The Philips SmartSleep Anti-Snoring Band nudges you to sleep on your side

Snoring is, in its most basic sense, an abnormality that blocks clear breathing while you’re asleep. Whether it’s caused by fatty tissues around the neck, by sinuses, by an irregular palate, or even your tongue, snoring occurs in a majority of people for various reasons… and more than being an inconvenience, snoring can increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack in your sleep, because anything prompting you to snore is essentially obstructing your breathing and causing lesser oxygen to to be delivered to your body.

One major reason for snoring is that when you sleep on your back, your tongue tends to fall backwards due to gravity and block the air passage at the oral pharynx. The simple solution to that problem is to sleep on your side, so your tongue doesn’t slide backwards and obstruct the air path. The Philips SmartSleep Anti-Snoring Band, debuted at the IFA Press-Conference this year, prompts you, through gentle vibrations, to sleep on your side. Strapped around your waist, the band has the ability to sense when you’re supine, or on your back, and coaxes you to sleep on your side by delivering soft vibrations that get you to adjust your position in your sleep without waking you up. The band optimizes patterns based on your sleep intensity to determine the best way to subconsciously alert you and machine learning even determines the most optimal time to give you the nudge. The result? A quieter night of sleep for you as well as your partner, and easier and healthier breathing for you.

Designer: Philips

Reader Submitted: An Electric-Assisted Cargo Bike Designed for Streamlined Deliveries

EAV are pleased to announce their company launch and release details of Project 1, their new last-mile delivery vehicle—an electric-assisted, cargo, peddle bike. International parcel delivery service, DPDgroup UK, have placed an initial order on the vehicle which was designed in partnership with creative lab, New Territory. The practical and easily operated bike was developed to revolutionize the process of urban delivery, reducing the impact it has on our carbon footprint and pollution. This launch is the first step in EAV and New Territory’s shared vision to transform urban mobility for the better as they explore other uses for the technology in their product.

View the full project here

GRT Architects revitalises mid-century house in Upstate New York

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

New York firm GRT Architects has used a simple palette to offset the existing details of this mid-century house in New York’s Hudson Valley, which it overhauled for the architect’s grandchild.

The single-storey Croton-on-Hudson House was completed in the 1960s by the client’s grandmother – who was one of the first female graduates of the architecture masters programme at Columbia University.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

Typical to the mid-century architecture style popular during this period, the 3,000 square feet (279 square meters) residence is low-lying, slender and lined in large windows. It also has a gabled roof and two chimneys at its core.

“The strong, rational design of this house provided a great point of departure for our work,” said GRT Architects, which is led by architects Tal Schori and Rustam Mehta.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

The Brooklyn studio preserved a number of key elements from the original property, including wooden ceiling beams and boards.

“Highlighting the strength of the home’s formal design, we exposed the natural beauty of the structural wood beams that traverse the entire house and become a unique feature of every space,” said the studio.

Existing terracotta tile floors also informed much of the interior design features. “They have rectified edges, meaning they are more square and industrial,” Schori told Dezeen.

Updates focused on a simple palette to highlight the modest construction while up-playing the building’s original beauty. The minimal hues also draw attention to the home’s lush property on a hilly plot in a village in New York’s Westchester County.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

“We introduced a neutral palette throughout of blacks, whites and greys to complement the original terracotta floors, brighten the space and frame the view,” the studio said.

The exterior of the house is painted black to replace the original “drab brown colour”. This use of black is continued heavily inside across most of the surfaces, along with strong pops of white.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

In the kitchen, black cabinetry and countertops are arranged around an island with a black marble countertop and four round barstools.

GRT Architects custom built a small breakfast nook into the kitchen, featuring two benches upholstered in a red textile to offer more dining space.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

At the centre of the residence is a living room bathed in ample natural light. The home’s pitched roof is also left exposed overhead. This main lounge is anchored by a pale grey sofa and a round pendant ceiling light.

A wet bar, meanwhile, features black penny round tiles as the backsplash, a black-and-white terrazzo countertop and brass shelving.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

Another sitting area in the residence is completed with a pale leather sofa and a custom wood console in a similar hue.

Black and white details continue into the bedrooms. However a room with bunk beds has a pop of blue that distinguishes it from the rest of the house.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

Croton-on-Hudson House also features a large patio that overlooks the garden, and an elevated footbridge.

GRT Architects has completed a number of residential renovations, most of which are in Brooklyn. Examples include as a townhouse with bright green cabinetry and home with a fluted glass stairwell.

Croton on Hudson House by GRT Architects

Croton-on-Hudson House is among a number of mid-century houses that have been renovated across the US. A low-slung Eichler home in northern California by Klopf Architecture, Marcel Breuer’s Lauck House in Princeton and a modest Sea Ranch Cabin by Framestudio are among the standout projects.

Photography is by Nicole Franzen.

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A bike that demonstrates how Japanese culture can influence automotive design

Artem and Vladimir believe Japan’s design ethos lies heavily on their culture and history, pulling inspiration from minimalism, origami, and traditions like the samurai spirit, but a heavy European influence has resulted in Japan’s large automobile industry following cues that aren’t originally Japanese. Setting out to design a motorbike that is indicative of Japan’s culture, spirit, and aesthetic, Artem and Vladimir designed the Motorbike for Great Japan.

The motorbike’s design makes use of planar surfaces, reminiscent of samurai uniforms, and a body with an origami-inspired form. It even goes the distance to integrate a Samurai-sword-style woven handle for the handlebar grips! The bike comes with a styled carbon-fiber body, which not only makes the bike lighter and faster, but allows it to achieve its origami-style design rather seamlessly. The bike even sports dual-suspension on the front and the back, along with an adjustable seat for comfort, and what looks like a push-to-accelerate footrest. That’s innovative, even by Japanese standards!

Designers: Artem Smirnov & Vladimir Panchenko

Airbnb hires Apple industrial designer to join Backyard housing initiative

Miklu Silvanto

Airbnb‘s offshoot design studio Samara has hired Apple industrial designer Miklu Silvanto to join the company’s housebuilding initiative.

Silvanto will move from Apple‘s industrial design department to lead the industrial and interaction design team at Backyard – an enterprise that Samara launched last year to devise new ways to design, build and share homes better suited to contemporary lifestyles.

Silvanto, 38, said that he felt “privileged” with the opportunity to work on the project, which plans to roll out housing designs later this year.

“Samara has a huge ambition that will be very difficult to carry out, but it’s exactly the kind of big, crazy gamble that these kinds of companies should be taking,” he said. “The nature of the work and the creative approach we’re taking make me optimistic for the future.”

Silvanto employed at Apple for eight years

Born in Helsinki, Finland, Silvanto studied Industrial Design at the city’s Lahti Institute of Design, and then gained a masters in Design Products at the London’s Royal College of Art in 2008.

He began working at Apple under the tech company’s chief design officer Jonathan Ive in 2011. He is also the co-founder of Nordic design agency Avian.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia hired Silvanto to join the Backyard’s eclectic team of architects, urban planners, filmmakers, roboticists, mechanical and hardware engineers, energy specialists and policy experts.

Researching for the housing involves exploring new manufacturing techniques, such as prefabrication, smart home technologies and eco-friendly materials.

“The integrity of the team at Samara continues to blow my mind,” said Gebbia. “They’re applying this thoughtful, bold mindset to problems of incredible complexity and scale.”

“The results are fascinating and exciting,” he continued.

Gebbia launched Samara as an offshoot of Airbnb in 2016 to focus on projects including architecture, service design and software engineering. Backyard was set up two years later to explore new methods for architecture and construction industry.

Backyard to focus on reducing waste in construction

When the initiative was revealed, Gebbia said that it would particularly focus on reducing waste produced by the building industry. Housing designs are also expected to include architectural features suited to shared living, drawing on the model of Airbnb.

“The way buildings are made is outdated and generates a tremendous amount of waste,” said Gebbia, when the announcing the Backyard initiative in 2018. “In order to meet the demands of the future, whether it be climate displacement or rural-urban migration, the home needs to evolve, to think forward.”

Gebbia graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) with a dual degree in Graphic and Industrial Design, before co-founding Airbnb with fellow design graduate Brian Chesky, and Nathan Blecharczyk, in 2008.

He initiated the company’s venture into building design after finding that Airbnb hosts were modifying their homes in anticipation of guests. Samara kicked off with a prototype house designed and built for Kenya Hara’s House Vision exhibition, featuring a community centre on its ground floor and traveller accommodation in its gabled roof.

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Gif: moving


"The internet is broken and technology alone won't be enough to fix it"

Stop worrying about the privatisation of public spaces, says Owen Hopkins, because the biggest threat to our democracy is the internet.

It’s hard to believe the web is still just 30 years old. Despite the extraordinary ways it and the world have changed over that time, there’s one early adage that still holds firm. Conceived by American attorney Mike Godwin in 1990, Godwin’s law, as it has become known, states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”.

I was reminded of this recently, when it was announced that the winning entry for the commission to curate the British Pavilion at next year’s Venice Architecture Biennale would be exploring the “creeping epidemic” of privatised public space across Britain’s cities.

It’s a live and contentious subject that has sparked a huge amount of debate in architectural circles and beyond, yet to my mind mostly misses the point.

What’s important is how a space is managed, where it’s located, what amenities it offers and how people interact in it, rather than whether it is publicly or privately owned

Public space does not exist in the abstract. What’s important is how a space is managed, where it’s located, what amenities it offers and how people interact in it, rather than whether it is publicly or privately owned. Obsessing about ownership is fundamentally misguided. What matters far more is whether the space allows for the types of social interaction that contribute to the “public sphere”.

The public sphere as we know it first emerged in the 18th century, when individuals came together for the first time to debate ideas and issues of public concern. Free from the yoke of church or state, it forms the basis of western liberal democracy. In its tolerance of opposing views and opinions, its belief in the power of rational argument, free expression and the autonomous individual, it is embedded in our public institutions and in a media that holds power to account.

Today, however, the public sphere is under attack, not because of privatisation of public spaces, but from the web.

In its early days, it was commonplace to see the web almost as a utopian creation in its capacity to connect and bring the world together. However, as the web has grown in extent, functionality and influence, the naivety of these early ideals has been sorely exposed. Rather than being a place where the public sphere might extend into new dimensions, the web now threatens its very existence.

Part of this stems from the web’s disruption of the newspaper industry – a key pillar on which the public sphere is built. With users expecting everything online to be free, news providers are now left scrabbling for the scraps of advertising revenue that isn’t gobbled up by the social-media giants.

It seems legitimate to question whether free will as we know it is possible online

Yet the web’s assault on the public sphere runs far deeper.

Until recently Facebook proclaimed itself as the digital “town square” – a place where people could meet and share their content – and, of course, all for free. But as has become abundantly clear, when you access a big platform online with no entrance fee, it’s because you are the product. Whether through posting on Facebook, watching a video on YouTube or in a simple Google search, big tech is constantly scooping up our data. Our every interaction online is used to refine an algorithm whose chief role is to predict what we might do next.

The result of this is that our experience online is increasingly personalised. Advertisers love this because it means we see products that we are more likely to buy, with adverts chasing us from website to website now a familiar experience online. But it also extends to news and especially politics. If we only see posts that we are likely to agree with already, when we encounter something that we don’t, it appears all the more extreme. This is bad enough when those posts are true, when they’re intentionally false – or “fake” – then the consequences are even more troubling.

However, it’s not simply about what’s shared, but how. The way we communicate online is by definition dislocated and often anonymous, with most interactions brief and reduced to text and image devoid of tone, origin and context – and all done at such a speed that gives little time for reasoned thought. It’s this more than anything else that makes Godwin’s law possible.

But it doesn’t end there. Even as something as basic as the search query field privileges retrieving information over understanding, assimilating and debating it. Moreover, given how our search results are informed – and via auto-complete, even preempted – by what we searched for previously, it seems legitimate to question whether free will as we know it is possible online.

The results of this are now plain to see. With a US president whose use of Twitter to attack and belittle opponents takes the notion of the “bully pulpit” to a frightening extreme, Russian troll farms interfering in western elections, YouTube’s algorithms that promote conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination propaganda, and ISIS’s use of social media for recruitment, the internet has left the public sphere in a pretty sorry state.

We’ve reached this position before the advent of pervasive AI and AR, the impacts of which could be even more profound

What’s most alarming, though, is that we’ve reached this position before the advent of pervasive AI and AR, the impacts of which could be even more profound. “Deep fakes” are just the beginning.

Given the role of the big tech companies in bringing about this situation and the vested interests they have in its continuation, there is growing clamour for more stringent regulation to make them responsible for what’s posted, and, from some quarters, for them to be broken up entirely. Certainly, as a society we often create laws to guard against products that are addictive, and deleterious to human relationships and the mental health and wellbeing of their users. So why should we make an exception here?

But this would only be part of the solution. The web’s problems are structural rather than simply about content.

Some see a saviour in the growing movement advocating the “de-centralised web”. In short, this is a way of getting back to the days before Web 2.0, with data shared through peer-to-peer networks and a community of users, rather than through a few massive, centralised platforms.

While this tackles one aspect of the problem, it does not change the basic fact that the fundamental means through which we communicate online are serving to make public debate more polarised, more extreme and less capable of compromise and consensus.

It is no overstatement to say that as it is currently constituted, the internet is broken and technology alone won’t be enough to fix it. Equivalent to how in the debate about public and private space the question of ownership is essentially a red herring, technology itself doesn’t determine our behaviour. As a platform for activity the web is essentially neutral. What’s important is how it’s used and managed, and the values and ideals that inform those activities.

In an article in the The Atlantic, the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger made the prophetic remark: “The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy.”

The question for all of us today is whether we can find that guiding philosophy before it’s too late.

Main image is by Louis Lo/Stocksnap.

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