Better x Design, the student-run research center at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, is hosting its second annual “A Better World by Design” conference on the two campuses next weekend (Oct 2-4). Jan Chipchase, principal engineer at the Nokia Research Center, heads an impressive slate of 18 speakers known internationally for their ground-breaking use of design and architecture for social entrepreneurship and green innovation.
“Today’s students, no matter their academic concentration, are recognizing their unlimited potential to use integrative design methods to make the world a better place,” explains Willem Van Lancker, RISD ’10 Graphic Design, one of the conference’s chief organizers.
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If the Pixar animated robot “Wall-E” was a doctor, this may be what he looks like. Designed by Modo, the maker of specialized carts for the healthcare industry, this unintimidating device goes by the name “Practitioner Cart ™HDX™.” What makes it such a wonder of design is that it houses 14 separate telemedical technology components from Polycom and more than 97 feet of cabling in a footprint that is smaller than an office chair.
Compact enough to fit in a doctor’s small exam room, the Practitioner allows doctors in rural or remote areas to consult with experts from urban research centers. Instead of just describing symptoms, off-site physicians can interact face-to-face with patients. Modo CEO Bob Marchant explains, “In addition to making the equipment responsive, we lowered the video image to a comfortable, conversational height, so the physician’s image and voice are at the level of a seated patient.”
Live digital video and high-speed satellite connections give the offsite doctor the ability to diagnose illnesses in real time, without requiring patients to travel. A high-resolution digital camera can provide close-ups of skin lesions; a digital stethoscope can take heart rate and blood pressure readings, and x-rays can be uploaded for immediate viewing. Modo design manager Goo Sung says that “Using the system is as easy as having a conversation. There is no start-up calibration. You simply turn it on and talk to your doctor. No one wants to wait when their health is at risk.”
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Supposedly electric hand dryers found in public restrooms are better than paper towels because they are more hygienic, require less manufacturing energy, lower janitorial costs, and reduce landfill. Supposedly. However, most people who use hand dryers in public restrooms either punch the start button several times to evaporate residual moisture, walk out with damp hands, or complete the drying process by wiping their hands on their clothes. The conventional hand dryer is a candidate for the “bad design” award.
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From Gary Hustwit, the independent filmmaker of the award-winning “Helvetica,” comes a new documentary on industrial design. “Objectified” explores the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. A stellar lineup of the world’s most talented industrial designers talk about how they re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. “Objectified” is a look at personal expression, identity, consumerism and sustainability. It is currently screening at film festivals, cinemas and special events worldwide. Check here to see where it is showing in your part of the world: www.objectifiedfilm.com.
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