2 October 2007

Buy n Large Core Values

"Buy n Large believes in focusing brand responses into leveraging consumer enhancement and nurturing emotional or cognitive customer satisfaction across the entire retail framework, while magnifying dynamic industry expansion into bespoke evergreen solutions. Our ability to harness visionary synergies and optimize out-of-the-box systems has created a dynamic process where we construct revolutionary architectures that redefine communities and cultivate integrated markets."

(I love this stuff)

1 October 2007

Espresso Fridge

Like every other Monday morning, I catch up with the essential blogs (e.g. those listed on the right side of this screen). I was captivated by this Espresso Fridge I saw in Engadget. Beautifully made by Whirlpool, this fridge incorporates a fully automated espresso coffee machine.

Does this device fall under the conceptual umbrella of the replacement template I referred to in a previous post? In the replacement template, something has to be excluded and its function be replaced by other elements in the environment or the product. What has been excluded from this fridge in particular? Some freezer space?

Further, is there any intrinsic advantage at all in this device? In other words, do you prefer the Espresso Fridge to a similar quality fridge plus a separate espresso machine. This product is merely a well-designed bundled offer: some customers prefer the integrated device, some prefer the two separate devices. Isn't this the same situation as (mobile phones + media players)?. Seemingly, space-saving is the most clear benefit from this product. Engadget mention point towards the potential convenience of this combined product.

"No longer will you flutter between fridge and coffee machine like a caffeine-addicted idiot; instead, your milk, creamers, and sweeteners are just inches away from a freshly-brewed cup"

And yes, it does look sleek.

One thing that is not clear neither in the Engadget blog post nor in original post in The Appliancist (a fine blog!) whether the milk can be kept refrigerated and ready to be dispensed through the frothing nozzle. That would be an extra benefit hard to replicate with two separate devices. We'll have to wait till January 2008.

28 September 2007

New Light Bulb

LEDs are quickly becoming the illumination technology of choice for avant-garde design (cars and homes) and are very efficient in terms of light production per unit of energy consumed. Now a new player appears on scene: the microwave-driven electrode-free lamp from Ceravision.

The technology involves using a microwave source is focused onto a small cavity and ionizes a noble gas containing metal halides.

The Economist reports:

"Because the lamp has no filament, the scientists who developed it think it will last for thousands of hours of use—in other words, for decades. Moreover, the light it generates comes from what is almost a single point, which means that the bulbs can be used in projectors and televisions. Because of this, the light is much more directional and the lamp could thus prove more efficient than bulbs that scatter light in all directions. Its long life would make the new light ideal for buildings in which the architecture makes changing light bulbs complicated and expensive. The lamps' small size makes them comparable to light-emitting diodes but the new lamp generates much brighter light than those semiconductor devices do. A single microwave generator can be used to power several lamps."

Ceravision is offering this option as a simple to assemble low cost option to lighting. I am curious to see its development.

27 September 2007

Heineken Bottles and the Replacement Template

I read in clusterflock that Herr Heineken ordered the design of square-sectioned bottles that could be used as bricks once the contents were consumed. He came up with this idea after seeing that bottles could not be easily recycled in some areas of the world and went to waste. These areas also happen to be short of constructing materials. The bottles, designed by architect N. John Habraken have also added texture in its sides to aid the cementing of bottles to one another.

This is a good example of the replacement template from Goldenberg and Mazursky excellent book. The replacement template states that new product ideas can be generated by using a component existent in the product or the immediate environment in order to fulfill a required function. In this case, one object of the environment (bricks) are absent or scarce. In terms of Goldenberg and Mazursky template we can think that bricks are excluded and their function is replaced by other elements of the environment (disposed of bottles).

If you are interested in reading a little more about using bottles for construction, take a look at this post in treehugger.

13 September 2007

Water Purifying Bottle

Michael Pritchard, from Ipswich (UK), has developed a water bottle that can purify water via a filter mechanism. The filter keeps away anything larger than 15 nanometers such as bacteria and viruses. It is not clear to me how other water pollutants are dealt with, in particular heavy metals and organic compounds.

With a price tag of 190 pound sterling, the bottle does not come cheap. But around 4000 liters of drinking water can be produced without replacing the filter.

(via digg)

12 September 2007

The Jesus Diet

Being in a creative industry allows me to stop working every now and then and look through the window for a few minutes letting my mind wander a bit. I was thinking whether Jesus (Christ) could have been fat, as it is always portrayed as having a rather slender figure. Then I thought that a good way to make enthusiastic Christians lose weight would be to create a "Jesus Diet". What a great idea for a new product!

Of course, two seconds later I realize that such an obvious idea must have been done. A quick search reveals plenty of Jesus diet pages and sites. Read the story from the BBC from two years ago. The first hit is here. Go here is if you want to know whether Jesus was a "married vegetarian monk" (I like the tiny decorative halved avocados).

7 September 2007

Female Urinal

Female standing urination has recently caught some attention. Some people believe in this product and there is a website in construction devoted to its cause. I do see the advantages but I do not see a truly commercial application. Skimming this "article" I realize that female urinals are planned to be installed in stalls. Why would a public building or a restaurant install a female urinal instead of a normal toilet? The only advantage of the urinal in mens toilet is to save space by placing the urinals onto a wall instead of having all the toilet users lock themselves into spacious stalls.

The proponents of the female urinal are basing most of their argument in the fact that urinating positions (men stand, women sit or squat) are mostly socially constructed. They just miss the point that the female urinal as an investment is more expensive and less flexible than investing in having cleaner standard toilets.

In this blog I aim to have interesting discussion about new products and innovations. I just posted this topic as an example of a product idea that brings a standard product (male urinal) into a new context (female toilet). The problems are that (i) the proponents stress the social point to a greater extent than the business point and (ii) they are solving a problem the hard way: using bricks and mortar rather than a sponge with bleach.

5 September 2007

Coase and the Internet

I like this paragraph that I read today in The Guardian:

"Ronald Coase had noticed something odd about capitalism. The received wisdom, among western economists, was that individuals should compete in a free market: planned economies, such as Stalin's, were doomed. But in that case, why did huge companies exist, with centralised operations and planning? The Ford Motor Company was hailed as a paragon of American business, but wasn't the Soviet Union just an attempt to run a country like a big company? If capitalist theory was correct, why didn't Americans, or British people, just do business with each other as individual buyers and sellers in the open market, instead of organising themselves into firms?

The answer - which won Coase a Nobel prize - is that making things requires collaboration, and finding and linking up all the people who need to collaborate costs money. Companies emerge when it becomes cheaper to gather people, tools and material under one roof, rather than to go out looking for the best deal every time you need a few hours' labour, or a part for a car. But the internet, Tapscott argues, is radically lowering the cost of collaborating. Companies - certainly big companies - are losing their raison d'etre. Individuals, and tiny companies, can collaborate without corporate behemoths to organise them. Considering how many of us spend our weekdays working for big companies, and then spend our weekends giving our money to them, this is a far-reaching thought."

It is from an article on Wikinomics, the new book by Dan Tapscott.

30 August 2007

Article: The Scourge of Arial

I loved this article from the year 2000 the first time I read it. I have now re-read it and found it as interesting as the first time. It tells the story of how the typeface Arial came about. Reading this article you can learn:
  • Details about the development of typeface standards at the dawn of the graphic interface era of personal computing ("typefacess" are sometimes inaccurately called "fonts").
  • The way the Arial typeface became to dominate the non-designer world because of its inclusion in Microsoft products.
  • How Helvetica, The typeface of the 20th century was also the most shamelessly ripped-off design product of the 20th century
What I really like about this article is that you can read it and use all those bits of erudition at cocktail parties.

29 August 2007

Senseo Pods

I think the Senseo coffee machine is a great product. It is easy to use, it is convenient, and the coffee tastes OK. It is the perfect coffee machine for those that like a good coffee but are not willing to purchase an espresso machine or pay a hefty price for a Starbucks. The success of the product, in my opinion, is because of its convenience. Just open the lid, place a pod, and press a button.

Now, I read in Wired that a pod maker is available. You can use ground coffee and make a pods at home for your Senseo.

This product is targeted to two types of customers. The first group are high end customers that want to use their special coffee (e.g. organic, fair trade, Java, roasted at home) in their Senseo machine. The second group are those low end customers that want to avoid paying 0.20 euro for each pod.

But the first group of coffee connoisseurs is unlikely to be using a Senseo machine, and the second group is unlikely to fork 40 euros for the pod maker. Further, this product does not appeal to the Senseo customer, who need coffee convenience at home. Therefore, it is hard to say how successful this product is going to be. I am trying to imagine the customer that needs this product and wants to have one, but I can´t. And yet, I wish the coffee lovers at Perfect Pod the best of luck. Besides, who reads this blog anyway?

Am I going to buy a Senseo pod maker? Well, my new Nespresso machine is waiting for me in its box. After years of using a Senseo machine and advicing friends to get one, I have decided to pay more for better coffee. If a Nespresso capsule maker ever reaches the market, I may be able to give it a try.

28 August 2007


Schmap is a company that designs traveler guides. One day I got an email saying that one of my flickr pictures had been nominated for inclusion into the new edition of the Chicago guide. They were asking me permission to make use of the picture. I went to their website and said I would not mind.

This is one of the pictures that was nominated. It was taken during a snowstorm and then digitally turned into a black and white picture.

I do not think too much of the picture above and I am not sure why it was chosen, as it is not representative of the University of Chicago campus.

However, what I like about Schmap is that it is using the huge archive of user generated pictures to make a high quality product. By asking users from the flickr community for their images, Schmap gets images for free and uses the loyal flickr network to build its own community.

23 August 2007

Bulletproof Baby

"When stray bullets hit the pram but narrowly missed my son, I realised there was a gap in the market for a range of products to protect babies in today's increasingly violent society."

This is from bulletproofbaby.net , a company specializing in selling armor, bullet proof prams and chemical protection suits for babies and toddlers. It is definitely an unfulfilled gap in the market. The website is a little creepy. I guess it is supposed to make parents anxious and paranoid. The video shooting of the pram with a living baby (is that real?) is particularly distasteful.