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The Week In Design: iPhone Goes 3-D (Sans Glasses!), Cadillac's Sexy Hybrid

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 saw a mouth-watering hybrid concept (which we'd thought was an oxymoron) from Cadillac, and what promises to be the first 3-D display for Apple mobile devices. But phones and cars are common subjects for designers, so we were glad to see that someone decided to challenge himself by sexifying the car jack. Yes, it can be done! See what else garnered our sexy approval after the break.

Easy-Car-Jack by Remi van Oers

It's pretty rare that designers think to reinvent the ugly and functional. They always want to be sexy, and frequently stick to chic products. Asymmetrical couches! Transparent cell phones! Platinum caviar spoons! Well, thank God for people like Remi van Oers, who managed to make the car jack look, if not sexy, a little bit less like an Inquisition-era torture device. With a touch of a button, the self-contained Easy-Car-Jack inflates an "ultra-thick, PVC-coated woven polyester" accordion-shaped bladder, which is capable of tilting a 1.3-ton car (according to FastCoDesign). The jack's lid pops up an emergency triangle, too, signaling passing motorists to check out your design-savvy auto accessory. But then there's the whole mess of the tire iron and the filthy tire itself -- which designers may never be able to make sexy.

Urban Luxury Concept by Cadillac

Urban Luxury Concept by Cadillac
Speaking of sexy design -- check out this concept Caddy, unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show this week. It's a smart car for city dwellers who've probably already embraced the hybrid ethos, if not out concern for the environment, then for compactness. All of the car's controls -- minus the steering wheel, of course -- have been replaced by touchscreens, giving a little more interior area to a vehicle roughly the size of a Prius. The car could conceivably get 56 mpg in the city and 65 on the highway, thanks to its 1.0L three-cylinder engine. Scissor doors make tight (and double-) parking easier, and the passenger-side front seat even folds down to hold a car seat. Watch a video of the concept here.

i3DG Palm Top Theater by Jitsuro Mase

i3DG Palm Top Theater by Jitsuro Mase
Media artist Jitsuo Mase's new iDevice peripheral isn't on the market just yet, but interest has been building all over the Internet. Mase's i3DG Palm Top Theater is an attachment for iPhones, iPods and iPads (obviously in various sizes) that employs three half-silvered mirrors to create a 3-D effect from animations. (Watch a video of the i3DG here.) It's surprisingly analog, and, of course, doesn't require the use of 3-D glasses. The effect is both novel and sort of a throwback, but we wonder about the limits of its applications. Three zones make up the fore-, middle- and background areas of the image, giving you no room to interact, so all but accelerometer-only games are out of the question. Still, we're sure it will be cheap to produce and ridiculously fun to use.

Bus Station by Soonkyu Jean and Jaeryong Lee

Bus Station kiosk
Upon first view, the Bus Station touchscreen kiosk certainly impresses. It's massive, packs a ton of sensual infographics, and even rotates its display. It shows various bus routes, current locations, weather, places of interest and more. The problem, of course, is that almost all of these applications already exist in smartphones. While we could see something like this being used, say, in a large shopping mall or expo arena -- for which your phone may not have a map -- we can't imagine this for public transportation anywhere with a cell phone-friendly population. Then again, our subway system in New York doesn't even have anything close to this, and we still see plenty of tourists crouching a hair's breadth away from complex route maps, trying to find their way. Eh, maybe these things would be useful.

Second Life Mobile Phone Concept by Cho Sinhyung and Jeon Jungjae

Second Life Mobile Phone Concept
Putting aside the fact that transparent cell phones probably won't hit the market in the next few years, we really like Cho Sinhyung and Jeon Jungjae's idea for a hybrid cell phone display. We all know that some of the biggest energy vampires in smartphones are their super-bright displays. The Second Life concept proposes a twin display -- a primary AMOLED color screen, and a monotone e-ink display for when your power runs low. Not only does it alert you to your low battery better than an icon or pop-up, but it actually begins conserving energy by switching to the low-power e-ink display, too, giving you just enough juice to make it to a charger or sneak in an emergency phone call. It doesn't even need to be transparent -- as the notion could conceivably work on existing phones -- but the designers' version turns the entire phone from opaque to transparent as the battery slowly wastes away.

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