Modelling an iPhone

Quite simply me modelling an iPhone 6 and case in Creo.

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Thoughts on the Apple Watch

The rate at which technology has advanced in the last decade is astonishing. Hardly anybody had wifi in their homes and the PC market was booming. Things then started to change. Laptops and netbooks ate into the desktop computer market, smart phones took over from their feature phone counterparts as the must have gadget and netbooks eventually gave way to tablet computers.

But where does this leave us now? Currently there is a large area of development regarding wearable technology and companies are scrambling about trying to jump onto this bandwagon. Ranging anywhere from glasses to watches there seems to be no bounds as to what designers and engineers are turning into ‘smart’ products. One of the most eagerly anticipated wearable devices is the Apple Watch (or Watch if you will). Announced last year after many months of speculation it will be launched this Friday on the 24th of April.

As per the last two big Apple product line announcements with the iPhone and iPad, the Watch was previewed many months ahead of its due launch date. It was dubbed by Apple as their most personal device ever. As a result of this statement and a slight shift in policy in that you cannot buy the watch in person at launch (online order only for a good few months). What did this mean if you wanted to buy one of these ‘personal’ products but didn’t know which one was right for you? Well, Apple decided to allow the general public to make appointments to try the watch on from the 10th of April at their nearest Apple Store.

Naturally I made an appointment for the 11th of April as I wanted a shot of the watch. Before I go any further with this post, I would like to highlight that I am still not overly convinced by wearable technology at the moment. The idea of needing to charge my watch up every day does not appeal to me. However, this does not reduce the fact that the Apple Watch ended up being a very tempting proposition during and after the 15 minute try-on appointment.

I digress and I am getting ahead of myself. On the 10th of April, just after 0800, I was in the position of knowing I would be passing by the Apple store the next day and as a good idea to kill some time, I could spare 15 minutes to go in and have a go. I made an appointment at work as did the person sitting next to me. 1030 on the 11th. A time chosen because it was early enough for most people not to have ventured into town so it would be quiet.

Upon entering the store, it was noticed that the layout had changed slightly. There was now a dedicated area for the Apple Watch. In this case, two tables that had previously been occupied by iPads and iPhones. One of the two tables had a number of leather/suede mats and demo Watch units mounted on a plastic base with a larger screen displaying information. The second table had an inset section with a selection of watches in different configurations. This inset section was covered with a glass panel so you couldn’t touch them.

As my allotted time began I was asked if I had an idea of what version I would like to try on. I didn’t. I ended saying the 42mm Apple Watch with link bracelet. Apart from the bracelet being far too big, it needed most of the links removed to fit my weirdly thin wrists, it became apparent how small the watch actually is. Looking at photographs of it online is quite deceptive. I initially thought the 42mm watch would have been far too large. As it later transpired, the 38mm watch in my opinion was too small.

I ended up trying various options that were available in the locked drawer at each try-on ‘station’. Both 42mm and 38mm sizes were tried as were different bands. A particular favourite band was the leather loop. This strap has link like features that are magnets embedded beneath the leather. When fastening, it was extremely satisfying and as a design, it is a very nice alternative to more conventional and traditional strap types.

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£16,000 worth of watches

Since gold is a material that I am not overly fond of, is expensive, and wasn’t available at the Apple Store I was at (the lowest price gold Apple Watch Edition starts at around £8000), the next version I tried was the Apple Watch Sport. Cheaper than the Stainless Steel Apple watch, it is manufactured from Aluminium. After holding both versions in my hands the weight difference, albeit small on paper, was quite large. The Watch Sport being the lighter and could arguably fall into the same category as the iPhone 6 in that they may be too light as you think you will break them….

The standard strap for the Sport is a moulded in a synthetic rubber. It is soft to the touch and obviously well made but the usability is quite poor. It is very difficult to fasten without putting your wrist down on the table to support the watch. In fact, I even needed help to do it then. However, despite this, it is very likely it would become easier if I had to do it every day. The Store employee who was there at the time agreed. She even said there was differences between those she worked with as to the best way to fasten the sport strap.

In terms of the physical design and manufacture of the Apple Watch, initial impressions are good. Both versions I tried, and all the watch straps appear to be extremely well made and should last a long time. I asked how long the battery life is expected to be and was told 18 hours depending on usage. Slightly poor for a watch but for what it can do as a first generation product it is verging on impressive battery life. If I had to choose one, and if I had the money to spare to spend on one of these watches, my ideal combination would be the 42mm Stainless Steel watch with light brown leather loop. This combination would cost more than my iPhone 6, coming in at at £599. If push came to shove, I could opt for the Aluminium Sport watch and buy the leather loop strap separately. The total I would have to pay for this combination would still be a fairly significant £468. Based on this figure, I think I will stick with my trusty Braun watch that I am yet to change battery in after 15+ months of usage.

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The stainless steel Apple Watch

Up to now, I have only discussed the watch’s physical attributes. When it came to the software side of things, I didn’t spend too much time using the demo station. I was far more interested in the design of the watch rather than what was on screen. In my short time with the demo unit it was noticeable that your finger covers most of the screen very easily. You do however control most of the watch functions with the digital crown and button on the side of the watch. The learning curve is steep. This is especially true in comparison to how easily other Apple products are to use. I wasn’t able to take full advantage of the software. In saying this, neither were the workers in the store as they, for the first few days, were still learning it. Therefore, I will reserve judgement on the software until I am able to try it for longer. One thing I will mention about the software is that there isn’t any watch faces that I like. None of them sit right with me. Currently there is no option to create your own or add custom faces.

Overall the Apple watch is a very impressive piece of design and will likely be a very popular product. But it isn’t for me. Yet. I don’t quite see the need for a smartwatch let alone another product, especially a watch that would need charged every day! However, it will be interesting to see how this product influences the market (if at all) and what the public perception is when it comes more into mainstream use. Only time will tell…

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Enjoying a Craft Part VI – Restoration

One of the biggest aspects about enjoying a craft is that it does not mean everything has to be created from scratch. There are many objects whose value is not truly appreciated by throwing it away and buying a new one when it stops working.

We live in a society where consumer goods are disposable. Objects that are seen as desirable generally have to be bought brand new and more often than not, mass produced. So what does this mean for the piece of furniture that has been handed down over generations? Will it get thrown away when something goes wrong with it or will it be repaired? Repairing an object adds sentimental value, gives is character and can make the emotional bond between it and owner stronger.

This weeks video does not fully look at creating objects from scratch. It looks at the process Frenchman Jérôme, a cabinet maker and antique restorer, follows. The audio of this video is in French but the subtitles are in English. For this reason it is worth watching twice. Once looking at the imagery and what he is doing at various stages of the restoration process. Watch it a second time to read the subtitles and get an idea of his thought process.

It is impressive to witness the skill and patience someone applies to their work to ensure it provides the best possible outcome for their customer. You cannot get any greater satisfaction than that.

Enjoy!

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It’s a Hamster!

It has been a while since I have managed to do any further work on personal projects. There has been a huge amount of things that have been going on and taking priority. This weeks post is one of the last pieces I did before things started changing.

It is a single line illustration of a hamster. It was specifically requested and it actually turned out really well. The colours used tried to replicate the reference image to make the little creature representative of its original.

I have an idea for a few other single line images I am going to try and do fairly soon, but without a desk to work on I’ll have to find somewhere else to set up and get working…

Single Line – Hamster

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Safety First

Being or feeling safe is one of man kinds most basic needs. In the modern world we are not exposed to the same dangers that early humans were. Instead we become vulnerable to a new set of dangers. Dangers that are mostly man made.

One of the biggest threats faced by people today is in regards to transportation. Millions of people are in charge of machines vying for space on ever more crowded roads. Of these road users, one group are more susceptible than most. Cyclists. These warriors of two wheels face a constant barrage of poor attitudes towards them and are often treated as though they are invisible.

Designing to make cyclists safer is a an ever changing and expanding market place. There is however the beginnings of a revolution from one of the cyclists biggest foes. Carmakers are starting to pay more attention to make their vehicles safer for all other road users. Many new cars feature automatic braking systems, some of which are intelligent enough to determine the type of object in front of the car. These passive systems are brilliant as a last resort. To an extent they will make the driver lazier. So what can be done in a more active safety sense?

A little bit of lateral thinking later and Volvo have teamed up with two companies, one called Albedo 100 and the other, Grey London, to create a paint. It might seem completely nonsensical but let me explain. The paint, called Life Paint, is a reflective spray paint that is only visible at night. Spray it on your clothing or bike and it lasts up to 10 days. The best thing about it is that it is invisible during the day but only becomes reflective when the cars headlights shine on it. It makes the cyclist stand out at night. It aids the active safety of the cyclist massively and enables motorists to see the often invisible cyclist at night.

The video below will show you the product in action.

The only downside at the moment is that the spray is only available at select locations in London and Kent.

For more information, I originally read about this product on the Verge.

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Contrasts

As I have already stated on this blog, I am a big fan of videos that show the process behind creating an object. I can (and have) sat for hours watching videos on how cars are made or fish fingers, for example. This subject was the driving force behind the Enjoying A Craft series that I have been posting.

All of the videos I have been posting have focussed on small scale products such as scissors or home made soap. When it comes to high quality how it’s done videos regarding mass manufactured products things become a little harder to find. The reasoning behind this may very well be because companies do not want to broadcast their methods to the world and subsequently their competitors. There is one company that in recent years have surpassed everyone else and actively go to show off their manufacturing processes. Apple.

I would have to go back through many hundreds of videos and numerous Apple Keynotes to determine when they openly started to visualise their manufacturing processes on video. I would be willing to do this but not this time. Their videos are of high quality and show a side to the company that is renowned for its secrecy. It is no secret that they value design highly within their Cupertino headquarters and throughout their hundreds of retail outlets. As an outside designer looking in, these videos are a breath of fresh air, in part due to the lucid tones of Jonathan Ive.

Out of their many process videos to choose from, it was a tough decision. After a lot of head scratching and repeatedly watching (yeah ok, that was just an excuse to keep watching them over again) I have decided to share the three most recent ones regarding the WATCH. I should however give a noticeable mention to the MacPro and iPhone 5S and 5C manufacturing videos that were pipped to the post.

The WATCH is an interesting product even if I don’t want one. I will probably discuss this at a later time. The videos however are superb. Each of the videos explores the processes and material behind each of the three watch versions. Aluminium, Stainless Steel and Gold. Three different metals with different properties all processed differently to create a similar end product. Pure designery joy.

Enjoy!

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A Change in Setup

For the past 6 years I have been using a two computer setup. This allowed me to make the most of having both a laptop and a desktop. The laptop was used when I was in university, sitting at my desk in the studio whereas my desktop was my data hub.

The computers in question (at the time) were a mid 2007 MacBook and an early 2009 24″ iMac. The iMac was far superior to the MacBook and the bigger screen made working on Photoshop, viewing photographs and watching movies an absolute joy. There was no overlap in data between the machines unless I was needing to work on the go with my MacBook.

Six months before the end of university, I upgraded my then three and a half year old MacBook with a late 2011 15″ MacBook Pro. In part this was to make good use of the student discount I still had available and also to future proof myself for after university as I had no idea where I would be work wise.

Eventually, due to getting a job in Yorkshire, and not having enough room in my flat for a desk, I migrated all my information to my MacBook Pro leaving my iMac to be used by my sister. Two years later, a change of flat, the addition of a desk and my sister getting a computer of her own I have been reunited with my beloved iMac.

For the last three months it has been brought back into service by becoming my information location. All files have been removed from my MBP and consolidated onto my iMac. The iMac has even been used extensively on a few projects as well so it is earning its keep.

There is however a problem. More so than experienced before, I am starting to find having two computers an inconvenience. There are times I am on my laptop and need a photograph from my Aperture library, which is on my iMac, leading me to make a decision. Do I go and turn the iMac on, or make a reminder to do it later? I am beginning to think that for me, now, my setup doesn’t work as well as it used to, especially with a move back North now imminent.

What is my alternative? This is something I have thought long and hard about. Whilst everyone else seems to becoming fanatical about the watch (no I don’t want one before anyone asks), I have been focussing my attention computers. I want the convenience of a laptop but with the benefits of a desktop. This seems like a bit of a tricky situation, but I think I have found a solution.

It is a one computer setup. It is a MacBook Pro. Now you may be thinking how this meets the criteria of having the benefits of a desktop. Well, the answer to that is an external display, most likely an Apple Thunderbolt 27″ display. The MacBook pro would need to be upgraded slightly so I could fit all my files on it but it seems promising.

This is likely to be my next step towards the end of the year. What I’ll do with my iMac and current MacBook pro is yet to be decided. They should both still be worth a good chunk of what I paid for them, but then again, I like the idea of keeping them. I will just need to keep thinking…

Below is a photo of what my desk usually looks like when I am working on my iMac at the moment. There are times when I forget the mouse is only connected to just one of the machines.

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As a separate point, if anyone is interested in an indigo blue iMac G3, a 17″ iMac G4 or a PowerMac G5, let me know, they will be looking for a new home in the coming months due to a need to declutter.

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Enjoying a Craft Part V – Kokeshi

Good craftsmanship, and subsequently quality, in today’s throwaway society can be hard to find. However when you do find it it is immediately noticeable how much care and attention has gone into something. Craftsmanship used to be the norm. Products would last essentially forever, often outliving who bought it or made it. Today, it has become an alternative choice. You have to go out looking for something that has been specially crafted. The downside to this is that it is less convenient and often more expensive but the converse of this is that you are getting a product that is less likely to break and cost in the long run is usually cheaper.

Creating something by hand is extremely satisfying, but watching a master craftsman create something is truly wonderful. Sculpting the raw material from an unrecognisable mass into a beautiful object. This leads nicely on to this weeks video.

Japan. A country of strong national identity and a powerhouse of the East. A country renowned for its vast strides towards electronic gadget utopia. Massive urban sprawls house many millions of people all consumed by technology. Look closer into the country and you will start to see what used to be. It isn’t all mass manufacturing and battery powered devices. There are people still carefully crafting objects by hand. One of these objects still being crafted is the Kokeshi.

Kokeshi is a Japanese doll made from wood. It has a simple body with no arms or legs, an enlarged head and all details are painted on by hand. The origins of these dolls is unknown but widely believed to have started in the 1600’s. Types of Kokeshi vary depending on area as does the wood used to manufacture them. The biggest draw to them is that no two are exactly the same. They are at the mercy of whoever made them.

There is a lot of interesting pieces online about Kokeshi and are well worth a read. I am not going to post any links as there are that many. However, I will post a delightful video of a Kokeshi being created by hand.

Enjoy!

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Space Shuttle – Single Line

A quick post this time. I have been playing about with the single lines format again and whilst doing the Space Shuttle the style sort of evolved. A little more emphasis has been put on the colours of the craft and a specific background has been added.

It is a little rough around the edges and this style could do with some refinement but as a concept I think it works quite well and will sit nicely alongside the others.

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Enjoying a Craft Part IV – Soap

As I mentioned in the first part of this post series, it doesn’t matter what the object is, if there is a video of it being made then I’ll watch it. For many of these videos the people who are behind the craft have a story to tell. They have become so involved with what they do, and inherently love what they do that when they talk about it, you can sense the passion and drive they have.

This weeks video looks at a maker of handmade soap in San Francisco. Whilst the visuals depict the process of the soap being cast, cut and stamped, the narrative tells a story. One of perseverance and striving to make things the best you can.

The backstory is also interesting. Not discussed in the video, the soap maker, Kim Rollo Emanuel used to work in Silicon Valley as an electronic engineer. His wife then developed a hypersensitivity to the synthetic ingredients found in conventional skincare products. So he started on a quest to create what resulted in being completely organic. As a result of his endeavours, his business has expanded and he is selling his products all over the world.

This is proof, I suppose, that one day you will find your true calling in life and that ultimately, you will be happier doing something you truly enjoy.

Enjoy!

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