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The Week in Design: A Dumb Car and a Smart TV

our picks for this week in design concepts
The Web is teeming with the unrealized ideas of both students and established designers who set out to produce astonishing renderings and prototypes for unusual products. Unfortunately, due to the lack of time, money, or technology, many of those products never progress from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over them, nevertheless.

We saw a lot of designs hit the Web this week, and many of them weren't pretty. In fact, we had a tough time deciding which concepts would merit our picks for worst of the week, but we managed to restrain our ire just long enough to settle on a donut-shaped car and a needless light-up mug. We also were delighted to find some diamonds in the rough, like software that transforms TV watching into a two-way interaction, and a modular phone that flips back to front, and top to bottom. Click through to be both titillated and terrified.

MetaMirror by Notion

MetaMirror by Notion
We normally focus on product concepts, but MetaMirror by Notion is software for an iPad or laptop. You can take a look at Notion's long but fascinating design brief here, but let us sum up. With modern broadcasts, our TV screens are getting more and more cluttered with extraneous information (like sports statistics, news crawls, pop-up advertisements, etc.). Notion thinks that, by moving all of that information and even providing additional points of interaction on a separate device, we will be able to have a more immersive and two-directional television experience. The younger generation is already growing up with MacBooks on their laps as they watch a program, making this a logical extension. By allowing the program to communicate with your second device -- providing links to recipes and ingredients when watching a cooking show, for example -- TV screen real estate will be opened up, while allowing the user to explore other facets of the program. For news junkies like ourselves, this is a revelation.

Sony Ericsson FH Mobile Phone by Du Jun

Sony Ericsson FH Mobile Phone by Du Jun
This adorable concept phone has been getting a lot of attention lately, even from our friends at Engadget, who loved its morphing form factor. Du Jun's Sony Ericsson FH Mobile Phone gives the standard flip-phone a makeover with a pivot that operates on both the X and Y axises. Flip it horizontally like you would a clamshell, or open it up like a book for a wide-screen mini-tablet. The two sides even split apart to be used as walkie-talkies, should the need ever arise. We love that it's slight and multifunctional, but we only take issue with the fact that the crack which runs down the middle of the two screens in vertical mode might make video-watching a bit of a nuisance. But, for a phone that works like an electronic Swiss Army knife, we can't complain too much.

Move-It by David Graham

Move-It by David Graham
We've seen some props given to David Graham's Move-It cardboard rolling system, and it's even been shortlisted for a James Dyson Award -- not exactly a venue for bad design. And there are many things to like about Move-It. For one, the folding cardboard system can turn any box (holding up to 44 pounds) into its own rolling cart with three adhesive attachments. The rugged cardboard is cheap and could be readily available at a packing or office supply store, and the design is deliciously low-tech. But, with all due respect to the designer and the Dyson judges, we have some issues with Move-It. One major problem is that Move-It's components cannot be reused on another box, so you're stuck with the box you originally moved. For multiple boxes, you'd need multiple Move-Its -- which is great for Graham's bottom line, but not for your wallet or the environment. What if it rains? Check out a video demo of the prototype here.

Heartea Interactive Tumbler by Sangmin Bae and ID+IM Design Lab

Heartea Interactive Tumbler by Sangmin Bae and ID+IM Design Lab
Don't think we're just heartless New Yorkers when we say we don't like the Heartea tumbler. We want to like it, but what's with that glowing furuncle? Sangmin Bae and ID+IM Design Lab designed the mug for Nanum, a charity that provides scholarships to underprivileged youths, but its good intentions don't outweigh its awkward silhouette. A pulsing LED embedded in the outer layer of the tumbler is meant to inform you of your beverage's temperature, so you know the optimal conditions for brewing tea and coffee. But it doesn't have a heating mechanism, so the temperature gauge would be better suited to your electric kettle instead. We also wonder whether our beverage containers need to be interactive; isn't this just another gadget that will go the way of every other gizmo whose batteries we forget to replace?

The Rolling Stone by Vitaly Kononov

The Rolling Stone by Vitaly Kononov
For the love of all that's holy, will designers please stop making donut-shaped car concepts? Vitaly Kononov's Rolling Stone is momentarily awesome because it sports a massive LED display on each side, and, in the dreamland where this car exists, it obviously runs electric. And yes, it would be oh-so-sexy to drive your seductive sideways circle through the streets of AeonFluxVille in the year 3000, but designs like this are better left to the land of fantasy film, where the laws of physics don't apply. We understand that the Rolling Stone is outfitted with small wheels at its base to supplement the giant wheels that serve as the vehicle's sides, but did the designer ever think about the power of a strong gust of wind against the massive surface area of the car? We'd like to tip this thing over for just being so cocky.

Tags: app, car, cardboard, clamshell, CoffeeMug, concept, ConceptCar, concepts, DavidGraham, design, DesignConcepts, DuJun, features, flipphone, green, Heartea, Id+imDesignLab, ipad, JamesDysonAward, LED, metamirror, move-it, notion, SangminBae, software, SonyEricsson, SonyEricssonFh, television, TheRollingStone, top, tv, vehicle, VitalyKononov

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