All posts by jessyde-castro

6dot Braille Labeler: Changing What It Means To Be Blind

The intent of design has always been to make people’s lives better, but when design is used to enable life, it has powerful effects that go beyond the tangible product. This is what start-up company 6dot Innovations aims to do this by completely rethinking the Braille Labeler and what it means to be blind.

Braille labelers have traditionally been bulky, heavy, and time-consuming to use. 6dot saw the difficulties users experienced with these sub-designed products and knew the design had to be redone by putting the needs of the users first.

In contrast, 6dot’s Braille labeler is ultra-lightweight, compact, and truly portable as it is worn around the user’s shoulder. The machine has responsive buttons and can produce braille labels in different languages. Its built-in scissor-free cutting system is both safe and easy to use.

How does it work? The user simply types the label via the built-in Braille keyboard or a plug-in QWERTY keyboard, and it will print a crisp label on demand. The user then and peels and sticks it on medication, food, appliance buttons, and any other items that need the extra identification.


Strainer Ladle

This Strainer Ladle reduces the need to use a separate strainer. Simply tilt the ladle backwards, and your soup or sauce will drain away while keeping the solids on your ladle. Unique design elevates the lower section of the ladle to keep it hygienic when resting over a surface.


Folditure: Hangable Furniture

Inspired by the idea of maximizing small spaces, New York-based architect and product designer, Alexander Gendell came up with a series of hangable furniture called Folditure.

Folditure comes in three variations: the Tilt (chair), the Cricket (table), and the Leaf (dining chair). All three versions can be setup and closed in a matter of seconds. When not in use, it packs into flat pieces that can be kept and hung in a closet.

Tilt is a seating chair ergonomically designed with a higher backrest.

Cricket is a lightweight yet sturdy table that is modular by design. Multiple tables can be clipped together to form a longer table. It opens simply by lowering it onto the floor while pushing down on the hook.

Leaf is a dining chair with a tall backrest. By unfolding the backrest, the entire chair will pop open.


Bike-Powered Elevator to the Treehouse

Treehouses are an important part of many children’s childhood. Quite frankly, even adults enjoy building and hanging out in the treehouse – something about it brings out your creativity and sense of play. Maybe that’s why Idaho-based designerEthan Schlussler, who built a 30-feet high treehouse, came up with the idea of a bicycle-powered treehouse elevator.

The elevator is made from an old bike. As Ethan explains, “It was originally a 20-something speed bicycle, but first gear wasn’t slow enough, so I cut the large sprocket off the front, and welded it on the rear to get a lower gear. I also had to do away with the de-railers and make a new chain tensioner.”

How does it work? You simply pedal to lift the bike up. The mechanism works with two cables that spool around the wheels and go over a pulley at the top. Two other cables at the front and rear go over and through the treehouse and come together at the counterweight.

When the bicycle is on the top, the counterweight holds the bicycle steadily up on the treehouse.


LiquiGlide: Non-Stick Bottle Coating

We suppose that if we see a bottle of condiment, we should be able to use it right away, correct? Rather, we have to violently shake the bottle, wait for the unappealing globs of ketchup or mayonnaise to make its way to our plate. Not exactly the most appetizing or elegant experience, but the problem goes deeper than just the inconvenience.

Billions of dollars are estimated to go waste from the difficulty of getting condiments out of its packaging. This is why what MIT PhD candidate Dave Smith and his team of mechanical engineers invented could be a game changer in the bottling industry. LiquiGlide, a product born out of the lab, is a super slippery bottle coating that is said to have both the qualities of a liquid and a solid.

On of the major problems that the research team faced during development was making sure that their formula was FDA approved and food safe. As a result, they had a very limited amount of materials to choose from. Eventually, their work came to fruition and a formula that met these requirements was created.

LiquiGlide could also be useful in several other industries. In the medical industry, it could help prevent potential clogging, while in the aviation industry, it would be great for getting ice off the wings.

The research team has tasted success for their product. They’ve won second place in the MIT $100k Entrepreneurship Competition, and also took home the audience-choice award. Now, they are reaching out to bottling companies to market LiquiGlide. If the product could gain success with the big boys in consumer packaged products such as Heinz, Vaseline, and Elmer’s, we will be certain to see LiquiGlide in our homes.


Ocean Clean-Up Project

Ocean pollution is one of humanity’s major environmental concerns, but it is also one that is incredibly challenging to address due to the vast lengths and depths of our seas. That’s why when 19-year-old Boyan Slat designed a project to collect 7.25 million tons of ocean plastic within five years, we immediately paid attention.

The Ocean Clean-Up Project is a self-sustaining platform that gets energy from the sun and ocean currents. Using floating booms, the platform is fixed to the sea bed, so that water can move through it and not the other way around. Its wings are shaped like a manta ray, so that flow is directed to the inlet.

So how does it work? The idea is to allow the ocean to clean itself. Instead of using nets, which would be harmful to sealife, the device consists of V-shaped booms that would channel plastic waste into the platform. From here, waste would be separated from plankton, filtered and stored for recycling. Like giant funnels, an anchored network of these devices would span the radius of a garbage gyre to clean up the problem area in 5 years.

Though this project is in the concept stage and feasibility is still being studied, it has already generated a lot of interest from experts and people concerned with ocean pollution. The team of 50 engineers, modellers, external experts and students will undoubtedly have mountains of challenges to overcome, but their dream is both inspiring and worth every bit of our support.


Beyond Standards: Coffee Bench

Sometimes all we need is a bench to take a break from our busy lives. What if designers could do better, and give you a bench that is also a coffee table at the same time?

Designed by the collaborative efforts of a product designer and interior architect, Poland-based design studio Beyond Standards has incredibly harmonized material, technology, and space to create their product – Coffee Bench.

Coffee Bench is a smart, space-savvy, rotating furniture that combines a bench and a table. A simple push or pull easily transforms the bench to adjust to user’s needs, whether that is an extra side table or an arm rest.

The universal mechanism design allows the bench to be made from various materials and in varying lengths. Due to this design versatility, the Coffee Bench design is suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments.



Flex Light

This handy portable 7″ flashlight is made with flexible silicone body, allowing it to wrap around objects and form various shapes for lighting. Smart LEDs can be set to steady or flash. Simply attach it to your bike, bag, dog leash, and more.


Retractable Clothesline

This retractable clothesline can be easily mounted between two opposite walls or surfaces. Featuring lines that extend to 13′, it totals more than 70 feet of drying space. When not in use, automatic wind up allows for fast and easy storage.


MOS Cable Organizer

This magnetic cable organizer keeps your cables right where you need them. You can attach it to the side of your table, stick it on the wall, or simply rest it on your desktop for quick and easy access. Magnetic ties are provided for cables that are not magnetic.


Life Tips of the Week #17

#17-A: Upcycle old bottles into reusable drinking glasses or vases, using this method: (via MAKE @ YouTube)

#17-B: Use a rubberband to remove excess paint: (via HomeHacks)

#17-C: Know what wines go well with what foods? Here is a handy guide: (via Wine Folly)


Chuck: Warping Bookshelf

Here is an interesting design for a bookshelf that will adapt to the size of the contents that you put in it.

Designed by German designer Natascha Harra-Frischkorn, Chuck is an one-of-a-kind shelving system that starts as unassuming wooden planks and transforms into a warping bookshelf.

Chuck is made out of six 4mm-thick flexible wooden planks with two stainless steel locking collars at the ends. The individual planks stretch out as they make room for books and other contents you put in it.

The unique design allows the bookshelf to take on different shapes, while creating a beautiful balance between flexibility and stability.


Eliodomestico: Solar Oven for Water Desalination

Designer Gabriele Diamanti has started an open-source project to tackle the problem of water desalination. Using solar energy, the Eliodomestico turns salty water into fresh drinking water. It is essentially a solar oven that uses heat from direct sunlight to separate H2O from the salt.

First, salty water is poured into the upper boiler in the morning.

Throughout the day, the sun heats up the upper boiler and increases the pressure, causing water to evaporate into steam. As the steam rises to the top, it condenses on the surface of the lid.

The condensed water is channeled into a pipe that leads to a water bowl at the bottom.

At the end of the day, the user comes back and collects his/her bowl of fresh water, which can be up to 5 litres per Eliodomestico.

There are no moving parts to Eliodomestico, which means there would be very little maintenance required. As for production, Diamanti wants Eliodomestico to be made 100% by the local population using widely available material such as clay and recycled metal sheets.


Hand-Woven Hyacinth Double Hamper

This finely crafted double hamper is carefully hand-woven with water hyacinth on a sturdy oval-shaped steel frame. It features two compartments lined with removable and washable canvass bags to separate your laundry. The lids are designed with handles for ease of carrying.


Grab Opener

This bottle opener is functionally designed to allow the user to grab and open their beer in one quick action with one hand. It features a magnet which holds the cap in place and keeps it unbent for collection. Keep on the fridge door for easy access.