Apple's Patent-Pending Pizza Box

Moving on from horrible food-related design jokes, here's a food-related design win: Apple put their world-class design chops into something that isn't several hundred dollars' worth of electronics! Behold, Apple's pizza box, US Patent application #20120024859. It aspires to be the platonic ideal of pizza boxes: no assembly required, stackable, manufacturable from a variety of materials, efficiently round like a certain corporate campus, ridges to elevate the pizza above its own grease puddle, and holes for ventilation to prevent sogginess. Apple: come for the iPhones, stay for the efficiently-contained personal pizzas! (And because you're locked into their ecosystem.)
[via Engadget & Wired]

A Frorking Joke

That misshapen red lump is McDonalds' Frork, which uses french fries as the tines of a "fork" (quotes, I believe, are necessary). It's a corporate/PR joke, and I want to write a blistering rant on it, but I absolutely can't do better than Kat Bauman's at Core77 - so read that instead. Frork you indeed, McDonald's.

Juicero, the poster child of over-engineering...

By now you may have heard of Juicero, the $400 (originally $700!) home juicing machine whose job can be done, and faster, with your own two hands. It's a story of excess, ego, and rampant over-engineering. Bolt's Ben Einstein did a thorough teardown of this beast, identifying a slew of unnecessary custom parts and expensive manufacturing processes. So, how did it happen? Some possibilities:

  • Improperly specified requirements. Does it really take "four tons of force" to squeeze out all the juice? If so, the Bloomberg reporter who did it by hand is quite the hulk.
  • Bad engineering. Over-engineering is just as bad as under-engineering, it just results in runaway costs instead of functional failures.
  • Hype. With $120M in funding, I'm sure the pressure was on to deliver the greatest juicer of all tiiiiiime! With that kind of cash and even a little ego, more is always better - and the CEO even bragged about all the "custom components" and other over-engineered elements in the machine. Dude, that's not a good thing.
Let's all learn this lesson from Juicero, so that we need not learn it from ourselves.
[via Core77]

Bartender trick of the trade

In the sci-fi film Passengers, Chris Pratt is the perpetual lone customer of an android bartender played by Michael Sheen. Pratt's character astutely observes (paraphrasing): "I'm your only customer, so why are you always polishing a glass?" Sheen's droid responds, "Old bartender trick of the trade. People are uncomfortable if you just stand there." So it turns out that the bartender/customer interaction is a designed product, too - whether in the brains of present-day flesh-and-blood sudslingers or the algorithms of future android drink jockeys - and it's designed to accommodate all of our irrational human idiosyncrasies. Good to know.

The Lyft/Uber Option We Really Want

Make it happen. I know a lot of people (myself included) who'd pay the premium.

Swanky Floating Ladle

It might look unstable floating there in that soup, but apparently the Swanky floating ladle from OTOTO will indeed stay upright. Not sure about the one sitting on the counter, though (what black magic is at work there?). Anyway, a ladle that doesn't sink and doesn't melt from leaning against a hot pot edge sounds like a decent improvement - and the swan neck is fairly elegant. Overall, a design that brings a smile to one's face, and that's value in itself!
[via Gizmodo]

Artificial Intelligence: Not quite there yet.

I've generally been impressed with the abilities of virtual assistants in recent years - Siri, Alexa, Cortana, "Okay Google" - to come up with the right answer to real, factual questions asked verbally in natural language by flesh-and-blood humans. However, it turns out we shouldn't trust those answers quite yet. Tom Scocca writes an account of his misadventures regarding an article he wrote, correcting a widespread falsehood about the time required to caramelize onions. He found that Google was extracting a quote his article specifically identified as false, using that as the "correct" answer, and crediting Tom for it. A convoluted path, and it'd require impressive artificial intelligence to parse the correct context - but that's what's needed if an AI assistant is to be truly trusted. It's since been corrected - possibly manually? - and the right answer is shown in the image above. But be warned: AI just isn't quite there yet.