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The Week in Design: Coveting a Pico-Projecting Phone and a Folding Plastic Bike

a selection of this week's designs
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 move from the planning stages to the mass market. But that doesn't mean we can't salivate over their creations, nevertheless.

This week, we're full of want. From a new Mozilla Labs concept phone that incorporates dual pico projectors and a gesture interface, to a Volkswagen roadster that titillates the music center of our brains, we realize that great design is not only friendly to the environment and useful for everyday applications, but makes us crave the object. Even those of this week's designs that we don't love as much would be right at home in our cramped apartments, like a folding plastic bike by Omer Sagiv and a helmet-cum-bike lock that seems tailor-made to go with it. Check out the ideas we've been dreaming about after the break.

Mozilla Seabird by Billy May

mozilla seabird
Oooh! We want one of these! The Mozilla Seabird, a cell phone concept by Billy May for Mozilla Labs, makes us want to throw our iPhones in the garbage. First, the phone's included Bluetooth headset doubles as a mouse-like dongle, which communicates with the phone via infrared light. Dual pico projectors (eerily reminiscent of the Light Touch we saw at CES) project an interactive keyboard below the phone and a display above, allowing you to literally use your phone like a tiny laptop. In conjunction with its 8-megapixel camera, the phone can project a split keyboard on either side of its body, in case you just want to use the phone's physical display. Meanwhile, an infrared-controlled gesture zone acts as your mouse. We feel like we're giving this thing short shrift here, though; just watch a video of the concept, and drool like we did.

Brainovi by Seung-Hyun Yoon, Seol-Hee Son and Ji-Youn Kim

Designers still haven't exhausted ideas for the blind. (Perhaps our tech culture is becoming more and more visually driven?) Brainovi is one of the better concepts for the visually impaired we've encountered, because it's both simple and within the realm of today's tech. The flat, circular device is essentially a GPS compass, directing the user through Braille dots. The user wears a detachable Bluetooth earpiece, into which he or she speaks the desired destination. In response, the device rotates and orients itself to the surrounding area by raising dots to mark roads and buildings. It reacts to the user's location in real time just like the GPS compass embedded in the iPhone's map software, only adding the voice guidance coming through the Bluetooth earpiece. It won't replace the cane, but it may give the guide dog a day off.

Dreyfuss Special by Jinsop Lee and Justin Kim

dreyfuss special
Named after Henry Dreyfuss, the designer of the Model 302 and other iconic telephones, the Dreyfuss Special is a stereo speaker made from an upcycled telephone handset. As many of Dreyfuss's original phones were constructed from Bakelite, they are nearly immune to breaking down in landfills. Designers Jinsop Lee and Justin Kim claim on their site that they did not set out to recycle an existing product (saying that it is "a decent looking product that worked well, and just happened to use a recycled component"), but we think it's a marvelous reincarnation of outdated yet classic tech put to modern use. The form of the design passes from one generation to the next, as the nearly defunct landline gets repurposed as a portable MP3 speaker.

Volkswagen Moog by Klaud Wasiak

volkswagon moog
A roadster for noiseheads! Electronic music was the inspiration for the Volkswagen Moog, a sleek electric concept car that highlights the intersection of old engines and new ones. Since electric motors don't make much noise, electric cars have been equipped with fake engine sounds that are at once silly and necessary for road safety. Designer Klaud Wasiak decided to make a hybrid, signature sound for the Volkswagen Moog, which you can hear here. The form of the car is an updated classic roadster, with 21st-century elements, including beveled wheels and jagged, protruding geometries near the front. It's too futuristic to take the kids to soccer practice, but perfect for fans of Merzbow who want to scare the hell out of their neighbors.

Recycle Me Bike by Omer Sagiv

recycle me bike
Omer Sagiv (who designed some sweet Kevlar kicks some weeks back) has something of a plastic bicycle fetish, manifested in its latest incarnation as the Recycle Me Bike. It's a bizarre and uncharacteristic silhouette for a bike, but who says designers need to stay true to tradition? Highly geometric, Recycle Me is made from reused molded plastic that is light on both the environment and your wallet. Hardcore bike fiends will probably boo-hoo the fact that it's folding, but they should be heartened to know that it's also light-weight and fitted with a single-gear drive-train (although we're not sure if it's a fixie). A dynamo in the front of the bike powers a safety light, while the hubless wheels will either inspire awe or ridicule from hipster observers. We happen to think it's pretty sweet.

Lock On by Hanjong Kim, Hayan Choi, Byunghoon Chung and Duckhwan Kim

lock on helmet
Say you decided to invest in the Recycle Me Bike above; what's going to stop anyone from stealing it? The Lock On helmet is designed to keep both you and your bike safe by acting as head protection and a lock. Almost every urban bike rider carries a lock, and yet many don't wear a helmet because of the inconvenience of carting it around. Lock On simply stays with the bike when not in use, attaching to the frame with a built-in combination lock and cable. We have a couple of problems with the design -- the least of which is the conspicuousness of riding around with a combination dial on your head. We also figure that the helmet would have to be inordinately heavy to contain a solid theft-deterrent structure; then again, from the looks of the renderings, this is no Kryptonite chain. Are both the rider's and the bike's safety compromised by combining lock and helmet? We're not sure, but we still give the designers props for innovative thinking.

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