Toilet-Paper Sensor Block: Adapting to adaptations...

I've written about the frustrating false-flush tendency of automatic toilets before, but here's a new salvo in the arms race between man and machine: putting toilet paper over the sensor to prevent accidental flushes. This would seem to make sense - until you realize that we're creating a complex adaptation for a device that was designed to adapt to our inability to use a simple system in the first place. Seriously, when it gets to this point, shouldn't we just be using a manual mechanical flush handle? The usability path has come full circle, and it seems we should have stayed where we started.
[Photo from Duey Rando]

Seat-back tablet holders for budget entertainment...

Good design can happen in airplane seat-back entertainment systems, but usually doesn't - and regardless, those systems add cost to the plane (plus complexity, weight which increases fuel use, and the expense of licensing content). Meanwhile, travelers more frequently carry their own fully capable entertainment systems with them, in the form of tablets and smartphones. UK carrier Monarch has done the math and opted for tablet holders instead of seat-back systems on their new lower-cost seats. It remains to be seen just how "universal" these holders are - from the photo, it looks like only full-size tablets will work - but the idea is a good one which feels better than DIY alternatives. I'll entertain myself, thanks - you guys just concentrate on flying the plane, and maybe serving up some drinks.
[via Gizmodo]

HeadFoams: Personal audio, Nerf-style...

Parents are always looking for products that are both (1) indestructible and (2) unable to cause injury when flung at high speed - and "monobody foam" is a manufacturing method / marketing term that can provide both. That's why HeadFoams, "the world's first monobody foam headphones," sound like winners to me. It's especially clever to show an image of kids seemingly trying to break these things, and failing. Keep your Beats - my kid will be rocking out Nerf-style!
[via Gizmodo]

Smart fan targets humans (in a good way)...

A step toward the robot apocalypse cleverly disguised as an improved comfort device, the human-sensing oscillating fan blows air only where there's a person to enjoy it. Seriously though, this is a textbook use of smart sensing: directing resources only toward the intended use instead of brute-forcing air all around the room, improving both effectiveness and efficiency. Just make sure yours doesn't become self-aware and use its targeting system for evil!
[via Gizmodo]

SaddleBaby: Your beast of burden...

My daughter is just about to hit the age where she'll be able to ride on Dada's shoulders, so this caught my eye: the SaddleBaby claims to make shoulder-riding "a safe & fun way to bond with your child!"  And you know, I'm sure it's a smooth ride. But if I have to schlep one more thing to strap to myself, adjust, clip in, tighten, insert tab A into slot B, ad nauseam, I'm gonna lose it. (Not that you weren't lifesavers at times, Bjorn and Ergo!) But this is one parenting activity that I'll be doing the old-fashioned way - if nothing else, the look on that guy's face in the photo has convinced me to steer clear!
[via Gizmodo]

Drinking Fountains Adapted to Water Bottles

We've already seen a water bottle that adapts to drinking fountains, but this one seen by Mark Hurst goes the other way around: an airport drinking fountain adapted into a water bottle refilling station. (This one's from Delta, which has impressed me recently with usable design.) It's an overdue solution, especially in airports where you can't bring your own water through security - just bring your empty reusable bottle and refill it, instead of supporting the scourge that is commercial bottled water. Refreshing in more ways than one!
[From, and photo credit to, Mark Hurst]

Fuut: While you work, your feet can relax!

If there's one thing wrong with most workspaces, it's that there's not enough hammock in'em. Fix that with Fuut, the hammock for your feet for your desk. This image alone sold me - and if that's not enough, it's adjustable for low ("work") and high ("rest") positions. Working barefoot is just a bonus!
[via Gizmodo]