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March 01, 2009

Designed Promises : Bike Lanes, Convertible TV

A bajillion years ago there were Serious Promises made about the future, and what we'd be doing now. Disease and hunger, banished. Business cycle, tamed. Jet packs. Flying Cars. Personal Robots. Lunar vacations. OK: personal computers, GPS, world-wide instant communication - they did deliver some of them. But the Roomba has fallen short of the promise.

I think the concepts were over-sold and under-delivered, but I have to admit I was snookered on them because I wanted to believe in them, and swindlers don't fool people as much as they present dreams that the mark decides to accept.

Some designers develop concepts so attractive that we want to believe in them - it's not just that they solve a recognized problem, but they're so elegant that we want to believe in them, because we just should be able to do things like that.

I've recently seen two designer concepts that reminded me of when I bought into the personal jet pack concept.

Personal Bike Lanes

We need bikelanes all around America. (My friend Mark says we have a perfect bike lane system, we just need to get the cars off of it.) The roads aren't engineered to provide space for the bike lane, and when bike lanes are depicted they often put riders into the "door zone" which has problems of its own.

This designer's solution is a laser device mounted on the rear rack of a bike, projecting a personal bike lane on the road surface to call the driver's attention to the rider. I would buy one of these right now.

Convertible Television Screens

It's not straightforward to go out and buy a television these days - there are competing qualities, and you need to decide what you're going to be using the screen for.

Because of the different formats, you end up with awkward unused space on either the vertical or horizontal edges of the screen:

Through the wondrous market-driven economy, here's a new design that let's you have it both ways: it shows TV images in portrait, and HD movies in landscape:
I'd have to try to get myself one of these.


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