WSJ Profile on Jony Ive and Apple Park

 

The thousands of employees at Apple Park will need to bend slightly to Ive’s vision of the workplace. Many will be seated in open space, not the small offices they’re used to. Coders and programmers are concerned that their work surroundings will be too noisy and distracting. Whiteboards — synonymous with Silicon Valley brainstorming — are built into floor-to-ceiling sliding doors in the central area of each pod, but “some of the engineers are freaking out” that it isn’t enough, says Whisenhunt.

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Beauty spot or landscape blot? Computer trained to judge scenery

 

Wordsworth found it in a host of daffodils; Nan Shepherd in the nooks of the Cairngorms. For Monet it popped up all over the place, from the windmills and canals of Amsterdam, to the sailing boats of Argenteuil. What lends a scene beauty has long been left to the poets and painters to define, but that may be about to change. In a new study, researchers trained a computer to tell scenic views from blots on the landscape. One day it could help with decisions over what land to protect, and how better to design new towns and cities, the scientists claim.

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Microsoft’s new iPhone app narrates the world for blind people

 

The app works in a number of scenarios. As well as recognizing people it’s seen before and guessing strangers’ age and emotion, it can identify household products by scanning barcodes. It also reads and scan documents, and recognizes US currency. This last function is a good example of how useful it can be. As all dollar bills are the same size and color regardless of value, spotting the difference can be difficult or even impossible for the visually impaired. An app like Seeing AI helps them find that information.

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Rider v rider: how transit etiquette campaigns make you the scapegoat

 

At best, etiquette campaigns treat the symptoms of transit inefficiency, not the disease, they argue. At worst, they contribute to a ridership more concerned with each other’s behaviour than advocating for a better system.

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Narrative Maps for ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books

 

Maps like the ones Chooseco created can reveal the structure of a book that gives readers choices, but though the multiple story lines are part of what makes the series so fun, they’re not the only thing that defines it. The meat of “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories are gender-neutral romps in worlds where there are no obviously right or wrong moral choices. There’s danger around bend, usually in the form of something like space monkeys, malicious ghosts, or conniving grown-ups. Even with a map, there’s no way to find out what really comes next without making a choice and flipping to another page.

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Madrid tackles ‘el manspreading’ on public transport with new signs

Madrid’s transport authorities are taking a stand against seated male selfishness with a campaign to tackle the social scourge that is manspreading.

Fed up with men whose thighs fail to respect the boundaries of bus seats, the Spanish capital’s Municipal Transport Company (EMT) is to put up signs discouraging the practice.

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Nutella employed an algorithm to design its packaging

Nutella’s manufacturer Ferrero partnered with its advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather Italia to devise a plan to get people to buy more Nutella. Their idea? Have an algorithm design the packaging. The company provided the software with a database of patterns and colors that Ferrero felt fit with the hazelnut spread brand. It then created 7 million unique jars that were sold throughout Italy.

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Want to lose weight? Eat in a crinkly plate

A crinkly plate, designed with ridges that cunningly reduce the amount of food it holds, may be heading for the market to help people concerned about their weight to eat less. The plate is the brainchild of a Latvian graphic designer, Nauris Cinovics, from the Art Academy of Latvia, who is working with a Latvian government agency to develop the idea and hopes to trial it soon. It may look like just another arty designer plate, but it is intended to play tricks with the mind. “My idea is to make food appear bigger than it is. If you make the plate three-dimensional [with the ridges and troughs] it actually looks like there is the same amount of food as on a normal plate – but there is less of it,” said Cinovics. “You are tricking the brain into thinking you are eating more.”

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Google made a site that shows how millions of people draw the same object

Back in November, Google released artificial intelligence experiment that asks you to draw a random object and see if the neural network can identify your doodle. Quick, Draw! was eventually turned into a tool that transformed drawings into clip art based on the best results it got, helping people add a visual icon to their work without requiring any particular artistic talent. Alongside Google I/O this week, Google has now released the data it received from Quick, Draw! to show you how 15 million people drew the same set of objects. It’s a fascinating look at how humans interpret a random item, from monkeys to parachutes to phones.

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Product designers ‘must reduce Pringles factor’ to boost recycling

Product designers need to retreat from “the Pringles factor” in order to make their packaging more recyclable, an environmental expert has said.

Simon Ellin, the chief executive of the Recycling Association, which represents recyclers, pointed to the snack tube as a prime example of the failure to consider recycling in design – and listed a range of other offenders from Lucozade Sport drinks to whisky packaging.

He spoke as round-the-world sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur launched a $2m (£1.5m) competition to reduce plastic waste and target the 30% of plastic packaging that cannot be recycled because of the way it is constructed.

Straws, shampoo sachets, crisp packets, coffee cup lids and food wrappers were all picked out by MacArthur as products that either could not be recycled because of the multiple layers of materials used, or were not traditionally recycled.

Ellin said the biggest problems came when multiple materials were used in the same packaging. In the case of Pringles, Ellin said: “What idiot designed this in terms of recyclability? We’ve got a cardboard tube, a metal bottom, a plastic lid.

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