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The Week in Design: A Body-Heat-Powered Phone and a Transforming Car/Copter

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.

The design blogs were all atwitter this week with news (and gagging sounds) about GAP's logo redesign, from which the company may be retreating. (Just goes to show the power of design conversation online!) But beneath the headline news, we found some ideas that weren't content with going Helvetica, so to speak, and pushed the boundaries of existing technology. From a gorgeous cell phone that charges up with your body heat, to a hybrid car so futuristic that it's basically the stuff of a fantasy film, we cut through the boring and vanilla to highlight the show-stopping designs of the week, after the break.

Halo Intersceptor by Philip Pauley

halo intersceptor
Behold the Halo Intersceptor! This concept car by Philip Pauley Interactive is the stuff of cinematic dreams, hitting 312 mph and transforming into a boat, jet or helicopter with the aid of a few "attachments." (Even Pauley doesn't seem clear on exactly what that means, but this is a far-out concept, after all.) The car can go from 0 to 62 mph in 2.3 seconds, while the powerboat iteration can get up to 62 knots. The four-seater interior of the car really just acts like a shell for these modular components, so you and your Bond buddies can sit comfortably as the boat transforms into a helicopter, or a jet capable of climbing 25,890 feet per minute. Pauley knows that this thing isn't going into production, but wants it to serve as "a roadmap for boundary-pushing auto manufacturers to follow," according to FastCoDesign. So expect to see your new KIA outfitted with a powerboat motor next spring.

Nokia E-Cu by Patrick Hyland

nokia e-cu
London designer Patrick Hyland's new asymmetrical Nokia phone concept E-Cu charges itself from the heat in your pocket. What!? We love this idea. But it doesn't even have to be human heat; an embedded thermogenerator can use the heat from, say, a radiator to juice up your phone as it rests. Truth be told, we don't totally dig the functional design of the back. (The engraved heat sinks are supposed to look like cracked earth, but we see crocodile skin.) The sleek copper is luxe as hell, though, and conductive to boot.

Rebaroque Speaker Frames by Mikal Hameed and Rebecca Paul

rebaroque speakers
We simply love recycled designs, especially when they're given the same detailed aesthetics as a brand new product. (We're thinking back to the Dreyfuss Special speakers that we covered recently.) Mikal Hameed and Rebecca Paul's sustainable Rebaroque speakers are just those kinds of objects, born from found wood and reclaimed antique picture frames, and intended to hold a series of wall-mountable speakers. Adorned with reclaimed fabric, Rebaroque looks like a series of sculpture paintings -- but they're designed for the iPod generation, with connections for computer speakers and audio docks.

Pseudomorph Dress by Anouk Wipprecht

pseudomorph dress
Designer Anouk Wipprecht, who helped to create the brilliantly jellyfish-like Intimacy Dress, has been working on a dress capable of creating its own unique pattern. The Pseudomorph Dress is really two parts: the frock itself, and a harness rigged from reappropriated medical equipment. The harness's ink-filled tubes arch over the shoulders and into a neck brace, with droppers on the decollete facing the top of the cloth. The ink is then pumped through the droppers with the aid of custom electronics, letting it fall as it may and creating organic, unique designs as its being worn. We've seen a similar but entirely lo-tech concept like this before in washable felt markers that let the wearer choose a new design after each run through the laundry. We don't want to say whether Pseudomorph is better or worse, but we feel like the ink harness is kind of a one-shot deal. See a video of the Pseduomorph in action here.

Alarm Pillow by Seung Jun Jeong

alarm pillow
Alarm clocks have gotten more and more annoying lately, some making you chase them around the house and others flinging a ball at your face to wake you up. (That would last exactly one day in our apartments.) Seung Jun Jeong's Alarm Pillow takes the opposite track, gently waking you up with a fluffy facial vibration that won't disturb your partner. The cutest and coolest part of the Pillow is the tag-alarm control, which you pull out like a tape measure to set your preferred waking time. The only problem is that it seems you can only set it on the hour, and that the snooze function, which is apparently triggered by the weight of your head, seems like it wouldn't actually work. But hey, as long as it's comfortable, we want one.

NOT A Phone by Samuel Lee Kwon

not a phone iphone concept
Well, doy! Why haven't cell phone manufacturers thought about getting rid of the screen entirely and only using pico projectors? (Well, we've seen at least one similar concept before in the Mozilla Seabird.) Samuel Lee Kwon's updated version of the iPhone is based on a wrist-strapped projector that relies upon the user's palm to act as the display. We could argue that the angles are all wrong for projection and motion-tracking cameras (which would be necessary to actually use the thing for input), but we also know that the tech is constantly being improved. The wrist strap features a mini-touchscreen for controls, as well as a skin-side "pulse sensor" that we don't quite understand (ringing and notifications, maybe?). While we like the idea of projector phones, are hands really the best surface for display? We could only imagine that you'd have to wear a Bluetooth earpiece to have an actual phone conversation, unless you'd rather adopt the speaking-into-your-wrist method that is so fashionable with James Bond-types and mental patients.

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