The Shoe That Grows

Keeping children in shoes is especially important in developing nations, but the cost of keeping up with kids' growing feet makes it a challenge for many families. The Shoe That Grows is designed to address that, by adjusting its size along with a child's feet from age 1 to 5. It's durable (lasting 5 years) and low-cost (reportedly down to $10 per pair) - and the design of how it adjusts to foot size is downright brilliant. Here's hoping this design can follow through with the impact it seems capable of!
[via Core77]

Towel Timer: Making use of unused space...

If you appreciate efficiency, simplicity, and overall cleverness, here's a treat: the Towel Timer is a one-handed mechanical kitchen timer that discreetly sits atop a paper towel holder. I love the fact that it occupies a previously unused space which happens to be easily accessible and visible - perfectly suited for its function. Add to that the satisfaction of simply turning a mechanical timer, instead of pressing beeping membrane buttons on a microwave timer, and it's a real delight!
[via Gizmodo]

Snuglet: The importance of the right force...

The MagSafe power connector on Apple laptops has always been a great design: it prevents cord-yanking table dives of expensive computers, and makes the power cord snap eagerly into place when plugging in. However, many users think the latest version is a little too weak, detaching unexpectedly and causing a prematurely dead battery. Along came a Kickstarted fix called the Snuglet, a tiny shim which increased the pullout force of the MagSafe - because no matter how brilliant the idea, a great design is only as good as its execution. Or at least, the best aftermarket fix...
[via CoolTools]

Taboo swaps buzzers for squeakers...

My wife recently purchased a new game of Taboo (for work, believe it or not), and we both discovered an interesting change: the old electronic buzzer had been replaced with a new squeezable squeaker. I applaud the change: it costs less, it's more recyclable, it doesn't need batteries, and a squeak works just as well as a buzz in letting your opponents know they just lost a point. The only thing it's worse at is pretending to be an electric razor for a chuckle. Oh well - I'll take it!

InfiniteUSB: Every plug's a port again...

The "U" in USB might as well stand for "ubiquitous" - it's a standard that's everywhere, used by most people many times every day. That means it's especially frustrating when you need more USB ports than you have (I'm looking at you, Macbooks). So here's a design which, if widely adopted, would really help: InfiniteUSB's plan is that every plug is also a port - so a plug doesn't take a port, but rather uses it and passes it along. I can think of more than a few times when this would come in handy - and those were just yesterday! Until everything's wireless and has infinite battery life (c'mon, future!), something like this is a great idea.
[via Gizmodo]

Parsonal: Mass-customized furniture...

Nashville-based Arrister has a new project called Parsonal: mass-customized furniture where customers can dial in the exact size, shape, and finish of a number of basic designs. This is pretty handy if you have a small or constrained space and need  just the right thing to fit; in the long view, such customization may enable more people to live comfortably in less space, increasing the efficiency of, you know, the entire human race. But that's the future; for now, it's just about getting a nice table that fits and matches your decor!
[via Core77]

Ideas vs Execution

The mythos of Silicon Valley tech innovation is very much about ideas: once you have the next great idea, success is assured and you'll change the world in no time. But it's just not true: execution is much more important. Julie Zhuo writes about it, pointing out that Google wasn't the first search engine - nor was the iPhone the first smartphone, and so on. Execution of the idea makes all the difference - and critically, that means that past failures of an idea don't necessarily invalidate the idea. Just make sure you have the right people to execute!