Category Archives: Innovation

Feel unsafe while crossing roads. Well not for long guys.

A Future Smartphone System Could Warn Oblivious Pedestrians Of Oncoming Traffic

Researchers at the University of Missouri, Kansas City are designing a system to alert pedestrians and drivers of potential crashes before they happen.

Wi-Fi Honk, an Android system recently presented at a conference on mobile systems, harnesses the bits of information your phone constantly sends out while searching for available wireless networks to connect to. The app picks up data on speed, location, and direction from nearby devices, which is then fed into an algorithm that predicts whether the user needs to be warned about an oncoming car or pedestrian.

Even if you can’t hear the traffic coming–whether because you’re hard of hearing or because you’re really wrapped up in your favorite podcast–it’ll ping you with vibrations and on-screen alerts as well as sound. It can also warn a driver that a pedestrian (or even a cyclist) is about to move into the car’s path, allowing the driver to brake.

It’s hard to say whether this (or similar cell-phone-enabled safety systems) could work before it is really put into widespread practice. A lot of phones would need to be equipped with Wi-Fi Honk to make it truly effective, since the app relies on the data beacons sent out by other Wi-Fi-Honk-enabled phones. But it does purport to solve what is becoming a significant safety issue: The more invested we get in fiddling with our phones as we walk, the less we pay attention to the world around us.

Several studies indicate that talking on a cell phone inhibits our ability to cross streets safely. And that’s just talking–not being immersed in Candy Crush or listening to music through noise-canceling headphones. Walking across an intersection can be deadly dangerouseven for those crossing legally, with the light. Sure, what we really need is slower cars and better intersections, but in the meantime, we could also use a little heads up.

The Science Of Cool

Take a look at the two water bottles below. The one on the left is pretty much your standard water bottle design: tall, clear, probably crinkly. The one on the right feels a bit less conventional, with its sleek aluminum shell shaped like an Erlenmeyer flask. In a survey of which is cooler, the bottle on the right would win right away, though both bottles serve the very same function.

So what is it, exactly, that makes one design cooler than another? The difference is surprisingly tough to articulate. You might say it’s because the bottle on the right is unconventional. But a water bottle shaped like a kangaroo would be unconventional, too, and you wouldn’t necessarily consider it cool. There’s more to it than just being different.


A lot more, actually. Behavioral scientists have spilled quite a bit of empirical ink on what makes something cool. They’ve basically whittled the phenomenon down to four main traits.

First, cool is a social perception, not an inherent quality. So, Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) has always been PBR, but it wasn’t cool until Portland hipsters embraced it. Second, coolness is relative. One shirt from Walmart might seem cool compared with another shirt from Walmart, but neither will be as cool as a shirt from H&M (which itself might seem less cool than another H&M shirt). Third, coolness is almost universally positive. And fourth, something that’s cool tends to diverge from the norm.

It’s this fourth trait–the unconventionality of cool–that seems to be the key. But in the past that trait been poorly defined. As shown by our example of the kangaroo water bottle, or even areal life product like a Segway, being unconventional alone is not enough to be cool. And, in fact, designs or brands that diverge from the norm too much run the risk of being not just uncool but strongly disliked.


Recently, marketing scholars Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell tried to understand the connection between conventionality and coolness with a bit more precision. They did so through a series of sixexperiments comparing consumer products (like the bottles above), coolness ratings (the bottle on the right does rate higher), and participant reactions. In the end, Warren and Campbell concluded that cool designs tend to be “appropriately” unconventional–that is, they challenge unnecessary norms, and aren’t too extreme themselves.

“Being cool requires a very delicate balance of doing something that shows that you go your own way and do your own thing, but you do it in a way that is socially desirable or at least acceptable,” Warren tells Co.Design.

In their most telling experiment, the researchers introduced test participants to four fictional fashion brands. Each brand was paired with a description that aligned it with a low, moderate, high, or extreme level of unconventionality. A “low” level of unconventionality was essentially the norm–something that followed the market. A “moderate” brand often conformed to convention, while a “high” brand often defied convention. Extreme brands were controversial.

Warren and Campbell found the highest coolness ratings among the brands in the middle: not too conventional, not too risky. A moderately unconventional brand was cooler than a typical brand; a highly unconventional brand was cooler than an extreme and controversial brand. This pattern mostly held true whether the raters (i.e., test participants) had countercultural personalities or not. In other words, even people who challenge convention as a lifestyle don’t always think extreme unconventionality is cool.

The researchers use the term “autonomy” instead of “unconventional.”Journal of Consumer Research

The lesson for designers is they need to know two things about an audience to make a product cool. First, what does that audience consider normal? (The design can fit slightly outside that mold.) Second, what does that audience consider the limits of abnormality. (The design should not cross it.) In the context of our water bottle designs, then, “Erlenmeyer flask-ish” rests beyond “clear and crinkly” but still within “kangaroo-shaped.” (The unconventional water bottle is actually a Heineken design.)


“Product designers, the good ones, know a lot of this implicitly,” Warren says. “I think most of them are trying to be different or create things that are different in a way that’s still accessible, or that people can latch onto.”

The perpetual concern for consumer designers, in particular, is that too much coolness can be a bad thing in the long run. A design that starts off as cool shifts the lines of conventionality, and then gets imitated so much that it becomes conventional, at which point it can’t be cool by definition. It’s the sort of classic mainstream backlash that keeps one-time consumer iconoclasts, such as Apple or Google, searching for ways to remain outliers.

“If you’re really doing something right, the chances are the coolness isn’t going to last,” Warren says. “Because you’re going to shift what is the norm.”

9 Mowing Tips to Cut the Lawn of Your Dreams

1. Plan Your Attack

Your dad says the only way to mow a lawn is to trim the edges first, which puts the clippings back into the grass to be mulched by the mower. He’s not wrong, but you can also mow first and then trim, which takes advantage of the mower’s large cutting area to reduce time spent trimming. Pick one approach to avoid constantly swapping tools.

2. Cut a Wide Collar

We’re not talking dress shirts here. The collar is the border that you mow first around the lawn’s perimeter. Cut it wide enough to turn the mower around without driving into a flower bed.

3. No Buzz Cut, Please

Scalping is the gruesome term for cutting too short. It can leave ugly brown patches in areas of uneven ground and strain root systems. “This leads to weeds breaking through the turf,” says Pat Callahan, director of grounds, landscaping, and turf at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Cool-season grasses are cut to 2½ to 3½ inches; warm-season grass is cut to 1 to 3 inches.

4. Watch Your Speed

Haste can make a waste of your lawn. This is particularly true with tall or wet grass, which resists a swift cut. But even in dry conditions, a rushed job leads to uneven shearing and leaves behind clumps of poorly mulched clippings.

5. Don’t Look Down

Fact: You’ll mow straighter if you focus about 10 feet ahead of the mower rather than directly at the wheels.

6. Bag the Bagging

Picking up clippings prevents them from getting tracked into the house, but mulching as you mow puts the grass particles back into the turf, providing nutrients such as nitrogen to the soil. You’ll end up with healthier turf.

7. Alternate the Pattern

Grass leans in the direction in which you mow it. Switching up your pattern from week to week encourages grass to grow straighter and healthier.

8. Trim Ambidextrously

A typical straight-shaft string-trimmer head spins counterclockwise and is operated right to left. This means that, if you’re in the right-handed majority, you’ll waste time walking sideways or backward. Grasp the trimmer handle with your left hand so you can simply walk forward and make a cleaner job of it. You’ll find it’s faster, safer, and less tiring to trim this way.

9. Edge and Trim at Once

Hold the string-trimmer head vertically to cut a clean edge (along a curb, for instance), and turn it horizontal to trim around bushes or landscape features. Don’t trim and edge in separate trips. “Look at your property and find a continuous path you can follow to trim and edge in one pass,” says Steve Byrne, president of Edgit, which makes trimmer accessories. “This gets the job done quickly without having to backtrack.”

Wow. Just a wow. Amazing piece of work. A masterpiece.

What’s the name for a text that deliberately excludes a particular letter of the alphabet?

That’s a lipogram. The best known example in English is Ernest Vincent Wright’s novel Gadsby: Champion of Youth (1939)a story of more than 50,000 words in which the letter e never appears.


Hmmm Nice real nice talent. Not including the letter ‘e’, amazing. It’s the one of the most used alphabet in english language and he did not use it. Giving him my respects. Mr. talented, creative, inventor, great novelist. Hats Off Sire.