Product Picks for July

Smart Planter

Lua Planter

This amazing planter, Lua, gives your plant emotions! It uses sensors to measure the soil’s moisture, temperature and light exposure. It also measure your movement, so it peers at you when you walk by. The emotions help you know when it’s thirsty, sick, too hot, etc.

I’m always a sucker for sustainable houseware and packaging of any kind. Gaurav Wali uses pine needles here to create holders and organizers. He uses natural binders and waxes to make this a completely bio-degradable product. The material can also be colored with natural dyes made from vegetables and spices. What a cool way to use something that’s all around us!

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I would use this Twin Utensil Set daily. When you switch from chopsticks back to western utensils, there’s even an interlock between the fork and knife so that they become one interlock.

 

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Product design picks for June

A bell for runners so you can tell people when you’re coming up behind them – similar to a bell on a bicycle. I think this is pretty genius. This could also just be an app, but I suspect the ring reverberates better if it’s a physical one.

Designer: Kevin John Nadolny

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An LED that helps you communicate with other drivers. You can view it up to 50 feet away. There are shortcuts to the most used messages, and the controller has large buttons.

Designers: John Stanley, Nina Stanley, Harsha Venna & Harshit Aggarwal

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A clock that shows you the time in a new way. Because I work as a UX designer, I’m always looking for new interaction patterns and new interfaces – both digital and physical. This one is simply and unique.

Designer: Mattis Boets

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March picks: thoughtful UX moments

In Singapore, senior citizens can tap their identity card on the sensor at the pedestrian crossing so that they can have 3-13 more seconds depending on the size of the crossing. This takes into consideration everyone’s mobility levels.

This hotel has fire escape plans at ground level, because chances are if it’s smokey you’ll be low to the ground.

Parking lines that go up the wall so you can actually see if you’re parking in the right position. All garages should have this.

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Idea for expanding creativity

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Creativity is originality and fluency of ideas. It’s something designers ought to be good at. But every now and then, we get stuck too. There are so many constraints. How do we make all of the stakeholders happy? What about that deadline?

Let’s go back to a space where we can play, because, as I learned at a UX conference two years ago, when people view an activity as play, they come up with twice as many ideas as people who view the activity as work. 

Here’s a practice for getting back to idea generation: Give yourself a plain object with no instructions. How can uses can you find for it?

 

Inclusive design

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Kat Holmes wrote Mismatch, which talks about how many objects are designed with only one type of user in mind – right-handed computer mouse, pilot seats meant for people who are a certain height, etc – and how these objects lead to exclusion. She then talks about ways to design inclusively for all.

What I really liked about her perspective on disability, which is seen by a lot of people as a personal health condition is that she redefines it as a mismatched human interaction, and that those mismatches are “the building blocks of exclusion.” This definition reframes what normal is supposed to be. In fact, Kat says that there’s no such thing as normal.

No one is the “average.” We’re all a little different, and we all have different needs. Given that over 1 billion people in the world are “disabled.” Given that, it’s easy to see why designing for accessibility is important. It’s not just your grandfather that can’t read your font; it could be someone who is recovering from an eye surgery to someone who has 20/20 vision but is standing in broad daylight squinting at their phone.

Aug: Sites/ideas to play with

Inspiration for when your “new ideas” bucket gets dry.

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How do you get better as a designer?

Have you heard the quote “some people work one year twenty times”? It means that you haven’t really grown in that time; your skills have gotten stale and your career hasn’t grown.

There’s a couple things you can tackle right away like learning more technical knowledge and growing relationships

But beyond that, it’s about solving problems that aren’t just yours. Instead of having the mindset of “that’s not my job/role/position,” think about it as an opportunity. If you were working at a startup, you would never say. You would just do it.

Another part of growing a career is continuing to innovate on yourself. Fax machine companies were doing pretty well for a long time and saw no reason to switch their business because they were basing what they were doing on what works “today” (or in their case, what worked twenty years ago.) Today doesn’t last forever. That’s why we need to develop new skills that will be relevant for the future. Can you foresee your job being replaced by something that’s more automated, smart and easy to use?

The way to not become obsolete is to become an active participator in the next generation of your industry. Don’t just be a subject matter expert on a product that exists today. Proactively develop the next wave of that product or idea or thinking. Be the advisor, the coach, the creator. 

Lastly, what are the things you’re telling yourself that are holding you back from doing these things? Is it “I don’t have time?” Nobody has time. You have to make it happen. Or “I’ve always hated group work, therefore I’m not good at it?” Be aware of the words you’re telling yourself.

Happy Monday 🙂