Systems Smart Enough to Know When They’re Not Smart Enough

  So the more Google and other answer machines become the authorities of record, the more their imperfect understanding of the world becomes accepted as fact. Designers of all data-driven systems have a responsibility to ask hard questions about proper thresholds of data confidence—and how to communicate ambiguous or tainted information. How can we make […]

Are you a spaceflight company? You may want to rethink your logo

A quick glance at the logos of some of the most prominent spaceflight companies, including SpaceX and Orbital ATK, show just how similar their branding has become. “There are usually dominant blues, dominant blacks, all going with this rocket swoosh and a pointed star,” says Andrew Sloan, a graphic designer and specialist in brand development. […]

How Blind People ‘See’ the iPhone With Their Fingers

  A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand […]

From ‘hands that do dishes’ to a bathtime Flake: the changing face of brands on TV

  Ads like the one for Harmony hairspray in the 1970s perpetuated the idea that a woman’s main aim was to appeal to as many men as possible, as a series of potential suitors asked: “Is she, or isn’t she?” A later campaign for the deodorant Impulse showed men who “just can’t help” handing flowers […]

UK hospital uses VR to ease kids’ nerves before an MRI

  Magnetic resonance imaging, most common known as an MRI for short, can be a frightening experience, especially for kids. The process involves lying down on a narrow bed, sliding into the middle of a donut-shaped machine, and being bombarded by loud banging noises as the machine goes to work. To help ease children’s nerves […]

Air pollution masks – fashion’s next statement?

  Yesterday saw the launch of M90, an “urban breathing mask” created by the Swedish company Airinum and sold in more than 50 countries. Face masks are already a common sight in Asian countries, although the cheap washable cotton rectangles rarely perform well in tests. Surgical masks, the type usually worn by doctors, have tended […]

Do we still need Doctor Who? Time travel in the internet age

  Most people, Wells wrote – “the predominant type, the type of the majority of living people” – never think about the future. Or, if they do, they regard it “as a sort of blank nonexistence upon which the advancing present will presently write events”. The more modern sort of person – “the creative, organising, […]

Google is helping H&M construct a custom dress based on your personal data

  Google is teaming up with H&M Group’s digital fashion house Ivyrevel in an attempt to make data fashionable. The two companies are working together on an Android app that’ll track wherever users go, the weather where they live, and whether they’re having casual or formal hangs. With that information, Ivyrevel will design an individualized […]