The increasing interest in small houses, and "Tiny Houses" is a great trend to follow. If you have opportunity, it is a great one to also contribute to. While this movement may be seen as result of backlash from the McMansion era, and the ongoing recession started in 2008, it also initiates a great design and innovation opportunity.
To get acquainted with this, if not already, a good place to start is a visit to Tiny House Blog http://tinyhouseblog.com
The photo here is from a recent post on the project of a "tiny house" company in the Yukon, Canada. What you will see if linking to this post, is a 97 sq ft home, with novel materials and construction for cold weather efficiencies.
What I also find of interest is their attention to the feel/psychology of space.
This is a key area that I always emphasize to engineering teams in the design of operator cabs for machinery, whether on large construction equipment and combine harvesters or on small compact tractors (and most particularly here, obviously).
I believe that there are things to be learned for the "vehicle" design world, from this area of what may be seen as architecture and interior design. What is great about the small house innovation craze, is the more egalitarian nature of who can play and invent in this area --- as a build of a tiny house can be undertaken by such a wide cross-section of creative people and from disparate backgrounds. In fact, the low cost of creating here, may itself be the driver for someone with dual purpose of creativity and need for a low-cost home. Hence thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, of people can be the effective "creative team". The threshold to entry is low and there is no management or tooling need involved.
In design effort a decade ago with John Deere in development of the cab on their compact 4000 series tractors, a prime push of mine was for simplifying and minimizing "clutter", opening views with best positioning of pillar and glass, and determined work for the operator to subconsciously have feeling of space. The result was a big leap from the cabs on earlier compact tractors, including Deere's. Most competitors have copied much of the layout, as they realized from John Deere how big the market was for an enclosed cab on a compact tractor --- when done with easy of entry, feeling of openness, and today's tooled fit and finish (with the new cab design, the percentage of buyers selecting this package far exceeded John Deere's market targets)
So, as a designer, I love following the innovations that I see coming from the tiny house craze --- and encourage you to engage your minds here also. As with most areas where design is caused to push the limits, new technologies here will find use in applications other than tiny houses.
Be bold, Be wild,
3-D printing of honeycomb structures as reported in this Gajitz article and in image to left, is pushing the cool factor into new areas for advanced materials. This engages the mind for how new applications shall grow from this. Take a look at Harvard researchers' video here at Gajitz: New Epoxy Structures: As Light and Strong as Balsa Wood.
If you are an engineer/designer you have to be loving this.
It was last August that I was asked by UK's IVT magazine to provide them my thoughts on 2033 look to the future on industrial, ag and vehicle technologies and what will be coming at us. We aren't even a year, and my expanding on applications/reasoning/tech ideas of those of Amos Boaz's of 2010, furthering that field equipment will be carrying their own drones for a variety of applications is showing up in France's Renault concept car. See: http://gajitz.com/renaults-high-tech-concept-car-comes-with-its-own-drone/ This shows trends aren't that hard to see coming at us, just have to be thinking next steps, next improvements, next helpful features to handle challenges/problems. And, also, putting ideas and illustrations out there helps the trends along... furthering thought process and probabilities of new combinations of ideas for thousands of others out there today in the wide world of ease of access to media.
However, the next real step here is the 'driver' leaving with the drone to finalize the commute onto/into his place of office or work, while the car remains patient in traffic and autonomously drives itself to a waiting lot, or home.
Take a break and enjoy reading through the thoughts within Jeff Haden's article in Inc. Magazine, "11 Body Positions and Gestures That Can Improve Performance". Reflecting on this, many ideas conveyed here correlate with my experience, though I had not thought to distinctly note in words as Jeff Haden does well.
An engineering manager asked the other day if I could remind him on details I had provided a couple of his engineers earlier relative to adding color accents and custom graphics details in the molding of plastic components. So, while providing this, I thought I would also pass this quick overview along to my blog followers --- because, though most of your plastics molding suppliers, design houses and good prototype shops are aware of 'film insert molded finishes' and can work with you in achieving the right results integrating such features into components, more engineers who work outside of trim design should know about this capability.
In the majority of cases, the colored or graphic film is thermoformed and then set into the tool for injection molding of the thermoplastic or thermoset behind it, though in several lower pressure processes it can be vacuum formed into a hot tool and then thermoset plastic injected in second step into the closed tool. The film's advantages are in reducing painting process costs, providing durable and unique graphics, and also effectiveness in blocking visibility (read-through) of glass fibers when injection molding long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics, and glass-reinforced thermosets, like polyurethanes.
For reference and illustration examples, please see links here:
http://www.fusionuv.com/Film_Insert_Molding_Used_in_Automotive_Component_Decoration.aspx (illustration above)
I hope you find this helpful in furthering awareness on where this process can amp up the quality and 'knarliness' of a design area.
Article in IVT 20th anniversary edition just came out --- on tech predictions for advances in Ag and Heavy Equipment Sector in next 20 years. As noted in my last blog, this includes my take on tech and design offerings in the coming future. It is great to see the wonderful job Richard Carr, IVT Editor, did in placing images within my text section that relate to concepts I outline, helping call to people's mind to take a moment and really think about the ideas and how they relate to other designers' work and other ongoing tech advances. Okay, I really put myself out their on several predictions, but stranger results will likely be the reality in areas we are not even thinking about today. It is interesting that several of the other contributors detail their view that next 20-year future tech progress will be exciting, while stating we are already on the cutting edge and not much more is out there to do other than gained operational efficiencies in the existing equipment and work process formats. So, there are the spectrum of views and personalities/perspectives at play with the range of contributions to this article. I like to think my projections are not too crazy, so I hope innovation in the industry backs me up (though I am not fully counting on the distinct integration of UAV pizza/drink/food industry delivery means into Ag and Heavy Equipment operator stations. I hope we can still count on equipment operators to have the hustle to pack their lunches in a manner). Overall fun read through a varied range of thoughts.
I was recently contacted by the editor of IVT Magazine (Industrial Vehicle Technology) and asked if I would provide my thoughts on what the future equipment of 2033 would look like. Richard Carr postulated that since I had written my "in 20 years" projections for an article in one of the earliest volumes of their magazine in 1998, and much had come true, "might I also have good view to the next 20 years?" My having been somewhat AWOL from focus on agricultural and Industrial equipment development for the last 10 years, my initial reaction was that I would have to refocus and think a bit harder this time. After a few moments contemplation however, it occurred to me that my 10 years study in the security and defense technologies sector actually provided stronger base for both an innovative look towards the future and better projections. Numerous areas of coming advance popped to the forefront of my mind and added to the growing quick outline I was scratching out on a piece of paper. Grabbing my laptop, I hammered this out for a morning while fresh in mind and challenge and I sent it to Richard for what it may be worth. I was pleased to receive reply that my perspectives provided more concepts and thought provoking views than expected.
This said, if you are wanting to hear my projections, now you are going to have to keep your eyes out for the coming edition of IVT (and if you are in the vehicle design and engineering field, I highly recommend this publication --- see http://www.ivtinternational.com It is free to professionals in the industry and provides great updates on technology advances, both through featured articles and OEM advertising.)
For just a little leak, one thought provided IVT was on 2033 seeing a "whole new industrial sector of equipment responding to the "3-D printed housing" market... amongst numerous other detail areas of thought... and touching on the coming "beauty of egalitarian innovation and market chaos, amidst manufacturing flexibility..."
I hope you will keep your eye out for it and note to me your thoughts.
In e-mailing video link to a friend relative to discussion with Innovation Institute of Henry Ford, it called to mind to share here also:
This is a great presentation of proven concepts for anyone interested in exploring opportunities for innovation and considerations relative to change.
For engineers, scientists, and product development managers, Scott Anthony of Innosight provides an outline of thought that is really worth your time watching the video in entirety --- then re-watching, and taking notes on aspects applicable to your particular interests.
Scott is particularly direct in reinforcing concepts that I stress to design teams, and that I find to hold true with generating movement based on good instincts and talent --- doing rapid quick steps in fleshing out concepts, taking actions, making prototypes and CAD models, for others to add to, and move forward. This is why programs I lay out always have these elements worked into them.
You won't always find innovation that can be called disruptive innovation, but you will maximize value to your customer with your results, and enable pricing for margins for profits.
Particular Points I appreciate this video reinforcing:
At 3:10, he reinforces what I hear often from program managers or group managers who are seeking new advances, and know they are somehow limited in getting movement for these advances --- the “What is stopping us from innovating?” Scott Anthony states very well what is often needed, and not available within an organization --- the need to create space/opportunity, authorized at the higher level, to “allow opportunity for disruptive innovation to flourish” --- removing the “anti-bodies” from this special space, so you act in most positive manner and see what can happen.
At 4:32, he addresses opportunities for disruptive innovation, by identifying a need that is difficult to meet.
At 5:05, the interviewer asks a key question relative to customer clinics, and something I emphasize heavily in this area. It is worth full consideration of what Scott Anthony's answer provides as “thinking of what is beyond what the customer is saying”, trying something, make illustrative stuff, act, and then see what the customer’s ideas are from this. Then, take the next step, and then the next.
I have observed over the many years, that some within an organization will put full effort into reining in "outside the box" thinking on development of new features or new concepts, saying the customer is not asking for this --- while this may actually be that they aren't listening "beyond" to what the customer was "trying to say". This is most often because they haven’t seen the effect of a feature or concept before, hence where the future will be going in this area, or what new elements mean when grouped within new technology or feature mix.
Consider well Scott at 6:58 of video --- on taking risk and making something.
And, in great summary question, at 7:23, in answer to the “do you always have to be daring?”, take to heart the truth of results that occur when taking action in smaller, but true action manner --- to step quickly, to create base for assessing aspects of your challenge, for stepping again to larger path, and doing wisely. Key here is that actions taken rapidly enable review and discussion where no one is defending the time that has been spent if not being the direct answer. Rather, those involved being able to see the value of the thoughts/knowledge it provided, to then take ideas in better direction.
Hope this is helpful. Have fun innovating!
Have you been following the advance in 3D Printing that is playing out in the "personal printing" and open source arena? Big steps are being made as this area gets wider and wider participation, and thus matures. My friend, Terry Precht, founder, CEO, of Vergent Products just posted to his website link to new release of Aleph Objects' TK-O for LulzBot. See: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:31412 I love how Tracey Ireland, Vergent COO, is stepping the game forward with this development.
To get a picture of the larger happenings within this open source arena, take a moment and play through the navigation bar on the THINGIVERSE site that I linked here presenting the TK-O.
First, I believe these tools are the next step in on-desk engineering rapid prototyping with cost effectiveness to open greater use for visualization and product development evolution and refinement. They will take a sector of the rapid prototyping shops' work, and these businesses will focus more on high spec materials prototyping, just as their laser sintering with materials like titanium are opening new component and tooling advances and markets.
Second, the more the youth of America can get involved earlier, as these open source components and software are available --- just as with FIRST and robotics --- the more they will be engaged with engineering and the sciences. This is a needed aspect for their coming leadership in innovation for greater American global competitiveness within design and manufacturing.
Great area of technology and new technology/social combinations to keep abreast of.
Russ Strong's Blog on Integrated Vision here is a mashup, if you will, of recent insights, tech info of the day, and forward projecting thoughts.
My work and interests take me across the spectrum of issues and happenings of commercial industry, defense and security, automotive, design, green tech, and art and architecture fields. While not going into proprietary information of IV and IV's partners and clients, I will endeavor to pass along insights, new things I am seeing, and connections of value to others of the industry and academia.
1992 - 2012 Integrated Vision - Russ Strong - all rights reserved