Starbucks Reusable Cup: A Helpful Hybrid

Starbucks recently announced a $1 reusable cup option for your caffeine fix, in an attempt to reduce the cardboard cup waste resulting from over 98% of their drink sales. They know it's a tough proposition to BYOC - something fragile, expensive, even sentimental - but hope that an impulse buy might be persuasive, especially since it pays for itself over 10 drinks with 10-cent discounts. It's a hybrid between permanent and disposable, where you can reuse it but wouldn't really care if you lost it - the same tack Gladware took to compete with Tupperware. It doesn't last as long, it doesn't cost as much - but it shifts the balance from disposable to reusable, if not all the way to permanent and durable. That shift could help, if people buy into it - and here's hoping they will.
[via Gizmodo, photo from The Parkhurst Group]

TrailerTail, for shapely aerodynamic truck butts...

The trucking industry is designed for efficiency: modular shipping containers, standardized everything, and even sleeper cabs help maintain razor-thin margins. However, the versatility-emphasized rectangular shape of the containers isn't designed for aerodynamic efficiency - and the boxy butt of a truck leaves a lot of gas-guzzling turbulence in its wake. But even if you can't change the standard, you may be able to adapt to it - which ATDynamics has done with its TrailerTail add-on. The flaps unfold from the back to streamline air flow and save fuel, reportedly paying for themselves in under a year. When every little bit counts, a clever design like this can make a big difference.
[via Core77]

Bevel Cup, a clean-storing coffee mug...

Sometimes you don't notice a problem until a design comes along to fix it - and darned if coffee mugs don't fit the bill.  Normal  mugs can be stored sitting right side up, in which case dust and debris can fall in; or they can be stored upside down, which prevents proper drying if they're wet and gets the rim dirty regardless.  The Bevel Cup from designers Gao Fenglin & Zhou Buyi finds a third way, with the cup resting on the flat 40-degree angle of its handle.  Moisture drains, dust falls off, and the rim is held off the resting surface.  Ergonomics may not be the best here, but if you tend toward germophobia this may be the mug for you!
[via Gizmodo]

iPhone Buttons Now More Pressable!

Back in 2011 I wrote about some unpressable buttons on the iPhone: the media-player buttons that appear when double-clicking the home button from a locked screen were too close together, causing accidental track skips instead of the intended pauses. You can see that problem in the left screenshot; I mocked up a quick fix shown in the center; now Apple has fixed it in iOS 6.1 as shown on the right! Yes, I know that correlation doesn't imply causation - but I'd like to think I was one voice among many who pointed out this problem. Good job, Apple, for making your buttons much more pressable!