Designed Response: Earrings to catch AirPods

Apple's totally-wireless AirPods have the cool sheen of being The Future, but they battle the persistent fear that they'll fall out of your ears and be lost forever. 3D printer company M3D has designed a response: 3D-printable earrings that act as baskets to catch falling AirPods. It's a cute example of design as commentary on another design; a designed response. It's also mainly a marketing move: M3D has made the design files available on Thingverse, and gotten some nice publicity practically for free. The product isn't serious, but the commentary - and the brand awareness - certainly are.
[via Gizmodo]

Tilting pot uses gravity to ask for water.

Perhaps the toughest part of plant ownership is remembering to water the darn things. There have been some electronic devices to solve the problem, but digital technology seems out of place in the analog world of plants. The Natural Balance is a plant pot that eschews technology for old-fashioned gravity: when the reserve of water gradually seeps into the soil and becomes empty, the balance of the pot changes so that it tilts to its side. See how it looks a little crooked in the photo? That means it's thirsty. Clever, elegant, analog, and gravity-powered, it just feels right for plants.
[via Core77]

Chip card readers' bad sound design

Here's a little gem from Roman Mars of the excellent podcast 99% Invisible. A recent episode was about sound design, specifically the NBC chimes, which are one of the few sounds ever successfully trademarked - worth a listen! Anyway, quoth Roman: "My current least-favorite sounds are from credit card chip readers that blare an obnoxious warning buzz that clearly signals to normal humans that something has gone wrong, even though it actually means everything went right, and it's time to remove your card." He's right: people do need to be reminded to remove their cards, but there's a huge disconnect between the intended message and the received message. Is there a more pleasant sound that also gets attention? Or can it be accomplished with any of the other senses? ("That smell means it's time to remove your card" - nah.) It's definitely a design problem in need of a good solution.

Time Buddy, for the weary globalized time-traveler

Scheduling a meeting for teams in two time zones can be challenging; increase it to three or four around the world (a feat my wife accomplishes frequently), and it's higher math than most mortals can do. Time Buddy is a well-designed solution to the problem: it's not too "simple" (in the modern trendy style) to be limited, and not too complex to be overwhelming. It's approachable and intuitive, with colors for business, personal, and sleep times, and it has more advanced features for those who need them. Best of all, that nice black highlighting rectangle slides gracefully to the best time by default, providing an easy instant answer. If you're scheduling a multi-time-zone meeting, check it out - I doubt you can do any better.
[via Lifehacker]

Actibump, a speed bump only for speeders

Speed bumps have a certain brute-force, undeniable effectiveness: you'd better slow down, or you car (and your butt) will be very unhappy. One problem is that this affects those obeying the speed limit as well as speeders; everyone gets a compromised ride experience. Swedish firm Edeva has designed a solution: Actibump, a speed-dependent speed bump. Radar detects the speed of an oncoming vehicle and adjusts the bump accordingly, and if you're below the speed limit, there's no bump at all. There are certainly tradeoffs here: the unit could break down (which traditional speed bumps won't do); there's the issue of educating the driving public about those "bump if speeding" signs. But if everything goes smoothly, it could result in everyone going more smoothly, too.
[via Core77]

"New Mac" Scented Candle

One way you could look at the "New Mac" scented candle from Twelve South is that $24 is a lot to pay for a candle. Another way is that it's a lot less than the grand you'd drop on an actual new Mac. So if you really need your fix of sensory stimulation to trigger memories of new tech toys (which apparently smell like "mint, peach, basil, lavender, mandarin and sage" - who knew?), maybe this is for you. I mean, consumers have been craving that new car smell for decades...
[via Gizmodo]

Starbucks' Splatter-Hiding Countertops

This is the countertop for the drink-fixing station at my local Starbucks - and without doing any research or substantiating this claim in any way, I think it's pretty obvious and clever why they chose it. Look at all those tiny spots in the pattern: coffee-colored brown and creamer-colored white. Exactly the kind of camouflage that would hide the many real drips of stray liquids, and make the constant mess there invisible to customers. Well played, Starbucks, well played indeed.