DESIGN No Picnic Industrial Designers (Stockholm)
CLIENT Wallenius Wilhelmsen Lines (Stockholm)
Dragonfly T16 Water Machine
Hunt called it “magical.” Globus liked that “it takes something invisible and makes it usable, solving two problems at once.” Designed to replace conventional watercoolers, this apparatus is a room dehumidifier that sucks moisture from the air, cleans it through the use of special membranes and UV treatment, and dispenses it as potable water. Hyflux Group, a Singapore company, asked the Shanghai firm Designafairs to turn its Acquovator water generator into a streamlined, lightweight consumer product fit for home or office. Although the unit can’t power itself—it plugs into the wall—it does eliminate the need for plumbing and for the transport, storage, and installation of bulky water bottles. Thus, should a natural disaster or civil threat shut down the water supply, the Acquovator would come to the rescue. Hyflux expects its largest market to be the dependably hot, humid nations in South and Southeast Asia.
DESIGN Designafairs (Shanghai): S. Point Design Team; Zhou Yi, principal
CLIENT Hyflux Group (Singapore)
SOFTWARE Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, Pro/Engineer, Autodesk 3-D Max