21st-Century Bedside Clock

I'm staying in a hotel as I write this, and I'll tell you one thing: I'm not using my room's alarm clock. It's some feature-packed beast that I don't know how to use, and I don't want to learn - my phone will work just fine, thank you. Of course, that means I had to dig behind the bedside table to find an outlet to plug in my phone charger.  It's people like me who must be target users for this bedside clock, which swaps out the alarm (de-emphasized or perhaps not even present) for two gloriously convenient USB charging ports. Add a simple LED clock for midnight time checks, and leave all the other features behind - I don't need them. Welcome to the 21st century!
[via Gizmodo]

Design for Digital Mortality

One interesting aspect of the newness of digital services and accounts is that not much thought has been put into former users who are... no longer alive. Eventually, users and companies should should consider the inevitable: who will inherit your iTunes and Kindle libraries? What will happen to your Facebook page and Twitter feed? I'm not sure about those companies, but Google's got a plan with its Inactive Account Manager. Without ever mentioning death explicitly, the system offers the steps you'd want to consider, enabling you to automatically notify contacts, share data, and delete the account entirely.  It's good forward thinking - because in this case, a little late is definitely too late!
[via Engadget]

Situation-Specific Design: Sony's Prison Radio

Most of the attention in gadget design goes to the latest and greatest high-tech toys for first-world consumers - but that's not the only customer who can benefit from thoughtful design. The audio player of choice in prisons isn't cloud-based, streaming, MP3, or even CDs: it's the simple Sony SRF-39FP AM/FM radio. It features a clear housing so it won't be broken open to check for contraband; it eschews anything fancy, like digital reception, to conserve power and deliver more listening time for the prisoner's battery purchase.  And of course, as a radio it comes with a built-in range of never-ending free content. The right design choices for the situation are what makes it, as the New Yorker's Joshua Hunt writes, The iPod of Prison.
[via Gizmodo]