"Green Man Plus" gives seniors more time to cross...

Pedestrian crossing signals have a tricky balance to strike in giving people enough time to cross, but not so much time that it unnecessarily slows traffic. The problem becomes more difficult when considering the difference in walking speed between able-bodied people and the elderly or otherwise impaired: what's good for the former is insufficient for the latter. Singapore has an excellent solution called "Green Man Plus," where anyone who needs to can tap an RFID card by the signal button to get a longer crossing time. This is a great approach - at least until crossing cameras are smart enough to detect pedestrian paces and adjust accordingly.
[via Gizmodo]

Pinclip, lovechild of pushpin & paperclip...

Good old-fashioned bulletin boards are great - I've got one in my office full of anything I need to keep in mind but want to keep off my desk. However, this convenience usually comes at the price of perforating whatever you put up there with tiny pushpin holes. Paperclips, meanwhile, have been retaining papers together for decades without piercing them. So it's remarkable that the Pinclip, a hybrid between pushpin and paperclip, has only recently been invented! It seems that some great ideas are occasionally still just there for the taking...
[via Gizmodo]

Elastic Bows: The clip-on ties of gift wrapping...

For those who are less than skilled in the art of fancy bow-tying - like myself, at least compared to my wife - these reusable elastic gift bows offer a zero-effort alternative. I would almost think that the recipient might be insulted by how little effort was spent "wrapping" the gift, if they weren't so impressed by how clever the bow is!
[via Gizmodo]

Parking Signs: So much room for improvement...

Parking signs are a mess: they blurt out a verbose, sequential list of complex rules which tend to overlap, cancel out, and generally become useless jumbles in the brains of drivers. Thankfully, design is coming to the rescue: Nikki Sylianteng has an ongoing project at To Park or Not to Park, where she's iteratively refining her grid-based design. Instead of having to solve a multivariable logic problem, you can look up the day and time to get a quick read on whether you can park and for how long. A little less road rage ("parking rage?") would certainly make the world a better place!
[via Gizmodo]

Unintended Consequences: Pedestrian Countdown Timers

Those nifty countdown timers on most modern crossing lights certainly seem convenient for pedestrians: knowing how much time you have can help you hustle or let you relax your pace across an intersection. However, it turns out that they're actually increasing the number of accidents. Motorists surreptitiously use them to enable more second-shaving aggressive driving. One solution offered by researchers is to replace visible timers with audio-only timers, which pedestrians can hear but most drivers can't. A little less information just might make drivers a little less dangerous!
[via Gizmodo, photo credit Ed Yourdon]

Engagement Ring Box: The one special requirement...

Jewelry boxes are, as one would expect, designed to enhance the beauty, quality, and value of their contents. But an engagement ring case has one more special requirement: it needs to hide until it's revealed. A guy (or girl) can't let a bulky ring box spoil the surprise with a telltale pocket-bulge before popping the question! Andrew Zo's Clifton case is the first design I've seen which meets this need: it folds slimmer than a wallet, but opens with a fancy spinning flair to beautifully present the ring inside. It's a little pricey at a hundred bucks - but what's the value of not spoiling the surprise? Totally worth it!
[via Gizmodo]

Dispensing Soap with Dirty Hands

Rain Noe has a thoughtful little piece on Core77 about the problem of dispensing handwashing soap without getting the soap dispenser itself contaminated. He eliminates high-tech sensor based options as being infuriatingly unreliable - a problem from which they frequently suffer. Instead, he finds Joseph Joseph's C-pump, which uses the presumably-cleaner back of the hand. Sure, regular pumps could also be used backhandedly - but this allows single-handed dispensing as well. It seems that a clever low-tech solution can still trump high-tech brute force!
[via Core77]