Helping out the honeybees

Does the bee die-off freak you out? It should. Bees are essential pollinators and they’re a huge part of why we have fruits and vegetables to eat. California farming without bees would be a disaster. But between April 2015 and 2016, the United States lost 44% of its bee population.

Now, at least one invention is helping. It’s a clever concept — a foldable, easy to set up, baited hive that attracts swarms and keeps them in the area, so farmers can be a little more assured that they’ll be able to continue to grow our food.

It’s another example of how design thinking can make a huge difference in the world. Check it out.

Quadcopters + Cirque = Creativity

“No CGI used or needed” says the title at the end of this beautiful little video. It’s more Cirque du Soleil magic. There’s probably no company on earth that concentrates so much technical expertise, expression, agility, art and music into one physical space. The company embodies creativity. It’s embedded deeply into their DNA. So it’s always a pleasure when they break new ground and we get to see it happening.

Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios have partnered to develop a short film featuring 10 quadcopters in a flying dance performance. The collaboration resulted in a unique, interactive choreography where humans and drones move in sync. Precise computer control allows for a large performance and movement vocabulary of the quadcopters and opens the door to many more applications in the future.

Gratitude. Gratefulness.

Environmental designer (and old friend) Joe Terrell sent me this. My reaction was “Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it when I have time.”  Today, I had time.

As my wise guru/coach Peleg Top says, “Slow down.”

You’ve got 6 minutes. Take a look around you. Get present. Watch. Enjoy. Be grateful.

How many credit cards DO we need to carry around?

Apparently, just one. Seen Coin yet? Brilliant idea.

And who would have thought you’d find out by following Adam Lisagor (of the “You Look Nice Today” podcast) on Twitter? Talk about monetizing silliness.

9 out of 10 Americans are completely wrong about this mind-blowing fact

This is  astonishing  —  a beautifully, calmly, rationally presented video that shows the power of elegant design and clear writing to communicate a complex idea. (And what an idea.)

Slowing down for the weekend

Taking a break from a truly hectic week I decided to poke around YouTube and look at slomo videos. I thought these two were particular nice (but there are a ton of them to choose from).

Have a relaxing, leisurely weekend. Maybe in Vegas.

And try something new.

The power of design to heal

One of the most amazing things about great design is how it merges function and emotion. The power of a beautifully designed product goes far beyond decorating or styling or even marketing. The best design actually means something to people. It can change lives.

Here’s one example of how industrial design can be used to transform a person’s self-image while it simultaneously transforms the way their body functions. Touching and beautiful—see what design can do for a missing limb. (Thanks to Gabe for sharing this.)

Bricks, mortar and Wings

Retail stores have long struggled with the problem of customers shopping there, but then actually buying the products online. Best Buy and Barnes & Noble are great examples of chains hit hard by the phenomenon. Circuit City and Borders are examples of the casualties.

Now there’s another nail in that coffin: the phenomenally impressive digital fly-throughs being created for new boxed sets like this one from Concord Music Group (Hear Music) for Sir Paul McCartney and Wings.

One of the most difficult things about buying expensive products online is the inability to explore them — to touch and feel and handle and mess with the thing you think you may want to purchase. But a well-done unboxing video takes a huge leap toward giving you that experience.  It makes it much more comfortable to part with your $160, to buy something you’ll clearly cherish if you’re a hard-core fan.

By contrast, CMG released their McCartney RAM project without an unboxing video. It hasn’t done as well as, say, their Duane Allman boxed set which did have a video — and which sold out in a week.

The buzz for Wings Over America seems to be working. My cousin Adam, a rabid McCartney fan and collector of many boxed sets, knew all about this one almost immediately. And now you do, too.

(Thanks to my friend Eric Eliel for sending this to me. He worked  with Integrated Communications to help produce the package. Can’t wait to see it in person.)

Scrapheap Symphony from Brother

I think the ending is just a little anti-climactic, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak. Take a look.

Artificial intelligence on your wall

Nest Intelligent ThermostatHave you seen the new Nest Learning Thermostat? Designed by some of the guys who brought us the iPod, it’s a simple, smart and beautiful way to control your environment and save energy. It learns as  you use it. You can set it remotely with your smart phone.

Clearly it’s another step toward the robot hive taking over our homes and our lives. Ah, well, that’s a small price to pay for coolness, right? And, dammit, the thing is gorgeous.