Will Wallets Merge with Phones?

The list of items people need to have on their person at all times has changed in the last few decades. Watches used to be critical to keep time, but have been replaced by the always-correct cellphone clock (except for watches worn for style); a personal schedule and notepad were first replaced by the PDA, then the PDA merged with the phone. All that's left is the phone itself, wallet, and keys - and I think the wallet may be next! The photo is of the Case-Mate, which keeps your ID and bankcards piggybacking your iPhone; in my opinion, it needs room for another card and some cash to make a real bid for wallet replacement, but it's a start. Loyalty and membership cards have already been covered by apps like CardStar, which has made my wallet quite a bit thinner. It's only a matter of time before a phone will be used as a method of payment (as it already is in Asia), and receipts can be paperless in the form of emails (like the Apple store already does) or text messages. And if the wallet's last remaining use is for photos of family? Well, your phone can carry a few thousand of those, too. I think it's where we're headed, and I for one am looking forward to it!

Connector Orientation - Can I get a little help...?

Industrial designers these days like things to be symmetrical and "clean" - which gives us (admittedly attractive) simple shapes for buttons and rows of identical switches. But this ignores the human need to associate a unique physical feature with each function - and Lifehacker has a great case in point. A reader of theirs by the name of Jon observes that the Zune cable is symmetrical, with nary an indication as to which side is "up." His solution is pretty elegant: a single drop of superglue, which not only maintains the clean design aesthetic with a durable fix, but gives the connector both a visual and tactile orientation cue. That gives it an edge over the iPod/iPhone cable, even, since those only have a faint graphic but no tactile cue for orientation. Well done - now designers, pick up this trick!

Camper Bike!

If you're the type who'd love to see the great outdoors while touring the country in an RV, consider that the RV is also kinda destroying the great outdoors - have you seen the gas mileage on those things?? If you're a hardcore environmentalist, try out the Camper Bike by artist Kevin Cyr. Sure, it may not have a bathroom or a shower, but it's got you covered with an old-school tube TV to match the retro styling. Plus, you'll definitely get admiring stares from passers-by and curious bears - and some strong leg muscles to boot!
[via Make]

Earphones Enable Natural, Gestural Control...

Sony is pitching a new technology baked into its latest earphones called SensMe, and despite my skepticism about its name (and the weird cartoons explaining it), it seems pretty darn useful. The gist: sensors in the earbuds themselves enable you to control your phone and music player by inserting or removing the buds from your ears. Insert two buds, and the music player starts; remove one, and it pauses. Insert one bud to answer a call, and remove it to hang up. The concept isn't without its problems - I wonder how it would accommodate people like me who prefer to do phone calls with both earbuds, and it would be unpleasant to accidentally hang up if the one earbud fell out during a call - but its goal is admirable. It assumes commands to your device based on the other actions you have to take anyway in order to start a certain function, making the commands gestural and natural and streamlining the whole use of the product. I'll be looking for this!
[via Gizmodo]

Modular Knife Block - Store only what you need...

My wife and I recently had this problem: a knife "set" cobbled together from different sources and comprised of different styles and brands, and trying to find a knife block that would fit them all. We got lucky and made it work, but designer Aaron Root has a (student-work) concept that would have made it a bit easier: modular knife blocks. Each knife comes with its own little block, sized just right for it - and the blocks attach to each other with strong rare-earth magnets. That way, as you gradually build your knife set, every knife has a perfectly-fitted slot - and there are no sad empty slots wasting space. Let's hope one or all of the knife makers (er, knifesmiths?) picks this idea up!
[via Yanko & Gizmodo]

Healthy Messaging, Snuck Into Snacks...

Colgate and ad agency Y&R teamed up for this little gem: a hidden message on a popsicle stick which reveals itself once you're done with the treat. It's socially responsible for the message to be healthy, of course - in this case, a reminder to brush your teeth - but a more tantalizing prize might make the whole experience even more (dangerously?) addictive. Yeah, probably best to stick with oral hygiene.
[via I Believe in Advertising, Inspire Me Now, & Gizmodo]

Floating Pliers - The right tool for the job...

Hey, if you're working on a boat, or otherwise atop a large body of water, you just need floating tools. A lanyard just gets in the way; installing a safety net is a pain; retrieving sunken tools could be fun, I suppose, but only if you're into snorkeling. But really, if you just bought a fixer-upper boat and are looking forward to weekends of maritime projects, get these floating tools. They're the right tool for the job!
[via BoingBoing & Gizmodo]

"Your Speed" sign uses some creative unit conversion...

Signs which display your speed alongside the road's speed limit are usually pretty straightforward; the only brain functions required are subtraction and guilt. But as Marc van Wageningen posts at DirectDaily, the Elm Grove police department has applied some creative unit conversion to your miles-per-hour: signs are displayed in thousands of dollars of accident bills, days in hospital bed, percentage chance of crashing, etc. The question is whether this is any better than the basic-guilt strategy of normal speed-checking signs. Does it make you think a little more about speeding? Sure. Does that absentmindedness ironically increase your chance of getting into an accident? Hmm...

[via Gizmodo]

Shoe Bumper Stickers - Aww...

Flickr user Laser Bread, aka artist/musician Brock Davis, has come up with and Photoshopped this concept for shoe bumper stickers. Read the messages, they're worth a chuckle. But would these stickers be useful in any way? (The theme of this blog requires that I analyze them through such a lens, no matter how cute they are). Unfortunately, no - bumper stickers access a captive audience in drivers, by locating messages where those drivers are already looking. Shoe bumper stickers, however, are too tiny to see, are located where you're not usually looking, and are whipping around at such a speed as to be totally illegible. But do they work as a conversation piece? Why, perfectly!

[via Make]