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Oy, Robot

Design Spotlight: Is JIBO Really the Future of Robotics?

Pop-culture is in love with the idea of a friendly helpful robot. While the concept may still seem like science fiction, JIBO promises to be a low-cost helper bot that will be available to buy soon. Is this really the future of at-home robotics, or just a bulkier smartphone with personality?

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An Unlikely Expat

A Visit to Thule’s U.S. Headquarters in Seymour, CT

If you’re into the outdoors and own a car, chances are you own or have owned a Thule product for hauling your skis, bikes, kayaks and other outdoor gear. Nearly 80 percent of the company’s products for the U.S. market are made in the states, many of them at their Seymour, CT facility. We dropped in for a visit.

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A New Solution for Impending Disasters

The Survival Capsule and the Future of Tsunami Safety

Six years after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami killed over 225,000 people, an aerospace engineer named Julian Sharpe imagined a new solution: riding the deadly wave of water. His idea was the Survival Capsule, a floatable and nearly indestructible sphere, with room for people and provisions. Now his design is becoming a reality — but how effective will it be at saving lives?

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Growing Israeli Design, One Chair at a Time

At Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield, Bringing Furniture Design into the Spotlight

Bloomfield, a high-end furniture and product design brand specializing in minimalist, elegant products, is the embodiment of Tel Aviv’s growing design scene.

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A Pending Mission to Mars Gets New Duds

Breakdown: NASA Z-2 Spacesuit

NASA’s newest spacesuit, the Z-2, departs from past designs and even used crowd sourcing (for a few minor bits). We break down its features.

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The Life Subaquatic

A Brief History of Underwater Living

Underwater habitats have a 50-year history of scientific discovery, tight living quarters, long decompression times and insane amounts of risk. Just four of them have advanced us from dipping our feet tentatively to emerging from a moon pool in a home away from home hundreds of feet at the bottom of the sea.

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Keeping Time at the Circuit Of The Americas

For Tissot at MotoGP, Milliseconds Create Order from Chaos

In racing, timing is judge, jury and executioner. Tissot, Official Timekeepers for all MotoGP races since 2001, are burdened with the proof of milliseconds. In this world of speed, their instrumentation deciphers the metrics of order within the chaos of twenty-three riders piloting 230 horsepower motorcycles at 220 mph. We saw them in action at the Circuit Of The Americas.

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The Swedes Finally Redeem Themselves For Ikea

Volvo’s Inflatable Child Seat Concept

Negotiating a bulky child seat in the back of a sports coupe during the summertime is not dissimilar from performing hot yoga. The minds at Volvo have rethought the whole rigamarole and sought the path of inner peace by creating the world’s first inflatable child seat. We break it down.

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Haus Sweet Haus

A Walk Through the VitraHaus

Though opened nearly four years ago, the VitraHaus remains a pilgrimage-worthy menagerie of design. Located in the German town of Weil-am-Rhein and built by famed builders Herzog & de Meuron, the VitraHaus is series of stacked longhouses filled with an assemblage of classic and contemporary design goods for the home. Visitors are encouraged to not just gaze in the standard museum sense, but to touch and interact with everything. A walk-through had us rethinking our own homes.

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Porsche comes back home

Design Spotlight: The Porsche 919 Hybrid and the Future of Le Mans

Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 12 out of the last 14 years, a feat that cannot be understated. But there’s another brand whose record at the race is yet unmatched: Porsche, which has 16 wins total. But those wins came during a different era. This year, Porsche re-enters the Le Mans fray with a brand new car that will compete in the LMP1-H (Le Mans Prototype 1 – Hybrid) category, the spectacular 919 Hybrid car, just unveiled in Geneva.

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The Last Light in the Universe

Why “Cosmos” is a Beacon of Hope

When I was little, the Discovery Channel ran cultural and wildlife documentaries and history specials. It was stuff that made me want to become a paleontologist. Now, the station runs shows like “Amish Mafia,” “Game of Stones,” and “Rods N’Wheels,” not to be confused with the similarly named — and similarly themed — “Fast N’Loud.” In these dark times, the upcoming Cosmos reboot offers a glimmer of hope.

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The Magic Tree House

Breakdown: Writer’s Shed by Weston, Surman & Deane

To get any work done, it helps to have a quiet, simple study, which is why so many writers seek country solitude. But how do city writers find their zen? For one anonymous author/illustrator, it meant hiring British architecture firm Weston, Surman & Deane, who designed this workspace — based on their client’s love of children’s literature and mythology — in Hackney, London, on a budget of $51,000.

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Foremost Eyes

UltimEyes and the Pursuit of Perfect Vision

Ever wish you could hit a 95 mph fastball? Us too. In lieu of that pipe dream we’ll happily take the ability to see a 95 mph fastball better while whiffing. Aaron Seitz — a neuroscientist at The University of California Riverside (UCR) — seems to have an answer with a new eye training app. His creation may have more far-reaching consequences than an increase in homers.

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The Future is Gold

Olympic Innovations: Technology That’s Changing the 2014 Winter Olympics

Thanks to Cold-War-era bias (and some legitimate concerns), the groundbreaking athletic technology developed for the 2014 Sochi Games played second fiddle to alleged (OK, verifiable) corruption and safety issues. However, we want to give credit where credit is due. From aerodynamic bobsleds to virtual ski-runs to crazy X-Ray goggles, the technology on display in Sochi threatens to outshine the physical feats of our planet’s greatest athletes.

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Deer now need fear iPads

Breakdown: TrackingPoint Smart Rifle

TrackingPoint’s XactSystem Precision Guided Firearm System — which comes standard with an Integrated Networked Tracking Scope, Guided Trigger, and Tag Button — turns any layman into a marksman at up to 3,600 feet, depending on model. Terrifying? Yes — but also technologically impressive. We break it down.

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New Event, New Controversy, New Excitement

Everything You Need to Know About the Olympic Slopestyle Course

Despite being created by a famous course designer, the Olympic Slopestyle course has drawn criticism from many competitors — and a few have even been injured during practice runs. It’s a dubious start for a brand new Olympic event for both skiers and snowboarders. What does the course look like, what’s the event all about, and why is there already so much controversy? We break it down.

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Speedier Skating

Breakdown: Under Armour Mach 39 Speedsuit

Speedskating — not to mention its thrilling short track sibling — is known less for its technical innovation and more for its excitement. Under Armour, partnered with Team USA and Lockheed Martin has set out to change all that. Come February 8th at 6:30 a.m. EST the USA men’s 5000m contenders will be the first to don the menacing and impressive Mach 39 Speedsuit in anger. We break down the high-tech super-skater suit.

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Nanometers from the future

The (Super) Supercapacitor

In the past, researchers working with graphene faced incredibly high production costs — somewhere in the range of $100,000,000 per cubic centimer. The price isn’t particularly surprising, considering that the leading method involved hand-peeling layers of graphite with scotch tape and placing it on silicone wafers. In this video, Ric Kaner, a chemist at UCLA, explains how he set out to find a better production method…and ended up making a discovery that could change the way we interact with electronics.

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Have a Seat

Reintroducing a Classic: The Hans Wegner Swivel Chair

Design often is the avant-garde when it comes to social and global trends, and this was especially true in 1950s Denmark. One of the most notable Danish designers was Hans Wegner, the creator of the iconic “Swivel Chair” in 1955. Dutch firm PP Mobler has recently decided to bring the iconic chair back, and we’ve decided to explore its rich history and details.

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Optimus Prime's Second Cousin

Breakdown: Advanced Tactics AT Transformer

Cross a helicopter with an SUV and you get the Advanced Tactics AT Transformer, a platform that enables the world’s first roadable, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL). We break down the AT Black Knight Transformer, a Mad Max-ian vehicle that aims to use the Transformer technology for cargo drops or extractions during urban firefights.

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The Sky's the Limit

Breakdown: London SkyCycle

Last week, London architecture firms proposed a plan to build the SkyCycle, a 137-mile bike superhighway that runs over existing rail lines. We break it down.

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Stuttgart Speeds Into the 21st Century

The 127-Year-Old Startup: Visiting Mercedes-Benz’s New Silicon Valley R&D Facility

Mercedes has been innovating in Silicon Valley for over two decades, but they’ve decided to bolster their cutting-edge technological efforts with their new Mercedes Benz Research & Development North America (MBRDNA) headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. We were on hand to explore the new facilities, check out their in-car technology and gawk at the beautiful, newly unveiled AMG Vision Gran Turismo.

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Nothing facet-ious about it

Design Spotlight: Waterford Crystal London Collection Glassware

The current iteration of the Waterford Crystal company has been making exquisite, traditional crystal products for a good portion of history. But now Waterford has decided to reimagine their product; indeed, they’ve decided to revolutionize the way a man might feel about crystal, and as part of that effort heralded designer Jo Sampson fashioned the new decidedly male-centric London Collection. Apropos, then, that we hopped over to foggy London town to meet with Sampson, chat with Waterford CEO Pierre de Villemejane and check out the new collection.

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A GP Architecture Survey

The 21 Greatest Buildings of the 21st Century

So often we look beyond the walls of our surroundings in an attempt to grasp everything around us — to better understand our place. Where are we? When are we? Nowhere is this more aptly embodied than in the throes of architecture. From pole to pole, the pervasive, vast trade spans projects from home renovations to soaring landmarks only describable through prepositions: above, within, beyond.

For our latest survey, we immersed ourselves in the current state of 21st century architecture. Narrowing down such a broad subject to a mere list of 21 entries, so soon, is bound to create fallout; our list isn’t immune. To maintain focus, we’ve kept the list’s perimeters within the realm of completed public and private institutions, avoiding the vast world of home designs and projects still under construction. We’re only 14 years into the 21st century, and only time will tell if the impact of these buildings will endure. But one thing is for certain: these buildings are certainly emblematic of our world today.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Stuff to fill his white space

12 Guys of Christmas: The Designer

If you’ve ever spent time around this next guy on our list, you’ve probably been exposed to one or more of the following: the name-that-font game; conversations on additive vs. subtractive color modes; mistaking Roy G. Biv for a close friend; wagers on the over/under lifespan of the flat design trend. What’s Gaelic to them is Greek to us; the designer’s discerning eye can leave you feeling rudderless and depressed when it comes to gift buying. Suddenly you’re lost in the libraries of Hoefler & Frere-Jones, killing time by exploring the classified section of Architectural Digest. That’s a dark place, my friend. We’re here to help. Moral of this story: leave it to us. We know these people. We’ve sailed to the farthest corners of digital commerce to bring you the best selection of holiday gifts for The Designer.

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Stalwart of the Skies

At Flight: Behind the Scenes with Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8

747. The Jumbo Jet. Whether you’re a million miler or just look for the cheapest thing on Kayak, the 747 is a plane that requires no introduction. You know it has an upstairs. You know that’s what Air Force One is. You know it’s been around forever and it still imparts second glances through the glass even when you’re beelining it for baggage claim. It’s a stalwart of the skies.

Since its birth in the ’60s as a revolutionary way to tackle long distance flights with large passenger loads, the 747 has undergone several evolutions. Today the 4th generation 747, the 747-8 Intercontinental, is, in our opinion, the finest one yet, though its success has been somewhat marred by its misunderstood approach. In the previous decades while manufacturers focused on making their products bigger, newer and faster, Boeing took a different tact with the 747: efficiency and evolution. We got aboard one on an inaugural Lufthansa flight.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Personalize Your Ride

Dialed In: 5 Bike Fitting Systems

If you’ve ever spent time in a local bike shop, you’ve heard the salesmen, repair techs and riders talk about getting the perfect “fit”; talk to a cycling or triathlon coach and they can wax all day and night about optimal hip and knee angles. But what does that mean for you? What exactly is a bike fit? We’ve broken down five of the most popular fit systems and algorithms you might run across in your search for the perfect bike.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.
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Are two really better than one?

To Clutch or Not to Clutch: A Guide to Dual Clutch Transmissions

Since General Motors introduced the first Hydra-Matic automatic some 70 years ago, the world has been divided between two types of drivers: those who push a clutch pedal and shift, and those who do not. But in a world where fuel economy takes up the majority of the automotive attention span, a third possibility looms: the dual-clutch transmission, or DCT. Learn to love it. Unless you’re just a passenger holding the steering wheel and pointing your two tons of SUV at Point B, DCTs represent the best hope for engaged, entertaining driving and reasonable fuel economy.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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San Francisco for Dinner, L.A. for Dessert

Breakdown: Hyperloop

What do you do once you’ve made your own electric car and founded the first private company to make a delivery to the International Space Station? You come up with a method for long-distance subsonic mass transit, duh. Elon Musk’s Hyperloop concept aims to deliver passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a scant 35 minutes. We break it down.

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Lighting Up the Backcountry

Tested: Goal Zero Solar

Even the most seasoned adventurer has had that terrible moment: miles from the car on an arduous hike back from the latest backcountry adventure, your headlamp sputters out on a moonless night. If you’d prefer to make it back to civilization in one piece — and have a little luxury — on your next mountain excursion, having back-up batteries and a solar charger goes a long way. We tested out some of Goal Zero Solar‘s newest back-up batteries and portable solar panels on a recent backpacking trip through the Uinta Range in northeast Utah.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.