Over the past 5 years I have bought three Tengu’s. Two were as gifts and the third and final one was for myself. You may be wondering what a Tengu is. Tengu in this sense (not the legendary Japanese creature found in folk religion) is a small lip-synching USB companion that sings along with whatever you are listening to.
Designed by Crispin Jones a few years ago it has a built in microphone that listens out for sounds, interprets them and outputs via LEDs that make up its little face. It works with any sort of sound too, music, TV, even people talking nearby (if they are loud enough). All it needs is a power source.
It is in a similar vein to a radio I designed in second year at Uni and subsequently a set of portable speakers that all reacted to sound and glowed but the face of little Tegu makes it a bit more friendly.
Currently I have Tengu plugged into my TV (I plugged him into my computer to make the GIF) so he can chatter along with those on screen and he seems to enjoy it.
If you would like a Tengu, they are becoming very scarce. If I remember correctly, for my own one I bought earlier this year, I paid nearly double what I originally paid just because where I originally bought it from was out of stock. Take a look at the Tengu website for a list of places to buy it (whilst you still can!)
I have said it a few times before on this blog, and those who know me (should) already know this. It might be because there are things to do with space and astronomy that are still beyond us, but the challenge and sense of achievement appeal massively to me. I probably was born in the wrong era for me to fully appreciate the achievements both the US and Russia made in space travel in the 1960’s.
Getting a glimpse into the world of NASA is also something that appeals to me. This is why recently I have been spending a lot of time (and I mean a lot!) meandering through the 8000+ high resolution photographs NASA have uploaded to flickr, many of which have never previously been published. The galleries range from Apollo 7 up to Apollo 17.
There are times when I wonder how I come across various things. This is one of those times. But first a little backstory.
Way back in 2012 in the midst of doing my final year project at DJCAD (full set of blog posts from my final year here) my method of producing a working prototype involved layering up sheets of cardboard that had been cut out on the laser cutter. It provided an interesting aesthetic that emphasised simplicity. It took a lot of thinking to create the prototype using this method as the model was essentially sliced down into, from memory, around 100 layers. Each layer needing a pattern created in Illustrator to allow it to be cut on the laser cutter. It was almost like creating an 8-bit graphic but in 3D. The pixels were visible.
Somehow a few weeks ago, I came across a video that Lexus had published showing a full sized Lexus IS being created in a very similar way. Their video title calls it an “Origami Inspired Car”. I don’t feel that is correct. Origami is the art of paper folding. The Lexus does not use paper, and it isn’t folded at all. It is laser cut.
Minor point aside the overall effect is extremely profound. At the end of the video when it shows the car complete and moving about, it certainly does not look real. The contours of the car are emphasised in such a way that we are just not used to. The detailing is also superb especially in areas such as the wheels.
I remember when I was creating my final year project, I was asked why I did it that way. My response was because it gets you thinking about the product in a different way (also it was because I could!). The same definitely applies to this Lexus.
In 2009 I wrote briefly about (and again in 2011) the then released feature length design documentary Objectified. Fast forward to 2015 there appears to be another feature length design documentary, this one called Design Disruptors.
Ultimately, it seems to take a different approach and cover different topics to Objectified by focusing on how design is fast becoming a major driver for companies and those who don’t take is seriously inevitably pay the price. The trailer is below and there are a few stand out pieces in it that will make for very interesting viewing.
I won’t talk about it much more just now, I’ll wait until it has been released and I get the chance to see it.